Scratch removal | Quality Scanning | ScanCafe

Scratch removal, by hand

Scratch removal is critical for images scanned from slides and negatives, which scratch easily.

Scratched Photo

This is what we call a "raw scan". It has lots of dust and scratches, like most slides & negatives we receive.

To do this, most scanning services — except ScanCafe — rely exclusively on automated software, usually Kodak's Digital ICE, which comes prepackaged with some scanners. By contrast, we rely on the hand and eye of our technicians to make sure scratches are properly removed.

Why software solutions don't work

Software has its place, and ScanCafe certainly uses it where it makes sense. But relying exclusively on software to remove scratches runs into these problems:

  • Sloppy preparation. Many scratches can be prevented in the first place by proper cleaning of slides and negatives prior to scanning. That's not a place where we, or anybody else who cares about your memories, should cut corners.

  • Doesn't work on Black & White. Kodak's Digital ICE technology relies on two scans: an infrared light scan and a separate white light scan. The infrared light scan is used to locate the surface defects (e.g, dust and scratches). The infrared scan's information is then subtracted from the white light's scan, ordinarily resulting in a clean image. However, in the case of B&W imagery, the silver halide grains typical of B&W images cause artifacts in the scan that do not produce a clean image for Digital ICE to process.

  • Reduced sharpness of images. While it is slightly controversial in the industry, we believe that, handled poorly, and particularly on some kinds of film (like Kodachrome), Digital ICE and other kinds of scratch removal software can reduce the sharpness of an image.

  • Software can't repair large scratches. In our experience, plenty of the slides and negatives we receive bear scratches that are too large for Digital ICE to remove. To our knowledge, the only reliable way to remove those scratches is by hand.

An example

We took the scratched image above and ran Digital ICE on it. Note that it looks acceptable, but it nonetheless leaves four large scratches on the groom's lapel, the groom's face, and the bride's forehead. A service running software only would leave you with this image.

Digital ICE fixing example

After Digital ICE software, but before manual repair from ScanCafe

Now we'll show you the same image after ScanCafe's standard level of service is through with it — we manually removed those large scratches, leaving your image looking like it should!

Manual Scratch Removal Example

After Digital ICE and ScanCafe's standard manual repair, which removes any remaining scratches by hand.

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  • Testimonials

    "I have recently used ScanCafe and I am one very happy customer.

    I initially sent in a test batch of about 500 slides. At first, I was apprehensive about sending some of the "family jewels" to a place I had no control over. I took a leap of faith and I was not disappointed in the least. Your step-by-step status page kept me informed and marked the progress of my order as advertised. I was ecstatic when the status changed to "online" and I was able to see my scanned slides.

    The online clarity and crispness of the photos was far better than I could have done with my own scanner. When I received the DVDs and the originals shortly thereafter, my happiness turned to pure joy; I was looking at photos on my big screen computer that I had not seen in thirty years."

    - Bruce Lukaszewicz, (May 2008)

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