Research genealogy
and history

Programs and events




Pioneers of Campbell County

Contact us







Research tips and tricks

by James Stephens


Scanning old photos and documents

In the recent past, you needed a scanner to copy documents and photographs; but today, an average digital camera or even a cell phone can capture excellent digital images.

I've made good copies of documents from books, framed photos, photo albums, family Bibles, and even the old-style microfilm machines. With memory cards as cheap as dirt, you can copy thousands (really!) of images without spending much money.

Always use the highest resolution possible for small images. Larger images can be copied with lower resolutions. Remember, the higher the resolution (dots per inch), the more you can do with the image.

Look at these two examples of the same photo scanned at high and low resolutions:

High-resolution and low-resolution versions of the same picture, showing the difference in quality.

The two smaller images on the right look almost the same, but when they are enlarged you'll see a big difference in quality. The better photo has a resolution of 2400 dots per inch (dpi). The other one's resolution is 100 dpi.

The differences are obvious, but if you look your computer screen from a distance, they will look almost the same. Nonetheless, the lower image will never provide a good enlarged image.