Alexander: The right way to make print photos digital

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 15, 2013 - 5:07 PM

Q: I would like to scan my own photographic prints into digital images, but I’m having trouble finding a scanner (one that’s not a flatbed model) that would be suitable for photos rather than documents.

I looked at a Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 but don’t know how well it would work with my photos. What do you think?

Thomas Klechak, Jacksonville, Fla.

A: You’re looking at the wrong type of scanner for photos. Many of the top-rated photo scanners are flatbed models, in which you lay the picture flat on top of the scanning window. The trouble with upright printers, including the Fujitsu model you mentioned, is that most of them are optimized to automatically feed in and scan paper documents, not printed photos.

What’s the difference between a scanner designed for photos and one for documents? It’s the sharpness, or resolution, of the resulting image. Document printers such as the Fujitsu model scan at a resolution of 600 dots per inch (a dot being the smallest discrete element of a printed photo). A photo scanner, such as the Epson Perfection V500, has 10 times the resolution, or 6,400 dots per inch. Consumer photo scanners cost from less than $100 to more than $700. Some elaborate models can scan photographic slides or negatives as well as prints.

You can find lists of top-rated photo scanners at tinyurl.com/y63ozya and tinyurl.com/82u57q4.

Q: I recorded an 11-minute, 3.1-gigabyte cooking video using a point-and-shoot camera. While I can watch the video on my computer, I can’t e-mail it (file is too large) or upload it to YouTube (takes about seven hours). Any suggestions?

Ken Schik, Maple Grove

A: It’s now easy to make a high-quality video, but difficult to upload it to YouTube if you’ve got a home broadband connection with an upload speed under 5 million bits per second, or 5 megabits. Your choices are to get a faster Internet connection or to compress your 1.3 gigabyte video file so it will upload faster.

Fortunately, the latter is easy. There are programs that will convert your file format to one compatible with YouTube and compress the video at the same time.

If you’re using Windows, try Microsoft’s free Movie Maker program, which can be downloaded at tinyurl.com/d6ruom5. If you’re using a Macintosh, open the iMovie program which comes as part of the Mac operating system. Follow the directions for Windows or Mac computers at tinyurl.com/mc2vkve. (Note: Menu headings may vary depending on your software version.)

Using Movie Maker I was able to convert a QuickTime Movie (.mov) taken with an iPad to an MP4 Video (.mp4) that is compatible with YouTube, while at the same time cutting the file to 13 percent of its original size.

E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com or write to Tech Q&A, 425 ­Portland Av. S., ­Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.

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