(Pic Scanner App Review) Scanning photos? There’s a great app for it
Pic Scanner, a new app, uses the iPhone and iPad’s 5-8MP cameras to digitize photos. Works great. Check it out on the App Store.
Last year, while visiting my grandmother, I stumbled upon a cache of old photo albums. Weddings, birthdays and other events from the lives of my parents, uncles and aunts, cousins. Most were B&W, with a fair sprinkling of early color photos. Some were starting to fade, a few were dog-eared, many were firmly glued into the albums. When I asked to borrow the albums to get them duplicated, the old lady shuffled uncomfortably. These were sentimental, one-of-a-kind artifacts, the negatives long lost. There was no way she was going to let these out sight, let alone out of house.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a review for Pic Scanner, a new photo scanning app. It was different from document scanning apps (which, BTW, do a great job of scanning documents). With Pic Scanner, you scan photo prints in batches of up to four at a time, and the app does the cropping and saving. While this happens in the background, you can carry on scanning the next batch. Thus, if you are scanning a pile of photos, a few seconds after scanning the last batch, all the photos are ready – digitized, cropped and neatly saved.
I downloaded the app. It cost $2.99 after a free trial. Now let me confess: I think twice when it comes to paying for apps. This is the first app I have ever bought, but as you will see, it was so worth it:) .
Camera screen: I placed two photos 1 cm apart on white paper, held the phone centered above it, focused by tapping the screen, and used the built-in spirit level on this screen to make the phone exactly horizontal. I then tapped the shutter button. This brought up Review screen (not shown), which shows the photo as captured. If it isn’t OK e.g. camera shake or out of focus, tap Retake. In my case, I tapped Use.
Cropped screen: I scanned two more photos, then navigated to this screen. It shows thumbnails of the photos scanned thus far. Tapping a thumbnail displays the photo on full screen, and you can edit e.g. rotate it if it’s not upright, or further crop it. Tapping Originals button (bottom left) displays all the photos as shot i.e. before cropping. Normally these aren’t needed, and after checking that all photos contained in these have been cropped, these can be deleted.
Filters screen: Pic Scanner includes a few special effect filters e.g. B&W, Sepia, Vignette etc. that seem to be suitable for old photos. Most filters also have a slider bar, so that you can e.g. add just a touch of sepia to the original colors. In this photo, I have used the Posterize filter – not sure, but it seems to make the photo look like an oil painting
Captions screen: This actually is a good feature. You can type in dates and other details. Can be quite useful, because in old photos you may not know (or recognize) everybody. In my case, my gran helped out, and now the records are safe:)
The app was easy to use, and worked as advertised. It also has some other features e.g. making albums and filing photos in them. Photo resolution is very good, more so when scanning two photos at a time (Scanning four is OK for Facebook posts.) I found daytime scanning better for avoiding glare and shadow, and also because I suspect iPhone cameras aren’t very good when lighting is less than perfect.
OK, so I showed up at my grandmother’s, iPhone in hand, and scanned two albums, some 260 photos, in 90 minutes. I scanned two at a time, directly from albums i.e. without taking them out. With loose photos, I could probably have done it in 60-70 minutes. Back at home, it was a cakewalk burning them to DVDs. Needless to say, an excited grandmother phoned everyone in our extended family, and everybody wanted copies!
A few things the app lacks, I wish they will come with future versions:
1) You can create albums and file photos in them, but can’t email the entire album e.g. as a zipped file. It does let you share multiple photos (similar to Apple’s Photos app) but zip file would be better
2) You can view captions on-screen but can’t export them as a text file. This I would even pay extra for!
3) After you’ve scanned a hundred or more photos, you have a lot of unnecessary Original photos saved in the app. These need to be deleted to free up disk space. A ‘Select all’ button would be good to have here.
Smart phones (especially iPhone) have made our lives easier in many ways. Pic Scanner is a good example where technology is used creatively to provide a solution for a real-life need.
Useful links: App Store page: https://itunes.apple.com/sg/