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How Estimating Works


Give me a ball park range.


In a nutshell.  


Some restoration services have flat rates, others count damage areas and every little thing they do as extra.  The average photo brought to us, falls into three ranges Light Range of $30-$60 Medium Range $70-$90 and Heavy Range $100. and up.  For some clients, this explanation is enough. If you need a closer estimate, we can not give you one without seeing the photo first.  Keep in mind that we do not outsource our work and the originals are in a safe environment. You may have the options of waiting for them to be scanned and keep the originals.   If you want a closer estimate and or you enjoy reading ...go on and read about the complex issues we have to consider when we estimate from the topics below. You may find it very interesting to say the least: 



Contents of this page.


Rough Estimates

Estimating Color Prices

Understanding Color Issues

Archival Quality Prints Prices

Electronic Files

Money Back Guaranteed

Options for badly damaged photos

Bulk Rates

Scanning Services and Any Type of Electronic file to any digital device.

Turn Around Time


Why some photos cost so much




Rough Estimates


The three photo samples below demonstrate light, medium and heavy damage.  It aids in determining a rough estimate, choose which one your photo maybe classified as.  For those who like to read and want to know more, keep scrolling.


$30-$60 Very minor damage mostly to the background or border and minor coloring issues. In this range the average photo submitted is usually $29.99 to remain competitive with changes is the image editing industry. Then you need to consider size and add the number of copies and taxes.

However if you are a current client with many photos to restore, or a loyal ongoing client we often do these simple images for $5. to $10 or even $20. dollars. We promise you won't find this deal anywhere. We strongly believe that all things are negotiable. We cater to genealogist and want to help the individual restore or archive their images for the next generation. Which is why we have such a strong following for all these years.




$70-$90 Most damages to the faces are in the $70 to 90 range. No damage to faces but still plenty of damage in general.

When a photograph is submitted to us and will take over an hour or a few hours to fix, we can NOT do it for $29.99. If the price we quote for you is acceptable to you and you have other photos you may want restored, we will consider doing the 2nd and 3rd photo for under $29.99 because we want to keep you as a lifetime loyal client. (at the time of the initial order)



$100 - $ 300, any higher than 300 is possible but rare. These usually are panoramic (7x36) or poster size and 20x30s. Other specialty projects fall in this range, such as documents, crayon portraits, vintage film or positive slide scanning, usually large quantities are involved and because of their individual unique challenges. Also the latest request to convert a Xerox (black n white on plain paper) photograph, into an image that looks more like a photograph.

If you don't know what you have, give us a call and try to describe it and we can usually tell you what it is and the date the image was mostly taken.

This image needs the works and many hours.

(NOTE: Don't forget to factor in the hard copies and CA Taxes)


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Colorizing Estimating




1).  $30 - $60

2).  $70 - $ 90

3).  $100 - and up


(NOTE: Prices above do not include hard copy.)

  1. This type of coloring is more like a special effect. the background is one color  and only the subject is colorized to bring it out and not necessarily a realistic color.

  2. Is colorizing the simply but more artistic and more detailed.

  3. The third range is colorizing every single detail of a detailed photo.

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Understanding Color Issues

When bringing back the color to these faded photos, your expectation of color is subjective.  What one person calls cherry red, someone else calls orange.  What color is on your screen and what color comes out on your paper are different.  You will never achieve the exact color you remember.  There are many reasons why coloring in a photo are subjective.  Just to name a few, there is the influence of the color lighting in a studio or outdoors, even the color of the clothing worn effects the coloring of the skin or eyes.  It is very difficult to tell the true color of someone's eyes in a photo and really doesn't matter when the photo is on a wall 5 feet away, you get the idea.

The objective to coloring these types of photos are to be able to display again, not necessarily to match your remembrance or obtain perfect skin or eye color.  The essence of the person is still captured.

For more information on color see our "Colorizing" section.



Archival Print Quality Prices 

Luster and Gloss Available

The bulk of the cost is in the restoration.  

All sizes, from wallets to 20x30 are possible, these are standard sizes for estimate pricing.

2.5 x 3.5 mini wallets on 5 x 7 sheet


4 x 6


5 x 7


8 x 10


11 x 14


12 x 18


16 x 20


Note: Standard sizes are most desirable because it saves you money by not having to buy custom matts and frames. When ever photos are not a standard size we crop and resize the photo to a standard size of choice. Only when a photograph has specific objects in the background of interest that would be lost in cropping, that we then, set the photo on the closest standard sheet and print the photo "as it is" and crop off the remainder empty space. The other option is to have us extend the sides of the photograph to achieve the ratio need to become a standard, which elevates the price of restoration depending on the amount of time spent to achieve that goal.



Options for Badly Damaged Photos

Always remember these are e s t i m a t e s.  

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  Extreme Bad Condition Original

$80.clean face

$200. and up for best possible


Some people like the photo to look old and choose to clean it up a bit like these samples.



$30. - $60.

clean it up a bit, copies, size and taxes

(NOTE: Prices above do not include hard copy and CA taxes.)

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With some restorations like these samples, the client can make a choice.  As with any restoration, such as the restoration performed on a classic car, or an old house, the total cost is determined by the desired end result of our clients. One photo is rarely just enhancing or just repairs, many techniques are used with all photos. The intent of this sample is an attempt to give you a simple estimate. Some client prefer it their vintage photos old and torn looking, with no change to the coloring, only repairing the worst damage or making it whole.


Once you figure about how much the restoration is, add the price of the prints plus copies and Tax. 


Quality and Appearance of Electronic files.

Electronic files or digital files are photographs that have been scanned. Electronic files are in demand for the following scenarios.

Most people want hard copies of the images we restore and they scan them themselves to do as they wish. Make a bizillon copies or publish a book.

Some people want hard copies and because they do not or may not have a scanner or want electronic files to share with family or add to their genealogy 

In the past through the years since we have been in business the policy of electronic files changed often. First we use to charge for the file for the obvious reason that once you have the electronic file you could print it yourself and we lost the repeat revenue of people needing copies. Most people want us to print for them because they lack the quality printer  we use to charge of electronic/digital files due to lose revenue from printing.






Scanning Service

California Residence add 8.75%

$3.00 per scan, crop and resize, no auto adjustments for photos 8x10 and under.  $5.00 per scan with automatic touch-ups, crop and resizing.
Film, slides are treated the same as photographs. No file organizing or naming.
Scans over 8x10 depends on the image. Call for quote.  
At genealogy conventions, we will scan images 8x10 and under (time permitting or minimum of 5 per client, at no cost) to any digital device you provide.  


Scanning Topics/ Services

1. For photo quality copies, color photos need to be scanned at "True Color, color depth 24 bit" as a minimum.  This is usually in the scanning process as either an option or a user preference setting.  If you don't know, you may want to review your specific scanners documentation or on-line help index to determine how to do this with your specific scanner.

2. When saving the files after scanning, save them as either .bmp,  .tif or .jpg. file format. The .jpg's are much smaller files and they print out fine, but of  the three, .bmp and tif are the best.  When we work on the original images, they are in either .tif or .psp (Paint Shop Pro) since these file formats are classified "lossless" compression, you loose nothing as you re-open and save. However the .jpg file formats, are classified as "lossy" compression.  You do loose some image quality every time you save and re-open a file.  You will notice a sharpness difference only when you magnify the image and only after many times of re-opening and saving it and only then does it become visible. The difference between file sizes are enormous.  An 8 x 10 photo scanned at 600 dpi as a .jpg is 3.7 mb. Scanned as a .tif or .psp the file is a whopping 60+mb... no way around it. You really need a performance machine when working on these monsters.

UPDATE (as of 8/8/13) on item #2, just above. While the facts on lossy and lossless, file formats are still true, we no longer save images as loss-less files. We use only jpeg formats now unless a client specifically request the use of a loss-less format. Since starting this business in 1999 we have come to the conclusion that working with lossless files was splitting hairs. Detecting signs of quality lost in a photograph is not possible by the human eye, when using a jpeg format just as long as you minimize the amount of times you make changes and save it.  You would have to do that many times to ruin the photograph. 

We also experience that the standard minimum we require of 300 dpi for a good photo results is not always possible and when a client requested that we work on and print an 8x10 photograph at only 150 dpi. It wasn't fantastic but it really wasn't bad at all, when this is all you have to work with.  All things are relative. 

3. For the finished restoration copy to be photo quality when printed, the scan resolution must be fairly high.  Rule of thumb to determine scan resolution is, that if no enlargement of the original will be made, can at a minimum of 300 ppi (pixels per inch).  If enlargements are needed, you should scan higher. Use the method below to determine the proper scan resolution:


Magnification Scan Resolution
1X 300
2X 600
3X 900
4X 1200
5X 1500
6X 1800


Example: if your photo measures 4 x 6 inches and you want to enlarge it to a 5x7, you need to think...how many times larger is that? 2X's larger?... so you would scan at 600 and it can be resized later to work on. 




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Scanning & Storage

Digital Frenzy: Have all your photos scanned onto any digital device, then you can transfer them to any medium that comes along in the future. Store your originals away in a fire proof box and view them on any digital device as often as you want without damaging your photos further. Once on digitalized you can print copies for everybody, e-mail them to your friend, share them on internet, and make PowerPoint presentations for all kinds of events.  If you do not have a scanner or you are already scanning more than you care to, save time and  let Photos Made Perfect scan for you. Photos to Video is the scrapbook of the future, we have a list of Video people in our custom gifts pages.

The downside of technology: While being able to use digital devices and enjoy them today, there is a downside to the latest and greatest technology. Storing photographs to the latest technology means that your decent will have to have the device to access the photographs and if they don't. If your descendant lack the means to purchase devices to access the photograph not only will they not see them but the generation after that will have to hunt down the old technology device to access them. Last word on this is, printing photographs is always the best preservation. 

Storage: Store your originals in an dark, dry, acid free and a temperature controlled environment. More reading on this topic, visit Library of Congress.

Future Packaging & Preservation LLC  (archival supplies division) has acid free papers and plastics to store often used as well as "Scanned once and put away safely" photos, clippings, and important documents, PH pen for detecting alkaline and much more.  For more information call 800-786-6627 in 1580C W. San Bernardino Rd, Covina CA 91722




Article from Sept 1999 PC Photo Magazine


Scanning Success.  You get the best final images when you start with the best scans. 

Text and Photography by Graeme Fordyce


Working on your own images is one of the most gratifying things to come from the rise of computers in the home. There's tremendous satisfaction in taking a photo, seeing it through the scanning and processing workflow then printing out this beautiful product of your efforts.  All scanning is more than a matter of plugging a print or slide into a chunk of hardware, though. There's more under the surface, and these tips should help smooth and improve  your approach, as well as prevent some of the gremlins that can creep into the scanning process.


Know what you are buying, and look for the best you can afford. Everything looks impressive in the ad and sounds amazing when the salesperson is trying to move a product. Know the fundamental film and flatbed scanner characteristics to seek.  The are: high optical resolution, large bit depth (at least 36-bit) and wide dynamic range (at least 3.6, on the scale from 0 to 4.0).  The type of connectivity is no small matter either--it will affect the data transfer rate a great deal (SCSI is the fastest, then USB, then parallel port).  Flatbed scanners with CIS are very compact, but CCD sensors still offer better scan quality.




Here's the estimating formula:


Restoration price

 + Print (hard copy) price (optional)

 + Electronic file (optional)

 + Shipping (optional)

 + Expediting/rush fee (optional)

   + CA state tax  or (out of state, no tax)


= Total Cost



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Turn Around Time

The usual turn around time is 8-10 business days or 24 business hours.

This allows time to deal with weekends, difficult images, a heavy flow of incoming work and interruptions from weekends, single day holidays, high holidays and personal events such as vacation and sick days due to the fact that one person is doing all the restorations. There is no out-sourcing. 

The only time this rule is broken is for funerals, we are sensitive to the situation and can have the image ready usually in 24 business hours or in time for the wake or funeral based on individual circumstances. All others that want the restoration done ASAP, won't mind paying expediting fees of $75. The great majority of clients desiring a restoration are not in any particular hurry and prefer a job well done without pressure, thank you for this greatly appreciated leeway. 

Why Some Photos Cost So Much










Looking at the original, it appears to have only yellowed and only a few spots and stains on the sky.  However, after removing the yellow you can now see the overall filth and blotches.  This will take more time then first thought.  With these types of yellowed photos, this is usually the case. Which brings us to our next topic....Is it worth it? It may or may not depending on many circumstances that only you can determine.






Restoring Poor Photos

Understanding the limitations of restoring or improving a poor quality image.


 Already Had Work Done?  

Let us have a look and we can tell you if we could have made it better! 

Keeping It Real



This is the original. It is not a great candidate for restoration because it is only 2x2 inches, not in focus and covered with tiny cracks and grime.  Enlarging it to be able to see it better is desirable but comes at a price. It takes more time, patience and skill so that you don't see the work that has been done.  When it is completed, what you have is a restored version of a poor quality image.  So the out-come is more time and money spent for the least gratification.  







With that said, all things are relative. If the image is important to you, it is worth every attempt to at least restore it to it's original state, even if that state is only repaired and not better than the original.  Too often people expect miracles because they have seen a beautiful but damaged photograph restored and made better than the original, not understanding that it was possible because the photograph was a quality image to start with.   We tell you all this upfront, there are zero surprises.





This image was done by another company. The client was not happy.  The damage is gone but the eyes have changed, she doesn't look like herself and they made no attempt to fix her collar.  Simply put this image has been OVERWORKED.  





The image below is our interpretation of the same image.


This looks more like the tiny original, minus the damage!  The client, now understanding the limitations of poor quality images, was satisfied and was happy to pay for this restoration. The Final was an 8x10!

Poor quality images, with will always be a poor image. What you end up with is a restored poor image. Restoration is restoring to it's original state. These images fall into our "guarantee exception" policy below. Photos that are out of focus, can not be made to be in focus. 



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Money Back Guaranteed




We guarantee 100% satisfaction with our work.  If you are not satisfied, we will try to make things right.  If you are still not happy after all is said and done, you have a money back guarantee with the return the photos within 15 days. 


The Exception - Sometimes as in  this case seen here below.  If we tell you that your photo can be restored to a better state than it is but in our professional opinion you may not be please and you still want to go forward.  We tell you up front that we do not give you your money back after putting so much time into the photo. 


Too much general damage. At times the end results can only be as good as the detail that is there to work with in the first place.  If the photo is not in focus before, neither will the after be.  Too much damage results in the photo appearing more like a drawing. Depending on how you feel about the particular photo, this may be acceptable. Our client was satisfied.














Bulk Rates = Savings you can't get in chain stores.




All things are Negotiable, there is no negotiating like this with any other company.  We cater to genealogist, scrapbookers and anyone who has inherited the responsibility of rescuing their family history through photos. When someone comes in with just one photograph we have a minimum of $29.99, but if you set everything you would like done on the table we can help you get it all done. We consider and quote the worst and all other photos with minor repairs we practically give away.  So it's to your benefit to get all your photographs together at one time.


 Make an appointment to see what we can do for you.  619-397-7600 8AM - 8 PM PST.


If your photo looks like these, we don't expect success.







Sometimes we can lighten and enlarge a photo and discover that it's in pretty good shape, other times we see this and it's just not restorable. This is why quotes over the phone are not recommended. Some people are glad to pay $5.00 just for the scan and enlargement even if it's bad, just to be able to put to rest the question of "who was in the photo" or say "at least I can see it now".






Their faces are blurred and cloudy. Then there is actual physical damage. There isn't anything we can do about blur, however some clients ask us to restore a bad photo anyway...it makes them feel better.










There is not very much hope for these at all. The time spent to make them better would make it too expensive and not worth the trouble. The oval was on paper which is why you see lines and the second just too much damage.







  Be an Educated Consumer 


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It's a huge mistake to choose a restoration service based on price or distance from your home alone.


Compare apples to apples.

(read pros and cons of each)







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Price Wars 

(a must read!)

Lets talk about a photo restoration costing only $29.99. The old adage,

"You get what you pay for" still applies.



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