Digital Camera Document Scanning
"I almost never need to scan documents, so I don't own a scanner. Today I need to scan in something I signed, can I just use my digital camera as a document scanner since a scan is a picture?"
There have been many occasions where someone needed me to sign a document and fax it back when I was no where near a fax machine or a scanner. In those cases, my solution has always been to take a picture, clean it up with photo editing software and upload it using an online fax service like MyFax. So the answer to your question is yes, but I'd also like to share something I found that makes it easier.
As I mentioned, my solution for "scanning" documents with a digital camera has always been to use photo editing software like Photoshop Elements to clean up the image and make it look more like a scan before sending. That's a bunch of extra work because you have to make sure you get the image squared like a document, the lighting is almost never even on the paper, and sometimes you get a little fisheye action on the text because you're using a camera instead of a flat scanning tool.
The other day, I ran across Cam to Scan, which is designed specifically to convert digital camera images to scanned documents. I was skeptical, but I downloaded the trial and checked it out. I was surprised to find out it works really well for taking all the grunt work out of converting photos to great looking scans.
The basic steps for using Cam to Scan go like this:
1) Take a photo of your document, trying to fill as much of the photo frame with the document as possible.
2) Open the photo in Cam to Scan, use a simple 4-click method to define the four corners of your document so that Cam to Scan can straighten the document.
3) Rotate the document and apply some brightness filtering to the document to clean it up.
4) Save out your "scanned" document for faxing, printing, or whatever purpose you needed to scan it in for.
I did my own testing with the still photo feature of a sub-$200 video camera I have because I wanted to really lower the quality bar. The text came out nice and clear and I had no problem converting several documents from photos to something that looked very similar to a scanned document in quality. While I certainly could continue using Photoshop to edit my digital camera scans, I see no point, because Cam to Scan makes the clean up process so much easier. Download Cam to Scan and try it out.