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  • Scanning stills, what resolution?

    Posted by Jeremy Garchow on August 23, 2005 at 3:58 am

    Hello all. I have to get stills scanned for our AE artist and I am wondering what resolution or pixel size I should shoot for. The show will be done in 720p HD (1280×720). There will be tons of scaling done on all pics (scaling to sizes both bigger & smaller than 1280×720). What’s the best way to handle the scans? The scans will be coming from high quality Kodachrome 64 film. Should I make then around twice the pixel size? Should I keep them at around 1280×720 and scan at 300dpi? Any information would be much appreciated. I have over 600 stills to be scanned so if I get it right the first time, that’d be best.

    Thank you all in advance.


    Jeremy Garchow replied 18 years, 3 months ago 3 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • Dylan Reeve

    August 23, 2005 at 4:17 am

    dpi only applies to print. A 1280x720px picture will be 1280×720 pixels regardless of the dpi. However at 72dpi, it would print at about 18×10 inches, while at 300dpi it would be 4.3×2.6 inches. So ignore the dpi thing.

    However, I would personally get the source pictures scanned at as high a resolution (pixel-wise) as possible and practical. You can always scale a photo down, but scaling it up presents problems. If you get them only at 2560×1440 then you’re limiting how far you can zoom into the pictures to only about 200% before you pass the picture’s native resolution.

    Of course the aspect ratio will come into play, 1280×720 being 16:9 means you are going to have to reframe your images to fit the format. The more pixels the better I say.

  • Steve Roberts

    August 23, 2005 at 12:27 pm

    dpi also applies to scans of transparency material, since the transparencies exist in the real world of inches. The dpi figure is the intermediary between the real world and the digital world.

    When scanning anything, the higher the dpi, the more pixels will exist in the digital image.

    2″x3″ image scanned at 72dpi yields a 144×216 pixel digital image.
    2″x3″ image scanned at 300 dpi yields a 600×900 pixel digital image.

    Start with your TV frame size. Often 720×540, in your case it sounds like 1280×720.
    Determine how much of each image will fill that frame. If you don’t want to zoom in, then you want to scan your image so it ends up as 1280×720. If, however, you want to zoom in so half the image fills the TV frame, scan at a dpi that will give you a digital image which is about twice the size. With a print, you would measure the zoomed-in area in inches, then find a dpi which would give you the TV frame size for that little area. For example:

    10″x8″ photo, fill 1280×720 frame:
    1280/10 = 128 dpi, 720/8 = 90 dpi. Pick larger dpi.

    10″x8″ photo, zoom into area 4″x3″ to fill 1280×720 frame:
    1280/4 = 320dpi, 720/3 = 240 dpi. Pick larger dpi.

    Hope that helps,

  • Jeremy Garchow

    August 23, 2005 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you both for your help.


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