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Old May 5, 2004, 9:55 AM   #1
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I am shopping for a camera that will allow me to take photos of documents and pages of rare books. Frequently in low light without being able to use a flash. I can't use a scanner since the books must be handled as little as possible and sometimes must be kept in a book cradle.

What cameras should I consider? What are the key specifications to consider?

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Old May 8, 2004, 7:32 AM   #2
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looks like you need a camera with good macro capabilities, some sort of image or lens stabilisation (in order to minimise blur in long exposures) if possible but not necessary if you can use tripod, AF assist lamp so that it can focus in dim light,a good deal of manual control for correct exposures and depth of field..around 4-5 megapixels so you can reproduce photos in A4..and i know the list seems non-ending..
Depending on how serious you want it to be you can get either a digital SLR and have proper control or go for a cheaper solution and get a compact like Minolta A2, with
good photo quality, an Image stabilization system,Full manual controls,very good low light AF performance,LCD/EVF useable in low lighting conditions
or go for something like Canon A80(useful with its AF lamp, manual controls and swivelling lcd so you can take a photo in difficult angles),or something similar...
hope this helps
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Old May 8, 2004, 12:03 PM   #3
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If the stand is such that you can always use a tripod I would recommend the following:
  • a camera with manual focus and a focus distance readout in the LCD.[/*]
  • A swivel LCD since you probably won't be able to see the back of the camera.[/*]
  • An available remote.[/*]
  • Fully adjustable white balance or raw unless you plan to tweak in Photoshop. Choices of daylight, cloudy, fluorescent, tungsten etc isn't full adjustment.
If you will not be able to always use a tripod you need the above features except remote plus stabilization. In descending order you would want a Minolta A2, A1, Panasonic FZ10 or Canon S1. A DSLR with a stabilized lens would be nice but 70mm (without macro) is about the widest you can find in a stabilized lens for a DSLR, and that exacerbates the problem with books that have to stay in the stand. All of the stabilized cameras except the FZ10 have a flip out LCD, with the S1 having the only fully articulated LCD. Unfortunately the Canon is only 3Mp, which might not be sufficient. If 3Mp is sufficient the S1 might be a good choice.

If you can use a tripod, aperture priority would be nice so you can stop down the lens to increase the depth of focus since it is hard to get the pages in a book perfectly flat. If you could always use a tripod a DSLR would give the best results if it fits in your budget.

Not sure you would want to shoot a large page in macro mode. Even for smaller pages any camera will have sufficient macro ability. Super macro distances are a factor only if you are photographing small jewelry, bugs, coins etc.
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Old Aug 8, 2004, 2:35 PM   #4
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Just a though but can you use the S1's Panorama mode ?
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