When Should You Save Your Slide, Negative, or Photos as TIFF or JPEG
If you’re a commercial artist, magazine, museum, then NEVER scan your slides, negatives, or photos as JPEGs. Saving your scans as TIFFs will give you file size of around 100 MB. At best, you’ll get around 12 MB from a JPEG scan.
Does 100 MBs mean you have a better quality digital scan?
No. Don’t confuse file size with the quality of your scan. The only reason you’d want a 100 MB digital photo is because you have more data to work with. So if you’re doing any commercial editing, it’s better to have as much digital data as you can.
Also, at 100 MB, you can print your scans at billboard size.
Saving Your Scans As JPEGs Is Safe
JPEG images are great if you have a home scanning project. And just because you have a JPEG and not a TIFF, does NOT mean the quality of your scans will be worse.
Basically, a JPEG is a compressed version of a TIFF (technically a RAW file). Instead of a 100 MB file, you can have the same looking image, but at 12 MB or less. The math involved in the compression “knows” what data it can get rid of and what data it can keep– and you end up with the same looking image, but at a smaller file size.
How To Make Sure Your JPEG Compression Is NOT Too High
There’s one small catch. Most scanner’s default compression level is a bit too high for my liking. Sure, at a higher compression level you get a smaller file size. But at the cost of quality.
Here’s how to change the compression level when you’re saving your cans as JPEGs.
I’ll be using a simple Epson home scanner. Your scanner might be a bit different. But you still can follow along because this stuff is bascailly the same, no matter what scanner you have.s
Anyway, here’s a screen shot of my scanner’s settings:
1. Look for something called “File Saving Options”. My Epson scanner has an icon for this option.
2. Another window will open up. This is where I choose if I want to scan JPEG, TIFF, etc.
3. Once I choose JPEG, there’s another option just for JPEG format. Again, your scanner might be different. And you might have to fiddle and look around to find these options on your scanner– but they’re there.
4. Now I have the JPEG options window open. This is where I choose what compression level I want my scans saved as. If I have 0 compression, that means I have the highest quality JPEG I can get. But these means I’m going to get a bigger file size. At 100 compression, you basically won’t see any detail form your image. But you will have a very small file size.
So the balance is high quality vs. a reasonable file size. My Epson’s default is around 10 compression. Which is way too high for me. My sweet spot is around 3 or 4. This gives me a 5 MB digital image. At 0 compression, I get a 12 MB file. But sometimes 12 MB is too clunky– say for email or uploading.
Do You Have A DIY Home Scanning Project?
Hi, Konrad here. I’m the owner of ScanCanada.ca and been scanning since 2005. I’ve scanned over 500, 000 slides, negatives, and photos. If you have a home scanning project, and you’re not getting the results you expected, then you’re welcome to check out my How To Scan guide. I’ll show you exactly how I scan my customers slides, film, and pictures. And I try to be as non-technical as I can. Check it out here…
Or if you like a small team of professionals to convert your slides, negatives, photo into digital, please visit: