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Re: Digital cameras as "scanners"

Close to this topic: to quickly index a slide collection, do the 
following simple setup and procedure:

I've set up a 2Mp camera to record and file my 10,000 or so slides. I 
put the camera on a tripod immediately behind and above the projector, 
which is aimed at a piece of white matte-surfaced Formica about 24" 
square. The image is about 12" square and very bright about 60" away. I 
zoom the lens out so that the projection will fit either vertically or 
horizontally and leave it on autofocus and autoexposure, color corrected 
for incandescent. I just load the slides and shoot, occasionally 
checking focus on the grain. I do it at night and put black velvet on 
the table to minimize ambient light on the screen. The camera 
automatically records the date and sequence number, which I afterwards 
write on the slides so I can go back for a scan if needed. I put sticky 
notes on each stack to keep in order. Some nice background music and a 
cold drink helps.

Why? Michael said it's a waste of time, and it is if you're looking for 
scanner quality. But when it takes (me) over 8 minutes to find, dust, 
load, scan, remove, mark and re-store just 4 slides (2 min avg) on my 
scanner, it will take me years. Instead I can leave the slides in their 
storage boxes to project, dust if they need it, and shoot away -- it's a 
LOT quicker. I've done 365 slides in one evening, about 3 hours (30 sec 
avg, or 4x faster). It's still a long project but no longer hopeless.

This is only a prescan for seeing which ones are useful to take the time 
to scan. I mark the slides that have been shot with a light color spot 
and those that are scanned later with a dark color over the light-color 
spot. For starters, I can batch-correct bad slides for color-shift and 
fade, and optionally I'll crop out the black border to get a better look 
(3:2 35mm slide format vs. 4:3 digital) by zooming. I mark the slide 
boxes against a computer file directory where the image files were put. 
Also, the HD is not loaded with slide files that probably will never be 
used anyway. Getting a close, zoomed look at these has been a revelation 
for me. Some are about 55 years old.

Yes, I know it takes two processes instead of one and I considered that, 
but I'd rather prescan and index than do every single slide. I can 
quickly organize the slide images into directories and galleries and 
slide shows to decide what's next. And again, I'm not saying this is a 
replacement for scanning, but it continues to be very useful for me. It 
may be for others, and perhaps others have already done this.

Comments are always welcome.  --- Don Dement
Michael Healy wrote:

>This is the method to which I resorted initially, because I was impatient
>and had no scanner. I set up 35mm slides on a light table, put a digital
>camera on a tripod, and shot. The idea was to do copy work, essentially.
>You are asking about equipment, and I'm afraid I don't have any thoughts on
>this part of it. What I can offer, though, is a warning. Slides and negs are
>pretty small unless you're working with at least 4x5. So if the best you can
>managed is the arrangement I've described, you probably are going to find
>yourself with a couple serious problems. One will be lens selection and
>alignment. Unless you use a long lens (100mm +), you will achieve the effect
>of barrel distortion. Also, it's pretty awfully difficult to get both planes
>perfectly parallel, first of all, and then perfectly lined up so the image
>looks perfectly horizontal. I **do** copy work for artists. It's hard enough
>to get an 8x10 image perfectly aligned to the camera using eyeballs. With
>35mm slides, I'd say forget it, unless you've already got equipment set up
>for slide duping.
>Maybe others will disagree with me, or have actual experience pulling this
>off with an expensive camera. I'd be skeptical. With my copy work
>experience, I thought I could pull it off. Now I wouldn't waste the time.
>What's the point of all the acrobatics and microphotography when you can get
>superior results from a $500-$600 scanner? I only even tried it because I
>did have the camera, and did not yet have the scanner. If you can overcome
>the problems I've reported, more power to you. Otherwise, a waste of time.
>Even for greeting cards, the result probably are going to suck beyond your
>imagination. And I haven't even addressed the problems associated with light
>source or control over the scan.
>Mike Healy
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Jim Cummins" <jcummins@acm.org>
>To: <scan@leben.com>
>Sent: Friday, April 12, 2002 6:00 AM
>Subject: Digital cameras as "scanners"
>>Are there any subjective or objective comparisons of
>>(5M, ~$999 flavor) digital camera capture of slides or
>>negatives vs scanning the same slide or negative.
>>Auxillary lens usage is assumed for the digitial camera.
>>If cropping is done at the capture point the camera
>>resolution would also be spread over the specific area
>>of interest.   The burden of color and mask corrections
>>would, of course, move to the software side after capture.

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