Scanner vs. iPhone for capturing old photographs

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by convergent, Jul 8, 2016.

  1. convergent macrumors 68030


    May 6, 2008
    We have a LOT of old photographs (and negatives) stored in boxes. I'm talking about thousands and thousands of pictures taken with 35mm of my family, and some heirloom photos from extended family that have passed way. Years ago I bought a fairly expensive Epson V750 Pro scanner and tried to star scanning a few times. I frankly haven't had the time to really do it because scanning with a high quality scanner is very slow and time consuming... although the results are very good.

    It is much quicker to take pictures of old photographs with my iPhone. What I'm curious about is what is the real quality/resolution difference between using the iPhone vs. scanner... assuming I scanned at 600DPI for example with the scanner (its capable of much higher resolution). I'm at the point of thinking it would be better for me to have them captured by the iPhone vs. procrastinating for another 10 years (or forever) because of the time involved of using the scanner.

    Anyone done any comparisons or have any thoughts on this? What apps have you tried on the iPhone?
  2. NorCalLights macrumors 6502a

    Apr 24, 2006
    I would absolutley not use an iPhone for this... unless you're going to set up a tripod mount of some sort, just thinking about holding the camera makes my hands hurt. And how will you hold it level? And plus, you'll still need to crop out everything outside of the photo.

    I would, instead, get a Fujitsu Scansnap scanner. They scan color at 300dpi, and you just feed the photos through them. Since they feed straight through, the photos won't get bent.

    Scansnap scanners aren't the greatest quality photo scanners in the world (they're mostly meant for documents), but they handle objects of differing sizes really really well, and they are very fast.
  3. Squirrel macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2001
    I wouldn't recommend a Scansnap. For one, you can't scan negatives with a ScanSnap, and two, if your photos are curled, you run the risk of damaging them in the Scansnap. The flatbed scanner really is the best way to go to keep the photos protected, and you can even scan several photos at once. Scanning software will allow you to scan them all together, yet they will be separate files. If you really want to try taking photos of your photos, you'll want a way to mount your iphone for sure. While I haven't used my iphone, I have used a DSLR on a photo stand. Here is a link to the photo stand that I use. There are smartphone mounts that have a 1/2" screw at the bottom (I have one) and you would attach it to the camera plate. Have a look...d

    Alzo Digital Macro Table Top Studio
  4. mildocjr macrumors 65816

    For photographs I'd suggest scanning them with a scanner at a high dpi, the color will be more accurate than taking a picture with your phone, this also removes other issues such as gloss glare and having to manually crop the photo afterwards. It's also faster to scan your photos, unless you are a cellphone camera ninja with perfect aim and no glare.
  5. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    Scanner. Nothing else. Pay a service to do this. They have the mega-buck scanner that does this as best possible. It is an investment and you will be glad you did. You will be unhappy if you do it any other way because it will suck. Don't think it won't or that your results will be ok. They won't be and you will spend half your life getting bad results. You need to save your time for when they are done and you need to fix them up in Lightroom or another photo program. This is not a fast process, but there is no easy or quick alternative. Slides are great though and many of the photos will be terrific.
  6. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    For a bunch of old snapshots I used my ScanSnap. Results were acceptable and very quick. A print mad from the scanned image was just barely noticeable as a different image.
  7. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Get a relatively moderate priced scanner. It is a good investment. You don't have to scan your images above 600 dpi. In fact, some restoration folks say 300 dpi is fine. As for me (as this is what I do) use 600 to 1200 dpi on complex restorations but a simple copy - 300 to 600 dpi should be fine. As for colour, this has more to do with software and your monitor. The latter items are a topic unto themselves. Typical scanners include Epson and Canon as the most popular.
  8. filmbufs macrumors 6502


    Sep 8, 2012
    ^ This.

    But if you're looking for convenience, take it to a place and work out a deal since you have so many images. If you use an iPhone, chances are good your images will be skewed unless you're somehow able to hold it level and parallel. And then there's the glare factor unless you're an expert at lighting. And, of course, they'll be lower res using an iPhone.
  9. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Agreed. If you have don't have the time to do it yourself, there are places that will do it for you. I also agree that the iPhone is not the best tool for the job.

    As for colour photos - you don't have to be overly concerned with the top of the line as most photo prints are extremely limited in their colour gamut (being reflective art as it were) and easily captured by a decent scanner or better quality "real" camera with a flat field lens.
  10. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Glare off any type of glossy photograph is hard to control using an iPhone to copy a photo. Scanner (or service) is the way to goal.
  11. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Sorta depends on what you wanna do with 'em. I prefer a service (like digmypics) but there are frames for using an iPhone to photograph film: for example.

    You can get decent results for just stuff like Instagram posting or previewing and such. But it's time consuming and not as good as a good scanner, or a DSLR or mirrorless and a nice rig for the images. And software that can remove dust and color correct is kinda important too.

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