The basics of scanning

Tired of all those negatives and prints making clutter all over your workspace? Edit and organize by turning them into digital materials. Get rid of all the clutter and scan those pictures. Once digitized, you can easily make adjustments by exporting them into Photoshop and create more contrast, color and clarity.

Scanner technology has come a long way to digitizing photos and negatives. They come in all shapes and sizes, and price range. Here’s a basic course on the science of scanning:

When shopping for scanners…
When shopping for scanners, the two things to keep in mind are features and, of course, the price. There’s a cornucopia of review sites on scanners that will definitely help you with your choice. In a review, scanners are usually sorted from A to Z, and rated according to features and price. They also indicate where you can avail of the equipment being rated.

If you have a PC, you might want to choose from a huge selection provided by product announcements, news and articles in the internet. PC Buyer’s Guide is one site that offers a wide range of information and sources for flatbed scanners. On the other hand, if you’re a Mac fanatic, there are plenty of choices too, that support your favorite computer.

The choice of scanner all depends on you and your needs. It may be an antique in typical tech industry. But if it makes good reproductions, and is easy to set up and use, then I believe you found the scanner that’s right for you.

The jargon of scanning…
When looking and comparing features, you might notice that there’s an abundance of scanning terms and words. There’s a lot of jargon to absorb. Don’t be alarmed. The language is easy to learn. You just have to be familiar with most of them and you’re on your way to understanding the scanner better.

In the world of scanners, you just need to be familiar with two measurements: bit or color depth, and resolution. Both have to do with the reproduction of colors and grayscale images. However, they refer to different aspects of the process.

Bit depth refers to the number of bits of image data the scanner will use for each pixel. One designer proposes a scanner with 24 bit depth to create “true color”. This kind of scanner yields 16.7 million colors. To scanner techies, that means 256 x 256 x 256 red, green and blue dot combinations. These days, almost all the scanners available have at least 24-bit capability.

For more colors, and flexibility in adjusting the brightness and contrast, scanners with a bit depth of 30, 36, 48 and more are the equipment you’ll need. However, you will spend more money with these things as they are more expensive than the 24-bit scanners.

Resolution/DPI is measured in dots per inch (dpi). The dpi tells you how many spots of information are there in a given area. This relates to the grid of pixels used to represent your images. The higher the dpi, the finer the grid of pixels— resulting to a more detailed image.

If you’re going to send the file via email, you have to scan at 150 dpi, or even less. For print output, anywhere from 200 to 300 is appropriate. If you plan to resize your image, a higher dpi will provide you with more detail and clarity.

Another jargon usually associated with dpi is ‘interpolated’. This means that the scanner software is creating extra pixels in between the ones that are scanned.

Others to be considered…

Negatives- One feature that is useful later on is the scanner’s ability to scan negatives and/or slides. Negatives contain more detail than prints. For great results, you can scan them at 3000 dpi and then enlarge after. However, this kind of scanner is a bit expensive. In addition, you will also need to invest in specialized software to manage the scans.

Speed- Scanners often show speed in seconds per page for both color and black-and-white. The speed depends on factors such as the type of computer, the dpi setting, and the material/image you are scanning. The average specification for a good scanner would be 20 secs/page.

Software- Most scanners come in bundles that include the scanner itself and the software to manage the scanning operations. Like any other technological device, some bundles are better than others. You just need to look into the specifications that’s right for you.

Interface- The interface between the computer and the scanner is often the USB on either Mac or PC. Exceptions are the ScSI or Firewire connectors.

Size- They come in letter size, 8.5 by 11 inches, and legal size at 11 by 14 inches.

About the author:

Granny’s Mettle is a 30-something, professional web content writer. She has created various web content on a diverse range of topics, which includes digital printing topics, medical news, as well as legal issues. Her articles are composed of reviews, suggestions, tips and more for the printing and designing industry.

Her thoughts on writing: “Writing gives me pleasure… pleasure and excitement that you have created something to share with others. And with the wide world of the Internet, it gives me great satisfaction that my articles reach more people in the quickest time you could imagine.”

On her spare time, she loves to stay at home, reading books on just about any topic she fancies, cooking a great meal, and taking care of her husband and kids.

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