FileWhopper Blog
News and Perspectives from IT Experts
September 7, 2018

Four Ways to Digitize Old Photos

We want to share four ways to digitize photos, so you will be able to keep and send large photo files to your friends.

If you are wondering how to save old photo prints you found in an old box from decades ago, we have some good news for you! There are four options you could use to digitize and archive your photos:

  • Photo scanner
  • Digital camera
  • Retail store
  • Online services

How to save old photos to your computer: Photo Scanner

How to save old photos to your computer and how to send large photo files: use a photo scanner

One of the most popular ways of digitizing photos is using a photo scanner. This method requires a quality photo scanner and a computer. One other thing you should have a lot of is time. Scanning each picture takes a while, and when you have hundreds of them, it may take ages. The good thing is that it can be done at home and you will have a chance to edit each image before saving.

If you don’t have a photo scanner, it is a good idea to get one. There are a lot of different models: slim and compact or big with lots of different options. By the way, some photo scanners let you work with negatives, transparencies, and slides.

Typically photo scanners come with their own scanning program, but you can use any image editing software you like (for example, Photoshop).

Before scanning, carefully clean all photos and the scanning surface. This step is very important! Any smudges or fingerprints left will show up in the resulting digitized image. Once you are ready with all your photos, start scanning them and editing the digital images.

Being a time-consuming process is the main disadvantage of this method.  But at least it is free and you have full control of the process. A photo scanner delivers very high quality and consistent results.

How to save old photos to your computer: Digital Camera

How to save old photos to your computer and how to send large photo files: use a digital camera

Digital cameras can also work well for scanning photos. But you need to make some advance preparation. A few important aspects:

  • Ambient light should be even across a photo’s surface with minimal glare and with no shadows. It is better to choose the white-adjust option in your digital camera.
  • Stability is very important! A tripod guarantees that the camera lens stays parallel to your photo. You won't be able to create a quality copy of a photo while holding your camera in your hands. Even the slightest body movement can throw off focus. Our advice is to use the self-timer function so it will eliminate shaking.
  • Quality is what we are looking for. Double check all camera settings for the highest resolution, lowest ISO, and high aperture (f/5.6 is minimum).

If perfection is a big deal to you, you can save copies and finalize the image later on. Some digital cameras have white balance adjustment, auto color correction, foreshortening, and other helpful tools.

For file transfer from a digital camera to a computer, you can use a cable or a memory card reader. Simply go to the DCIM folder and copy all the files to your computer once a device is connected.

How to save old photos to your computer: Retail Store

How to save old photos to your computer and how to send large photo files: go to a retail store photo center

You can always visit a local retail store with a photo/copy center if you don’t have a scanner or digital camera. Stores like Walmart, FedEx, Office Depot, Target, and others offer photo scanning services. Prices, quality and speed can vary from one store to another.

Typically, you get all of your scanned photos from the retail store on a CD or a flash drive. If you need to upload photos to your computer, place the CD into the disc drive or plug the flash drive into a USB port. Go to where the files are stored and copy them to your computer.

How to save old photos to your computer: Online Service

There is also a very good alternative option for digitizing your photos, which is using an online photo scanning service. You can find different sites that offer this service, but prices, shipping requirements, quality, turnaround time and other options can vary. If you want to get the best results, online services is a great alternative. Although online services can be expensive, you will get high quality scans that won’t disappoint.

After getting all your photos into digital format, you will probably want to share them with your friends or family. We suggest that you try secure file transfer from FileWhopper. This service knows how to send large files and does it well.

Transfer large files the smart way from now on!

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