How the Paper Your Photos Are Printed on Affects Photo Scanning Service Results

Posted by ed oboyle on Wed, Dec 04, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

photo scanning serviceSo you’ve pulled out all of your old printed photographs and shipped them to a photo scanning service. In the digital age we live in, you may expect every stain, crease, tear, or faded coloring to disappear after photos are scanned. Thanks to advanced scanning technology and editing software that a professional photo scanning service uses, it’s very possible such photos can be salvaged and optimized.

However, despite technology and its availability, you may find scratches, fading, or staining aren’t the only things that can affect photo scanning results it’s photograph paper type too.

How Does Paper Type Affect Photo Scanning Results?

Characteristics of photograph paper types are used to affect aesthetics and how they feel; before digitized photos, type of paper was an important consideration.

In the age of taking and using digital photos and sending printed photos to a photo scanning service, photo paper isn’t something we think much about. However, photo paper type is actually very important to the photo scanning process, as photo paper type can affect photo scanning results.

There are several different qualities of photo paper that can play into the results of photo scanning. Most can be corrected, or at the very least almost completely corrected – another reason to use a professional photo scanning service since they can address such issues.

For example, a common scanning problem due to paper type is color balance, a huge problem for older photos. Here are more paper type qualities and how they can affect scanning.


Referring to the look and feel of the paper, this can affect photos by having “texture” bleed into the actual scan itself, cutting down on clarity. Additionally, textures that contribute to the look of a printed photo may lose that “look” when scanned.

Base Tint and Chemistry of the Photo’s Paper

Base tint refers to photos tinted to create certain colors. For example, barium sulfite may be added to create an extremely “white” look, or dyes added for an off-white or cream color.

The chemicals the paper is comprised of or treated/tinted with can cause photos to be especially sensitive to surrounding exposures. For example, part of the photo’s “chemistry” may not react well to factors like light, heat, or coming into contact with another substance causing an adverse reaction.

Additionally, the color tint may not translate after scanned. If it doesn’t perform well after scanned and you want it “corrected,” you’ll likely have to spend some time using photo editing software.

Shine/Surface Sheen

Referring to how reflective the coating of photo paper is, extreme glossiness may cause resolution and quality problems.

Optical Brightening Agents

These are used to brighten white areas in photos, and depending on the agents used and how much was used may result in under, but likely over, exposure.


All photo paper types have different thickness. The higher the number, the thicker the photo. Often photo paper thickness is problematic when scanning because many older photos were thick, meaning they’re not only much more likely to have damage like scratches, fading, or tears, but can end up under-exposed and “darkened.

Acheiving Successful Photo Scanning Results

Sometimes there’s a solution to achieving great quality photo scanning results regardless of photo paper type, although it’s rare to find – scanning negatives. Negatives almost always have higher digital quality when scanned than practically any type of photo paper. Many people just throw away negatives, but if you have negatives of photos you want to send to a photo scanning service, you should probably use those if your biggest concern is quality and not preservation.

Despite the aforementioned difficulties that may be involved if you convert prints to digitial, a photo scanning service can produce high-quality digitized photos from your prints. A photo scanning service will be equipped with technology to adjust a majority of these isses, so you receive beautiful photos as the end result.


Photo Credit: Flickr

Topics: photo scanning

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