Convert image to text

Where can I use my digital camera to convert an image?

  • A digital camera is an ideal alternative to a scanner, especially if you don’t want to deal with a scanner every time you need to convert an image to text, or if you don’t do this very often. Photos of documents can be easily opened with ABBYY FineReader, ready for further processing.
  • If you are working with books (for example, in a library) you can simply take your digital camera and capture all necessary text and images for further processing on your PC or notebook (even from those books that cannot be scanned at all).
  • When you are traveling out of the office (for example, on a business trip) and need to digitize some important documents for editing, archiving, creating other documents, a digital camera can be used as a portable scanner.
  • A digital camera can also be used to capture text outdoors from banners, posters, billboards, walls, timetables and so on.

At last, you will probably find your own way to use a digital camera and its new capabilities. But if you are going to use it like James Bond does, please don’t forget about intellectual property rights and copyright laws.

Tips & tricks for shooting text with a digital camera

Your digital camera

Use a digital camera with 5-megapixel resolution or higher, ideally equipped with the following features:

  • Flash disable mode
  • Optical zoom
  • An anti-shake feature
  • Auto focus assist beam or manual focusing
  • Manual aperture control or aperture priority mode

General tips

  • Try to take 2-3 shots of the same document to make sure your hands are stable and an image didn’t come out blurry or a corner of the document wasn’t cut off.
  • Use the “close-up” or “macro” mode. In most cameras, it is indicated by a flower icon.

Camera positioning and focus

  • Focus on the center of a page.
  • Use the camera’s optical zoom to zoom in on the document and frame it tightly around the document.
  • Lighting and Flash
  • Make sure there is sufficient lighting. Natural light is the best.
  • Disable the flash (in most point-and-shoot digital cameras, the flash is on auto mode by default).
  • If you have to take a picture of a document in poor lighting and need the flash, try to use the flash from 20 inches away and try to find additional light sources.
  • Don’t use the flash on glossy paper.

Extra tips for advanced users

And finally, if you know your camera "inside out" and wish to improve your skills in photographing documents and books or wish to achieve good results in some special conditions, there are a few extra tips to follow:

  • Use the white balance feature. If your camera has manual white balance, use a white sheet of paper to set white balance. Otherwise, select the appropriate balance mode for your lighting conditions.
  • Enable the anti-shake setting: otherwise, use a tripod.
  • In poor lighting conditions:
    • Auto focus may function incorrectly: therefore, you should switch to manual focus.
    • Use the maximum aperture allowed by the camera (2.3 or 4.5). (In bright daylight, use smaller apertures: this will produce sharper images).
    • If your camera gives you more than one choice of ISO speed, select the highest ISO setting.