With the cost of living ever increasing electronics manufacturers are more than happy to produce ever cheaper equipment for our everyday needs. Cheap printer, scanner, copiers are everywhere these days, even in your local village supermarket. This is where the trouble starts. They do seem like a bargain don’t they? All that functionality for under £40 pounds!

STOP. If you are thinking of buying this to scan in your family photos for archiving them and restoration when you have the time or when you can afford a photo restoration service then please take my advice, think again. Why? The optics on these devices are designed for everyday scanning and printing. When scanning an image to produce a high-resolution file for restoration, the software and optics together often produce a “fluffy” scan.

Let me explain. On an original photo, take a look at the dark and light areas between two objects or surfaces; say a dark door and light wall, or the rim of someone’s spectacles against their pale skin. The edge between the two is sharp and straight. Now scan it on your new scanner copier printer and blow up that section, it’s now a fluffy line with little definition. If you then save it with medium to heavy JPEG compression, this will only go further to destroying what little detail is left.

image with bad edge definition due to a cheap scanner

image with bad edge definition due to a cheap scanner


What is happening is the substandard optical glass in the scanner is being supplemented with software interpolation.  As the optics are not up to scratch to give a good, high-resolution scan, so the accompanying software is adding in pixels to make the scan bigger. Two wrongs don’t make a right, one just makes the other worse.

Does it really matter? Well if you try to make a perfect circle from Lego bricks, it is very hard to do. When a face needs rebuilding in restoration and the only pieces are “fluffy” edged, then it is very hard to restore and much better result can be obtained from a high-quality scanner. Better to make a good scan from a professional scanner and spend less time restoring it. If you are using me to restore your photos then it will cost less if it takes less time.

If want to read further advice on saving and scanning see saving your image correctly or read our full scanning guide.

Image-Restore for fixing your photos