Save Those Old Photos: Pic Scanner for iPad Review

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Scanning multiple photos
Scanning multiple photos

Anyone who is 25 and over probably remembers the analogue days of photography. The ‘good old days’ of not being exactly sure what your pictures would look like when you snapped them on your camera, and the agonising, up to a week wait for the photos to be developed. You then had the exciting moment of taking them out of the envelope, only to find half of them over or under exposed and a few ruined when you opened the back of the camera to see if you had film left. Despite all of this, these real photos are all the more precious, offering a tantalising glimpse to another time, when your parents were your age and you were a baby. I’ve probably got about 50 photos of me as a baby, compared to thousands of digitals which we have of my daughter. Our problem comes however when we want to share or preserve these old photos. Yes, we could scan them one by one, but Pic Scanner has kindly come up with a way to streamline the process somewhat.

The idea behind Pic Scanner is that you can lay out multiple photos on a desk (ideally with a white background), take a picture of them with Pic Scanner, and the app will automatically crop them and turn them into digital pictures. A nice touch in the app is that you can also organise them by albums and you can bulk move the pictures to the album once you have snapped them all. Once done, you can send them to a variety of places, the normal social media outlets or your camera roll.

Filters and other editing options are available post scan.
Filters and other editing options are available post scan.

I tested Pic Scanner on a few different photos of my daughter when she was a baby with my iPad Air and I’d describe the quality of the output as reasonable. I think that PicScanner is one of those apps which largely depends on the environmental conditions that you use it in. I was using it in a daylight illuminated room without lights on (as lights would reflect off the photos). I image if you thought carefully about your lighting conditions, which to be fair you probably would if you were doing a proper photo session, you could get improved images compared to my efforts. Also, the iPad Air camera is pretty good, but not the best. You’d probably get better results with the new iPhone 6 for example. With a few more megapixels, the definition of the photos would certainly increase, enabling you to scan in bulk with slightly higher quality. The app obviously relies on you holding the camera steady, but it does make use of the accelerometer to help you get your iPad horizontal to the desk so you can take the best possible photo.

The picture below shows a comparison between Pic Scanner and the normal iPad camera. Be aware that the image on the left was part of a group of images taken with PicScanner, the image on the right was taken on it’s own so the quality will naturally be lower.

Comparison between PicScanner (left) and normal iPad camera (right).
Comparison between Pic Scanner (left) and normal iPad camera (right).

None of the above is Pic Scanner’s fault of course because the app does a good job detecting the photos and cropping them out which is an enormous time saver rather than scanning them in one by one. I think to be honest, if I was using my iPad for this I’d wait until the hardware catches up with the software before going all out to digitise my old photo collection. Possibly the next iPad refresh will provide us with a better camera which would do Pic Scanner justice.

Photo taken and cropped automatically in PicScanner.
Photo taken and cropped automatically in PicScanner.

Overall Pic Scanner is a simple to use, no nonsense app which addresses an important need. Physical photos have a shelf life and once they are gone, they are properly gone for ever and I will certainty be coming back to Pic Scanner once my iPad gets a decent camera upgrade.

Pic Scanner is available here in the App Store. It is free, but you need an in-app purchase of $2.99 to unlock full exporting features.


James Potter

My day job is Director of Technology at one of the UK's leading independent schools. I'm on a daily mission to use, and learn to use technology in the most creative, innovative and transformational ways. The iPad ticks all of these boxes. I'm also an Apple Distinguished Educator, so at least Apple think I know what I'm blathering on about. My geekery also extends to a passion for cricket, amateur astronomy, video gaming and bad guitar playing. You can contact me on Twitter with the link below.

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One thought on “Save Those Old Photos: Pic Scanner for iPad Review”

  1. Definitely one of the more useful apps. I downloaded and tried it on iPhone 5. Scans and cropping came out great when two photos were scanned together. Avoid squeezing more photo prints into one scan.

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