Batch Scanning Tips
This page contains tips to help you do batch scanning - i.e. scanning
multiple images, prints, negatives, or slides. It gives tips for
saving time and optimizing quality.
There are tips
for organizing your work,
for using a step by step procedure,
for turning off the preview,
for making things faster,
for choosing file types,
for choosing file names,
for scanning photographs,
and for scanning with a transparency adapter.
Organizing Your Work
Here are a few tips for organizing, scanning and archiving
your photos and slides:
In summary, the key to successfully scanning photos and
CD's is to do a bit of planning and organizing before you
start. If you do this, and if you don't scan every photo
and slide, it'll be far less difficult than you think. After
all, how many out-of-focus images of your friends do you
need after all?
- The first and most important step in scanning a collection
of photos or slides is to make the hard decisions about what
you want to scan. A good rule of thumb is that you should only
scan one out of five pictures from a roll of film. Most people
can go through a set of 36 photos or slides and quickly see the
7 or 8 that they would like to scan.
Of course, if these are the only existing photos of your
parent's wedding, then you probably want to scan them all.
Otherwise, be discriminating - nobody needs to scan
out of focus pictures of a cousin's friend's back garden
from 10 years ago.
- The other important decision that affects how long a
scanning job will take is the resolution that you use for
scanning. A good rule of thumb is that most photos don't
need more than 200 dpi (dots per inch) resolution, and
most slides don't need more than 2000 dpi.
For instance, scanning photos at 300 dpi will take twice
as long and use twice as much disk space as 200 dpi, but
few people will see much difference visually.
- Scan all photos and slides to JPEG files, using your
scanner software's default settings. Few people will see
much difference between JPEG files and file types such as
TIFF and BMP, but the JPEG files will take up only 10% of
the disk space of these other file types.
With VueScan, set "Output | JPEG file" to do this.
- Use the automatic file naming capability of scanner software.
For instance, most scanner programs will let you scan images
one after another and write them to files with a fixed name
but in increasing numerical order (i.e. xmas1987-001.jpg,
xmas1987-002, etc.). This can save a lot of time agonizing
over what to name each scan. Try to put the year into the
file name - and maybe the place or event.
With VueScan, set "Output | JPEG file name" to "nameNNNN-001+.jpg".
- Scan images in batches, usually from one stack of prints or a box
of slides. Use a common file name pattern for each batch (like
xmas1987-nnnn.jpg). After each batch, use an image viewer to make
sure the images look good, then move the images to a different
folder on your hard drive.
Be very, very careful not to waste hours making scans, and then
finding out at the end that something was wrong and you need to
re-do all that work. You'd be surprised how often this happens,
so be careful!
- After every day's work, burn every image you've scanned to a CD,
label the CD, and then make sure you can read the images from the CD.
Burn two sets of CD's, keep one set for yourself, and store a master
copy separately. Only use the master copy if your main copy
has problems, otherwise don't touch it again. If friends or
relatives want a copy, make them a copy from your main copy.
CD's can fail, wear out, get scratched, get lost, get eaten
by the dog - keep two copies!
- Print out small thumbnail images for each CD and store it
with each CD so you can find an image later. It easy to find
images in a normal photo archive, but a stack of silver CD's
isn't especially useful when you look for something later.
There are lots of programs for making thumbnail image prints
from a collection of JPEG files - one is "Thumbs Plus" at
Step by step procedure
To scan multiple photos with a flatbed scanner:
You will get files named crop0001.jpg, crop0002.jpg, etc. for each snapshot.
Move these files into a folder with a name that reflects what you've scanned.
- Turn on scanner
- Run VueScan
- Choose "File | Default options" from menu
- Press "Advanced" button
- Click on "Input" tab
- Set "Options" to "Advanced"
- Set "Scan resolution" to "300 dpi"
- Click on "Prefs" tab
- Un-check "External viewer" box
- Put first snapshot in upper right corner of scanner
- Press Preview button
- If snapshot not at top, move to opposite corner and press Preview again
- Draw crop box around snapshot
- Press Scan button
- Put next snapshot on scanner (in same position) and press Scan button
- Repeat last step for each snapshot
Turning off the preview
VueScan does a preview scan before each scan for two reasons: to
compute the CCD exposure time (if the hardware supports it), and
to compute the cropping.
You can save a lot of time when batch scanning by eliminating the
need for VueScan to do a preview scan before the final scan.
To do this, lock the CCD exposure (if the scanner supports this) by setting
the "Input | Lock exposure" option. Set the "Input | RGB exposure"
and "Input | Infrared exposure" options (if necessary) to 1.0.
You also need to set the cropping to be the same for all scans.
To set the cropping, press the Preview button and adjust the cropping
with the left mouse button.
Making things faster
One simple thing you can do to make things faster is to
make the VueScan window smaller. This makes screen refreshes
faster. You can also turn off the "Prefs | Display raw scans"
option to speed up scans on some slower computers.
Choosing file types
You can save time when batch scanning by choosing the types
of files that you want to write out. VueScan normally scans
images and writes either JPEG or TIFF files, but you can save
time by only writing out Raw scan files (if you have the
Professional Edition of VueScan).
Raw scan files contain unprocessed data straight from the CCD
of the scanner. They can be processed by VueScan later,
and you can produce TIFF and JPEG files with varying resolutions
at a later time.
Raw files are written to the hard drive at the same time
as the actual scan, so there isn't any additional time required
at the end of the scan. This can save a lot of time, since
if you write JPEG or TIFF files, they don't start getting written
until the scan completes.
You can write raw scan files by setting the "Output | Raw file"
option. If you're using a scanning with an infrared channel,
make sure you also set "Input | Bits per pixel" to "64 bit RGBI",
and set "Input | Scan resolution" to the maximum value that
you'll need for JPEG and TIFF files in the future.
You can save further time by not displaying the image at the
end of every scan, by turning off the "Prefs | Refresh each scan"
Choosing file names
VueScan can save you a lot of time by automatically naming
the files that get written. For instance, if a file name
in the Output tab is something like "crop0001+.jpg", then
VueScan will try to create the next file in the sequence
crop0001.jpg, crop0002.jpg, etc.
If you're scanning large numbers of images, put something
meaningful in the first part of the file name (like the
date taken, or the venue of the images) and put "0001+"
at the end of the file name.
You can save a lot of time scanning photographs that are
all the same size by positioning them in the upper right
corner of the scanner. Turn off the preview
and then repeatedly place each photograph in the upper
right corner and press the Scan button.
Scanning with a transparency adapter
Many flatbed scanners have transparency adapters that
can hold multiple slides or negatives. One way to
scan all the slides or negatives is to set the
"Crop | Multi crop" option. Then use the "Input | Batch scan"
option to scan all the images.
However, it's sometimes faster to do a
of the entire area of all the slides or negatives, and later
process these large raw scan files.