PhotoScan App review and demo

photoscan-appI tested out Google’s PhotoScan app, recently.

I’m not a fan of flatbed scanning photos. If I want copies of photos, I use my camera and set up copy stand lighting. But that takes a lot of time and some extra lighting gear too. Not everyone has all that.

I’ve tested the PhotoScan app on an iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and Android device. It worked well on all of them.

If the video doesn’t play for you, you can watch it directly on YouTube.

As you can see from the video, this app works really simply.

This app is also useful for artists who want quick copies of their two-dimensional pieces. I tried the PhotoScan app on different sized paintings and artwork, and it worked better than I thought it would.

  • You may have to lay large artwork on the floor or put them lower down on the wall so you can reach them better.
  • The key is to keep the camera parallel to the artwork or photograph you’re copying.

Advantages of using the PhotoScan app

  • It’s fast and easy to use.
  • This app is great if you have old photo albums where the photos are stuck to the backing and you can’t get them out and can’t fit them into a flatbed scanner.
  • I can see myself using this app when visiting family members who have old family photos, and they don’t want to part with the originals.

Lighting tips

  • Try not to shoot using a kitchen or dining room over head light as your photos tend to get hot spots on them.
  • Instead, shoot using window light — my best results were on an overcast day or where the sunlight was indirect.

Things to watch out for

  • On glossy photos, make sure your reflection isn’t visible when doing the copy work.
  • Wear neutral colored clothing. I did some initial tests with a red shirt on, and I could see red reflections in my resulting photo.
  • Shooting under different lighting conditions may produce different results. I shot the same photo in different rooms of the house and got completely different color tones on each. Pick the one that’s most neutral or be prepared to edit your photos after the fact.
  • Do some tests before shooting a whole pile of photos.


  • This app is quick and easy to use and gives pretty good results that most people will be happy with.
  • Cell phone cameras do not have the extended tonal range that real cameras do, so I would only use these scans as reference, not as an archive.
  • Using a real camera, or a flatbed scanner is still a better way to create image archives of printed photos and artwork, but that kind of gear isn’t always available.
  • The Google PhotoScan app is better than nothing!

If you need more info, here’s the link to the video that the app developers created: