Flatbed Scanning Tips

Are you on the lookout for some flatbed scanning tips to improve on the quality of your scanned photos and pictures? Then you have surely come to the right place, for that's exactly what this article is all about. Read on...
A scanner is a device used to convert photographs and pictures into digital versions. You may question the need to use a scanner in the first place when one has a digital camera. Why not just use the camera to take digital photographs of documents instead of scanning them? While it's an option that cannot be completely ruled out, it's not always feasible. This is simply because it would be difficult to find the correct alignment of the camera and because the resolution would not be good enough. The scanner is connected to the computer using the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port, which is compatible with all versions of Windows operating systems other than Windows NT and Windows 3.1.

There are many types of scanners available in the market. Chief among them include drum scanners, single-sheet scanners, sheet-fed scanners, flatbed scanners, slide scanners, etc. Flatbed scanners are preferred over other types of scanners such as paper-port scanners, because of better quality of digital images. If your hobby is collecting stamps, then a flatbed scanner is perhaps the best for you. In this article, we'll have a look at some useful flatbed scanning tips.

Tips for Scanning Using a Flatbed Scanner

If you know how a flatbed scanner works, you must be aware of the fact that you need to place the material to be scanned, on the glass bed of the scanner. While scanning using a flatbed scanner, remember the following three points.
  • Place the print such that its edges are parallel to the sides of the scanning bed.
  • Place the image such that its shorter side is parallel to the scanner axis. This way, the scan head will have to cover a lesser distance every time, thus making the process of scanning much quicker.
  • Before you start scanning, make sure that the print is flat against the surface of the scanning bed. If there are any folds or curves in the paper, place a weight on the top of the lid of the scanner.
The following tips will prove useful if you wish to get clear, scanned images with the best resolution.

Tip 1: Check the Color Depth
While choosing a scanner, you should consider the color depth that is defined as the number of colors that your scanner is able to interpret. The more the color depth, the more crisp the scanned print will be. A 24-bit color depth is what you mostly get today, and it indicates that your scanner will be able to interpret 256 different shades of the primary colors (red, blue and green). While scanning, always scan the images in true color mode i.e. setting the color depth to 24-bit color mode. Once an image is scanned in true color mode, you can always modify its color to suit your purposes.

The color depth of the scan varies, to some extent, with the temperature of the scanner bulb. This can cause a difference in color among subsequent images. To prevent this, you need to use the 'high accuracy' setting, or start scanning after the bulb reaches its optimum temperature.

Tip 2: Check the Resolution
The optical resolution is the number of dots per inch (dpi). An optical resolution of 600 pixels/inch is deemed as the optimum resolution for scanning normal prints. However, if you wish to scan images that are very sharp and have been taken using very fine grain film, then you need to increase the resolution. Also, remember that it is important to choose a good quality scanner to get good quality images in high resolution. When it comes to the resolution of the scanner, choose a resolution similar to that of the output device. In other words, if you are planning to get the scanned images printed, then set the scanner resolution to that of the printer. Otherwise, the resolution should be set such that it is similar to that of the computer monitor.

Tip 3: Remove Traces of Dust
While using a scanner, always make sure that the scanner bed is free from dust. This is because particles of dust in the scanner would appear as specks on the scanned image. Also, dust spots reflect light, and so a few particles may damage a substantial part of the scanned image. Before scanning, remove dust from the scanner and make sure that the scanner is not set to 'unsharp mask', as this setting magnifies any specks on the image.

Tip 4: Choose a File Format
When it comes to the format of the scanned image file, you can choose from Joint Photographic Expert Group (JPEG), Graphical Interchange Format (GIF), Portable Network Graphics (PNG) and the Windows Bitmap (BMP) formats. While you can work with any of these formats, it is important to note that if you wish to upload the scanned files on to the Internet, you cannot use the BMP format. Also, remember that saving a file in the JPEG format, compresses the file, thus decreasing its resolution.

Tip 5: Calibrate the Scanner
Calibration is referred to the process of adjusting the scanner color output. All you need to do to get your scanner calibrated, is scanning images and then viewing the output on the monitor. In doing so, if you find color variations between the original and the scanned copy, you need to adjust the scanner till you get the desired results. Also, make it a point to use the automatic calibration option as often as possible to rule out distortions in the scanned images due to varying sensitivities of sensors in the scanner.

Tips for Editing Scanned Images

In case you mess up with any of the above mentioned settings, then there's no need to panic! Here's some quick and easy ways to "fix" your scanned images.
  • Check for any extra white spaces around the edges of the image before it is resized and saved. In case the scanned image has extra white space around it, this can be easily removed by editing the image using a photo editing software.
  • To remove the dust specks from the scanned images, you can use image editing software. There are both manual and automatic options available. While the automatic options are quicker, the manual options, such as scratch remover tool, paintbrush tool, etc, are better, provided you know how to use them.
  • If there's a remarkable difference between the colors of the original and that of the scanned images, then use the 'color correction' option to tweak the colors as required.
  • Remember that resizing or resampling an image reduces its quality. So, it is important to pay special attention while resizing the image. Resizing an image either means compressing the image or reducing the number of pixels, which decreases the resolution.
  • The scanned images are stored with default file names and you might feel the need to rename them. If it is photographs that you are scanning, then you can rename each photo on the basis of its location or the occasion on which it was taken.
  • If you come across scratches and blemishes on the scanned image, then you can always remove them using manual tools available with standard image editing software.
So, you see that obtaining that 'almost original' scanned print is not that difficult, provided you keep these simple tips in mind. For quality scans that are closest to the original, choose a 'gamma correction' setting of 2.2 on the computer monitor and 0.45 on the scanner. That was just another tip before I sign off!
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