Yesterday I received my new Flip-Pal scanner, thanks to the kindness of a friend in the United States. For those who haven't yet come across this gadget, it is a small, portable, battery operated scanner that can be used to scan a wide variety of objects.
Small photos and documents can be placed inside the scanner in the usual way. With the lid removed and the scanner "flipped", it can also scan photographs whilst still in their albums, pictures in their frames, fabrics, wallpaper and three dimensional objects such as medals, coins and jewellery. There is even this You Tube video of someone scanning a bottle of water by rolling it under the Flip-Pal:
For any object larger than the Flip-Pal's 10.25″ x 6.5″ dimensions, the scanner comes with software which will stitch together a large image from a series of smaller, overlapping scans. This is ideal for scanning old maps or deeds which are larger than the traditional flat bed scanner.
I have been experimenting with the scanner for the past 24 hours and thought I would share some of the results with you.
This is a tiny photograph, measuring 2¼ by 3¼ inches, given to me by my mother. On the back she noted that they were on holiday in her father's taxi, in the late 1920s:
The scan quality was so good that I was able to enlarge a section of the picture to see the number plate of the taxi and the people inside - my grandfather behind the wheel, wearing a driving helmet, with my mother in a straw hat beside him and my grandmother in the back:
I used a picture of my grandmother which is larger than the scanner to test the photo stitching software. I scanned it in six overlapping sections, which I cropped to eliminate all traces of the background on which the photo was lying:
I then used the stitching software which comes with the scanner to put the photograph back together. I think you'll agree that the result is amazing:
Finally, I used a free photo editing program, PhotoScape, to trim the jagged edges and auto level the colours. The resulting photograph looks as good as the day it was taken:
For my last experiment, I tested the Flip-Pal colour restoration software on the most faded picture in my album. This is an even smaller photograph - only 1¾ by 2¾ - and has lost so much colour that it is almost impossible to make out the subject with the naked eye. I was delighted that the initial scan enabled me to see quite a lot of the detail:
Then I used the automatic colour restoration program which comes with the scanner. The result was so much clearer that I immediately recognised the location - St James' Park, London - from the government buildings behind the line of trees in the background:
The last step was to apply auto level and noise reduction in PhotoScape:
I think the picture is of my grandmother with my mother on her knee and must have been taken in the spring of 1921. I shall ask my mother when she comes to lunch tomorrow!