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Is It Better to Scan or Photograph Old Photos?

By Dillon Wallace

Like every classic debate, there’s an A versus B. Ketchup or mustard? Apple or Android? Team Sonic or Team Mario? Cats or dogs? Spring or summer? The list goes on.

Somewhere, in between all those disputable scenarios, lies the great digital question of whether it’s better to scan or photograph your old photos? So, let’s dig in and find out which process offers the best quality, cost and ease to decide the overall winner once and for all.

Why You Should Scan Your Vintage Pictures

In a busy world, convenience and cost are king and queen. What’s that mean? It means that using a smartphone or digital camera to take pictures of your old photos is literally the easiest and most affordable photo DIY project you can do.

Right, so what’s the catch? Well, two out of three is pretty good, except for when that third thing happens to be quality. As you can imagine (and probably done yourself), taking a picture of a picture looks like, well, exactly that. It’s not as crisp, it’s more pixelated, it’ll show scratches or dents and there’s going to be natural or artificial light glare, probably a shadow, too – it's just not as good. Period. 

Why You Should Scan Your Vintage Pictures

Photo scanning is a digital option where you upload your old analog pictures to a computer. This method has been around for a while, perfecting the process over time. However, photo scanning requires either, A) Access to a scanner at home or B) You hire a digitization service, which make using a scanner the more convenient option. After all, most people today have convenient access to a smartphone. 

Another check on the cons of scanning checklist is the overall scanning process can be quite time-consuming. Now, that’s obviously based on how many photos you want digitized and whether you have quick access to the photos you want scanned already loaded onto your computer.

Okay, so if scanning gets dinged for inconvenience and laborious, where does it beat taking a picture of old photos? Well, quality. Remember, photo scanning has been around for several years and with improved technology and experience, the quality of a scanned image blows taking a photo of an old picture out of the water. After all, one’s an actual photo, the other is a photo of a photo. It’s why digitization services like Legacy Box have become such a popular choice, because the quality and technology used is just far superior.

The Verdict

Drumroll please … both! Kind of, but not really. It mainly comes down to what you’re looking for. If cost and convenience is what’s most important to your wallet and effort, then you might consider the photo of a photo method your winner. However, if you want your old photos to look the best they can look, then digitization is the clear champ.

Because let’s face it, if you really want to preserve your most memorable moments, then quality outshines speed and dollars any day. After all, it’s just your legacy we’re talking about.

And some of those digitization services like Legacy Box have gotten pretty dang skilled at minimizing the overall cost for the level of convenience while making it a priority to keep you informed and your precious photos safe and sound along the entire process.

Debate, closed.

BTW, if you’ve got some old photographs, polaroids or negatives you want digitized, we know a place.

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