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Scan Resolution: How to get high-resolution scans

When using Pic Scanner or Pic Scanner Gold, the scan resolution can vary depending on how you do it. Here are a few easy scanning tips for getting high-quality scans:

(Please note that although the screen shots in this article are from Pic Scanner, the tips apply equally to Pic Scanner Gold).

To begin with, know that iPhone 6s/7 and iPad Pro have 12 MP cameras, iPhone 5/6 and iPad Air 2 have 8 MP, and older models only have 5 MP or less. Scan resolution will obviously depend on the iPhone/iPad model and camera. If you have an iPhone as well as iPad, scan with iPhone. An iPhone will generally have a better camera than similar-vintage iPad. iPad is also heavier and bulkier, which makes it harder to hold steady and avoid camera shake.

1) Scan one or two photos at a time:

Our apps speed up scanning by letting you scan multiple photos simultaneously. The examples below show how to scan two or four photos:

1Scan2         4photos

Scanning four at a time is obviously faster than scanning two, but it halves the scan resolution. The more photos you squeeze into each scan, the fewer pixels you’ll get in each cropped photo. So if you plan to archive or make reprints, scan one or two photos at a time. For quick sharing on Facebook, scanning 3-4 may be OK.

Of course, if you have an iPhone or iPad with 12 MP camera, scans will be great even when you scan four at a time!

2) Ensure good lighting:

iPhone and iPad cameras aren’t great in low-light conditions. Photos taken in poor light will look dull and grainy.

sharp         grainy

Can you tell which of the above scans was done by daylight (which is best for scanning) and which was in poor light? (So if you’ve downloaded the app at night, now isn’t the ideal time to put it to test;)!

Scan near a window to get indirect light and no glare. Electric light (scanning at night) is OK, but colors may come out different in white (fluorescent) vs. yellow light.

Most of all, the scan resolution of cropped photos depends on HOW you scan.

3) Camera distance:

When you scan with iPhone or iPad, the captured image contains your photos and some (white or plain) background. Pic Scanner detects, crops out and saves the photos and discards the background. This is how auto-cropping works.

Now let’s see three examples that illustrate right and wrong ways to scan:

Background OK     Camera too far     Camera too close

In photo #2, the camera is too far. Too much background; too little photo. So, while cropping will be correct, most of your megapixels will be discarded and you’ll get a low resolution scan. Conversely, if the camera is too close and the photo extends beyond the scanner frame (Photo #3), photo will be cropped inaccurately. Photo #1 is the correct way to scan.

4) Arranging photos:

When scanning photos, arrange them as shown below so as to minimize the white background:

Orientation not OK     image[6]     Wrong way     Correct gap

In the above examples, #1 and #3 contain too much white space and will result in lower resolution scans. Examples #2 and #4 minimize white space, and are better.

Thus, how you place the photos and how far you hold the camera can have a significant impact on the resolution of cropped photos.

Bonus scanning tips for Pic Scanner Gold users with iPhone 6 / iPad Air or newer devices: 1) Enable High Resolution Mode by tapping Menu > Info & Settings > Quality Control. Cropping in this mode takes 3-4 seconds more, but resolution is much higher. 2) During cropped, photos’ thumbnails are shown at the bottom of Scanner screen. You can tap them to go to Gallery.

More tips in our 5-Minute Guide. Experiment until it looks good, then scan away!