BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Mary L. Lemley

Clarity & sharpness of scanned uploaded photos.

Are scanned photos lacking much more in clarity and overall sharpness than digital camera photos? Mine are soooo sharp before uploading and itmakes me want to cry :o( when ( example POTD for 7/21/05) is so sharp and clear, from digital camera.

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7/20/2005 3:53:05 PM

Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/17/2005
  There is a good chance that it is just your scanner. Try having them professionally scanned. That should help. Or if you could, get a negitive scanner, then just scan the negitives. But keep in mind, I've never really used film, so this is just what I think might help.

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7/20/2005 5:28:55 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
As a film user, I can attest to your concerns.
Scanning does result in some softness around the edges of sharp angles and and an over-all darkening of some images.
Brendon is correct in that negs. (or slides) will scan better than prints.

A dedicated film scanner which scans slides or negatives at 4000 dpi or higher will do the best job and will minimize the softness incurred during the transfer to digital.
After scanning, some deficiencies in sharpness and clarity can be corrected with software but you will never get true (exact) reproductions.

If you are software savvy,...AND if your original slide or negative is of excellent technical quality, you should be able to produce scanned images which will look as good to the naked eye as those uploaded from a digital camera.
(I've perused a few websites of film users here at BP, and the sharpness of their images leaves nothing to be desired.)

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7/20/2005 6:51:30 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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I agree with Brendan and Boc; I would offer the following for your help in understanding the issues.

If you've ever made a copy of a videotape, you'll note that the qulaity your original is much better than the copy. The original is a "first generation, albeit there was a true origianl that was used to amke your copy [for commercial sale.]

Think of a slide or negative as the first generation and the print as a second generation. When you scan the neg or slide, your file is first generation and retains all the good qualities of the first generation. When you scan a print, you achieve a degraded file from the second generation of the image. Although an editing program can do magic, if one starts with the first generation, the result must be better.

Also, everything I've read suggests that once you've completed your editing, a final step should be use of the Unsharp Mask.

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7/26/2005 10:38:34 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  I agree with John that sharpening tools should be used at the end,...after all other editing and re-sizing, and before saving the image as jpeg for web use.
Don't over-do your sharpening to try to correct a bad original. Only scan your sharpest slides or negatives.

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7/26/2005 12:08:54 PM

Kerry L. Walker   I think we are all in agreement here. My photos are scanned copies of prints and, compared to the originals, they really stink. I have lost color, sharpness, clarity.

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7/26/2005 12:31:56 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
If you took them, they can never "stink".

As they say,..."A rose of a different color would smell as sweet" ;)

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7/26/2005 2:53:38 PM

Kerry L. Walker   You never worked in a darkroom did you? Talk about stink! LOL

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7/26/2005 3:01:40 PM

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