I have a photograph (on paper) that needs retouching. I have an HP Officejet 5610 flatbed scanner.

Is there any software that will allow me to scan said photograph and capture it as RAW so I can use Lightroom 3 to perform some corrections on it? The default HP software merely scans it as JPG.

Other options that will allow me to do the same also welcome.


There isn't really any RAW format for scanners, but the third party scanner program VueScan for example does actually offer an option to save scans as RAW files. It's really a TIFF file that is saved with minimal changes from the raw scanner data.

There is of course also the option of applying some basic corrections in the scanner program, save that as a TIFF file, and do the final adjustemnts in Lightroom.

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    Accepted as it answered my question. But, kudos to @Itai - answered a question or two I hadn't yet thought of.
    – Sparx
    Feb 14 '11 at 18:35
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    "It's really a TIFF file that is saved with minimal changes from the raw sensor data" - oddly enough, that's the same as (almost all) camera raw files - TIFF is actually a pretty crazy format that allows you to throw arbitray things into the file, so most "raw" (.nef, .cr2, etc.) are actually based on TIFF. Because the Camera uses a bayer filtered sensor, and camera manufacturers like to make things harder for others to access as a way to sell their own software, it's not as easy to open a raw file as a normal tiff. Feb 14 '11 at 19:34
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    @Jon.Griffen That's overly simplistic. Raw camera files are almost always monochrome luminance values of the light collected by each photosite that require demosaicing and interpolation to derive color informations. While TIFF files can contain such monochromatic luminance values, what we usually think of when we think of a "TIFF", and what TIFFs from scanners usually contain are separate RGB values for each pixel. In which case the WB, black point, white point, etc. are already "cooked in" with the TIFF.
    – Michael C
    Jun 18 '19 at 0:37

My guess is that you do not understand what RAW is. RAW files are not images. Information is missing from them to form a complete image and RAW-conversion software interpolates (intelligently guesses) the missing data.

There is no such problem with a scanner since you have a complete image already. Therefore it makes NO sense for scanners to output RAW data like cameras do.

What you probably want is a high bit-depth to capture a more variations than JPEG files can contain. This helps when you are doing image adjustments (tone, contrast, curves, etc). In this case the scanner will usually produce a TIFF file, although other formats such as Cineon too.

The scanning software usually has a setting interface somewhere where it asks you for different settings such as DPI. Look for one that says bit-depth. If it says 24 bits-per-pixel (bpp) then that is equivalent to a JPEG. You can usually choose 36-bits which is similar to the color depth found in RAW files (depending on the camera). On some scanners, there is also a 48-bit option which is beyond that.

You can scan to a bit-depth as high as you want BUT to make a difference, information has to be there. If you are scanning something that has only 6 bits of color-variations, then scanning at 36 vs 48 bits won't be of any use. The truth is that this relationship of color-depth from printers versus color-depth of digital cameras is an extremely complex subject better left for another discussion. Suffice to say that anything beyond 24-bits is probably overkill.

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    Camera-raw files are images. The samples for different color channels may not be aligned with each other, but they're still samples in a 2D lattice arrangement. Most JPEG images use 2×2 subsampled chroma, and the chroma samples are located between the luma samples per the JPEG standard, so JPEG images wouldn't be images by that definition.
    – benrg
    Jul 16 '15 at 0:22
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    Also, raw format is not about sample positioning—it's about capturing the sensor output without postprocessing, and that makes as much sense for scanners as for cameras. Cameras and scanners capture a much wider color gamut than sRGB, and a raw format should preserve that too. If you can only get sRGB color from your scanner then it's not the raw sensor output.
    – benrg
    Jul 16 '15 at 0:23
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    This answer is totally misleading. benrg is absolutely right. Accessing raw image is about getting linear sensor image that is not restricted by narrow color space gamut. Hundred-bit colors in sRGB will be useless to represent accurate colors of human gamut, but even 8-bit linear sensor image will cover very well.
    – Paul
    May 18 '17 at 5:15

You can open up JPG's in Lightroom and edit them in Lightroom just fine, or if you want, I suppose you can convert your jpeg into DNG (kind of pointless really). Just ensure that after you make your corrections in lightroom, you save the file in a lossless format (otherwise you risk double data loss do to recompression).

Lightroom isn't specific to RAW files. It works on a myriad of image formats, including JPG's.

RAW itself is a binary dump of camera sensor data (insert technobabble about bayer patterns ad so forth). There isn't a way to take JPG data and dump it back to RAW, as RAW image data varies from camera system to camera system.

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    Thanks, Alan - I'm aware that converting from a lossy format to RAW defeats the purpose of RAW, which is why I'm attempting to convert directly from the scanner to RAW without any processing so I can attempt processing the image in LR.
    – Sparx
    Feb 14 '11 at 7:21
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    It's not that it defeats the purpose of raw, its that RAW is a sensor data dump. Some scanners let you save raw data dumps, but it's pretty rare. Most scanners just let you save the data as lossless TIF files, which while not as ideal, gets you closer to your goal.
    – Alan
    Feb 14 '11 at 7:29

You don't need RAW when scanning.

There is no Bayer filter on the sensor, and you can scan straight to 16-bit per channel uncompressed (eg TIFF) images and straight to your hard drive.

Therefore RAW wouldn't make sense.


Is there any software that will allow me to scan said photograph and capture it as RAW so I can use Lightroom 3 to perform some corrections on it?

Yes, there is a 'scan too raw' setting in Xsane scanning software.

I use it to capture the most image data from my Canon FS2710 slide scanner. The options for slides are to scan 'to colour' or 'to raw'. Both produce a tif file (or jpeg if you desire).

The raw setting comes out very dark but actually contains far more image information. The 'colour' tif appears a bit washed out but is not dark. The difference is that the raw can be processed quickly in Photoshop to produce a very good rendering whereas the 'colour' one is always flat.

In both cases, you need to embed the Adobe 98 ICC profile in the scan for best results.

  • I can't find a "scan to raw" setting. It looks like it needs to be compiled with RGBA support, but RGBA support isn't in libsane. Am I looking at the wrong option?
    – Wyatt Ward
    Mar 9 '17 at 20:09

Actually a owner's "raw" format in scanners can be great for some purposes. Its not only a technical point of view, also a legal one. Raw files have some sort of legal acceptance while trials, for example.

Raw in scanners can be a great solution in order to have 'legal' digitised copies from some sort of documentation.

Archives with a large quantity of documents to digitise will take a lot of benefit from scanner software that supports raw formats.

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