Making better copies of old photos

If you need a better copy of an old photograph look no further for quality advice and services - get help with scanning and detailed information for enlargement and canvas reproduction further down on the page here. If you don't have access to a scanner, or are still concerned with getting a poor quality copy due to fading colours, damage, odd sizes, details or some other problem in the original, then why not take a look at some of the unique and bespoke digital editing services available for creating improved quality copies of your pictures.

Make a digital copy for preservation and improvement

Converting your pictures to digital helps with photo preservation for yourself and future generations because a digital image is timeless and won't degrade. The best way to do this is with a dedicated photo scanner, although some printers have built in scanners that can be used to produce a high resolution image suitable for same size reproduction or with a certain degree of enlargement, depending on the print medium.

Your photograph can be reproduced using a digital image created from a photo scanner, although it's wise to consider some of the digital image editing services available to improve the quality of your reproduced copies.

These include cleaning and restoration of faded areas as well removing dust and speckles with professional cleaning and retouching artwork where necessary, to improve the original image scan prior to making the reproduced copy.

Every old photo print can do with some degree of digital improvement depending on the age and condition of the printed copy - don't give up hope even if you have badly faded photos, it's amazing what details can be restored out of these.

If you have access to a photo scanner and are copying old photos yourself (which are typically smaller than more modern photo prints), below you will find some practical advice on using the correct scan resolution settings for making better quality copies at an enlarged size or for same size reproduction.

Help with photo quality and clearer enlargements

Perhaps you've tried making copies of an old photo print yourself by scanning and reprinting it but find you have poor quality in the printed copy?

Bad quality copies of your pictures can be caused by having a low resolution digital image, but your print resolution or size also affects the quality. Often just copying and printing your pictures with the default settings for your photo scanner (often 72 dpi) will result in bad quality prints and even worse enlargements that produce a blocky pixelated photo.

In these cases either a better quality copy should be taken with the correct settings, or the quality in the digital copy can be digitally enhanced.

When you finally produce a high resolution copy of an old photo print in an enlarged format, you will then find imperfections which start to show up from dust and damage. A high resolution image is like having the photo under a microscope, and the higher the resolution, the more detail gets put into the digital image.

Read on to find advice and services for fixing these problems and more.

Copying using a photo scanner

The first thing to do is to consider cleaning your scanner before doing any scanning to ensure maximum authentic details in all of the scanned images. There's nothing worse than scanning a full photo album only to find the same mark on the scanner glass has come up on the digital image of every photo that you just scanned.

If you've already tried making copies of an old picture with a photo scanner and the quality is poor and pixelated, remember it will help to improve quality by using a higher scan resolution DPI, a measure of the digital image quality as the number of square pixels that make up a square inch of the printed picture copy and level of detail in the final prints produced. If this setting is too low, quality problems like blocks will appear as the pixels that make up the image start to become visible in the printed copy, especially for larger prints from a low resolution image.

When making copies of old photographs by scanning to digital, it's important to consider the uses for the digital image. As a quick rule of thumb, scanning at 300 DPI or dots per inch is good for same size reproductions that won't show blocky details known as pixelisation of the image on print, as prints produced from this would print at 300 dots per inch. If enlarging beyond the original size, you should double that scan resolution DPI for each doubling of the length and width, in order to maintain the same print resolution. As an example, a 4" x 6" photo that's enlarged to 8" x 12" (or 4x the area of the original) should have a scanning DPI resolution of twice the intended print DPI to compensate, as producing a larger print than which the original image scan was sized to reduces the printing dots per inch resolution.

Increasing the dpi settings in any given digital image will simply give you a smaller photographic print. If you already have this problem with a picture and it's your only copy, remember there are a range of photo quality services available to help if you'd like a better looking picture.

Scan resolution options and settings advice

  • If you are enlarging your photograph significantly, a 600 DPI scanning resolution is recommended, especially for making smaller photos larger.
  • For making same size copies as photographic prints, using a minimum of 300 DPI resolution will avoid any pixel resolution problems (you may find some commercial printers resize to this anyway).
  • A good photo scanning resolution for prints going onto a soft finish like cotton canvas medium can be calculated by dividing the size of one canvas side by the size of the same photo side, then multiplying by 200.
  • For digital viewing only, like for putting on Facebook and for digital photo albums etc, a lower scanning resolution setting of between 72 and 200 DPI can be used if the photos aren't too small, and the display device doesn't have too high a resolution (otherwise the image may appear smaller, although more detailed).
  • Saving the digital copy as a .png file will give the smallest file size without losing detail - this is a compressed and lossless format. Saving as a .jpg or .jpeg file with a high quality setting, although resulting in some minor loss of details with each compression or save (adjusted with the quality setting when saving), offers a good trade off between quality and file size as long as the image size or scan resolution is sufficient. The .jpg / .jpeg image format is often used for images on the internet.

Having a high resolution image however, doesn't guarantee getting a good quality picture finely tuned for your choice of media, as with finer details you inevitably get unwanted marks and scratches that start to appear when enlarging the picture, due to the wear and tear that such old photo prints accumulate over the years. Digital cleaning, clarity and a few colour enhancements can make the final picture much better, and services are available to take care of all the problems above.

A service for improved and enhanced copies

All of the photo services that you need are provided here for scanning, digital editing, and reproduction. With high quality restoration artwork and a variety of improvement options that can be applied to the digital image prior to reproduction, you can be sure of a better quality copy of any old photograph or low resolution image.

improved copies of photos including a fake photo with face changed

Digital copies open the door to a wide range of editing options

Take a look at the photo editing services here for improving your copies