Slide Scanning Tips: Before You Save Your Scans, Don’t Forget To Change One Important Setting
Next time you scan your slides, negatives, and photos, watch for something called JPEG “compression” level. Don’t worry, all this will make sense soon.
For now, just know that your scanner’s default JPEG settings are probably not set right. This means your scans will lose some pixel quality. I will show you where to adjust the JPEG settings so you don’t lose any quality when saving your scans.
But first, you need to know two things about JPEG image files. Once you know this stuff, then you’ll be able to control the quality of your JPEG files.
1. JPEG Files Are Compressed
Professional photographers and graphic designers like to use TIFF image files. TIFFs are huge. Sometimes they’re 500 MB in file size. TIFFs are great because they have a lot of digital data. And the more data they have, the more a person can manipulate and edit that digital image.
But, for you and me, TIFFs are overkill. Most of this digital data is redundant and doesn’t add to the overall quality of your image.
Somebody figured out a way to remove all this useless data and maintain quality, using a compression method. Your TIFF file is sized down from 500 MB to 5 MB — but without losing any picture quality.
So what you end up with is a high-quality digital image, but at file size, that won’t clog up your computer space or take forever to upload.
2. You Can Control JPEG Compression
When you save your slides, negatives, and photos as JPEGs, your scanner will give you the option to adjust how much your file is compressed.
The problem is, maybe like my scanner, your scanner’s default compression is set too high. The higher compressed your JPEG is, the less detail you’ll see. It doesn’t matter if you scanned your slide at 4000 DPI. If you save that slide scan as a highly compressed JPEG, it will take away some detail.
Where Can You Change Your JPEG Compression Level When Scanning
Now that you know that you have the option to change the JPEG’s compression, you’ll need to read your scanner’s manual to find this option. With my scanner, the option to change JPEG compression comes up at the last step — when I’m about to save my scan. There’s a “JPEG Option” box I click to adjust the level. Once I have this set, I don’t have to touch it anymore.
My scanner’s default compression level is 6 out of 10. That’s too high. It gives me a small file size. But who cares. I want quality pixels. So I changed my compression to 1 out of 10. This will ensure that all my scans will be the highest JPEG quality possible.