View All R&D Articles

Photo Digitization for Media Archives: 3 Challenges

December 6, 2022 provides digitization for large archives of photos, slides, negatives, films (including Betacam, BetaSP and Super 8, among others), and other analog media. 

Our services are built for scale: We handle thousands of photos at once, applying contextual information (metadata) to the digitized media to keep files organized — and our custom-build media databases enable clients to instantly retrieve files based on contents, dates, and other metrics. 

Of course, any computer user with a high-quality scanner can digitize photos, but performing the process at scale introduces significant challenges. Here’s how we address common issues.

To learn more, call us at 1-800-237-4200 or submit a case online.

1. Maintaining photo quality during digitization

Photo digitization requires consideration for resolution (the detail of spatial resolution and color depth) and color (the palette supported in the output). Resolution is typically measured with bit-depth (the number of shades captured in the output) and DPI (dots per inch, the number of pixels included in each segment of the file).

Applying the correct settings is especially important when digitizing negatives and photos with atypical sizes or shapes. The goal is to ensure that the digitized copy includes as much visual information as the original — which can be difficult for certain formats.

To give the illusion of quality, some photo digitization services “touch up” photographs using automated processes. This may be appropriate for certain situations (for example, when digitizing family photographs with visible artifacts). 

However, for archival purposes, digital enhancement can be counterintuitive. A high-quality digital version of a photograph can be altered after-the-fact, but if the goal is to present the original photo with high fidelity, the digitization service should not touch-up the file.

At, we work closely with our clients to determine the best approach for each project. Digital enhancements are available, but if preservation is the primary goal, we avoid alterations — while matching the quality settings of the output to the original photo’s attributes.

2. Photo storage and compression

At high DPI settings, photos can be extremely large. Compression reduces file sizes by removing less critical information — essentially, color data that is assumed to be redundant.

Once again, this is appropriate for many applications, but not ideal for archival projects. The digitization process needs to match the goals of the project: If storage space is a minor concern, compression should be avoided, especially for “lossy” compression processes (such as converting the file to a JPEG). 

In another article, we discussed common lossless and lossy file formats. We frequently use TIFF, which balances file size with lossless output — but software needs to be properly configured to ensure that TIFF is truly lossless.

3. Photo conversion timeframes (and media organization)

Most professional digitization services are not intended for archival reproductions — they’re geared towards consumers, who may have a small number of personal photos that need to be preserved. 

Large archives may contain hundreds of thousands of photographs and negatives. These require a different approach:

  • Each photograph type needs to be analyzed to ensure proper conversion settings.
  • Key information (such as photo contents or dates) needs to be tracked, and metadata needs to be applied to ensure efficient organization.
  • The digital copies need to be checked by a human to ensure that no digital artifacts have been introduced during digitization.

This is a time-consuming process, and at scale, it can consume enormous resources when handled in-house.’s services are designed to remove bottlenecks, providing complete digitization within an established timeframe — and with state-of-the-art organization tools to help our clients find the photos they need, when they need them. 

When you need high-quality photo digitization at scale, we’re ready to help. Call us at 1-800-237-4200 to speak with an expert or submit a case online for a free quote.