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Old Jun 26, 2011, 3:17 PM   #1
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Default Test suggestion.

From time to time in my work, I have to look at and obtain copies of officially recorded documents, some of which can be very old and occasionally difficult to read. It's a pain -- and can become costly at $1/page -- to stand in line to use the public photocopy or scanning equipment. So, I started using my own camera some years back.

Since image stabilization came to compact cameras, I've found that good IS compact cameras can produce images of text documents that are superior to the product of most public photocopying & scanning machines; and I have discovered that I usually get better OCR results from images I've taken with IS compact cameras than from images obtained from scanning photocopies or public scanning equipment. Obviously, crispness of the text all through the page is what to look for, and I have found that can also be affected by the focal length (i.e., too much wide angle can cause too much distortion), so that is something to watch out for.

Anyway, I believe taking pictures of a text document would provide a good data point to include in your assessment of a camera's image quality, so here's my suggestion:

Find (or create) a good one page text document (multiple paragraphs; single-spaced; mostly common 10pt proportional spaced font - such as Times New Roman - but maybe includes some others or smaller sizes just to have some "difficult" spots in the image) to use as a test standard and begin including pictures taken of that document among those you regularly shoot when testing cameras.

Certainly you can blow up portions of those images to show differences in quality by closely looking at the font characters, but like most other image comparisons, there is always some subjectivity in human assessment.

So I would like to suggest you ALSO test the quality of the image of that text document by running it through a standard OCR software product and reporting the results (I'd suggest OmniPage Pro 18, but you might want to use something else - just use the same one for all tests, of course).

The extent to which the OCR software can accurately "read" the document can be used as an "objective" comparison point, as that would have the same "nonhuman eye" looking at the same document where the only variable is the camera, which could add a valuable data point for any potential user trying to compare capabilities of cameras. Moreover, for those who will occasionally may use their camera to do document work, this information would be invaluable and -- as far as I know -- it's a service no one else is providing in these camera reviews.


Last edited by pdalton; Jun 26, 2011 at 4:28 PM.
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Old Jun 27, 2011, 9:53 AM   #2
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Thanks for the suggestion!
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