Scan or snap? Which is the best way to digitize and preserve photos?

Scan or snap? Which is the best way to digitize and preserve photos?

You can safely preserve cherished memories captured on film years ago by digitizing them either by using a professional service or by doing the work yourself.

If you choose the latter option, you can digitize photos using either a scanner or a smartphone camera. This involves scanning photos in the comfort of your home or downloading and using scanning apps on your phone.

Lori Lafferty, a Golden West member from Reliance, has experience in the digitizing world. She’s an ambassador for FOREVER, a digitizing company out of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Lori says there are pros and cons associated with each way to digitize photos. This can range from using a scanning service to using a store-bought scanner to using the camera on your smartphone. Still, she recommends using a service.

“FOREVER uses high-quality photo scanners that do high-resolution scans,” Lori says. “Even scanning with your printer at home takes time, and snapping a photo with your smartphone can result in loss of quality.”

Which option is best for you: a scanner or your smartphone? Below are some pros and cons for each method.

Scanning Photos


    1. High-Quality: Scanners are the standard when it comes to preserving the fine details, colors, and textures of your photos. The clarity of a digitized photo largely depends on the quality of the scanner being used.
    2. Minimized Distortion: Scanners provide a stable and controlled environment for digitizing photos. This reduces the risk of blurry or distorted images caused by shaky hands, inadequate lighting, or other environmental factors.
    3. Resolution: Photo scanners and scanning services typically offer higher resolution settings compared to smartphone cameras. This captures even the tiniest details that a camera may not pick up.


    1. Time-Consuming: Scanning can be a time-intensive process, especially if you have many photos to digitize. You will also need to physically have a scanner or reach out to a scanning service, which may not always be available or affordable.
    2. Cost and Space: Scanners are bulkier and require a dedicated workspace. High-quality scanners can also come at a hefty price, which might not be feasible for everyone.
Using Your Smartphone Camera


    1. Convenience: Your smartphone is always at hand, making it convenient for capturing photos on the go and being able to digitize them right away.
    2. Instant Access: With your smartphone camera, you can digitize and store your photos directly on your device. This provides instant access to your memories.
    3. Editing & Sharing: There are numerous photo-scanning apps available. This allows you to edit your photos and easily share them with friends, family, or on social media platforms.


    1. Lower Quality: Smartphone photos usually don’t match the quality of a scanner. They often miss finer details or lighting issues that may result in glares, shadows, or blurry images.
    2. Limited Features: Your smartphone may also lack specialized features found in scanners, such as advanced dust and scratch removal, or other features that are essential for restoring older photos.

Which method to use depends on your priorities and circumstances. Scanning is the best option if you value a higher quality outcome, while your smartphone may be best if cost and convenience are more important to you.

Whichever way you go, the important thing is to preserve those cherished memories for generations to come! To learn more about the benefits of digitizing your photos, read Digitize photos to preserve precious lifetime memories.

Golden West does not endorse any product or service it does not sell.
Sources: Shotkit, DiJiFi, Medium, New York Times




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