Scan Correct Color Smooth Texture Reduce Noise Remove Dust Repair Crop

The first step in the seven step workflow described in this website is to get a good scan.

The settings below are optimal for good scans. These settings are the results of extensive testing. Results of this testing and other documentation can be found on the following links: These are the three main types of scans to choose from:
For more information on each type of scan, check out Types of Scans on the Info page.

I recommend archiving every scanned image. See the bottom of this page for details.

Downloading a Scanner Driver

Downloading drivers for scanners can be confusing and frustrating. This is because there are different drivers for the CanoScan 9000F Mark II vs the older CanoScan 9000F. There are also different drivers for the Epson Perfection v600 Photo vs the older Epson Perfection 600. It is not obvious that the correct driver is being downloaded. So I have provided links to manufacturer or publisher sites for the appropriate support or information pages.
After installing and opening a scanner driver (or program) on the Mac, you may see this dialog box (although it will have the model of your particular scanner). Simply click Yes so that your normal scanner driver will function. You will also have to quit Image Capture if it is open.

Settings

To get an good scan, certain options need to be set for optimum results, and all color and exposure settings need to be checked. There's a lot of advice about these options in a guide to Canon ScanGear options, a guide to Epson Scan options and a guide to VueScan options by Jim Kennedy on archivehistory.jeksite.org.

I strongly suggest making color scans (instead of grayscale scans) of all your color and grayscale prints for reasons I discuss in Settings. All of the instructions below assume that color scans are desired.

Suggested general settings for all scan software: The following table contains suggested scanner-specific settings.
Scan Program Straight Scan Color-Corrected Scan Notes
Canon ScanGear Color Settings = Recommended  
Image Adjustment = Photo
Fading Correction = None
Color Settings = Recommended  
Image Adjustment = Photo
Fading Correction = Low
Epson Scan Color Control = on
Continuous Auto Exposure = on
Auto Exposure = second notch
Color Restoration = off
Color Control = on
Continuous Auto Exposure = on
Auto Exposure = second notch
Color Restoration = on
For straight scans of old historical grayscale photos, try the first notch to minimize contrast changes.
VueScan Output Color Space = sRGB
Color Balance = Neutral
Black Point = 0
White Point = 0
Output Color Space = sRGB
Color Balance = Auto Levels
Black Point = 0.01
White Point = 0.01
For restoring badly faded photos, try turning on Restore Fading in the Filter panel.
The following sections contain detailed instructions for each scan program listed above.

Settings for Canon ScanGear

When first opening Canon IJ Scan Utility, you will see the Canon IJ Scan Utility window with a row of 6 buttons corresponding to 6 different scan modes. The rightmost button corresponds to ScanGear. This is the only scan mode that supports 48-bit color. Clicking on this button opens the ScanGear window.

Click the Close button in the bottom right of the ScanGear window to get back to the Canon IJ Scan Utility window.


To Optionally Restore ALL Default Options (for ScanGear)

Canon IJ Scan Utility
In the Canon IJ Scan Utility window:
Settings
In the Settings window:
ScanGear
In the ScanGear window:

General Settings

Canon IJ Scan Utility
In the Canon IJ Scan Utility window:
Settings
In the Settings window:
ScanGear
In the ScanGear window:
Preferences
In the Preferences window:
ScanGear
In the ScanGear window:

Additional Settings for Straight Scans

ScanGear
In the ScanGear window:

Additional Settings for Color Corrected Scans

ScanGear
In the ScanGear window:

Settings for Epson Scan

When first opening Epson Scan, you may see two windows, the Epson Scan window and sometimes the Preview window.


To Optionally Restore ALL Default Options

EPSON Scan
In the EPSON Scan window:
Configuration
In the Configuration window:

General Settings

EPSON Scan
In the EPSON Scan window:
EPSON Scan
In the EPSON Scan window:
File Save Settings
In the File Save Settings window:
EPSON Scan
In the EPSON Scan window:
Configuration
In the Configuration window:

Additional Settings for Straight Scans

EPSON Scan
In the EPSON Scan window:

Additional Settings for Color Corrected Scans

EPSON Scan
In the EPSON Scan window:

Settings for VueScan

When first opening VueScan, you will see a window with the title VueScan along with a version number in the title. This is the main window for VueScan. On the left side of this window are a variety of named tabs represented by tabs in the instructions below.


To Optionally Restore ALL Default Options


General Settings

Click on the and buttons to see all options [VueScan 9.4 and earlier]

Prefs
In the Prefs tab:
Input
In the Input tab:
Color
In the Color tab:
Output
In the Output tab:

Additional Settings for Straight Scans

Filter
In the Filter tab:
Color
In the Color tab:

Additional Settings for Color Corrected Scans

Filter
In the Filter tab:
Color
In the Color tab:

Scanning

Scan the Photos

Once all the settings have been made, you may commence with the scanning.

Before each and every scan, I suggest using an air blaster to blow the dust off the scanner glass and photos before placing the photos on the glass. It's easier to spot dust if you use a floor lamp close to the scanner. Shine it towards the glass at an angle close to 45 degrees and you'll be able to see the tiniest of dust particles and smudges.

When placing photos on the glass, it's best to place them as straight as possible. Here's a good way to make sure they're all straight: Once photos are in place, hit Preview in the scanner software with the lid open. Check to see if any photos are crooked. Straighten the photos by hand and hit Preview again, until you're happy with how straight all the photos are. Carefully close the lid and hit Preview one last time.

For Epson Scan, click on the Normal tab in the Preview window to see all the photos. Avoid the Thumbnail tab if you don't want to auto-skew and auto-crop photos.

For either program, in the Preview window, select a photo you wish to scan. Zoom in for more precise control of the selection rectangle. If the photo is sideways, click on one of the curved arrows to rotate the photo. Click on Scan when you're ready to save the image to disk. Zoom out to see all the photos on the page. Repeat for each photo.


Scan the Borders and Backs

There's a lot of names, dates, and descriptions that people have written on the front borders and backs of the photos. I want to save this information along with the scans. So before I take the photos off the glass, I scan all the photos on the glass as a single large jpeg at 300dpi. I then flip the photos over, keeping them in the same place they were on the glass. I scan all the backs of the photos in the same way as the fronts, as a single large jpeg. This gives me two large jpegs, one showing all the photos at once including the borders, and the other shows me the backs of those same photos.

I keep the jpegs of the fronts and backs along with the archived scanned image files. The large jpegs serve as a sort of an index, and have a lot of essential family information on them.

An alternative way to scan the border in a photo is to make an straight scan of the entire photograph including the borders. You can then flip the photo over and scan the entire back, too. You may want to make a working copy of the photo without the border before making adjustments and edits.

Archive Scanned Image

Once you get a scanned image from scanning a photo, it's critical to archive (make a copy of) your scan in tiff format before editing it. The archived scan is usually kept offline. If you ever change your mind about edits you've made to an image, you can simply make a new copy from the archived scan.