Scanning Plans

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Bill Wimberley
Bill Wimberley's picture
Scanning Plans

I am looking for an inexpensive way to scan or photograph plans to be sent via email.

Currently I have an associate who sends me photographs of redline plans for changes. She has to take multiple pictures of each page and email them all to me. We are looking for some more automated method. Wide format scanners are way too expensive so I was thinking of some sort of contraption that would hold a camera steady so a full sheet could be photographed without getting blurry.

I have also heard of cameras that will automatically email images so that would be great too.

What I want to do is create a setup where you have a camera that will remain mounted in some sort of tripod or some other device. You place a page under it, push a button, and the camera takes an image and emails it. Space is limited in her office so this would need to be something that took up very little space.

Does anyone have experience in setting up something like this or have you heard of doing this?

Bill is the owner and maintainer of

Todd Wacome
Todd Wacome's picture
Iphone 4S or better.

Hi Bill,


I am using my iPhone to do this on occasion.  There are programs like Turboscan ($1.99) and others that let you use the camera, will stretch and skew the trapezoid that typically is the shape captured when taking a photo of  a rectangular page from a camera, back into a rectangle, and lets you email it.


The camera is really good enough to do the job, I'm using it alot, although the UPS store down the street scans D Size Sheets for $4/page.


The images taken with a good camera, like the on on the iphone 4s (not the 4) and the iPhone 5's, will not be blurry. Because plans are typically wrinkled or want to roll, this is more of a problem.  Taping them in the four corners can help, but a better way is to get a large 1/4" thick piece of glass with a slight matte or non glare finish.  This will hold the plan down (flattening will help with focus) and help diffuse hot spots based on lighting.


Making a tray for the phone to sit in, with a hole in it to take the photo through, suspended by legs or arms like a task light, would work fine, but I just hold mine.  Blurriness is more a function of the cameras shutter speed.


 On my phone a D size sheet can be captured shooting from 34" above the plan, without zooming in.  Taking the photo from a higher plane makes long straight lines straighter looking, but this hasn't been an issue.

Todd Wacome

cbe's picture
We do the same as Todd.  Most

We do the same as Todd.  Most smartphones made in the last year or two have a camera that is more than sufficient to do this.  I use android devices and have my pictures setup to automatically upload to dropbox soon as I take them.  My Nexus 4 will take a picture in panoramic mode that allows me to move the camera over the plans so I can get the whole plan at once.  My clients typically snap a picture or two and email me directly from their phone.  The bad part is some of them send the pics via text which reduces the quality of the image plus I have the extra step of forwarding the MMS to my email.  

- Cory

Bill Wimberley
Bill Wimberley's picture
Thanks Guys

Thanks guys! I'll pass that information on.