Calling all photo scanning experts

My wife is a photo stylist at a studio, and she and the other employees are in the process of buying the studio from the owners. It’s a great studio and they have some regular clients in their area, but they are woefully out of date when it comes to those newfangled computers.

What they need is relatively simple: they need to be able to scan photos of their portfoilo to make CDs to give to clients. Doesn’t have to be a really great quality as the images will only be seen on a computer. They do not photograph digitally (though at some point they will). They do have a scanner, but she can’t tell me exactly what kind (she is hopeless as far as computers) and they have a “Power Mac” which is about two years old. Don’t know nothing about Macs but that should be fine I think.

Anyway, to burn CDs of photographs, what exactly do they need? How many dpi, for example, and do they need Photoshop or something like that?

Do they even need a scanner? Could they not use negatives to create the CDs?

I know nothing about Macs or photography. Any help much appreciated.

I will try to help:

1 You will need a scanner to digitize any original that does not exist as a digital file; a good Epson scanner will cost less than $250.00

2 You can use a digital camera to take a digital picture of an original and input it into the computer; a digital camera would be about $150.00; you don’t need both just obe or the other

3 This assumes the MAC is a fairly recent vintage

4 You do not need Photoshop or any image editing software unless you intend to change or alter the image in some way.
The scanner or digital camera will come with a utility software to upload the image to your MAC

5 Once these images are scanned into the Mac they will be on your hard disc as a .jpg file.

  1. This file can be recorded (“burned”) onto a CD using another piece of hardware called (fitingly) a CD Burner and blank RECORDABLE CDs ( write once variety)

  2. The CD can be read by any computer with a CD ROM drive and image management software.

I hope this helps; if not email me at and I will see if I can get you where you want to go today!!

That is basically what I thought. They scan them and burn them onto a CD. Is Adaptec good enough? I ask that because I can “lend” them a copy?

It would be cheaper to buy a digital camera and you would get higer quality pics as well. If the customer only wants digitized photographs you would spend much less money doing it with a basic digital camera.

A digital camera isn’t a particularly good way to get images of flat objects like pages of text, photos, or works of art. You really need to get a photo stand to have any hope of getting a realistic image, and after you are all done, it’ll cost more and be more difficult to use than a scanner.

For photos, a good flatbed scanner will run you anywhere from $100 to $250. If you want higher quality, a negative scanner will run you from $500+, but will generate much higher quality images. Flatbed scanners with negative/slide attachments are OK in a pinch, but not really a good long term alternative, the image quality is marginal. You’ll have to decide on the resolution to scan the images to provide necessary quality with a trade off for image size and time.

Once the images are scanned, you may have to color correct and touch them up a bit. Most scanners come with basic software that will allow you to do that, more expensive software (like PhotoShop) seems unnecessary at this point.

Any CD burner with software will be fine. Data is data, pretty much. What do the clients expect to do with the CDs once they have them? If they want to print out copies of the photos a flatbed scanner might not give you enough quality.

It depends on budget, image quality requirements, and whether the photos are in print form, negative, or slide. In my experience it’s very difficult to get good images from consumer flatbed scanners. The resolution is OK, but it’s almost impossible to get nice rich colors. (And color is important even when - or especially when - viewing the images on screen.) Film scanners are better. I’m not too happy with my $250 Minolta film scanner, but I think the >$700 ones are decent.

If it’s a negative or slide, you could just use the Kodak PhotoCD service. For about $2 per image they’ll scan your photos on a professional film scanner and put it on a CD-R. Image quality is excellent.

You should be looking at professional grade scanners if it is to be used for business. You want one that has high colour fidelity, good scanning speed, and good colour depth. Try HP, Agfa, and Xerox, for example.

You probably also want a scanner for negatives and slides.

For just viewing on a computer screen 72 dpi is enough.

If the PowerMac (not “MAC”) is running MacOS 9.1 or later, you might be able to use the built-in CD burning software if you use a compatable burner. Just insert a blank CD-R or CD-R/W, and it will appear like any other drive. Then drag your files onto the CD, and when you’re happy with the contents, eject it, and the data will be written.

There’s a short movie showing the process, and a list of CD-R/W drives that the OS supports here.

That is the recommended advice for scanning to show same-size images on a computer monitor. Any higher and either the image will be too large for the monitor or your viewing software will convert it to a reduced resolution. Either way the image will be degraded.

A film scanner is by far the beter option if you have the original negatives or transparencies, though once again, if you only need to display on a monitor your resolution requirements will be quite modest. The Epson photo series of flatbed scanners have a attachment which can also scan 35mm film strips. Not as good as a dedicated film scanner but I have had very pleasing results.

My advice would be to set up an HTML index on the CD so that the images can be viewed etc. using nothing but a web browser; if you specifically don’t want people to get hold of the original high quality images, store them as .jpg at quality 50; they will still look good, but will be less useful to potential copyright thieves (you may also wish to consider putting a faint ‘PROOF’ watermark diagonally across the corners of each image, if you are expecting the clients to come back to you to buy prints).

You don’t need a high priced scanner for this. Scan at 150dpi & then set the photo down to 90 or
72 dpi for computer screen.

Then get a cdrw drive with Nero (comes with them, check first). Nero makes you a cd with the photos
in a couple of minutes if its a 24x cdrw. Nero can put something like 1,800 images on the disk.

I use basic scanners just fine, here is one on sale:
Officemax has the Vantas 3000 USB Scanner $37.99 - $20 rebate = $17.99. Item 20173893

I’d just like to second Telemark’s comment about not using a digital camera for copying flat work. It can be done, but it’s a hassle and not what the cameras were designed for. Use a flat bed or negative/slide scanner designed for the work.

It’s not cheap, but some of the higher end ($700-1000) negative and slide scanners actually use an infrared led to detect dust and scratches on the media and subtract them from the finished scan. IIRC the technique is called “Digital ICE”. I know that some of the Nikon scanners have this feature.

The Canonscan USB can do a negative scan too, around $100.00 powered by the USB hub.
I have one although I dont have the negative scan model.

Although all scanners will come with adequate software for just scanning images, in many cases the software which comes with the scanner will be too feature-poor or difficult to use. Aside from somehow trying before you buy it, though (a friend might have one, or there might be a demo model set up in the store), I don’t know how to know in advance if it has what you’d like.

Well I’ve just been told by my wife (who as I’ve said knows very little about computers) that their computer at work does not have a CD drive. I find this hard to believe - a two year old Mac was not equipped with that? A “Power Mac” is how it was described. It only had a floppy? Or course maybe she is wrong, maybe it is more than two years old. And I guess it could have been the cheapest model, but two years ago I would think a CD drive would have been standard.

Maybe someone took out the CD-ROM drive? In any event, this would make for a good excuse to buy a new CD-R/W for a replacement.

That’s only for VGA resolution. For SVGA you need 96 dpi. Increase the scanning resolution as the resolution of your monitor increases.

I disagree, since the clients may want to print the scanned images out later.

There is no harm in doing high quality work.