Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Scanning For The Big Print
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Q When using a film/slide scanner, what resolution (dpi) should I use to produce good-quality prints in the 8x10 to 11x14 range?
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What scan resolution settings should I use to achieve optimal results for a 16x20 print from 35mm to 6x9cm slides or color negatives? I’ll be printing on a large-format inkjet printer.
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A Always scan at your scanner’s highest possible optical resolution. You may want to produce a small print today, but a large one next year. Getting the best possible scan the first time only makes sense. You’ll have a high-quality master file that you easily can resize for any purpose in image-processing software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Elements. You’ll choose the output dpi/ppi when you prepare the image for printing. Different manufacturers suggest different dpi/ppi outputs for their particular printers. For example, most Canon printers use 200 dpi, and Epson often suggests 360.
Be aware that at maximum scanner resolution, larger formats will generate very large digital files, and very large prints. Despite the aggravation of large-file storage, my advice is to never limit your options.
If your slide or negative is in need of obvious improvement, you can accomplish some of the initial steps at the scanning stage. The scanner’s software will have some correction capabilities built in. These are especially helpful for contrast, color, exposure and minimal sharpening. It’s always best to make these corrections subtly at the scanner and perform fine adjustments in image-processing software. If you find out later you’ve gone too far at the outset, you’ll have to go back and rescan the image.
When sending your slides and negatives to a scanning service, you probably don’t want the service to make corrections for you. But still request the highest-resolution scans possible.
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