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Scanning Workflow

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  • Scanning Workflow

    Sorry if this has been asked before but I did a quick search and only found threads that sent me off reading about other topics.

    What is the suggested workflow for scanning pictures? I use a couple of flatbeds but can never seem to get images I'm happy with (I mean for like 12 years now). I can't afford a drum scanner either so I need to find something that will work fairly well with normal retail units.

    Any suggestions for me?

    Thanks, Jon.

  • #2
    Scanner versus digital camera?

    I have a similar issue. I am in the process of starting a business involving restoring photos and everything I read about most of the flatbed scanners is that you don't get the quality. I am experimenting with a camera on a copy stand. Does anyone have any experience with copy stands versus a high end scanner? before I sink money into an expensive scanner, I want to know if it's worth it....


    • #3
      Retail scanners are getting much better and can give good results when handled properly. I've used drum, flatbed and film scanners . . . they all have their pros and cons. If you know what you're doing in Photoshop, you don't always need a "perfect" scan . . . just a good one that may need a few tweaks. Many times the tweaks are consistent and can be done via Actions or Droplets.

      My suggestion would be as follows:

      1 - Clean everything: scan bed, originals, etc. Dust is much easier to clean off beforehand than in Photoshop.
      2 - Profile the scanner. This can cost you some money, but is worth it if you want expected results. You basically need to scan in a profiling target, then use software to "fingerprint" what your scanner sees via an ICC profile. Search the internet . . . you may find acceptable profiles for your scanner out there somewhere.
      3 - Turn OFF any scanner color adjustments/curves/sharpening. The profile should do a good job of giving you a good representation of the original. Only use scanner adjustments if the original is poor and needs help.
      4 - Scan in RGB mode (resolution and bit depth needed will depend on your output, but 16 bit/300 dpi files usually cover most people's needs).
      5 - Assign the ICC scanner profile in Photoshop. Some scanner software allows you to assign the profile when scanning - some force you into canned profiles or Adobe 1998. From there, use Convert to Profile and move the image into a color space, like Adobe 1998, for any adjustments.
      6 - Make your tweaks, sharpen as needed, and output.

      Make sense?


      • #4
        Jon, you shouldn't need to use a Drum Scanner to get good results. Nor do you need 9600 DPI optical resolution either. In fact for most prints 1200 dpi will be the max you need. The key is to choose a flatbed which has the largest Density Rating (widest Dynamic Range from shadow to highlight) that you can get for the money.
        I always recommend turning OFF every auto or manual adjustment in the scanner driver s/w. Take the native scan with no adjustments, no biases, no curves, no sharpening, no anything, and in the highest bit resolution which the scanner can provide. Then import the image as is into Photoshop and make all the adjustments there. That usually means only a curve or levels adjustment, saturation, perhaps a little USM, and of course a crop / straighten. You can profile a curve for your particular scanner and quickly apply it to everything you scan which may save you a lot of time.
        Regards, Murray


        • #5
          Originally posted by katecohen999
          Does anyone have any experience with copy stands versus a high end scanner? before I sink money into an expensive scanner, I want to know if it's worth it....
          How about a digital SLR vs a medium range scanner? Very acceptable results IMO. Faster acquisition time if you had the need to do a ton of "scans" for a project. Some thing that won't scan well can often be photographed no problem - for instance prints with a rough texture. Get the lighting right and the texture is barely noticeable compared to a flatbed scan. Try scanning a print mounted in a curved/eggshell type glass frame. Not gonna happen and the one I had in my hands once I did not want to even attempt to remove it from the frame for fear of the print falling apart. Shoot it with the right lighting and it works even if you have to take several shots where you change the lighting and/or focus and merge the images later. We have 2 scanners where I work, a Microtek something or other and an old Agfa Argus II - not sure that those quite qualify for "high end" status but they can both do at least 8x10 transparencies. The camera I'd borrowed from a friend to shoot the curved and framed pic was a Canon EOS 20D and I actually just used it on a tripod and propped the picture up in a corner because the copy stand we have didn't give me the distance I needed. I didn't even work on this image actually, just shot it, but the guy that did do the restoration work said the quality was great. The end result looked great to me.


          • #6
            Thanks for the replies. I'll try a profile for my scanners (I've never tried a profile) and see if it will help me out. Most of my issues are minor but they pop-up from time to time so I end up getting frustrated more than anything else. I don't think I've ever scanned anything over 600dpi and don't think I've ever run into anything that needed it so I should be good there for now.

            As for negative scanning, I try to scan as many negatives as possible for my source material but most of the time I get those must save pictures/prints that look like they've been through a meat grinder and negatives no longer exist. Is that a standard with everyone?

            katecohen999, using a camera to make copies has worked for me many times. I use the camera on a tripod with the work to be copied on the floor. A sheet of plexiglas works well to flatten the original too.

            Thanks again, Jon.


            • #7
              Scanning software is another point to consider.

              I don't like the Epson software that came with my 3200 Photo scanner and opted to purchase third party software from
              SilverFast You can download demo software for both Mac and PC.

              They have several levels of software from Entry level ($50) up to very high end usage. I purchased the mid range "Ai" version ($120) and could tell an immediate difference in scan quality especially in grayscales.

              The software has many options (batch processing, RAW data, etc. and plays nice with Photoshop.


              • #8
                Thanks for the link. I'll check it out. I've been using Photoshop to do my scans. I have an old Epson ES-600C that does a decent job but the software is out of date and was never much good even when it was new a million years ago. I have an HP scanner my wife uses most of the time and the software it came with is terrible as well.



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