Scanned Images- Some Help

January 16, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Scanned Images- Some Help

Recently I made a post relating to scanners and scanned images.  If you have images that are 20+ years old from your family or have been hired to tried to bring some very old images back to life, here are a few tips that may help. This post does not cover advanced restoration techniques for badly damaged images such as cracks or tears, but rather some relatively simple steps that can be made in editing programs such as Lightroom, Capture one, or many other photo editing apps.

Try scan images at at least 300 dpi, if not 600 dpi. Compare the images to see if one looks better than the other. Scanning at higher than 600 dpi rarely will produce great results on a older image.

Old images can suffer from a multitude of problems ranging from poor camera technique and lighting when originally made to radical deterioration of the image over time. Image deterioration can be a result of how images were stored or the photographic paper that they were originally printed upon. Some common issues include:

  • brownish color
  • grain
  • flat dull image
  • spots

In the first image above, we certainly have some issues. the color balance is brownish and something to try since the image features a person is white balance. Select the skin and you may notice an immediate improvement. Try different portions of your subject (face, arms) to see how (or if) this improves your image. In addition, you may want to try to adjust your black point on the photo, which also may give the image a little more depth.

Clarity and Dehaze controls can also be your friend with images such as this. Try increasing both controls to see how if may affect the photo. Go slow and back off on the effects as necessary.  Contrast to a small extent may also help in providing more depth to the image.

Of course, reducing noise is also a good measure, however using this control alone will usually not produce great results. As with any image, if you push the reduce noise process too far, you will risk loosing detail. Remember than images taken from older cameras such as disposable models may have poor optics to begin with, resulting in a lack than sharp image.

The image may have spots from dirty lenses or any other source, so the spot healing brush or similar tool can help clean up the image.


While a scanned image will likely never be ask crisp as the original, some significant improvements can certainly be made with some simple and quick edits. The latest beta release of photoshop also has a Photo Restoration App which may also help some images.





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