Introduction: Scan Photo With Your Mobile Phone

Picture of Scan Photo With Your Mobile Phone

This instructables show how to use a mobile phone to scan the photo in your old album.

Your mobile phone have a mega pixels camera with auto focus. It is a very good photo scanner, you just need a light source and some aids to make the mobile parallel to the photo.

Step 1: Preparation

Picture of Preparation

White corrugated plastic sheets (or called PP carton board)

White LED strip (around 1 meter)

Step 2: Measure, Draft and Cutout

Picture of Measure, Draft and Cutout

Every type of mobile camera have some variant, such as focal length and minimum focus distance. You need perpare a maximum size photo, say 5R or 4R, you want to scan. try to use your mobile camera take that photo, reserve some margin and measure the distance between camera and photo. The distance is the light box height.

The light box width and depth depends on the photo dimension and add few cm margin.

Here is my measure for iPhone 6s taking 4R photo:

height: 16 cm

width: 21 cm

depth: 16 cm

The light box has 4 side surround and a removable top side, the bottom are placing photo so no need to made a bottom.

At the top it has a hole at the center for placing mobile camera, I also make a plate with a big hole for fixing the mobile camera fit to the center hole.

P.S. Thanks to user cafemiguel point it out, the word "hold" in the picture should be "hole".

Step 3: Cut the Edge Pit

Picture of Cut the Edge Pit

Cut the pit for each folding edge for easy folding.

Step 4: Stick the Mobile Fixing Plate With Light Box Top

Picture of Stick the Mobile Fixing Plate With Light Box Top

Step 5: Stick the Box Side

Picture of Stick the Box Side

Step 6: Stick the LED Strip

Picture of Stick the LED Strip

Stick the LED strip outside the Light box, the LED facing interior and leave around 4-5 cm from the bottom.

Step 7: Slot the Light Box Top

Picture of Slot the Light Box Top

Fold the top side lip and slot it into the light box side.

Put on the mobile to the mobile fixing plate.

Step 8: Turn on and Check the Light Source

Picture of Turn on and Check the Light Source

Turn on the LED, turn on the mobile camera, place the light box on a white paper and check the light well distributed. Adjust the LED strip height if needed.

Step 9: Happy Scanning!

Picture of Happy Scanning!

The photo scanner is ready!

You may not need to take out the photo from the album, try direct place the light box on your photo album and scan it.

It require crop the photo after scanning. If you don't want to crop after scan, try searching app with keyword "photo scan". You may find some good app for free.

Step 10: Storing

Picture of Storing

After scanning, you can remove the top side and unfold the light box for easy storing.


tincho1962 (author)2017-07-31

Contagem de algo util para fotografiar negativos de 35mm

陳亮 (author)2017-05-13

this one seems good:

PoProbot (author)2016-03-01

Thank you! I have a question about using the led light strip, as I have never used one before: 1.) how does one attach the cord to the strip? Is there soldering involved? I don't get it.

I would really like to make one of these. We have a scanner as part of the copy machine, but if you can't remove the photo from the album safely, it doesnt always scan the ones on the edge of the page very well, and throws shadows, etc.

This looks like a great alternative to trying to detach old photos from one of those old albums which used a sticky surface to hold photos in place. I have tried carefully pulling them off but they usually get damaged and bent.

zacker (author)PoProbot2016-03-01

don't worry about the LED's if you make this you can get 1 or two small table lamps with led bulbs in them and try putting one on either side of the box and letting the light shine through the sides. if the white board this box is made of does not let the light pass through, cut a "window on each side of the box just a bit larger than the light and then cover the "windows" with either white "tracing paper" or something else that's white yet see through like white Vellum (sold at craft stores in the paper / scrap booking sections) al you want to do is provide white, smooth lighting that doesn't reflect off the photos. you don't want the light to shine directly on the object so the light should "bounce" around inside the box and cover the whole inside evenly. if you get some lamps that are on some type of adjustable, gooseneck type stands, youll be way ahead of the game!

PoProbot (author)zacker2017-05-09

I FINALLY got around to buying the corrugated opaque plastic board and the lights. I'm nervouse about making it so I'm going to make a paper template for all the parts first. I'm used to sewing and using patterns, so it will give me confidence and I wont make a mistake when cutting the corrugated opaque board.

I'll post a photo once it's "done" and read to use !

zacker (author)PoProbot2017-05-10

cool... let us know the outcome and take lots of pictures!

zacker (author)PoProbot2016-03-01

also... go up to the top of the page and type in Light box into the search.. youll find a lot of other options for making something that you can use...

陳亮 (author)PoProbot2016-03-01

I have ordered a 5V 1 meter LED strip with USB plug.
I also cannot remove the photo from the album, so I made this light box.

Johnson Selva (author)2017-03-27

Wow thats great dude...

doktor3616 (author)2017-03-25

Tebrik ederim.Harika paylaşım.

enjoydiy (author)2017-03-06

I like it, I will refer to the production, for the remake of ole black and white photos, thank you!

kariswg1 (author)2017-02-23

Great idea, but I took a clear, dollar store shoebox, discarded the lid, turned it upside down, cut a hole for the camera lens, set the phone on it, and it worked perfectly.

Wrrr 10-G (author)2017-02-22

Wow, simple and practical, and even storing is included! In spite of the comments below: you created a very standardised illumination method.
Very nicely done, thank you sir.

dook (author)2017-02-22

Great idea for an inexpensive light box for jewelry photos. Thanks for sharing.

diydiva (author)2017-02-20

The best light is on a sunny day in open shade. You will get true color and no shadows. My $1200 Epson sits in the studio mostly unused these days.

OpusG5 (author)2017-02-20

Seems like to much work, just download Google scan free and you can save old photos in high resolution, works great on my iPhone

patytrico (author)2017-02-20

Great PORTABLE idea to save all that old photos just from the album! I would try it soon, thanks for share it ;) Actually I'm doing it holding the phone in my hand and the results could really be improved! :p

I use Genius Scanner for the crop, it's free and works like a charm.

vijji (author)2016-12-28

Now google has an app for scanning pictures. It does a very good job.

auto shop teacher (author)vijji2016-12-29

What is the applications name?

I have used CamScanner (on an Android phone). Works brilliantly, and there are special deals for educational use.

vijji (author)auto shop teacher2016-12-31

PhotoScan by Google

PhotoScan by Google Photos - Android Apps on Google Play.html


abolfazl fakour (author)2016-12-29

very good

mardeehill (author)2016-12-28

@MrHatken I Love this idea!!! Thank you very much for taking the time to show others how to make it. I don't really have a need for this but just wanted to let you know good job and thumbs down to those who feel they have to critique everyone's spelling and grammar. They forget that many of the entries are foreign to the English language, including me and I'm a 100% born american LOL! Some have to use a translator program and others have learned English on their own. I read your type-O of corp as crop and didn't even notice that it was a type-O. Maybe my brain was more polite than others. Keep on inventing MrHatken!

mardeehill (author)2016-12-28

@vijji , Do you have the link for this particular app. It's nice to know there is one, but it's better to know the link

MrHatken (author)2016-12-27

Fantastic instructable, thank you.

As you indicate cropping (not corp) is usually needed and also it can help to have software that aligns image vertically / horizontally, and even allows scanning of multiple photos at once (to increase speed).

Can people suggest (from experience) good mobile apps for this? Maybe this is not right forum but I think software solution (for iOS, Android) is a big part of making this instructable a real success.

陳亮 (author)MrHatken2016-12-28

thx, fixed the spelling.

esatdvt (author)2016-12-27

Glare? It will have huge glare problems isn't it

陳亮 (author)esatdvt2016-12-28

step 8 mentioned you may need to adjust the LED strip height for light distribution. The glare should outside the target area.

tomjasz (author)2016-12-27

Anyone sort out the measurements? Old guy here struggling with what size panels to buy.

陳亮 (author)tomjasz2016-12-28

I only have the measurements for taking 4R photo with iPhone 6S, welcome anyone post your measurements here.

lorij27 (author)2016-12-27

not to be rude but isn't this just take a picture of a picture?

陳亮 (author)lorij272016-12-28

yes, it just for backup old picture in digital format.

Epimethius (author)2016-12-27

Excellent light box! Thank you for this Instructable! It could be adapted for taking images of small items for eBay - no shadow, no glare.

It has diffuse lighting, good color, and maintains the desired distance. Evenly distributed light with the proper color is a critical part of copying photos.

White LEDs should satisfy almost all purposes. RGB LEDs could be adjusted for other spectrum distributions.

陳亮 (author)Epimethius2016-12-28

I have tried NeoPixel LED strip for adjusting color tone. But it draws too much power and make it not portable.

james.king.94064 (author)2016-03-01

I think this is a great idea. Saves the trouble of downloading scanner firmware, software etc. and is easily portable. Some people wrote that this is cheaper than a scanner but I have to disagree. This is a great idea but does cost time and money. If it takes you 2 hours to build those 2 hours could have been involved in creating money by work. You need to calculate in the cost of the LED's the used power cable, the white-boards etc. LED strips from the stores run about $20 and add up the cost of the white board and you are close to $30. A cheap scanner runs about $39 or less if you find one at a goodwill etc. For those of us who have to document work completed and scan documents regularly while on the road this is a great tool because it saves space is easily portable and easy to use. The LED's can be powered by a 12V DC Jack. etc. Creating similar boxes to scan receipts, invoices etc would be awesome because of the portability. Thanks for sharing.

TDJ2591 (author)james.king.940642016-12-27

I frequently take photos with my camera of documents, receipts and other photos but it's often a challenge to get the lighting right without a shadow from my phone. This solves that problem and would be quick, inexpensive, portable and simple to make. It would make an excellent light box.

I love it when someone scolds another for using their time productively on a fun project. It's highly unlikely that an average person could use every hour he has to earn income. I find it much more satisfying and rewarding to use my time making something useful. I save lots of $$$ each year making or repairing items instead of clogging the landfills by tossing out something that I can repair or repurpose.

loy.hjon (author)TDJ25912016-12-28

You can download Camscanner app from Playstore or Apple store on your smartphone. Take a shot of the old photos and save it in jpeg, edit with any software or apps if needed. Documents can be saved as pdf or jpeg file. It saves money and time mostly.

erwin (author)TDJ25912016-12-27

Just downloaded Google Photo scan. It takes four pics (with your Phone) to avoid any "shiny spots" works good!


Petric (author)TDJ25912016-12-27

Great thinking and attitude!

tomjasz (author)james.king.940642016-12-27

I'm in under $10. $2.10 for a 1M USB light. Amazon has the sheets for around $6.00. Local stationary store for even less.

陳亮 (author)james.king.940642016-03-01

Thx! Light and portable are the main design principles. Because I need go to 2 families home to scan their old photos. Actually, I am using a 5V LED strip eith USB plug, so that I can turn it on by a power bank.

Gadget93 (author)陳亮2016-03-05

You are a genius for making this instructable. Thankyou.

I've seen those same white boards at the dollar tree and led strips for about $10 or less on eBay. Thus for like $12 one could make this project...totally cheaper than a scanner.

loy.hjon (author)2016-12-28

I download Camscanner app from Playstore or Apple store on my smartphone. Take a shot of the old photos and save it in jpeg, edit with any software or apps if needed. It saves time mostly.

tomjasz (author)2016-12-27

OK one more, $2.10 delivered.,searchweb201602_2_10065_10068_10000009_10084_10083_10080_10082_10081_10060_10061_10062_10056_10055_10054_10059_9912_10099_10078_10079_427_426_10103_10073_10102_10096_10052_10050_10107_10051_10106-9912,searchweb201603_3,afswitch_1&btsid=35b9c833-9dc6-4ba9-88a4-1c78df952f34

tomjasz (author)2016-12-27

2M already wired with USB $8

Cueball21 (author)2016-12-27

Excellent ible!!!!!!

I will definitely give this a try. I also want to make one for copying documents. I guess it will require taller sides to get the right field of view. If you can provide any insight on this, I would be grateful for your advice. I want to be able to do letter and legal and even occasional non-standard documents.

Thank you very much for sharing this!!!!!!!

ootsae (author)2016-12-27

That was awesome, thanks and Happy New Year.

fuktifano (author)2016-12-27

great instructable. many thanks. PEACE. ji.p. 2017

About This Instructable




Bio: Do it yourself if you cannot buy one!
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