What Do The Fujitsu ScanSnap Compression Settings Do?

What Do The Fujitsu ScanSnap Compression Settings Do?

Compressed Paper

If you have a Fujitsu ScanSnap, you may have gone into ScanSnap Manager to adjust the settings of your scanning profile. When you did, you likely saw the Compression tab and a) wondered what it did, and b) didn’t touch it.

To that end, I’m going to play around with it so that you don’t have to.

ScanSnap Manager Default Compression Tab

What Does The Help Say?

To start with, what does the ScanSnap Manager Help say about the Compression tab?

In the [Compression] tab of the ScanSnap setup window, you can specify the compression rate for the scanned images.

Well, we could have guessed that. What does it mean? Basically, it means you can save space by reducing the quality of the image, which therefore makes the file smaller. As the help goes on to say:

Note that noise in the image becomes more noticeable as you increase the compression rate, and vice versa.

Default

On the compression tab, you’ll se a slider and number. By default, the slider is set to the middle with a number 3.

It is slightly confusing, but basically the more you slide the slider to the right, the higher the number. The higher the number, the more compression is used, therefore the smaller the file, and therefore the lower the quality.

The Test

I want to see what impact the compression setting has, so I am going to do a little test. I have two documents:

  • A black & white document
  • A color magazine ad

I am going to scan these documents with the default, maximum, and minimum compression with the following scan settings:

  • Quality set to 300dpi
  • OCR set to off
  • Color set to Automatic
  • Scanner is a ScanSnap S1300

Default Settings

  • B&W Document: File size: 328 KB. Quality: Good ((I recognize that Great is subjective, but I don’t know how to quantify it. Assume the default of Great is the baseline))
  • Color Document: File size: 717 KB. Quality: Good

Minimum Compression

  • B&W Document: File size: 319 KB. Quality: The Same
  • Color Document: File size: 2.2 MB. Quality: Slightly better

Maximum Compression

  • B&W Document: File size: 311 KB. Quality: The Same
  • Color Document: File size: 315 KB. Quality: Not Too Different

The Results

As you can see, for a black and white document with Color set to Automatic, there is not much in the way of file size changes one way or the other.

However, there are wide swings in file size with the color magazine article. From 315KB all the way up to 2.2 MB.

To my laser-surgeryed eyes, I don’t see much of a change in quality between the three color documents, but since quality is so subjective, I have zipped up the PDFs for you to download if you so choose. You can download them here.

If you scan a lot of color documents and space is your concern, try bumping up the compression settings and see how the results turn out for you.

(Photo by Derrick Coetzee)

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 6 comments

bubtub - February 14, 2015 Reply

Thanks for this. I think a test with different compression settings and OCR on may be warranted though unless anyone knows for certain the OCR is performed before the compression is?

I do wish there was a last minute button on the scan to folder preview window that allowed you to save as “greyscale only” rather than having to tweak the settings each time.

Linda - April 12, 2013 Reply

I am seriously considering the purchase of the ix500 but want to make sure I am going to achieve my goal which is to be able to scan black and white documents (with easy of clarity) and not have the file so big that I can't email it. My typical document size can run from 10 to 25 pages. Would you please share with me your experience with this?

Kenny - August 22, 2012 Reply

Just want to say thanks for writing this handy article! Perfect info for what I was wondering.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - August 22, 2012 Reply

    Thanks so much Kenny!

HomelessOnWheels - May 18, 2011 Reply

I think, as your samples have proven, that there isn't a lot of difference when scanning typical documents. Where it might make more of a difference would be on documents with very small printing or scanning of actual photographs (as opposed to photos printed in magazines). I leave mine at the default settings most of the time for normal document archiving.

What I have found to make a really big difference is black-and-white vs greyscale vs color. In the auto mode, sometimes even a simple black-on-white document will get saved as greyscale or even color if the paper is a bit off-white or textured. Also a colored logo on a letterhead will cause the document to be saved as color, when black-and-white is all that is needed (and makes the smallest filesize).

I will force b/w mode if I am scanning a bunch of documents and I have already checked that none would benefit from color or even greyscale for my needs.

Also (especially?) when I scan in books, as it not only saves a lot of disc space, but also seems to speed up the processing. Not enough to make a difference on a handful of pages, but a two- or three-hundred page book? big difference.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - May 18, 2011 Reply

    Great point about forcing black and white. You're right, it is a huge difference in size just because there is a blue pen mark on the page or something.

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