Forum Thread

using a camera instead of a scanner

slugbug 1,379 568 May 12, 2016 at 09:19 AM
My wife is going to spend roughly a month helping her hometown document its history for a 50th anniversary project. Part of this will include scanning lots of old photos.

She was wanting to use a scanner, and I tried to get our old Canon Canoscan LIDE 30 scanner working with Windows 7 with no luck. I know it worked fine on XP before I upgraded. No luck using a PC with Windows 10, either. I am able to get a very basic scan using a utility called vuescan, but it has some jagged lines that shouldn't be there.

Anyway, I've always found myself wondering when they would finally come out with instant scanners - where it digitally scans the entire item all at once, without you having to wait for a motor to move the scanner line across. Then today I realized that I technically already have this - a 14 megapixel camera that does great close up shots.

Have any of you ever thought about rigging up something so that you could use a camera to grab digital scans of papers and objects instantly? It would probably require me rigging up some sort of wooden support for the camera, but then it would also offer her the ability to scan 3D objects that might not be as easily done on a scanner.

If you have any thoughts on this, please share!


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they sell cardboard set ups where you put an item inside the box and the camera sits on top.
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This is nothing new and has been done before with decent results. However a film scanner or flatbed scanner is argueably still better. They offer much higher resolutions.

If you had a DSLR Like a 5D MKIIIs with a 50mpx sensor and a true Macro lens (Not macro mode) then it might swing back to DSLR advantage.,

What camera do you have? Does it do RAW? If it's a DSLR what lens do you have?

If this was me and I was going to spend a month doing this I would want the proper equipment. Can she reach out and see if someone has one that could be borrowed? Alternatively there are services where you can send in negatives and they will do the scanning for you. When you calculate what your time is worth and the specialized scanner they are usually pretty competitive in pricing.
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Last edited by LiquidRetro May 12, 2016 at 09:40 AM
Vague questions receive vague answers . . . . . .
VueScan will almost certainly work with your old scanner.
However better newer scanners will produce better images and do the job faster. Something like an Epson V550 or better would work well.

Regarding services, you can send negatives or printed images. Quality varies. Don't use a service that feeds prints through a document scanner. Most of these services are pretty slow and ship things to india, you just missed scan cafe's mother's day sale and would be a decent choice. Larsen Digital is a good stateside option but costs more.
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Last edited by jkee May 12, 2016 at 06:23 PM
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Generally a scanner will provide better results... it's sensor is closer to the subject, lighting is specifically even and there won't be barrel distortion or vignetting that might occur with a camera.

If you are going to archive historical stuff I would opt for the scanner, do it once and do it right.
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are also wireless printers Amazon [] carries a handy version but there are less expensive versions available too.

Should you decide to get one of the Canon scanner/printer you would have the additional benefit of wireless printing from your phones and tablets.Smilie

I believe but I did not confirm that Brother also makes devices like this.
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A decent scanner can be had for 100-200 dollars. An all-in one laser printer will scan and a decent one can be had for $150 dollars. Why would you want to mess around with some jury-rigged camera setup that will likely not yield as good quality and be much more time consuming to process things with? If the town can not affort $150 dollars or so as an expense item, then they do not deserve any sympathy imo. My 2 cents.
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this would work pretty well and will do negatives too
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HP Deskjet 1510 All-in-One Printer has a good quality scanner for a relatively low price. nod
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Quote from serra View Post :
stoopid serra.
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Quote from komondor View Post :
this would work pretty well and will do negatives too
I agree this would be a good choice, but even the best flatbeds don't do negatives that well. If you've got a lot of negatives, but a proper negative scanner or send them out. Old odd formats like 828 and 120 are harder to scan. Even with a newer scanner like this, I'd try the demo of VueScan it can be a real time saver (the demo adds watermarks).

A scanner like this will work a lot better than your typical all in one.

For 3D objects, photographing makes more sense than a flatbed scanner.
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Last edited by jkee May 12, 2016 at 06:24 PM
do it right. buy a scanner.
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I agree get a scanner and don't buy one and volunteer to donate the ink or your time. That would be "stoopid"
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Quote from komondor View Post :
this would work pretty well and will do negatives too
I agree. If you are going to do this, do it right.
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Use a camera OP. Wifey will owe you.
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