Technology

How to save money and scan your photos digitally using your phone and Google PhotoScan

It’s not just for ancient picture albums to scan pictures into digital copies. You’re often going to have to decide these days whether to purchase a costly digital version of college pictures, not to mention weddings. But when you have a photo scanner in your pocket, why spend additional cash?

Google PhotoScan is an app for both Android and iOS, and operates by using your phone’s camera to take multiple pictures of a printed photograph, using intelligence to stitch and label the corners of the photo. Photo stitching also works to eliminate glare from the flash of your phone, although the best results are obtained from a well-lit photo using natural light.

To be honest, the clearest, most sharp outcomes will be presented by a indigenous digital image. And if you have a specialized scanner, or a multifunction printer with a scanner connected to it, you certainly need to explore that option. But scanners cost cash, as do the digital image rights — I was paid $17 by the local photo service! Instead, investigate what your own camera can do for that Instagram article before ponying up.

(See for sure what privileges you have to share those pictures, and if the photographer claims any privileges to the pictures in question. If you took the pictures yourself, you should be okay.)

How to scan a photo with PhotoScan in 3 easy steps

First, download Google PhotoScan for Android or PhotoScan for iOS. Google doesn’t restrict what phones you can use with PhotoScan, although you’re going to need Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or greater. You’re clearly going to need a picture, glossy or not. Apparently, Google does not place any size constraints, although I only used larger 3×5 and 4×6 prints.

Secondly, start scanning. PhotoScan shows you what to do when you launch the app: shoot the entire print inside the camera frame. Then PhotoScan superimposes four narrower circles over the print picture and asks you to push the “targeting” reticle of PhotoScan over each one. (The brief tutorial explains this beautifully again).

Don’t worry if you don’t align the targeting reticle precisely over each of the targets because it didn’t seem to make any difference in the finished image’s clarity. As I also aligned them, the circles tended to jump a little.

Also, PhotoScan enables you to define the picture angles after capturing the picture. This only came into play when I used PhotoScan with a print set against a light backdrop, making distinguishing the edges more difficult.

Scanning your picture using natural light or your camera’s artificial light can create distinctions. The picture at the bottom, shot with the camera flash indoors, looks brighter. The turquoise, however, is not as near to the photo’s true color, shot in the first frame under natural light.

However, what appears to influence the picture is the lighting. In an unlit, draped room, I shot the same photograph using the light of my phone to illuminate the picture. Then I walked outside and in the afternoon shade I photographed the same print with marked color variations. The outdoor one looked in locations a little more wash-out, though the color also seemed to be more true to life. Determining what works best might be worth experimenting with. Note that there is a “magic wand” icon to switch on or off the capacity of PhotoScan to make up for the flash of the camera.

The resolution also appears to be cut by PhotoScan. Although I shot the picture on the Google Pixel 3 using a 12.2MP camera, the scanned picture saved in a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000.

Thirdly, after-processing. Just shouting! There is no third phase, in the PhotoScan app at least. PhotoScan saves your phone’s picture, enabling it to be automatically backed up to Google Photos, Microsoft OneDrive, or iCloud from Apple. Any post-processing— adjusting contrast, color, or red-eye — must be performed using an app like the Photos app from Windows 10, Google Photos, Lightroom, or similar.

That, though, is it. PhotoScan is intended to be and is intended to be easy and intuitive. Use an ancient picture to try it yourself. The findings may surprise you — and be good enough on future picture shoots to save some cash.

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