Art Reproductions: Is It Better to Scan or Photograph Images?
Let’s make this easy and tell you the answer right up front: scanning is far superior! And if you’re confused about what we’re even talking about, here’s what we mean. You may have a piece of art or an old photo that you want us to copy for you. Maybe you want a canvas print, gallery wrap, or even framed copy. There are two basic options for us to make a copy of your image. First, you can take a picture of your picture. Second, we can scan your image digitally. So, of those two options, scanning is definitely the way to go. Here’s why….
When we scan images in-house, we have total control over the color management of the entire process. That’s because we are capturing the same color space in which we are editing and printing. Sound confusing? Here’s what that breaks down to: this workflow dramatically improves the computers’ ability to maintain an almost exact replica of the original.
Furthermore, with scanning you get an even distribution of light while the capture is being made. That eliminates the risk of getting what are called “hot spots.” A hot spot is an area on a photographed image (a picture of a picture) that reflects more light into one area more than other areas. This causes an uneven (usually round) distribution of light. That means that one area of the image will be brighter than the rest.
Notice the City painting above. It is photo of a painting. Can you see much brighter it is inside that circle compared to the rest of the image? That is a hot spot and is a major disadvantage to photographing an image that you want to recreate.
Another reason that scanning an image is a much better alternative to taking a photo of an image has to do with sense distortion or image warping. We usually see this happen at the edges of a camera frame where the side edges are not perfectly straight. It’s kind of a mild “fisheye” effect. To illustrate, an exaggerated version of this distortion is often seen on images we capture on our phone. Particularly, the ones that make our friends faces looks skewed when they are near the edge of the image area. This is made very clear by the enlarged images of the faces at the edges of the wedding photo above.
Color and Clarity
There is one more major advantage to scanning an image for art reproduction, but it might sound a little complex. So just pretend like this makes sense because it probably will in the end. The scanned picture is precise to the pixel dimensions needed to yield the highest potential output of clarity and color that the printer can possibly achieve. The optimal capture is 300dpi (dots per inch) of an image’s actual size. For example, if the image measures 16” x 20,” then the capture is precisely 300 pixels wide and 300 pixels high in any given inch of the image capture. This is far more challenging to regulate with photography. In fact, it’s darn near impossible.
Notice the distinction in color and clarity of the elephant image shown here. You can literally see the difference even in this small capture.
There’s an old saying in our industry (and probably in life): “you get out what you put in.” That’s what we can do with the entire collection of equipment we use to produce these high quality images. To learn more about our pricing for scanning and printing, go here. And if you’re confused, have questions, or comments, please let us know below. We always love to hear from you and are eager to clear things up! 615-815-6015