CyberSpace! History Technology

The Art of Archive iPhone Photography

My family has a long tradition of scanning my grandparent’s titanic collection of slides using a specially built slide scanner.

In terms of numbers, we’re talking at least 10,000 slides. You would delicately extract each minuscule slide from its case, place it in the scanner, press a button, wait 2 seconds, and then repeat. This project took years of visits to complete.

Google’s App PhotoScan aims to utilize the smartphone’s pre-existing hardware to help people more easily digitize analogue photographs in a way not unlike this clunkier slide scanner technology.

But is it any better than the built in smartphone camera? (iPhone 7 for folks who know about these things…) Time to find the most glaring spot in the house and take a test!

Taken using Google’s PhotoScan. 1.9MB
Taken using iPhone’s Camera App w HDR Enabled. 3.1MB
Taken using iPhone’s Camera App w HDR Disabled. 2.8MB

Differences? Well, the iPhone’s HDR image was a 160% larger file size for starters. Even the single iPhone image, without HDR, was 140% larger. These differences may seem trivial in a single photo, but multiply these numbers across the thousands of images one might collect in a day at the archives, and you’ve got a major difference.

Pictured: Your Photo Library. (Image by Pexels from Pixabay)

In terms of other tech, the real neat trick is that the glass covering this photo nearly disappears from the Google image. The worst glare spots endure, but other reflections along the bottom and top of the frame have been eliminated. Scroll back up to see what I’m talking about.

As for the negative: PhotoScan takes a LOT longer than a quick iPhone snapshot. PhotoScan asks you to take multiple photos from different angles to create its composite image. Again, no big deal for a single image, but problematic if you’re working under a time crunch, or with thousands of images.

The Verdict: Download PhotoScan. Your smartphone’s built in camera app will still be preferable in a timecrunch, but in every other way, PhotoScan will give you a higher quality image in a smaller file size.

1 thought on “The Art of Archive iPhone Photography”
  1. Sam Wilson says:

    Great Post Peter. My family is in the long process of going through my Grandma’s old slides and scanning them. I think its been going on since 2017, and we’re still not very close to being done. And then there are the thousands of printed pictures that could possibly be scanned and uploaded using Google Photo Scan. Overall, the application seems like a great way to scan images and add them to one’s digital library.

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