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Old Jan 26, 2003, 12:45 AM   #1
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Default Support for photographing images on horizontal plane

I am a newbie whose pet obsession is genealogy which requires that I photograph old documents in archives where scanning is not permitted.

Will someone please suggest what suitable camera supports are available to photograph documents and old images that are on a horizontal plane. A normal tripod is not suitable as the camera cannot be centred over the document and if angled, the images are distorted although perfectly legible.
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Old Jan 26, 2003, 6:07 AM   #2
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Needs a bit of lateral thinking. Assume you mean docs on some sort of table.

Digicams are light, so what's wrong with modifying a microphone stand with a counter balanced bar. Put the cam where the mic goes, and hang over the table. Most cams don't have cable release so use the 10 second self timer. Angled lcd screen might be handy.

You could try a similar idea with a table tripod, with some weight on the vertical centre as well for extra stability. Cheers VOX
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Old Jan 26, 2003, 9:25 AM   #3
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A different twist or looking at the problem from another angle....

If these are loose-leaf documents that can be positioned vertically, then get one of those short tripods and position/tape/stand your documents against a wall or sturdy perpendicular surface. If this configuration is possible, you can shoot them all the same.
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Old Jan 26, 2003, 10:23 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voxmagna
Most cams don't have cable release so use the 10 second self timer. Angled lcd screen might be handy.
If that is going to be a major use, you really want a camera with a "cable release". The 2/10sec self timer will work, but you will come to hate it if you have to use it a lot. And watch out for the Infrared wireless remotes - many of those are meant to be used in front of the camer to take self portiates/group photos. That can be awkward from whatever kind of jury rigged "copy stand" you come up with..

Typically, if it is available at all, the remote will be an extra cost add-on that isn't mentioned in even the most detailed reviews. So get to a short list of cameras on other criteria, then do some hunting and asking in the forums for the specific camera about remote release availability.
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Old Jan 26, 2003, 11:12 AM   #5
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You could use a device called a copy stand, e.g., http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bh6.sph/...ID=F3368789110

I have a Bogen copy stand that also includes two adjustable light bars on either side of the easel to illuminate the document being photographed without cauing reflections. These things can get kind of pricy, but well worth it if you do alot of copying.

If you can position a tripod such that it straddles the document, you use a tripod that allows the crank-up center column to be removed and reinstalled inverted, that is to say, with the head being down between the legs (mine is a Bogen-Presto). You can then rotate the head 90 degrees from the column to allow the camera to point straight downward.
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Old Jan 27, 2003, 12:37 AM   #6
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Default Support for photographing images on horizontal plane

My thanks to the forum for the replies.

The recommendation, by jawz, of the tripod straddling the document appears the most practicable and economic solution. My tripodís crank-up centre column is not removable but Iíll try and find a handyman to adapt it. If it is not ďadaptableĒ, I will purchase a flexible clamp-pod as suggested by leforstx.
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Old Jan 27, 2003, 8:09 AM   #7
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Something to watch for when is lighting. Even a very slight shadow(s) from the tripod legs can make your life misserable when you try clean up the picture. Uneven lighting where you are shooting can also cause shadows.

You would probably do well to get a camera that can be used in full manual mode (exposure and white balance) so you can be sure of having the same exposure in all your shots. That assumes that you shoot in a spot where there is only artificial light. If you have natural lighting, you will be at the mercy of clouds covering the sun, changing the light level and changing the mix (color) of natural/artificial light

Keep in mind that enough light to read very comfortably is a low light situtation for a camera.
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Old Jan 27, 2003, 1:50 PM   #8
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maybe you want to go the simple route: invert the centre column in your ttripod to allow you to centre on top of your subject; then a click of the self timer will lets shoot w/out vibrations.
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Old Jan 28, 2003, 12:39 PM   #9
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How about a low-tech idea?

A rectangular piece of plywood, with a thin leg on each corner, to make a table, the legs possibly hinged so that you can fold it all up. In the very centre of the rectangular piece of plywood, cut a round hole, big enough for the camera lens to see through.

Glue some felt on the upper surface of the plywood, round the hole, to help keep the camera free from scratches. Paint the under surface of the plywood 'table' matte white to help with the lighting.

Then you sit the table over your document, sit the camera on the table - and shoot.
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Old Jan 30, 2003, 12:58 AM   #10
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Default Support for photographing images on horizontal plane

Thanks for all the tips.

The handy man managed to cannibalise my non-reversible centre crank-up column to allow camera to point downwards which is fine for document photography at home base. It is little impracticable however having to carry a screwdriver around to re-reverse the column each time I want to pack up and move.

To make things easier for myself, I yesterday ordered a Velbon Sherpa 250 tripod from http://www.jessops.co.uk in the UK (a more convenient shopping place for those of us in Africa). This should do the same trick as the Bogen-Presto used by jawz.
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