Photo scanning resolution: 300dpi vs 600dpi

Information about resolution and choosing 300dpi or 600dpi for you loose photos and photo albums scans

Do I need 300 dpi or 600dpi scans and why does 600dpi cost so much more?

We get asked this question a lot and, at the risk of being annoying, there isn't a straightforward answer. There's lots of information available online which goes into much more detail than we will here so have a look at that if you want more of a technical understanding. For the purposes of this blog post, we're going to stick to practical and real-world use, as are the most common requirements of our customers.

As a general rule, 300dpi scans are perfectly fine for all digital use, and most printing purposes. Most photos that you own – especially those from the 1990s onwards – will have been printed at 300dpi. Prior to this the printing technology was different but the effective dpi is considered to be close to 300dpi as well.

600dpi scans capture more detail from your image and can be printed at larger sizes, before the inevitable image degradation/pixelation takes place.

Comparison photo presented at 300dpi and 600dpi

600dpi cropped zoom image of the house number on the door behind the car.


300dpi cropped zoom image of the house number on the door behind the car.


The above images show zoomed in close-ups of the house number from the blue door, behind the red car. This shows the difference between the two resolutions and how far you need to zoom in to start seeing the difference between the two versions.

But before we go too far, it's worth pointing out that you only need to make a decision about dpi for loose prints and photo albums. This is due to the type of scanners that we use. For slides and negatives, we use cameras for the digitisation process and capture the images in a different way.

A better question might be "what are you doing with the scanned images once they are digital?"

If you are digitising your family photos to preserve them for the future and to share them with family and friends, 300dpi is probably fine.

If you're an amateur-enthusiast or professional photographer and you took many of your photos with a professional SLR camera and want to capture as much detail as possible, you will likely benefit from600dpi.

If your photos are mostly family snaps and their magic lies is sentimental stories, over technical quality and photo prowess, 300dpi should be good for you.

If money is no object and you always want the best, 600dpi is for you.

For all digital use on screens such as phones, computer monitors, tablets and even large, modern TVs, both options will give great results.

If you are going to print any of your images, 300dpi if fine, if you are reproducing the image at the same scale and dimensions as the original photo.

If you want to enlarge the photo during the printing process, you will experience some degradation in quality.

600dpi scans capture more information and will delay this degradation in order to produce slightly larger prints.

At a certain size you will experience degradation with either resolution.

Hope that helps for now but, please remember...if you are unsure or worried about this or anything else related to your photos or order, please just get in touch and speak to a member of the team.