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  • Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photos

    Over Christmas I hope to copy a number of old family photos. I can either scan them or copy them with a digital SLR camera. I think I read somewhere (here or somewhere else), that using a digital camera and indirect light is consider the better option. Any opinions? And if a digital camera what would you use as a light source (keeping in mind we do not have any equipment, save the camera and tripod).

  • #2
    Re: Scanning vs Digitial camera for archiving phot

    something like this would be ideal, the lights should be at a 45 degree angle to the camera:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Copystand.html

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Scanning vs Digitial camera for archiving phot

      We use to own a custom lab and hade all the equipment to do it right. Now I'm forced to do without. If I need to do a camera scan I will shoot on a cloudy day or in the shade of a neutral colored building (you don't want reflective colors from blg or trees) on the north side if possible. Shoot raw with a grey scale card, then process for true color.

      Hope this helps.

      DPD

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      • #4
        Re: Scanning vs Digitial camera for archiving phot

        Ogee,
        I have often recommended splitting the task into various groups. When you have large numbers of photographs, it is very unlikely you will ever retouch the majority. Those can be shot with a camera to preserve the image. If you ever were to retouch them, the technology of that day would likely be able to do a very nice job regardless of the image. Shoot in color even if they are b&w. Shoot at your highest resolution.

        The ones you know are special or you will likely retouch should be scanned. This preserves the most color, detail and perspective to ensure you can retouch them now with little trouble or headache.

        During the photographing session, start by taking a few sample shots. This allows you to adjust the white balance, focus point, etc to ensure the best shot. Only after examining your samples should you continue. You will find that the largest obstacle to photographing them is not the lighting, but keeping them flat. Unfortunately, there is not a good means of doing so with products on the market. I have actually found it easier to make a small stand out of wood or cardboard and manually align the images. If flat, it goes real fast. I don't worry about the crop or alignment as much, as that is easily adjusted later in software. But, the perspective problem with a non-flat image is more time consuming. So, I toss all those curling images in another pile and ask a family member to uncurl them while I shoot the others.

        Hints: adjust your camera to focus on center spot (since its flat surface), single point exposure (to ensure it doesn't capture another light source), and use a 1 or 2 second delay for the shutter (to avoid shake).

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        • #5
          Re: Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photo

          TommyO,
          Just how do your family members uncurl those old photographs?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photo

            Here is a statement from Matt Kloskowski's Book "Photoshop Elements 5, Restoration and Retouching"

            " without getting too technical, a scanner uses light when it scans your photo. Some photos, especially old ones, have a reflective coating on them that doesn't turn out too well on a scanner. So, you'll need another way. Taking a photo of a photo is it."

            Does anyone find that taking a photo of a photo results in a better digital image than scanning?

            Thanks, Rob

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            • #7
              Re: Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photo

              Has anyone used the Beseler copy stand that PixelZombie provided a link for -- results?

              Thanks, Rob

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              • #8
                Re: Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photo

                Originally posted by RobJ View Post
                Does anyone find that taking a photo of a photo results in a better digital image than scanning?
                Thanks, Rob
                Maybe not better on ALL pictures but definitely better on some! And most definitely faster!

                Better or not is going to depend on how you set up your lights, if you need Polarized filters, and if you are trying to get rid of reflections ...
                A comparison of Photographing versus scanner for silvering can be found here
                Depending on the paper texture, with proper lighting it can also be reduced a lot by photographing, but may still need some tweaking with software later..
                Scanning in different directions may also help with paper texture as explained here

                Keep in mind what Tommy said:
                Originally posted by TommyO View Post
                The ones you know are special or you will likely retouch should be scanned. This preserves the most color, detail and perspective to ensure you can retouch them now with little trouble or headache.
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                Originally posted by RobJ View Post
                Has anyone used the Beseler copy stand that PixelZombie provided a link for -- results?

                Thanks, Rob
                That Copy setup is fairly typical.. Mine (way before digital)... had a vacuum base on it for holding copy flat, could be tilted vertical or horizontal and always produced excellent results.. of course a flat field lens and shooting in medium format film help a bunch also...

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                • #9
                  Re: Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photo

                  Thanks very much. This thread has been very helpful.

                  RobJ

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                  • #10
                    Re: Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photo

                    A few tips:

                    Sometimes sitting the tripod on the floor with the camera looking down means that the legs get in the way. Instead lay the tripod on a table with the end with the camera on it protruding well over the edge of the table. Remember to place something heavy on the other end of the legs, like a building block or that old set of encyclopedias that you always wondered what to do with

                    Find the guy who builds heating and air conditiong duct work. Get from him a large sheet of the sheet metal he uses. Mine are about 11 x 14 or so. Paint it flat black. Go to either a hobby store or a sewing store and get a roll of the magnets they sell. The ones I have are about 1/2 inch wide, maybe 1/4 inch thick and the roll was several feet long. Cut into strips and lay them along the boarders of the original.

                    One can photograph threw glass, but its tricky.

                    When using a camera, always keep the other lights in the room VERY subdued.

                    I like to shoot when the camera is tethered to a computer, the larger image size on the screen is much better for chimping and my software allows me to fire the camera from the computer there by solving the vibration problem.

                    Hope this helps.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Scanning vs Digitial camera for archiving phot

                      TommyO and DigitalPhotoDoc, thanks just the kind of info I was looking for...OlBaldy, at one time I used a similar copy stand with a vacuum to flatten the photo but alas it is long gone.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photo

                        RobJ,
                        I only let them uncurl the unimportant images, nothing special, just a slow and very slight unfurling. Any important images are handled more carefully and only uncurled if absolutely necessary. The reason being the additional cracks that appear in the image.

                        No, I don't find that a photo is better than a scan. It may have been years ago, when comparing early consumer level scanners to a pro level film camera. But, today when comparing the higher end consumer level scanners to semi-pro digital cameras, not really. Of course, quality depends on the user as well (on both devices).

                        I have not used that particular copy stand, although it is a very nice one. The only thing I wish I could find is a faster way of mounting those non-critical photographs. I think a vacuum system would be perfect. I would like to be able to swap photo's in about 3 seconds, just as fast as I can place them, and have them stay flat. Unfortunately, I can't find such a stand.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photo

                          How do you keep the sheet metal from curling? I noticed when I got my new furnace installed recently, that the sheet metal was very thin when compared to the old stuff.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photo

                            TommyO,
                            Thanks for the input. Do you or anyone else have a view as to the best scanner to use for scanning old photographs. Currently I'm using an CanoScan 8400F.

                            Thanks, RobJ

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Scanning vs Digital camera for archiving photo

                              Originally posted by RobJ View Post
                              TommyO,
                              Thanks for the input. Do you or anyone else have a view as to the best scanner to use for scanning old photographs. Currently I'm using an CanoScan 8400F.

                              Thanks, RobJ
                              Rob: I did a mess of old pics, negatives and slides recently on my old Epson perfection 2400 photo with very good results. That scanner allows numerous quality settings which helps a lot. If you buy a scanner, look for one with slide and negative scanning options.

                              Scan to an archive file and photoshop your future choices at your leisure. This is a very rewarding activity.
                              Bugman

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