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Case 7
Original Photo
What is Resolution?
A Little Experiment
Enlargements
Interpolation

Prints
Printing with Interpolation

Links

Case 7 - You Say You Want A Resolution. . .

Original Photo

The idea for this case came from seeing numerous questions on the rec.photo.digital newsgroup about resolution for scanning.   So, I thought I would devote a section to actually looking at the impact of resolution on the final scan, to help determine what resolution to scan at.  While I was putting this section together, the topic has also come up on the Vintage-Photo and GenPhoto listserves (if you haven't seen them, it is worth a trip to Yahoo groups to take a look - search on the names).

So, you have your brand spanking new flatbed scanner, and your entire extended family has all of a sudden decided that It would be so nice if you scanned every old photo in the family, and the crates of tintypes come rolling in.  Now that you have the photos, what resolution are you going to set the scanner for?  The software from my old HP scanner told me that if I was scanning above 150 dpi, I was wasting time and disk space, and it kept asking me if I wanted to fix it when I "erroneously" scanned at 300 ppi (pixels per inch).  My new scanner (HP 5470C - nice scanner, but I'm currently fighting with HP to get them to tell me how to make it do what it is supposed to) has software which will at least acknowledge that I might want to scan at 200 ppi, and I can get it to quit complaining when I set the resolution higher.  The following section will tell you why I ignore my scanning software recommendations (mind you, VueScan does not give you this grief, and I await the day it supports my new scanner).

For those of you who don't want the full tour of the section: personally I scan most files at 300 ppi, with the rare exception of small photos that I feel obliged to massively enlarge I might scan at 600 ppi.  You just don't get much more detail from the photos by scanning at resolutions greater than 300ppi.  I've heard this from photographers and graphic artists, and I will hopefully demonstrate this in the upcoming pages (and perhaps show a few helpful tips).

Now to the photo:

This is a cabinet card from an album originally belonging to my wife's great grandfather.  By association with the other photos in the album, we believe that the photo was taken in the early 1890's.  The photo shows a group of people in a wide variety of costumes, perhaps a cast for a play?  The entire card is reproduced at 72ppi at close to actual size here - the photograph on the card is about 4 by 5.5 inches.  I chose this photo because it is in fantastic shape.  So, for this section, I am doing no editing to improve the image of the photo; I will solely be showing the results of different scanning resolutions and pixel interpolations.  I am doing this to try and avoid making different scans look better or worse due to something other than dealing with scan resolution.

Note:  While this won't be an issue for those with fast access, if you connect via a modem (like I do), you may find some of the pages in this section somewhat slow.  I've tried to run a balance between showing details in the photos and making the pages bearable to load.

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