Friday, February 15, 2008

passport photos on the cheap (DIY option)

[edit 20100608 - claims to be able to do the conversion for free, though i've not tried it myself]

i needed to supply 2 passport photos. i could:
  1. pay $12.95 to get it done at a photo lab, and wait overnight to pick up the result (granted, i was asking quite late in the shopping day)
  2. try doing it myself via a digital camera, some editing, and organising my own printing
i figured it couldn't be that difficult to DIY, and that surely there was some photo editing software with a built in passport photo function, or some standalone program that could do the job. take a source portrait photo, click a few buttons or run a wizard, and voila - 6 heads on a standard 4x6" print. well, i didn't find anything in the former category, but did come across two in the latter which looked ok. one is freeware, the other ~US$10:
  • DIY Passport Photos by ASP Information Services
    a small app which either didn't install well on my pc, or that simply doesn't come with any explanation other than what it does (the name/title basically says it all), menus items which when clicked on don't do anything, and no help files. the result is a bit hit and miss in terms of proper sizing.
  • Passport Photo 1.5.3 by OnTheGoSoft
    a much better looking program with fuller features that allows you to either print (to paper) or save to jpeg file your choice of number of passport photos in the exact size you specify. costs US$9.95 to register and remove the watermark from the trial version.
being me, i went with the free option thinking it's all good, and printed the photo the next day for 20c, and then found that the photos were too big! i ended up with 6 50x50mm shots on a 4x6" print, whereas the standard passport photo size (for australia anyway) is 35x45mm. without any documentation on how to configure the output, i played around for a while to generate a version 2 image (but was running out of time to actually get it printed), which was closer to 35x45mm but not quite there.

then i tried the trial version of passport photo 1.5.3 and found that it did exactly what i wanted in a fraction of the time that the guesswork of DIY passport photos required! but i didn't end up paying for it cos i didn't have time to do another print, and my non-standard size photos (which i managed to trim to be closer to 40x50mm) were useable, cos they really just needed a small photo of my face :)

but, should i require a standard passport photo in the future, i would seriously consider forking out the money to register passport photo - i would break even after one use, compared to getting it done in a photo lab. there's too much mucking around and uncertainly with DIY passport photos - it's probably a bit premature as a product, and gets you there but not quite, whereas passport photos 1.5.3 gets you there exactly. why isn't something like this a standard feature of photo editing software like crop and red-eye reduction etc? that would have made life that little bit easier...

  • there was another program that looked half promising: IDPhotoStudio by KC Softwares. couldn't download the installation file though, so didn't try it out. it *looks* like it's only good for printing directly to a printer, so probably not useful if you don't have your own photo printer.
  • singapore's immigration and checkpoint authority has some tips on taking passport photos using a digital camera.
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related posts: rip(ped) off

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