I generally enjoy reading articles in Familytree magazine but this one actually made me do a double take. You see it suggests that Google PhotoScan is a “Game Changer”. Now call me old fashioned but “A Game Changer” should be something that changes the game or it is better by far than what we have today. The trouble is, that the App and the technology and everything else Google PhotoScan offers is fine if you want to snap up a few photos, correct them (for light bounce etc) and store them in the cloud but hold on, since when did a lens on a phone come anywhere near to the granularity of a high-end scanner? NEVER that’s when.
So, I’m being scathing here and whilst they say it’s cheaper than using pricey scanners well, there’s a very good reason for that too. You only have to consider that the scanners I use can scan at resolutions up to 12,000 dots per inch to start to realise that there is a huge difference that a tiny camera lens, which could also be dirty, would have no chance of achieving anything like the resolution you would need to accurately pick up the image and lift it clearly off without blurring and having colour problems. My Scanners are accurately calibrated regularly to ensure that the image scanned is as accurate as it can possibly be.
Perhaps a useful article to read about why you should always defer to having photographs scanned properly is here. In this blog by Alison Taylor, Alison makes some key points about why you should not use the App as follows:
WHY YOU SHOULD NOT USE PHOTOSCAN TO DIGITIZE AND ARCHIVE YOUR OLD PHOTOS
- Very low image quality makes these “scans” useless for anything other than a quick social media post.
- Low pixel count (only 2000 x 1500) means it’s only good for the web. (My 3-year-old phone’s camera takes a pic that’s 5312 x 2988; I could print a decent 9 x 17 at least.) But what’s worse:
- High compression means you’ll see weird color shifts and blocky artifacts if you ever want to enlarge or print this photo.
- Distortion of your photo. The app uses your phone’s flash to take the picture, and then combines further multiple shots to remove the glare that is created by the flash. When it stitches all these pictures back together, your dad’s head may not be the same shape it used to be. Just sayin’.
- Over-sharpening and contrast obliterates fine detail. This amount of sharpening and contrast actually makes the photo easier to see if it’s zooming by on a tiny phone screen. But if you are capturing this photo to save forever, share, print, or view on a large screen, the file will be damaged beyond repair. For instance, if you are capturing a photo with a lot of people in it and their heads are pretty small, it’s a good bet that you may not be able to recognize these people when zooming in on the PhotoScan result.
- It takes 4x longer to capture an image using PhotoScan than it does with your phone’s camera app.
Alison has also shown various scans to back up her assertions and certainly, it makes for a graphic explanation of the huge differences between scanning and photographing old photos. You can see the whole article on “GOOGLE’S PHOTOSCAN APP IS A NIGHTMARE FOR YOUR OLD PHOTOS. HERE’S WHY.” here.