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University at Buffalo Libraries

Digital Collections

Digitization Standards

Images should ideally be digitized at the same resolution as they were created. Based on the source resolution, here are some common rules of thumb for selecting a scanning resolution:

Source Resolution
Photographs 600 dpi
Documents 600 dpi
Negatives 2400 dpi
Mounted Slides and 2x2 Transparencies 4000 dpi

Resolutions vary by the printing process, and the make and model of the printer. A good strategy is to try several resolutions, and pick the one that provides the highest quality results. Higher resolution does not automatically mean higher quality.

If possible, select a resolution that will yield image masters with a minimum height or width of 1,000 pixels. This won't always be possible, and sometimes the answer is to look for a better-quality source.


Recommended Master Image File Format:

  • Uncompressed TIFF
  • 24-bit color, 16-bit grayscale or 1-bit bitonal (for text and line art)

Display files should be formatted as JPEG, and thumbnail files JPEG or PNG.


Multimedia Preservation Files

Standard Definition Video
  • Uncompressed, Full Frame Video (MOV file format)
  • NTSC: 29.97 frames per second
  • 640 x 480 resolution

High Definition Video
  • Uncompressed, Full Frame Video (MOV file format)
  • Preserve same frame rate
  • 1280 x 768 resolution

Audio Files
  • Sampling rate 256kHz, 24-bit
  • Standard WAV file format
  • Uncompressed

Multimedia Presentation Files

Standard Definition Video
  • Compressed MP4 file format
  • 640 x 480 resolution

High Definition Video
  • Compressed MP4 file format
  • 1280 x 768 resolution
Audio Files
  • Sampling rate 256kHz, 24-bit
  • MP3 file format