Prizmo: Scanning via a Digital Camera

Until recently purchasing a scanner, I commonly found myself taking a digital photo of a document to import it into my Mac. Results were rarely perfect, and I was never completely satisfied with the result. Prizmo is a new application which caught me eye, allowing you to adjust the perspective of a digital photo.

Completely altering the perspective of a photograph is a technically impressive operation, and uses the latest technology in OS X Leopard. This review will outline the features which make Prizmo such an interesting photo manipulation tool.


When opening Prizmo, you’re asked to drag and drop an image for processing. This window is fantastic (from a completely superfluous design point of view) on account of the delightful shifting background colors:

The Prizmo opening window

The Prizmo opening window

The next step is to actually load up an image. This can be done through OS X’s media browser, or manually through the Finder. Files can be from any camera – whether an expensive SLR or an iPhone – though the quality of results will obviously differ. In general, the higher the resolution of the image used, the clearer the outcome will be.

Once loaded, you draw a ‘prism’ around the area of the image you’d like to focus into, with a preview updating dynamically to the left of the screen. One of the examples I used was a photo of several magazines on a table:

Prizmo in action

Prizmo in action

The result is impressive, as the captured portion is re-drawn from a new perspective. It isn’t perfect, but does a good job of producing a usable outcome. After processing, images can be exported as JPEG, PNG or TIFF files for use elsewhere.

Processing & Camera Data

cameradataAfter taking a crop, you’re able to apply a variety of different post-processing effects. Defaults cover creating a black and white image (good for document input), and boosting the color saturation of a photo. You can also explore the custom settings of brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness.

Better results can be achieved through calibrating your camera with Prizmo. With a good calibration model, Prizmo can better correct lens distortion on your photographs. This can be done automatically (through reading the image EXIF data), or manually.


Here are a few examples of photos which have been processed through Prizmo:



I couldn’t find any major flaws with the software, though it’s worth noting that Prizmo did seem fairly resource intensive during testing. Even on a new MacBook Pro, it caused a slight system slow-down whilst handling large images. The software is young, however, and I expect that performance and functionality will only improve over time.

The price – $39.95 – may also be a limiting factor for some readers. This makes it slightly more of a specialist tool, rather than a quick purchase for processing a few images.

We have three copies of Prizmo to give away within the next few weeks. Be sure to subscribe to AppStorm so you don’t miss out!


There’s no doubt that the technology behind Prizmo is impressive, and the app works remarkably well. The main question to be posed is whether it is actually all that useful. A few of the examples given by the developers include:

  • Scanning readable, correctly sized documents via a scanner
  • Saving a restaurant menu
  • Easily email a readable real estate advertisement to your parents who would like to buy a new house
  • Send your friends the poster of an event
  • Save good looking advertisements for future ideas

I can think of a few times in the past where Prizmo would have saved me a decent amount of time. It’s useful if you use a camera for collecting and recording information on-the-go, and can offer a good solution for scanning documents on an intermittent basis.

I definitely recommend downloading the demo to take Prizmo for a spin. It doesn’t come with a time or use limit, but embeds a watermark in exported images. Perfect for seeing whether you’d actually use the app on a regular basis.