Scanning and Digitizing Guidance

Some guidance on how to best digitize the physical objects that make up our history. Ready to upload? Upload material.


If you have printed documents, photo prints, negatives, or slides, and you have a scanner and some basic know-how, the best bet is to scan them yourself.

Photo preparation videos

Image scanning standard

  • Bit depth: 24
  • Color representation: sRGB (if available to select)
  • Pixel Width: minimum 3,000px on the shortest side of the image. Typically you can get this with a resolution of 600dpi for 4×6 photos and 4,000dpi for slides/negatives
  • File Type: JPEG (.jpg)
  • JPEG quality: 11 or more (or equivalent)

Document scanning standard

  • This standard is intended for multi-page documents with text and possibly images. If scanning for the purpose of a single image, use the above Image Scanning Standard.
  • Resolution: 300dpi (600dpi if high-quality images are present)
  • File Type: Adobe PDF (.pdf)
  • Save as a multi-page document (for programs, yearbooks, etc.)

Pre-scan setup

  • Ensure everything is as dust-free as possible, including the scanning device platen, lens, or backlight, and including the image original photo, negative, slide, or document
  • For glass surfaces like the platen, use manufacturer recommended solutions, likely non-abrasive cleaners and microfiber cloths
  • For media, gently use Aerosol dusters (air in a can) or photography purpose air dusters
  • Gently remove photos from albums, avoiding image or backing tears – use dental floss or UnDo adhesive remover to convince difficult adhesions

Post-scan Editing (optional)

  • Crop out edges that don’t belong (white border, slide cartridge)
  • Rotate or flip images that are crooked, sideways, upside down, or backwards
  • Remove unwanted artifacts (dust specs, fibers, scratches)
  • Color correct if you are up to the challenge.
    Slides and negatives develop slight color variations due to exposure to light and environment, and may require color correction.
  • Some scanners allow for some of the above prior to scan
  • PC and Mac come with photo editing software that provides some of these functions, but more specialized software will provide flexibility in functions like color and lighting correction

Scanning with dedicated scanner

  • Quality is the highest with these devices, even if they are multi-function (printer, fax, scanner)
  • Usually come with their own scanning software for PC and Mac
  • Software will allow customized settings as per the above Image Scanning Standard
  • Example: Epson Perfection Series models v600, v700 (most recommended)

Scanning with slide/negative scanner

  • Quality is very good with the current small form slide/negative scanners, they are relatively inexpensive, and very easy to use
  • Most of the current models scan at the same settings as in the above Image Scanning Standard
  • Usually they state their resolution capability in megapixels with the majority being 22mp
  • Example: Magnasonic FS71

Scanning with a DSLR camera

  • Quality will not quite match that of the dedicated scanner and will rely heavily on the photographer’s high understanding of their camera
  • Consistency will be the issue as well as time. Each item will require its own setup for the most part.
    Use a 1:1 macro lens
  • If scanning slides/negatives, use a backlight and mask off the area of light peripheral of the item to avoid any possible glare
  • In all media cases, try getting as close to possible to the item so that it fills the camera viewer
  • Use a tripod to maintain steady and aligned photo
    Use manual focus to avoid any auto-focus changes to your setup
  • If possible, setup and shoot while tethered to a computer to see the image quality and setup on screen
  • Exposure settings should be the most optimum possible: highest resolution setting, best quality, show in raw if possible, and using a middle aperture setting or the “sweet spot” of the lens

Scanning with phone

  • Overall result will not compare to the quality achieved through a dedicated scanner
  • Use a photo-scanning app like Google PhotoScan, Microsoft Office Lens, or TurboScan to help scan, rotate, crop, and add filters to your photos
  • If using additional lighting, ensure you are not casting a shadow or causing reflections of those lights or nearby objects (you) which may appear in the scanned image.

Sending physical material to be digitized

If you have some material that you don’t have the capability to digitize, first email Eddie Montoya at with a description of what you have and the quantity.

If it sounds like something we are interested in and we have the capacity to handle, we’ll let you know where to send it, and we’ll arrange for someone to digitize it and send the originals and digital files back to you.

This is an ongoing volunteer effort to document the history of Vanguard Music and Performing Arts. Submissions and corrections are welcome as we continue to add more content.