Sharing recent memories on Facebook can be done in a few taps, but not so much for stacks of old photo albums and scrapbooks from decades past. Most of us simply don’t bother, because traditional scanning of prints takes too long or costs too much.
Now there’s a way to cut this work down to size at nominal expense, simply by aiming your iPhone at a group of photos, even while they’re still mounted in an album. An inexpensive app called Photomyne can even add enhanced images to your Facebook timeline, placed conveniently by when they were taken.
Memories in minutes
To get started, aim your device at an entire album page or multiple photos laid out on a table, hold down the camera button for a few seconds, and in moments the software intelligently separates individual prints into a digital equivalent. (The universal app also works with iPad, but produced lower-quality results in my tests.)
There are only three rules for best results: Make sure all four corners fit into the frame, place photos on a clean, uncluttered surface, and hold your device directly over prints, rather than at an angle. I’d add a fourth: decent lighting. Photomyne handles the rest, automatically cropping images and adjusting them to the proper angle and proportion.
In my tests, automatic cropping wasn’t always accurate, but can be manually adjusted by tapping a photo and adjusting the side or corner with your finger. As you do this, a magnified view of the edge appears with a crosshair, making it much easier to achieve precise results with minimal effort.
Photomyne also automatically restores images to look their best. Earlier versions offered separate color and contrast adjustment sliders, but the latest update ditches this approach in favor of a mere handful of one-tap filters for simplicity, but I found myself wanting a little more manual control over the final look.
Back in time
Photomyne is best used for creating new albums from batches of photos taken around the same time. After processing, you’ll have the opportunity to assign a name and date, or tag any Facebook friends present in those pictures. A feature I’d like to see added is the option to manually select which photo is used for the album cover.
One disadvantage with old prints is trying to remember exactly when they were taken—not everyone has the forethought to scribble such information on the back of a photo, after all. Photomyne lends a hand by only requiring albums to be assigned a year and season, rather than specific dates or times, although the latter would be a nice option to have as well.
At this point, sharing one or more photos to Facebook can be done as easily as photos taken yesterday, and they’ll be dropped into your timeline in the proper year order with no further adjustments necessary. This feature alone makes Photomyne a gem—far too few apps address little first-world inconveniences such as this. You can also send via email or save images to the Camera Roll, but unfortunately there’s no support for the iOS 8 share extension yet.
Naturally, image quality depends entirely on the device being used—my tests with an iPhone 6 Plus were quite acceptable for posting online or even printing, but this should not be considered a replacement for proper archival scans. Photomyne also now performs a cloud backup that syncs to other devices, great for capturing on higher-quality iPhones and viewing albums on the larger iPad display.
Photomyne converts old prints into digital photos ready for posting onto Facebook in proper timeline order, but you’ll need a late-model iPhone for best image quality.