Editor’s note: The following was written by Tom and Alison Taylor. Portions of this article have been previously published on the authors’ website.
There is nothing more heartbreaking for us than to talk to someone who has spent hours and dollars digitizing their photo collection, only to find out that the files are too small or too low quality for archival purposes. They may look fine on Facebook, but when printed in a family history book or newspaper article, they look blurry or pixelated.
Here are five “musts” for properly creating a digital archive of your family’s precious photos and documents, in a nutshell:
1. Scan once, scan high, scan right
When you scan a photo or document, make sure you do your original scan at a high resolution, and keep this in your archive as your “digital negative.” (If this creates a file that is too large to upload to a website, then you can make a smaller copy of your “negative” to upload, but your original is intact.) High resolution means at least 300 pixels per inch. If you think you may ever want to crop or enlarge the photo, scan it at 600 ppi or even higher if the photo is very small.
2. Get your photos in a TIF
If your scanner allows, always save your “digital negatives” in a TIF file format. A TIF will give you the best quality and color fidelity, and will allow you to later edit the photo without losing quality. A TIF file will be much larger than a JPEG (see below) and take up more storage space, but the quality will be worth it, and storage is cheap. After you scan your beautiful high-resolution TIF digital negs, you can make a copy of your whole file and save the copies as lower-res JPEGs for uploading to family history websites, etc.
To read the full article on Deseret News, click here.