Scanning 101
digital (

Digital information is stored using a series of ones and zeros. Computers are digital machines because they can only read information as on or off - 1 or 0. This method of computation, also known as the binary system, may seem rather simplistic, but can be used to represent incredible amounts of data. Digital information can also be copied, edited, and moved without losing any quality. Because of the benefits digital information offers, it has become the most common way of storing and reading data. (source:

resolution (rez.uh.loo.shun)

The number of pixels per square inch on a computer-generated display; the greater the resolution, the better the picture. This term can describe how many pixels a monitor (or digital television) can display or how fine a printer can print.

1. Monitors. A small monitor may have a resolution or 640 x 480, which means there are 640 pixels horizontally across the screen and 480 pixels vertically. Some other common monitor resolutions are 800 x 600, 1,024 x 768, and 1,280 x 1,024. The higher the resolution, the more that can be displayed on the screen.

2. Printers. Printer resolution measures how fine a printer can print. This measurement is known as dots per inch or "dpi." The greater the dpi, the better the image clarity. Scanner resolution is also measured in dpi (source:

What This Means To You:

Resolution is an important to term to understand, especially when dealing with digital pictures or scanning. The terms dpi and ppi relate to measuring resolution. Resolution can also be expressed in length X width, such as when you are describing monitor resolution or the maximum resolution of your HDTV.

pixel (pik.sel)

The smallest element of an image that can be individually processed in a video display system. The greater the number of pixels per inch the greater the resolution.

What This Means To You:

The number of pixels in one inch of a graphical image, like a photo, is expressed in terms of PPI (pixels per inch) or, more commonly, DPI(Dots Per Inch). While the definitions are not the same, DPI came to be the common term for describing the resolution of scanners and graphical images (such as digital Photos). In this context DPI and PPI are commonly used interchangeably.

dpi (dpi)

DPI is an acronym for Dots Per Inch. DPI is a measure of printing resolution, in particular, the number of individual dots of ink a printer or toner can produce within a linear one-inch (2.54 cm) space. The term DPI is often adopted to describe graphical resolution (on your computer), although the acronym is technically inaccurate since resolution on a computer is measured in square pixels, not dots.

Sometimes you will see graphical resolution (on a monitor, HDTV, or screen) described as PPI (Pixels Per Inch), which is more accurate, but not as widely used. The significance of the dpi measure in scanning your image relates (in general) to the quality of final printed version. You need a higher dpi (or ppi) in order for a printer to match the quality of an image on your screen. To give you a numerical example, 72dpi is all that is needed to create a clear image for the web. However, to print a quality image, your image dpi must be at least twice that, ideally around 300dpi. This is because a monitor can display many more colors than a printer can.

What This Means To You:

At DigMyPics, we scan prints at 300dpi or 600dpi and slides and film at 2500dpi, 3200dpi and 4000dpi. We also express this in MegaPixels in order to help people get an idea of how the scanned images will compare in resolution to the pictures taken on their digital cameras.

We try to let everyone know that with scanning, more isn't always better. Be cautious of getting your film scanned at 4000dpi, usually this high resolution surpasses the quality of consumer grade film, leaving the image grainy. Also, keep in mind that 4000dpi will create very large files that are cumbersome to work with.  Feel free to ask us to test a small sample your film or slides at 4000dpi if you're unsure about the quality of your film.

Megapixel (meg.uh.pik.sel)

A megapixel is one million pixels. It is commonly used to describe the resolution of digital cameras. For example, a 7.2 megapixel camera is capable of capturing roughly 7,200,000 pixels. Megapixels are helpful in marketing digital cameras, because it is easier to say, "6.3 megapixels" than "6,291,456 pixels." It is also a little easier to remember. The higher the megapixel number, the more detail the camera can capture. Therefore, the megapixel count is a significant specification to look for when buying a digital camera. (source:

What This Means To You:

We use MegaPixels as a way to help our customers integrate their scanned images with their digital photos. For example, if you have a 7MP camera, and you get your 35mm slides scanned at 2500 dpi, your digital pictures and scanned images will be around the same size and resolution. This is an approximation because the ratio of a digital cameras stays the same while the starting sizes of prints, slides and negatives vary (in terms of Length x Height). Want to know how to calculate the MegaPixels of any digital image? It's easy!



Would you like to know more about going digital?
Visit our Resolving Resolution guide!


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