Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Category: Process/Technical
 

Q1: What is DPI? What’s the fuss over high resolution? 3000 DPI, 600 DPI?

 

DPI stands for "dots per inch", and is a common, if misleading, technical term in scanning.

DPI tells you the number of pixels per linear inch that a scanner will produce in your scan file. The higher the dpi, the larger your scan will be in terms of both pixels and megabytes.

We feel scanning at high resolution is important, since you can't be sure what uses you will have for the scan in the future. So generally, what's needed is a scan that has resolution that is high enough to allow you to do enlargements, printing, and cropping from the scan file. On the other hand, it's possible to scan with too much resolution too--some very detailed scans can actually pick up and magnify the grain of the paper (if a print) or the film itself (if a negative or slide). So we feel that our standard resolution of 10MP for 35mm slides and negatives, and 600 dpi for paper photos, strikes the right balance.

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Q2: If I have paper photo prints AND 35mm negatives, which ones should I scan? Are negative scans cheaper and better quality than scans from paper photos?

 

If you have negatives for most of your photo collection, scanning negatives is a better option because:
• Scans from negatives are of much higher quality than paper photos
• Negatives are cheaper to ship (negatives weigh 1/10th of paper photos) and are priced more affordably
• For negatives, you will need a smaller package to ship
• Negatives are in a sequence and easier to organize while scanning

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Q3: What is the process? What do I have to do? How should I package and ship my pictures?

 

See our “how it works” page
Step 1: Collect pictures: Collect all your pictures in multiple formats (negatives will work out the cheapest: both shipping and scanning costs) Count: ? Box them: Package them in a standard FedEx or UPS box
Step 2: Place order: Log onto ScanCafe.com and place an order. Print 3 copies of the shipping label: attach one to the outside of the box; place one inside (it will always travel with your images); and keep the third for your records. Then, simply ship it!
Step 3: Tracking: We will send you a confirmation email on receipt and also when your pictures are scanned and ready for review online.
Step 4: Tracking: You can review the status of your order at anytime by logging in to your account and clicking on order status. You get to review ALL your scanned pictures online. You select the pictures that you like (minimum 80% selection required) You’re done! We will ship you: • All the originals that you sent us • All your selected scans on your choice of a DVD or CD or a Hard Drive

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Q4: How much time does this scanning process take?

 

For those in a rush, use our "USA Express Service": your order will be ready for online review in 8-10 days from the time we receive your originals (you will be able to download your scans 24 hours after that). 27% of our customers choose USA Express Service. For those who can wait and want to save some money, our "Standard service" processing takes 4-6 weeks from the time we receive your originals. 73% of our customers choose Standard Service. USA Express service pricing is higher than the standard service (e.g., 35mm color slides and negatives cost 33 cents/scan for Standard service and 45 cents/scan for USA Express service). With our standard service, your DVDs and originals will be returned to you within 10-14 days after you have reviewed and checked out. *These turn around time numbers are for typical orders that are less than 2000 photos. For larger quantities, please add approximately 4 days for every additional 1000 photos. Once we receive your order, you will be able to track progress online from day to day. For turn around time information on special photo film media like medium format, 110 format, large format etc, please contact us.

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Q5: Should I choose DVD or CD for storing my digital images?

 

We highly recommend DVDs if your computer has a DVD drive because DVDs hold 7 times as many images as a CD. The quality of the image is the same on both.

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Q6: How will the image files be organized on my CD/DVD? Will I be able to view my images and play them on a DVD player?

 

Your scanned pictures will be stored on DVD or CD in jpeg format. If you took the time to organize and label groups of images, this organization will be reflected in your scanned images. For example, if you have an envelope of photos labeled: “Sam’s 2nd Birthday”, we will store your scanned photos in a folder named “Sam’s 2nd Birthday”. You will see this folder during your online review process and this folder will be burned onto your DVD. These DVDs or CDs can usually be viewed on your DVD/View CD player or computer. However, we cannot test every model of player, and have found that some DVDs will not play in certain players. The DVDs are intended to be used with a computer, so they should work with all computers.

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Q7: How many photos fit on a DVD?

 

Approximately 1200 paper print scans at 600dpi and 300 negative or slide scans at 3000dpi. The exact number is difficult to determine because of the digital size of the scanned image - for instance, a picture of a sunset over the mountains will have much more detail than a picture of a green leaf against a white wall and will, therefore, be larger in size.

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Q8: What is Digital ICE?

 

Kodak’s award winning Digital ICE (TM) processing is included free on all scans (since negatives can have dust and scratches). The award-winning Digital ICE technology automatically removes surface defects, such as dust and scratches, from a scanned image.

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Q9: What is image cropping?

 

Cropping consists of digitally editing the scan to ensure that the image has a clean border.

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Q10: What type of scanning equipment do you use?

 

We have an extensive discussion of what equipment we use on our site, at http://www.scancafe.com/scanning-quality/equipment.
 
In general, we use the machine that in our experience is best for each type of image you send. For prints, we tend to use high-quality Espon flatbed scanners. (We have found that any machine that requires a paper photo to move through a curved path, as with many document-fed type scanners, is likely to damage photos.)
 
For slides and negatives, we tend to use our Noritsu industral scanners or our Nikon 9000s, as the job requires.
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While we do think the equipment used is important, we very much believe that you cannot get a great scan without significant manual attention, and that's something we give to every image we scan.

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Q11: Where do you process the pictures / originals?

 

ScanCafe is a global company with scanning facilities in Hayward (CA, USA), Lausanne (Switzerland) and Bangalore (the software capital of India). Depending upon whether you chose Express Scanning (1 week in the USA) or Standard Scanning (typically 4 weeks), your order is sent to the corresponding scanning facility. If you chose Express, your order gets scanned in Hayward, CA. Alternately, If you chose, Standard Scanning, we place your order in a large (as big as a small car!) reinforced shipping container that's specifically designed for safe air shipping to our scanning facility in Bangalore, India. We have processed 85 Million images out of Bangalore safely. Each shipping container is "ruggedized" with five layers of 4mm tear-resistant plastic, and strapped to a pallet. It's specifically designed to fit safely into the cargo holds of the exact type of planes we use. The container reaches Bangalore in 48 hours.

See details on our first-class facilities by clicking here: Graphics & Imaging Center. Most importantly learn how we keep your precious memories safe and secure (Safety & Tracking). We have scanned over 100 million images using our robust world-class logistics operation and have never lost or damaged an order. Feel free to place a test order.

Our scanning facilities in the US, Europe and India are fully owned subsidiaries and were created for this sole purpose - your images are never out of the control of either ScanCafe or our global shipping partners. We pay our Indian employees a rate of compensation that is a full 25% above the average plus retirement and insurance benefits; this allows us to hire and retain the most qualified image processing technicians. Our technicians are just that - they are highly trained in all of the latest photo editing software and have a passion for photography.

Your photos are manually reviewed and fully restored one by one by our well trained technicians - NOT simply automatically processes by software in an "I feel lucky" manner that the majority of our competitors employ.

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Q12: How big can I enlarge/reprint my pictures?

 

Printing and enlarging photos can be as much art as science, as acceptable quality can sometimes depend on the use, or even the image itself.

But a good rule of thumb is to think about photo quality printing, which most in the printing industry define as around 300 pixels per inch. (Books and magazines typically print photos to this standard).

At that standard, you should be able to enlarge any paper photo we scan at 600dpi by 2X on each of its dimensions (i.e., a 4"x6" could increase to 8" x 12") without any decrease in sharpness.

Slides and negatives, however, can be printed much larger, thanks to their naturally higher resolution. At our standard scanning resolution of 3000dpi, a 35mm negative could be printed, photo quality, at 9" x 13", roughly.

You do not always need to print at photo quality, however. If, for example, your print is going to be seen from a distance, you can print much larger. In testing, for example, we've printed 35mm negatives to 20" x 30" and been very pleased with the results.

If you are interested in making a poster or other large print that is going to viewed up close, we'd suggest that you use our Pro Resolution feature, which scans paper photos at 1200dpi and 35mm negatives and slides at 4000dpi. That would enable, in the case of negatives, an approximately 12" x 18" print at photo quality. We'd also suggest you have us deliver the scans to you in TIFF format, since with our jpgs there is a slight amount of compression. Both of these features cost just a few cents extra, so they will be well worth it when you make a very large print.

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Q13: Can you scan a single negative that has been cut from a strip of negatives?

 

Unfortunately we can't scan a single negative that has been cut from a larger strip.

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Q14: Can I use ScanCafe scans to submit my photos to stock photo agencies?

 

Yes, you can.

Stock photo agencies do differ on technical requirements for submitted photos, so we strongly suggest you check first with your agency on requirements.

That said, we can meet the typical requirements that we have seen, which are generally around file size, color bit depth, jpg compression quality, interpolation, and so on.

As a general rule, if you are submitting to stock agencies we'd recommend you choose Pro Resolution, for all image types.

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