Best method to archive photos on a 'puter

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rob Gillespie, Nov 3, 2002.

  1. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    After the recent death of my best friend (see link in my signature), I'm currently in the process of making archive copies of every photo I have of her.

    I've just bought a new scanner - Epson Perfection 2450. Scanning quality is stunning (and I haven't even tried the neg scanner part yet), but I'm wondering about the best way to archive the pictures.

    I'm scanning at 1200dpi. The Epson can do 2400dpi, but the resulting files are way too big (400mb). Software is Paint Shop Pro 7 (yeah, I know Photoshop is better). I know that 1200 is beyond what most consumer printers can resolve (I have an Epson Photo 890), but, well... it's an archive, so why take chances?

    So what is going to be the best file format to store these in? I've heard that TIFF format is lossless, and yet is smaller than .bmp. I'd rather not save the archive copies in .jpg due to compression, however small it may be.

    Any advice would be great.

    Rob
     
  2. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    PNG might be good too. I believe it is lossless, as it is a replacement for GIF(tm).

    What media will you store the photos in? You don't want a hard drive crash or some other media failure to wipe out your hard work (and the cherished memories). I'd suggest storing the files in as many storage media formats as possible (CD, DVD, Compact Flash, tape, etc).
     
  3. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Storage wont be a problem. I've done enough work in disaster recovery to know how unsafe things can be!

    It's the photographic side I'm more concerned with. I basically want to take the best scan I can, then slowly work my way through the files, remove dust and other marks and end up with a really good set of images from which I can print up to A4 size.

    These aren't wonderful pictures technically - the're mostly just holiday snaps taken with a point-and-shoot 35mm. But obviously the pictures hold more value now that she's gone.

    I did a test at 2400dpi. The resulting file size was just too big to be usabel. I've done brilliant looking A4 prints from 600dpi scans so I think 1200 should be more than good enough for what I want to do with them. However it's the longer-term I'm thinking about, hence the query about which file format to use. At the momet they're in PaintShop's own format. TIFF doesn't really cut the size down by much so there doesn't seem to be any advantage to using it.
     
  4. Andrew W

    Andrew W Supporting Actor

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    Ron, are you scanning from prints or negatives? Negatives will be best. You want to scan at a resolution that will allow you to output 300 pixels/inch for the size of print that you wish to print.

    Example: I want to print at 8x10"
    I need my digital image to be 2400x3000 pixels in size.
    My negative is 35mm which is a 24mm x 36mm.
    Well, it's obvious the image will need to be cropped a bit because 35mm film isn't the same proportion as an 8x10.
    Anyway, rounding things up a little, I need to scan this at around 2400 lines/inch to get a good quality 8x10 print.

    So, you scanner is capable if you use it at the full resolution on negatives. If you are scanning prints, anything about 300 dpi for your target size is a waste.

    I'd say use PNG. It's lossless and about 1/3 the size of tiff. Seems to take SW a bit longer to load though...

    Andy
     
  5. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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    TIFF files can be huge (trust me, I work for a Scanning Software company). TIFF is lossless compression, but still compressed, whereas bitmaps are uncompressed.

    If you plan on displaying the pictures on the web, do NOT go with TIFFs or BMPs, or most people will leave the site due to the excessive load times of the pictures. If you just want to archive the photos for personal use, TIFF or BMP is fine (CDs are cheap).
     
  6. Andrew W

    Andrew W Supporting Actor

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    Ron,

    Another thing, Scanner pixels/inch are not the same as printer dots/inch. A printed pixel will be composed of 6~12 dots of from 4 to 6 colors and some white paper showing depending on your printer. Printer resolutions are really in the neighborhood of 240-300ppi.

    Andy
     
  7. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Thanks for the advice.

    At the moment I'm just scanning prints. There's one particular set of images taken during a holiday we had together in Portgual to which I we couldn't find the negatives. I'm scanning them at 1200. I know people say that >300 is a waste, but I'd rather trust my own eyes - and they're telling me the copies look better at higher res. For the sake of the extra Mbs I'm not going to risk it. Plus this is a true 1200dpi, not interpolated like you get on cheap scanners.

    I will be doing some neg scanning soon so I'll try the higher res again with those.

    Steve - web images will be relatively low-res versions in .jpg format.
     
  8. Bill Harada

    Bill Harada Stunt Coordinator

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    The general rule for offset printing is 300 dpi (~120 dpcm) at printed scale (i.e., a 5"x7" print would be 1500x2100 pixels. For an inkjet print you can usually get by with 150 dpi, but 200-250 would be better.

    Just remember that it's not the resolution, but the total amount of pixels that's important. A scan suitable for A4 printing should be between 1654x2238 (200dpi) and 2481x3507 (300dpi). The resolution only factors in how the image gets scaled when placed in a layout/editing application. It is also dependent on the type of file the image is saved as. TIFF and EPS (the most widely used formats in page layout) will save the resolution info. JPEGs generally save to 72dpi. So your [email protected] image saved as a TIFF or EPS will scale (@100%) to A4 in an app like Quark. But the same image saved in JPEG (@72dpi) will scale to 23"x31". But it's still the same aount of picture information in the file.

    One final note. So long as all retouching is done prior to the final archiving you can save considerable amount of file size by saving as JPEG with minimal compression (i.e., highest quality setting). Where JPEG get's nasty is in the recompression of already compressed files. While working on files it's best to save as uncompressed TIFF or BMP.
     
  9. Daniel Swartz

    Daniel Swartz Second Unit

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    Another vote for PNG. That's what I archive with these days.
     
  10. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    One of the scans, which comes in at 75mb in PaintShop's own format, comes out at just over 50mb in .png. If the image is truly lossless then I'm quite happy with that.
     
  11. Scott_MacD

    Scott_MacD Supporting Actor

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    I can confirm that PNG compressed images are mathematically lossless, the image is bit for bit the same as before compression. YMMV with respect to different photographic styles and different images though. Good lossless compression ratio, regardless.

    (This is in spite of your disdain for JPEG compression, as mentioned on the first post.)
    FWIW, I'm with Bill on his point. I still reckon high quality JPEG (95%-98%) @ 1200dpi is suitable for archival material. Manipulate the image using lossless, and when it's ready for final archiving, JPEG it at a high quality setting.

    Regards,

    Scott.
     
  12. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Thanks fellas, I'll look into that. Mucho work to do in the meantime however.

    Of course, this could just be an excuse to buy a new DVD writer.
     
  13. Wayne Bundrick

    Wayne Bundrick Cinematographer

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    I use PNG for a lot of my work. What I like most about PNG is that it's 24 bits plus alpha, and it's the one format that almost all my various systems and software are able to faithfully import, preserving the alpha. Not that such would matter for archiving photos.

    Here's an idea, I haven't tested it but maybe it makes sense. Scan the photo at 2400 dpi, then load it into your paint program and scale it to 50% using its best method (bicubic or whatever). Do you think that could have better results than scanning at 1200 dpi? Sort of an "oversampling" concept. Or maybe keep the 2400 dpi and let the printer driver do the oversampling.

    Hey, DVD writers are getting cheap. I just got the new Sony drive that burns DVD-R/-RW and DVD+R/+RW.
     
  14. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Wayne,
    Interesting you mention that. I did read on www.normakoren.com about possible 'alised grain' resulting from scanning at lower resolutions.
    I tested it yesterday. The same image scanned at 2400, then 1200dpi. Reduce it to 1600 pixels wide (roughly what I'd use to browse on the PC) - and I couldn't see any difference at all.
     
  15. Bill Harada

    Bill Harada Stunt Coordinator

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    Rob,
    If your scanner is limited to 1200dpi optically I would doubt that having the software interpolate to 2400dpi would gain you anything. Now if you were scanning at 1200dpi then downsampling to 300dpi, that would be different. Of course, it also depends on the quality of the editing software used to downsample.

    But as I mentioned earlier, scanning resolution is secondary to the total pixel count captured. Scanning a 1"x1" photo at 1200dpi will still only give you enough pixels to print cleanly at 6"x6" on an inkjet printer. Also, anything more than the equivelant of 300dpi @ printed size will be overkill. So you need to determine is what the maximum print size that you anticipate making of the image.
     
  16. Charles Guajardo

    Charles Guajardo Stunt Coordinator

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    lots of helpful tips and tricks for scanning images using both a flatbed and film scanner on this website:
    http://www.scantips.com/
     
  17. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Bill, the Epson 2450 can perform true 2400dpi scanning with no interpolation.

    The 1200dpi scans coming from the prints are approx 7200x4428 pixels. Probably a little overkill (at least according to your earlier post), but these are images I may never have a chance to get a copy of again (or at the very least would be difficult to get hold of). I just need to get the best (manageable) captures I can now and worry about clean-up and printing later.
     
  18. Bill Harada

    Bill Harada Stunt Coordinator

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    Rob,
    Well, a 7200x4428 pixel image would be suitable for a 36"x22" inkjet print (probably larger on a large-format printer) that would appear to be overkill, unless you're into making tradeshow-booth signage [​IMG]. For any reasonable sized print you can make at home, it would appear that 600dpi would give you more than enough data to work with.
    But so long as your PC can manipulate the 1200dpi file without you having to take a three-hour nap everytime you make an edit more pixels are always better when archiving.
     
  19. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Nah, my PIII 600E is quite happy with those files Bill. Of course, having 512mb of RAM and a couple of hundred Gb of storage doesn't hurt either [​IMG]
     
  20. Scott_MacD

    Scott_MacD Supporting Actor

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    If you're determined to use PNG, then there's a short command line free program that'll losslessly compress PNG files even more. (not by that much, however)
    http://pmt.sourceforge.net/pngcrush/
    and download a pngcrush executable, and play around with it and read the documentation.
    Give me an email if you need help.
     

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