The Ultimate Guide to Photo Restoration – Tips & Tools

Photo Restoration Guide

Digital photo restoration has made it possible to turn a faded old family portrait into an image that has modern quality. The process can work in reverse to give a timeless appearance to the photograph. You can perform any of these transformations by knowing the right tools for restoration.

Photos can degrade in any number of ways. They might fade, get color cast with a yellowish color, or can get damaged due to stain or scratches. However, with the best photo editing tools that are available today, it has become possible to restore old photos without compromising on the value of it.

Steps involved in photo restoration

1. Scanning Process

Scanning is the first step when you are considering restoration of the photograph. You can either take the original photo or the film negative to scan it. With this, you need to determine the restoration potential of your website.  At this first step itself, it is necessary that you use the best scanning equipment and software.  For instance, the flatbed scanner can produce high quality images when compared with the sheet fed scanners.

2. Scanning Software Selection

The next thing that you need to look at is the scanning software which should match the capabilities of the scanning device.  Vuescan and Silverfast are two are the most popular choices among these. The latter one is more powerful if you have a film negative whereas the former one can produce inexpensive photo prints.

3. Resolution

Next comes the resolution. It is advised to use a resolution of at least 400-600 DPI for prints. And at times, this can also be used with the film negative. The scanning resolution considers the sharpness and focus of the original images and can also resolve the noise and grain that might be present in print. You can try experimenting with the settings so that you can see how a particular image would look on-screen.

Another thing that you need to consider is the scan the highest bit depth possible. Ideally, 16-bits per channel or 48-bits per channel are highly recommended if these are available with you. In this way, the original photo will be able to withstand the retouching opportunities before it shows the signs of posterization.

4. Saving the scanned file

The next step is to save the scanned file and maximize the level of detail preservation. If you find that your scanner and software support negative digital files, then it would certainly be a better option.

If you want to save the images as black and white, then you can save them in a grayscale format in your disk. Performing a color scan would help to remove stains from the photo and make the process easier. As the color makes it easier to identify and remove stains, you can carry out this step to obtain a clear image.

If you have film negatives available with you and consider yourself to be fortunate as they help in providing flexibility, the negatives are often exposed to physical damage and the photo might even prove to be a better source. In any case, you will need to send the negatives to drum scanning or have a scanner that can scan such images.

5. Selecting Best Photo Restoration Tool

Moving further, when it comes to the software, here are some of our recommendations that you can use for the restoration purposes:

Abode Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop Logo

This is one of the best editing tools that are available today and provides a wide range of features that are highly useful.  Apart from restoring an old photo, you can do much more with the editor such as background removal, color correction etc. and make it even more appealing. The clone stamp tool that comes with the software helps you copy the pixels from the nearby areas and remove the damage that might have occurred on the picture.  Even if you are new to Adobe Photoshop, you will be able to learn it easily.

Corel Paintshop Pro

Corel Paintshop Pro Logo

This software is more than just the photo restoration program as it enables the users to manipulate digital images. You can use this platform to support the image file formats, which might also include the RAW files. Among the latest version of the software, you will find the one-click photo fix option, which will save a lot of your time during the image restoration process. You will also get to fine-tune the photos to make it appear more remarkable.



This is an impressive and open-source photo editing software feature that helps in photo restoration and will enable you to repair old photos. You can use the color adjustment feature to enhance the faded ones while the unsharp ones will help in creating flawless images. Apart from that, there is an abundance of options available in the software that will enable you to express the creativity in an efficient manner. However, if you are someone who is new to image editing, then you can spend a considerable amount of time in learning to use the GIMP more efficiently.

Retouch Pilot

Retouch Pilot Logo

This software is another powerful one which enables you to change the proportion of the objects that are depicted in a picture. You can also remove people from it entirely or add complex image backgrounds. The program will also let you restore old images in case they are severely damaged. However, the software comes with restrictions in features.

AKVIS Retoucher


This can be used as a standalone program or even as a plugin for the photo editing software. Another feature of this tool is that you can use it as a plugin for Adobe Elements or Corel Paint Shop Pro. However, the functionality of the software would depend on the license that you have. Even the process of mending old photo is extremely easy and will not take much time. You will just need to select the areas where you want to repair and hit the run button, and the program would erase the stains and missing parts automatically.


Photo restoration is one of the challenging tasks & takes a lot of effort & time. With the latest available technology, you can ensure that photo restoration can be done effectively to help you retain memories.

Which is the best photo retouching software as per your experience? Feel free to comment below to let me know.

Also, if you are looking to outsource photo restoration services, connect with us at to get your free quote.

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