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Thread: Digitizing Prints

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Digitizing Prints

    With winter coming, I am starting to get ready for my winter activities. One of which is going to be digitizing a collection of old family prints. I was wondering if any of you had any thoughts on how best to digitize a large collection of pictures? I've tried using a Canoscan flatbed scanner, but was underwhelmed by the results. They do have more recent versions out there that are rated a bit better. Some people seem to consider Epson's to be the best, so I am considering one of those.

    I've also been playing with taking a picture of the pictures and digitizing the old prints that way. The results aren't bad, but I seem to always get a bit of glare off the photo and I'll have to work on my set up to make sure everything is square.

    Have any of you tried this? Any luck with one method or a particular scanner?

    For now, I am only trying to digitize prints. Someday I may try slides and negatives, but not at this moment.

    Thanks in advance....

  2. #2
    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Considering the time and effort involved in digitizing prints, I'd be more inclined to look at third party services. I'd much rather box up the prints, send 'em off, and receive the box back with a DVD containing all the high-resolution, scanned images. :-)

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jayson's Avatar
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    I have done the taking a picture of the picture thing. If you have time and patience, give that a shot. I put three pieces of foam core on either side of the picture at a 45 degree angle and one sitting on top. Then I fired the flash from behind the picture so the flash reflected off the foam core and illuminated the picture (kind of like a light tent). That stopped the glare and it worked out pretty well. I used a book end to hold up the picture. Give it a try and see if that works.

    I used that because I didn't have a ton of pictures to convert and I really didn't want to invest in a nice scanner. If you set it up right, you shouldn't have a whole lot of time in between pictures.

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone.....unfortunately, the rest of my family doesn't want to let the prints outside of our control. Otherwise I would have already sent these out to be professionally done. So, I think I am left with either taking a picture of a picture or scanning (a color profile may help my current scanner). Thanks again....

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    What about a copy stand, if you have a good flat field lens and a couple of lights for either side? http://www.adorama.com/CECS920.html

  6. #6
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    When our oldest daughter started school, we faced the dilema of 'art projects' brought home to the tune of several per week. Do you keep all of them and put them in boxes in the basement...or do you throw them out, after your child worked hard on them? Several per week times 36 weeks per year times 3 kids...that's a lot of storage space!

    My solution is to take pictures, then recycle the projects. I save up a few months' worth, then set up a makeshift copy stand in the basement for a day and take the pictures. An actual copy stand would mean using a wide angle lens, and likely introducing distortion. Instead, I put the camera with a 70-200mm lens on a tripod, pointing downward. At 70mm, I can loosely frame an 11x17 piece of construction paper, and zooming in allows me to frame small projects tightly. Rather than try to get it pointed straight down, I have a piece of heavy cardboard propped at an incline, with white felt on it (the felt keeps the paper from sliding). Lighting is from a pair of 600EX-RTs in 24" Lastolite Ezyboxes, one on each side at a 45 angle to the surface. I get nice, flat lighting (and for those 3D projects, I can ratio the lighting to give the image some depth).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by neuroanatomist View Post
    When our oldest daughter started school, we faced the dilema of 'art projects' brought home to the tune of several per week. Do you keep all of them and put them in boxes in the basement...or do you throw them out, after your child worked hard on them? Several per week times 36 weeks per year times 3 kids...that's a lot of storage space!

    My solution is to take pictures, then recycle the projects. I save up a few months' worth, then set up a makeshift copy stand in the basement for a day and take the pictures. An actual copy stand would mean using a wide angle lens, and likely introducing distortion. Instead, I put the camera with a 70-200mm lens on a tripod, pointing downward. At 70mm, I can loosely frame an 11x17 piece of construction paper, and zooming in allows me to frame small projects tightly. Rather than try to get it pointed straight down, I have a piece of heavy cardboard propped at an incline, with white felt on it (the felt keeps the paper from sliding). Lighting is from a pair of 600EX-RTs in 24" Lastolite Ezyboxes, one on each side at a 45 angle to the surface. I get nice, flat lighting (and for those 3D projects, I can ratio the lighting to give the image some depth).
    Sorry John but you are wrong on this one. I suggest finding the storage space for the boxes. It should only take one box per school year.
    It is wrong to digitize the kids work and deprive future generations of the enjoyment of the original.
    Just think if the world had the Kindergarten crayon art of Vincent VanGogh to enjoy now.

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    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Thanks Everyone... I'll give the copy stand a try. I'll work on a few details and then post the set up.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jayson's Avatar
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    Get a music stand to hold your photos and use a tripod as John said. That would probably work perfectly. Not the most expensive route but quick and workable. I'm going to try this my next go at this.

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    I bought one of these for macro and product work, then when we had to digitize baby photos for my brother's wedding it did just the trick for putting the camera directly overtop of the photos. With a 5D2 and 150mm f2.8 macro lens hanging over a foot off axis I had to hang a large bottle of water from the center column to keep it from tipping. The Side Arm is all aluminum, very solid, well thought out, it did a good job with my heavy camera and lens. The best place that I found to take the pictures with no reflections was beside a kitchen window with no direct sunlight coming through. The whole process worked very well, though even at f5.6 I had to set focus for nearly every picture, I would be tempted to use f11 or f16 if I had to do a lot of them and quality wasn't critical.
    In the end my brother couldn't tell that the pictures weren't scanned.

    The scanners we tried were terrible, they were only cheap snap-scan things, but they scratch the pictures and then record reflections off the scratches.

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