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Old Nov 11, 2011, 9:50 AM   #1
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I am searching for a camera to digitize old tintypes, photographs, and other archival materials. For reference: I already own a Canon Powershot SD890, and absolutely love it, but I feel as though a more ‘professional’ camera may be better suited for the task. (Please correct me if I am mistaken!)

Presumably I am looking for a DSLR, although the Nikon V series and the Sony Nex series have also caught my eye. High image quailty is a must. Other specifications include: excellent image stabilization, good for macro (and/or interchangeable lenses), and good in low light; multi-point auto-focus would be helpful. I would also prefer a viewfinder. Ideally, I would like to pay no more than US$700 for a complete kit--although price is negotiable.

Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated. Thank-you!

Last edited by ane237; Nov 11, 2011 at 9:55 AM.
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 11:10 AM   #2
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I personally think you'd be better off with a good scanner. But if you go with a camera, get a copystand and a macro lens, something with good edge-to-edge sharpness. That will exceed your budget, and we haven't even talked about a camera yet.
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 12:22 PM   #3
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Thank-you for the quick reply, TCav!

The reason I eliminated the scanner option was because scanned objects seem to have more noise, be less sharp, and are more difficult to resize than digital images. But perhaps I am mistaken, or have only used low-end scanners? I am also working under a deadline (and with a memory-challenged computer) which also factored into my decision.
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Old Nov 11, 2011, 12:35 PM   #4
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Hi,

All of this is going to depend on the size of your works being imaged. However, there is a similar thread that I answered here...
The distances would be a bit different and maybe the lenses. But, I am guessing that a 35mm or 50mm would work just fine. It all depends on the size of the works and the distances away from the works. The depth of field will also play an important part in this. I would think that you would need about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in depth of field in order to ensure that you maintain good focus.

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Old Nov 11, 2011, 3:39 PM   #5
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The problem with using a camera for what you describe, are the flaws inherent in all camera lenses, to some degree. Those are Field Curvature, Vignetting, and Distortion. Scanners have none of those problems, and I must add that I don't think your concerns about scanners are well founded either.
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Old Nov 12, 2011, 10:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
multi-point auto-focus would be helpful
That requirement seems a little odd, unless this will be with the camera hand held? If a copy stand is used, then everything should stay lined up, and the usual center focus would be fine. As for a viewfinder, I prefer the liveview LCD for closeup work. But a viewfinder certainly is nice for everything else.

I think a macro lens would serve best, but may be a budget buster. Especially if you also want the latest in sensors for top low light performance. Some compromises will be needed somewhere.

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Old Nov 12, 2011, 4:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
If a copy stand is used, then everything should stay lined up, and the usual center focus would be fine.
OP mentioned tintypes which have finite thickness compared to a photograph so focus should be checked every shot.
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Old Nov 13, 2011, 2:35 AM   #8
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Definitely go for a scanner.

Something like the Canon Canoscan 9000F is relatively cheap and very good quality. You will be able to get much higher resolution from the scanner.
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Old Nov 15, 2011, 2:09 PM   #9
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G'day ane

Already you have some good answers / info above
My suggestion would be to search out an old photo-darkroom enlarger with a sloping vertical column to become your camera copy stand. The enlarger head usually is connected by a screw that matches the tripod thread as well! Chuck away the old head and connect your camera via the tripod socket. This will give you a stable support for whichever camera you select - even perhaps your existing one

I have done lots of copying of "old stuff" this way - I have best results using an SLR with a semi-wide angle lens which is already designed to reduce the lens aberrations mentioned by TCav. However, when using my digicam at about 3x zoom, I am getting acceptable results too

Hope this info is some help
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Old Nov 16, 2011, 6:05 AM   #10
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While, certainly, some lenses perform better than others, all lenses, even the most expensive, have abberations that scanners don't, even the least expensive.

And while keeping "old tintypes, photographs, and other archival materials" flat isn't an issue for scanners, it can be a significant problem when using cameras.
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Last edited by TCav; Nov 16, 2011 at 7:20 AM.
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