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Old Jun 7, 2008, 9:38 AM   #1
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Steve and others

I am venturing in new territory and need counsel. I have been extended the oppurnity to digitize nearly 100,000 old court documents for genealogy purposes. I have learned a little, but am looking for guidance. The documents are hand written usually on about 10 x 16 inch pages. I have done some of this with a Coolpix 1200 (7.1 meg) ($99) and the images were good before compression. However, since some of the documents are 300 years old, and the images will have to be compressed (web site), I need abetter image to start. I understand I need to start out with a good quality high megapizel camera, yet I am limited on funds. A 10 meg. may do, but I am thinking 12 meg. In addition to this requirement, these are the features I would like, butdon't necessarily must have.

Remote activation

Wider angle lense (I could get closer to the page)

I can't find these items except in the SLR group which put me into $600 or $700+ each

I will need at least 2 of these.

I am also looking for a tripod mount that will hold 2 cameras at one time ( if there is such a thing). One for each page going at the same time.

Other advice on the process, is solicited.

Ken B




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Old Jun 7, 2008, 9:52 AM   #2
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Welcome to the Forums.

Since it looks like you want to find a good camera and lens solution to take photos of documents, I've moved your thread to our What Camera Should I Buy Forum, which is where we prefer this question is asked.

Hopefully, some of our members will be able to offer some suggestions.

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Old Jun 7, 2008, 11:24 AM   #3
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First, a wide angle lens, especially a wide angle lens on a P&S digicam, is likely to produce geometric distortion and vignetting.

Second, when using acamera, you'll have to keep the document flat, well lit, adjust the zoom for the size of the document, and transfer the images from the camera to a mass storage device of some kind. Even if you can do it all well and repeatedly, this is likely tointroduce severalbottlenecks into your process, and is likely to slow down your operation considerably.

I think your best bet is to rent a copier that can store scanned images on a computer. Something like the Canon imageRUNNER series will do well. I am a computer consultant, and have two customers who have requirements similiar to yours and are quite happy with the results they've gotten from there systems. They don't have to worry about lighting, exposure, different document sizes, or image storage, as everything is handled automatically by the copier. All they have to worry about is handling the documents.
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Old Jun 7, 2008, 12:17 PM   #4
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Thanks. I appreciate the tips, particurly, on the wide angle issue. I might just stay away from that.

I made not have made things clear. When I set the camera up I will only have to make one adjustment as I see it.. The camera will be set on the tripod and focused on the book. When I turn the pages, Ishould not have to re-adjust for each shot. Occasional re-adjustments might be necessary as I turn through the 6 inch book. This is true with the lighting too. I will have side lighting and no adjustments should be necessary; should there?

My camera will take 500 pages on my memory card. We will change cards as we go along. Later (at night) we will down load these cards into the hard drives &c and have them ready for the next morning.

I am not savy on the scanner/copier you mentioned. Will it require me to arrange the book on a machine for each page shot?

Time is a serious element here. With the camer I used recently, I could take the pictures as quick as someone could turn the pages.

KB
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Old Jun 7, 2008, 12:58 PM   #5
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A book may be especially difficult for what you are trying to do. If you want to take one shot of the facing pages, for the first and last several pages, youmight have a problem with focus. The camera might choose to focus on the closer page, and the facing page might be out of focus. That is, page 2 would be further from the camera than page 3 (because page 3 has all the other pages of the bookunder it.) If the camera focuses on page 3, then page 2 might be out of focus, and if the camera chooses to focus on page 2, page 3 might be out of focus.

Placing the open book face down on a flat bed scannner (like the one on a copier) would ensure that both pages would be in focus.

But if alot of the documents you'll be shooting are bound and old, you might do less damage to the binding by using a camera instead of a copier.
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Old Jun 7, 2008, 5:52 PM   #6
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Thanks again. I appreciate your feedback.

These are almost all books. The copier/scanner is out of the question. The time and potential damage to the old court books would makethe project prohibitive.

I have not had problems with focus. One camera is set on the left page and the other is set on the right. They are adjusted ocassionally as the pages are turned, but it is not needed on every turn of the page. I am already 24 to 28 inchs from the book. A 100th of a inch distance will not cause a problem.As long as we keep the book reasonably flat, we are fine for several pages.

I am committed to the camera approach. I just want to make the best set-up when I go to work on the project.



Attached is a copy of a 1749 court book page I copied with my $99 coolpix; no tripod, no side lighting. Remember, the origanal is 260 years old and faded. It is not easy reading when youare looking at the original.


KB
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Old Jun 8, 2008, 9:24 PM   #7
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Another issue I think would arise from using a scanner is with very old books, even if preserving their bindings wasn't a consideration, they are so dusty that the scanner would likely need to be cleaned after every few pages. Of course, I'd expect the lenses will need to be cleaned somewhat more frequently during this project that during normal camera usage.

I mean 100,000 pages is a daunting task regardless of the method used but I do feel that, with a good, heavy, solid tripod and proper lighting (that doesn't cast shadows of the tripod), that the camera is the way to go over a scanner.

Out of curiosity, how long are you planning on this taking? It would seem likely that the life expectancy of a few cameras would expire during the project.

Good luck!
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Old Jun 8, 2008, 11:03 PM   #8
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I did a 521 page book in a little over one hour. If I can repeat this 2oo times, Iam there. With 2 cameras going at the same time, we can reduce that to about 40 minutes or a project total of133 hours of active camera service.

Of course there will be issues arise and there will be some documents separate and not in book form. Those will take longer. We have planned for at least 2 persons going for about 6 weeks.

Ken B


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