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Old Apr 13, 2005, 11:23 PM   #1
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Gentlemen I need advice from anyone experienced with copying books and manuscripts with a digital SLR camera on choosing a camera. I am currently doing research to select a camera that will be used for copying books and manuscripts here in the USA and later in India and possibly other places.

At this time I am more interested in a dSLR because they tend to have more mega pixels and the option of swapping out lenses. But I could be persuaded to use a non dSLR if it were highly recommended.

We would be using a copy stand with lights and non-reflective glass for holding the pages in place while in the USA and most likely a portable copy stand like the http://tinyurl.com/6wsys while overseas.

Some of the features required:

Remote shutter release

Take high contrast Black and White images using either a "text" mode, B&W, or custom White Balance.

Can be directly connected to a laptop so that images go directly to the HD.

Can be hooked up to an AC power supply.

The workflow would go something like this:

After setting up the camera on the copy stand with lighting we would place the book underneath and center the lens over the book and keep the pages in place using non-reflective glass.

The camera must be able to capture both pages for most books except non-standard, extra large formats. If we only did one page at a time this would require repositioning the book for each page, which would slow down the whole process. We have many books and speed is important. For extra large formats we have to figure out a different system—either move the book or just do odd pages and then do the even pages and resort them later.

Most likely we would shoot the books in jpg that can be easily converted to PDFs. Of course this is subject to change depending on how easily it is to manipulate the raw format in batch processing. But I suspect that for this particular process JPG to PDF is the way to go giving us a much smaller file size.

In Acrobat there are three formats we would leave it image format unless we want to OCR the pages in which case we would then choose the format which keeps the original image and does OCR in the background. We do this because we want to retain the original document and because some of the documents contain non-Latin scripts like Sanskrit, Bengali or Tamil.

For OCR 200 dpi is the minimum but I believe that most cameras save their images at 300 dpi so this is no problem. We could then enlarge the image by 50% and still get OCR and print quality PDFs.

These are some of the dSLRs I have been looking at:

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II (16 MP)
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (8 MP)
Nikon DX2 (12 MP)

What about the Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro? Does it really take 12 MP images?

What would be the best type of lens to use considering that we would be shooting from a copy stand?

Any contenders from the non-dSLR contingent? The price differential is significant.

Any advice you can give would be much appreciated.


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Old Apr 14, 2005, 12:45 AM   #2
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May I suggest to use a scanner for this exercise?
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Old Apr 14, 2005, 2:38 AM   #3
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We are using scanner for material that is loose or for which we do not mind destroying the binding and then rebinding - like periodicals--but not bound books.

Have you ever tried scanning a book by hand without destroying it by removing the spine? What to speak of hundreds or even thousands of books. I have, that is why I want to go a different route.

Aside from that it takes a long time for a scanner to scan a page and even with an adf (which often foul) they are slow.But with a camera you just click and turn the page.

Plus I just can't haul a scanner to sites in India where there are rare manuscripts.

In the past (early 80s) when I did this in India we had a fancy microfilm machine with built in copystand. Now we are trying to get those microfilms digitized--that will cost a pretty penny, seevral times the cost of the proposed equipment for this project. So better to just digitize from the beginning.

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Old Apr 14, 2005, 4:20 AM   #4
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Serpadon wrote:
I believe that most cameras save their images at 300 dpi

Cameras don't save their images at any DPI. They capture a fixed number of pixels.

For example the Rebel XT captures 3456x2304 pixels at 200 DPI this gives an output size of 17.28 x 11.52Inches you need to know if this is large enough for your purposes.

The 1Ds captures 4992x3328 which gives 24.96x16.64 inches.

I'm not sure if any of the cameras have a B&W mode. It's not necessary as any colour picture can be converted to B&W very simply in most imaging software. Likewise you can up the contrast to whatever you want in post processing.
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Old Apr 14, 2005, 2:13 PM   #5
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KSV wrote:
May I suggest to use a scanner for this exercise?
For major book copying (where you want to maintain the integrity of the book) scanning is not a solution. High end solution for book scanning is something like:


It is basically a 35 megapixel camera in a proprietary copy stand and all kinds of proprietary software to go with it. Problem is it wieghs 70 kgs, not very portable, and costs $38,000 (I asked). That is significantly more than I am willing to pay.

And if you are a real patriot the worst thing about it is that it is French.
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