Software for improving photo quality after being scanned

Hello,

I would like to scan in an 8 x 10 portrait but maintain the same quality of the photo.

Is there a way to do this?
Is there free or cheap software that can be used to do this?

I've used the built-in windows scanner wizard and it doesn't seem to scan in all that well.

My scanner is the HP Officejet 5610 all-in-one

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
baxleybAsked:
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hdhondtConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You say you "would like to scan in an 8 x 10 portrait". This is not a meaningful measure. What is important is the number of pixels in the scanned image, and the size you want to print it. For best quality printing, you image needs to be 200-300 dpi as printed, not as scanned. Let me explain.

I'll assume that a) you want to scan a 6 x 4 photo and b) you want to print it at 8 x 10 size. If these assumptions are wrong, let me know and I'll recalculate the details below.

To print an 8 x 10 photo at 200 dpi, the image needs to be 1600 x 2000 pixels (8 * 200 = 1600, 10 * 200 = 2000).

4 x 6 is a different aspect ratio from 8 x 10 (8 x 12 would be the same aspect ratio), so scaling it up means you either end up with 6.67 x 10, or you crop part of the long side of the photo. Let's assume you'll crop it, so the 4" side will scale up to 8".

To end up with 200 dpi over 8" you need to scan a 4" photo at 400 dpi - if that is then "stretched" bya factor of 2 to 8" the resolution is reduced by the same factor to 200 dpi, which is what we want.

So there's you answer: scan at 400 dpi. If you want to print at 300dpi, scan at 600dpi. You do not need any special software for this.

You can scan at higher resolutions, but it will not achieve a better photo. If you scan for a (printed) resolution of less than 150 dpi (300 dpi scan resolution in your case) you will start to see serious degradation of the print quality. Scanning at more than 300 dpi (printed) wastes time and disk space.

Note that the above is independent of the actual resolution of your printer. For best quality, always set that to the maximum and use special photo paper.

Some scanners offer very high "interpolated" resolution - I've seen some HP scanners boasting 99,999 dpi. Those figures are useless. What you need is the "optical" resolution, which is typically 600 dpi, sometimes up to 1200 or 2400.

If my starting assumptions were wrong, let me know and I'll reevaluate.
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michkoConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You don't state what version of windows you're running.  I'll assume XP.

Usually a low quality scan of a color photograph means you've got the dpi set too low.  When using the XP scan wizard, use a higher dpi when scanning.  This should provide greater resolution and higher picture quality.  Higher dpi scans will create larger files.  Here is a link to a Word document explaining scanning in Win XP:
http://ase.tufts.edu/its/trainDocuments/scanningBasics.pdf

If that doesn't get you the quality you need, below is the link to HP's software and driver page for the Officjet 5610.  Download their full software bundle, and install.  Use their scanning software instead of the built-in Windows scanning wizard. http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/softwareList?os=228&lc=en&cc=us&dlc=en&product=441125&lang=en
The also have a scan diagnostic utility.  Although this really doesn't sound like a hardware issue with your scanner, I think setting the dpi to a higher resolution will resolve your problem.
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michkoCommented:
@hdhondt - that was an excellent explanation of how scanning relates to quality relates to printing.  Adding this one to my knowledgebase in case I ever have to explain it.  Thank you!
michko

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hdhondtCommented:
My pleasure, michko. I just hope it's relevant...
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baxleybAuthor Commented:
Thank you hdhondt and michko for your responses.
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