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According to one answer on this question at Genealogy and Family History, a restorer of prints will often ask a customer to scan a print for restoration at the customer's scanner's highest resolution, usually 1200 ppi or 2400 ppi.

However, my scanner has a maximum optical resolution of 1200 ppi.

The question I have is, if I came upon a print showing signs of age/damage, is it even worth it to invest in a scanner that scan at a higher resolution than my current scanner, so that I could scan at 2400 ppi?

Would a professional restorer be able to produce a better print had I decided to scan the old/damaged print at 2400 ppi vs 1200 ppi? My inclination is to say yes, but I realize that there are diminishing returns when scanning at higher resolutions, after a certain point.

I'm mainly talking about analog family photographs and portraits, rather than scanning 8mm film/slides, which would require specialized scanners.

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  • What size do you intend to view the restored images? Using what kind of display medium (print, TV screen, computer monitor, etc.)? – Michael C Feb 16 at 23:09
  • The family portrait that I have is a 8'' x 10'' print, which I'd like to reprint the exact same size. I'd also like to view the digitized version of the portrait on a computer monitor to share with the rest of the family and on my own TV. For the other analog standard-sized family photographs, I'd like to be able to enlarge them, as much as possible, so that I can also see them on my TV while avoiding pixelation as much as possible. Finally, I'd like for the rest of the family to also be able to see the standard-sized photographs on a computer monitor as well. – Friedrich Bauer Feb 16 at 23:30
  • What are the sizes and resolutions of your computer and TV screens? From what distances do you or other viewers intend to view them? – Michael C Feb 16 at 23:32
  • When I wrote standard-sized I meant 4'' x 6'' photographs, but I also have ~3.5'' x ~3.5'' photographs that I'd like to enlarge, so that I can see them on my TV, while also avoiding pixelation as much as possible. – Friedrich Bauer Feb 16 at 23:34
  • For now, though, I'm mainly concerned about restoring old/damaged portraits to print and whether a 1200 vs 2400 scanner would make a difference in the final product. – Friedrich Bauer Feb 17 at 0:21
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There will be minimal benefit from scanning prints at 2400dpi, as opposed to 1200dpi. Most prints do not benefit from being scanned at resolutions higher than about 200-300 dpi. Reasons to use higher resolutions include being able to make enlargements.

There is more to scan quality than resolution, like color depth, noise, and dynamic range. However, these properties are often limited by the original when scanning prints.

You should attempt to scan the negatives, if you have access to them. You would need a scanner capable of scanning film at higher resolutions than your current scanner is capable of. (See Maximum useful resolution for scanning 35mm film)

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  • Why the down vote, a comment with reasoning would be nice. – lijat Feb 17 at 11:53
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    Not the downvoter but, (a) There is no harm in asking for a scan at the highest resolution available, and (b) even though there might be no theoretical need for more than 200 or 300 or whatever number of DPI, having a higher resolution scan might make it easer to manipulate the image without losing quality. Oversampling is common practice in DSP systems. – Solomon Slow Feb 17 at 12:07
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    The highest resolution OP currently has available is 1200dpi. Using 1200dpi is already oversampling. Going to 2400dpi is unlikely to result in significant improvement. – xiota Feb 17 at 12:28
  • Might be worth pointing out that negatives are smaller than prints (for the common case of 10x15 or 35x20 cm prints from 35mm negs), so while 1200dpi is overkill for prints, it's fairly baseline for negatives. I'd aim for somewhere around 1000-1500 pixels in the major dimension in either case. – Toby Speight Feb 18 at 19:50
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    @TobySpeight OPs current scanner probably isn't capable of scanning negatives. I added a link to a different question about resolution for scanning negatives. – xiota Feb 18 at 20:14

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