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A3 scanner or copying stand system


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I've spent quite a bit £££ ( for me) on three albums of Victorian photos some of superb quality - Portugal, Spain and Italy tourist highlights and street scenes.

 

They are bound in fixed with each page having a photo on  a thick card page - these pages have become a little warped and wavy. Most are A4 or less in size but some larger. Even at A4 my cheap printer/scanner combo can't get sharp focus on the edges. HPENVY 5540 - just a cheapo office printer.

 

So, what are the options for a good quality scanner for the job of digitising these treasures for stock and prints bearing in mind that I do not want to split up the albums or cut out the photos from the pages. 

 

I've seen some book scanners with overhead lens but they look cheap and how do they focus on a book or print with an uneven surface?

 

This will not just be a one-off expense as I am planning to concentrate more on historical/vintage photography since stock is so overdone. 

 

 

Edited by geogphotos
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6 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

So, what are the options for a good quality scanner

Have you ruled out digitising them with a copy stand and a camera? That would seem to be the best method, scanners have very limited depth of field and in any case if the pictures are uneven then I would think you would want to play around with the lighting, a scanner is pretty unforgiving with its direct light source. Surely the resolution from a camera would be enough. If the aspect ratio of the photo doesn't correspond to the normal 3:2 (square perhaps) then do it in two parts and photomerge.

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This one less satisfactory, it starts 26 x 20 cm and the original is pin sharp right to each edge.

 

Boys on the right are out of focus

 

 

I0000WRKpFMFICzc.jpg

 

 

Edited by geogphotos
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8 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

Have you ruled out digitising them with a copy stand and a camera? That would seem to be the best method, scanners have very limited depth of field and in any case if the pictures are uneven then I would think you would want to play around with the lighting, a scanner is pretty unforgiving with its direct light source. Surely the resolution from a camera would be enough. If the aspect ratio of the photo doesn't correspond to the normal 3:2 (square perhaps) then do it in two parts and photomerge.

 

 

That sounds very sensible but please understand how thick I am with technology. 

 

I have a Canon 5D mk3 with 24-105. Apart from the stand what else would I need, and can you recommend a stand ( presumably I could also use this for slide copying). I have read the thread about that but struggled to understand it all about adapters and flash lights etc

 

I do have a Canon repair centre not far away and they have always been very friendly and helpful so maybe they could get me started.

 

Yes, photographic copying does seem the best route. Thanks.

 

 

Edited by geogphotos
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Well the camera will be fine though I wouldn't be able to use my 24-105 on a copy stand because of 'zoom creep'. Maybe instead you could contrive to make the pages of the book almost vertical and then you could just use a tripod. I'm guessing they are all B&W so colour balance shouldn't be a factor, daylight on an overcast day might be fine. Copy stands are probably too expensive unless you happen across one. Manfotto make a handy boom arm, the 131, that fits on any tripod with a 3/8 screw that could then turn it into a copy stand of sorts, like this though actually you don't need the version with the two camera brackets:

 

Like this

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...probably best not to think of slide copying at this stage, you'd need a lot more specialist stuff for that, a different lens for one thing and the Nikon ES-1 setup is very good, you don't need a copy stand for that.

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This exaggerates but gives the general idea. Quite thick albums. 

 

A flatbed would at least allow some weight to be applied from the top.

 

I00006ouPBE4kbRE.jpg

 

 

Edited by geogphotos
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9 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

...probably best not to think of slide copying at this stage, you'd need a lot more specialist stuff for that, a different lens for one thing and the Nikon ES-1 setup is very good, you don't need a copy stand for that.

 

Okay thanks. 

 

I don't think that the album binding is original, somebody has fixed in the photos and neatly written captions. maybe they will have to be carefully flattened. 

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If you are going to separate them then something like an artist's easel might be handy. The proper way to do it would be with a vacuum easel but they are not cheap, and neither sadly are A3 scanners.

Edited by Harry Harrison
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6 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

This book by Ctein might be handy, there is a more up-to-date edition:

Digital Restoration from Start to Finish

 

 

 

Thanks Harry you have been very helpful. 

 

The photos are generally in brilliant nick just need a touch of cloning to remove spots. 

 

And then the 'waviness' problem.

 

I0000p7Vsm2krKfo.jpg

Edited by geogphotos
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1 minute ago, Harry Harrison said:

Nice to give them a new lease of life. You should be able to use Photomerge on 2 or 3 overlapping scans as well, just keep them square to each other.

 

 

Big learning curves ahead but it is lovely to be working with them. I estimate they date from circa 1890s eg) city centre of Madrid with goats grazing and not a car to be seen. 

 

😊

 

Thanks again

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I have done document copying and painting copying before and I just put them on the floor. I set up the tripod above them with the camera aiming straight down. To make sure that the camera is not at an angle I have a nifty spirit level app on my phone. If your tripod won't aim directly down and you are willing to spend a bit my manfrotto lets me take out the centre column and set it up parallel the the ground so that the camera can point straight down. Its a bit bouncy so you have to use self timer, mirror up and remote control, but it works well.

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I'm busy right now doing the same thing. Just they will not go on Alamy and my originals are only about A4. I about manage with my 55mm on a smallish old enlarger stand. My lights are these 20W Led work lights on the small Manfrotto Nano stands. For 2x £9.94 for the lights one cannot go wrong. Anything can be a light stand of course, I just happen to have loads of different stands. My lights are 80cm left and right from the heart of the image. Aimed at the other side =old process camera trick - they usually had 4 lights aimed at the opposite corners. It's best to have them slightly higher than the camera front lens. Otherwise you'll almost always need to block the lights. Another concern is reflecting light from the ceiling which will cast the shadow of the camera on your artwork. If the surface is just a little shiny, your camera's reflection may show up in your image. Blocking the lights is usually not that difficult though and one or two pieces of black cardboard and or some black curtain will do the trick if need be. If everything else fails, a polariser may be needed or even one in combination with polariser filter sheets in front of the lights.

Getting the camera and artwork lined up parallel, another trick from those days comes in hand, involving 2 pieces of mirror. In my case 2 Ikea mirror tiles. One needs a small patch of the back scratched off. 5-7 mm exactly in the middle is best, because it makes it easier to see, but about everything will work. A nice round patch is achieved by taping a 5 to 7mm washer to the back of the mirror and scraping away the part that's exposed with a needle or a small knife like an exacto or surgical blade. When the camera is aiming down and the artwork is beneath, the untouched mirror goes on the ground board where the artwork will be, while the one with the see-through hole goes face down against the lens. Hold it in place with a couple of rubber bands on each side and shift it around till the hole is in the middle of the lens. now look through the viewfinder or at the screen. You will see a sort of tunnel veering away in one direction. Adjust the camera until the tunnel is completely straight and the small black dot (being that hole) is in the middle.

Maybe try it without a camera first. It also makes for a nice teachers trick. 😉

 

Before you buy a copy stand or start hacking away at an old enlarger, make sure your lens will cover the artwork without much distortion. Which usually excludes most if not all wide angle lenses. For FF 50mm is about as short as one can get. Longer is usually better, but your working distance may become too long. For smaller work, the problem is usually how to get stuff in focus. Unless you happen to have a macro lens of course, or some macro tubes. Old enlarger lenses, even good APO ones cost very little and fit most dslrs and certainly mirrorless cameras with a focusing helicoid adapter.

 

If you have some time, watch Peter Krogh (of the DAM book) do all of this in front of an audience. His aligning method is a little less precise.

But pay attention when he speaks about taped down guides to align the artwork when you have to do several (or a lot) of the same size: Another one of those old tricks from the graphics department 😉. He shows how the polarisers work as well. Which may be useful if you need a glass plate to flatten those wavy photos. Or even a book copying easel. Or Buchwippe in German - ah I wish I had one. Here's a modern one - only 6000,- I believe.

You could also experiment with keeping them flattened in a press or under a pile of books for a while.

A flat dry mount press would be nice. (Never go warmer than 50C though.)

I had one. They were expensive then and even more so now. As a coincidence it's current owner died very recently and we're trying to find a place for it where it will be somewhat accessible for students. It weighs a ton btw.

 

wim

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I don't tend to use my 24-105 for this type of thing because I've got better options, a  55mm Micro-Nikkor f2.8 for example, or various excellent enlarger lenses on a bellows, but although my zoom tends to creep when I point it downwards that is easily fixed for this workflow with a bit of tape. It's definitely worth trying the lens, try photographing some newspaper print of around the same size as your originals, fix the zoom on somewhere between 50 & 100mm and see how you get on at different apertures, switch on lens corrections in Lightroom if you use it.

 

The Peter Krogh video is very good on using Lightroom for collating and processing these types of images, also his use of polarising sheets combined with a polariser on the camera (from about 48 mins  in) but large polarising sheets are surprisingly expensive (Lee 239). A couple of decent sized sheets could be low $$$ in Alamy parlance. As you know the 'waviness' is going to be your main problem to address to begin with and as they look to be on card they may be quite resilient to flattening.

 

 

Edited by Harry Harrison
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Many thanks for all these most helpful comments. I do struggle to understand a lot of it but it is wonderful to have something to start with and refer to later with all the technical details.

 

What I will do is start is doing simplest thing I can I can using a tripod and see how it goes, then figure out how to overcome problems as they arise. Also seeing what I can do in Photoshop with distortions and Photomerge ( which I have never used )

 

Thanks particularly for the tip about about using tape to hold the zoom lens. To start I'm going to do what Colin does except try a more vertical/oblique approach using natural light.

 

The other thought and realisation is that even if I am limited at the moment in being able to duplicate all the original photos at full size I can still use them to produce images from them - for example, verticals that might be suitable for covers. I can be creative and use the originals to make my own images/compositions of street scenes and buildings.

 

There is no rush and that is very much part of the thrill.

 

For example, that picture of the boys above can be cropped and I'll play about  with that later today.

 

Like Wim says I can't see these on Alamy - not unless some sort of Premium collection is started - just can't face the kick in the teeth  of micro fees. ( But thanks Alamy for the discussion space!). Hopefully this will help others who will submit to Alamy.

Edited by geogphotos
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7 hours ago, wiskerke said:

Which may be useful if you need a glass plate to flatten those wavy photos.

 

It might be worth getting an anti-reflection coated glass sheet. Some of the better quality picture framers may be able to supply, I think they call it ArtGlass. Not sure if it's available in a decent thickness to weight down/flatten those warped pages though. I also like the tip in the video of using a metal base and strip magnets to hold stuff flat.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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Actually if you are interested in slide copying then the Peter Krogh video also deals with that (thanks for the link Wim). From around 1hr 7mins in he shows a setup using a Macro rail with a sliding stage, a Nikon slide holder and a separate continuous light source, presumably LED (from 1 hr 7 mins in).  It's very similar in operation to using the Nikon ES-1 setup that is often recommended here though his setup is slightly more versatile.

 

Yes, I know you use Canon, but you can mount a 55mm Micro-Nikkor (plus its PK-13 extension tube) using an adapter (Novoflex, Fotodiox Pro or even cheaper). No auto exposure, manual stop-down and manual focus but eminently useable.

Edited by Harry Harrison
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28 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

Actually if you are interested in slide copying then the Peter Krogh video also deals with that (thanks for the link Wim).

 

Yes I might purchase a download copy of his book, it might be well worth it, he has a lot of useful tips (I liked the polarised light use with faded prints). http://thedambook.com/dyp/

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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I have looked on google to see if there are any ways to straighten thick cardboard. The methods used usually involve moisture at some point which would be detrimental to the images. There is one where you can simply put a thick plywood sheet on the top of the board which is laid out on a flat surface and load it down with weights but this method seems to take days to achieve one flat sheet.

 

Would it be possible to remove the images from the thick card or are the images printed directly onto the card?

If it was possible to remove the images they would flatten a bit easier.

 

Allan

 

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23 minutes ago, Allan Bell said:

I have looked on google to see if there are any ways to straighten thick cardboard. The methods used usually involve moisture at some point which would be detrimental to the images. There is one where you can simply put a thick plywood sheet on the top of the board which is laid out on a flat surface and load it down with weights but this method seems to take days to achieve one flat sheet.

 

Would it be possible to remove the images from the thick card or are the images printed directly onto the card?

If it was possible to remove the images they would flatten a bit easier.

 

Allan

 

 

Thanks for looking Alan. The photos are firmly fixed down onto the card, they couldn't be removed. The card is very stiff and inflexible. The one album  I showed above is worse than the other two. I'll just take it one step at a time. 

 

I will show the albums to somebody in the art supplies/framing shop and see what they think. See what they say about the materials used in the bindings and how old they would be. Ask about reflective glass etc. I am reluctant to break up the albums but if it turns out that they aren't particularly old ( as I suspect), or at least much less old than the photos, then I will feel easier about separating each page. Possibly then I could apply weights or use a press. I'm sure that some artist friends could offer some help. But that is all way down the line.

 

That video Wim linked to is brilliant even though I have only been the first ten minutes. I recommend it thoroughly to anybody doing any in-camera copying of prints, negs, slides.

 

It is reassuring that all this knowledge is there to tap into, and exciting to be starting off in a what is for me a new area of photography ( only done scanning previously).

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