Fine art scanning
November 30, 2019 8:14 PM   Subscribe

I need very hi res scans of paintings I’ve done; higher than even with a good DSLR. I need to make large prints from these. The largest paintings are 16x20. Prices for this are very expensive—around $100 per image. Can anyone recommend a quality but more affordable service? I can mail the art in, and I don’t mind waiting a while.
posted by mermaidcafe to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried with a good DSLR, or what is your basis for this assessment - those dimensions are pretty modest for high quality sensors these days, unless you are printing for display on the side of large buildings perhaps. There are 'large format' digital cameras mainly used by pros that would give higher resolution images than even high end DSLRs, but they will want to charge you too. In short, I think hollyholly has nailed it, this is a cost of doing business, at least of getting the scans at the quality level you need.
posted by GeeEmm at 12:49 AM on December 1, 2019

How large are the prints you're making? This is an important piece of information.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:25 AM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Your painting size pushes this deeply into professional territory. For example, Toronto Image Works can flatbed scan up to 11¾ × 17 inches, but even that costs CAD $115 (the scanner they use is a US ~$4000 Epson Expression XL). The base price of a 40 MP studio reproduction at TIW is CAD $80, but there's retouching, test prints and colour matching on top.
posted by scruss at 9:24 AM on December 1, 2019

I ran a business doing this for a decade and I don't have enough information here to recommend anything, but I can correct an inaccuracy: any modern DSLR or mirror-less camera will produce a 200+DPI image of your painting. More important than pixels, though, is colour matching and a proper lighting stand -- and if your paintings have any gloss to them, there's even more work to be done with polarizers.

It's not the high end camera that makes a gallery capture cost hundreds of dollars, it's the expertise of looking at a piece of art and figuring out how best capture it for what kind of reproduction is needed.

So: what medium is your artwork, is it textured/relief, is it glossy, what print method will be used for reproduction, what viewing situation will it be seen in, and what final size are you lookincg for?

Oh and a hundred bucks is chump change for this kind of thing, no matter what your answer.

If that's too rich for you, do it yourself for adequate quality for most purposes: wait for a cloudy day, take the painting outside and put your camera on a tripod, snap a picture of a grey card to get a good white balance, then snap your painting two or three times at sharpest focus, and use the zoom function of your playback to see if you got the details you need.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:28 AM on December 1, 2019 [8 favorites]

I agree $100 is about as cheap as this kind of service is going to get. 16x20 is big enough to where you want it done properly.
posted by bradbane at 1:20 PM on December 1, 2019

At my shop, 18x24 flatbed scans at 1200dpi are $45. 18x24 12-color Canon inkjet print on canvas is $35, and 140# watercolor runs $30. Customers tell us we are cheaper than the competition, but not by a huge margin. FWIW, we're an independent digital quick-print shop that also does fine art repro. Maybe an indy shop near you might have better pricing? Some wide-format repro houses (think blueprints, architectural drawings, maps, etc.) are also equipped to handle large-format scans, and sometimes fine art prints too. That's how we got into it.
posted by xedrik at 4:53 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

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