Help photographing documents, please

Discussion in 'Canon' started by Ted Kerin, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. Ted Kerin

    Ted Kerin Guest

    My wife is a historian who sometimes visits archives to research books or
    other docs (like old letters) considered too fragile to put on a copy
    machine. But, photographing the documents is permitted.

    I'm hoping there's a good way to use out not-high-end Canon Powershot 850 on
    a simple tripod, to get clear images of such docs. Early experiments have
    shown mixed results. Often the focus is off, or sometimes there's an orange
    glow from (I guess) the focus-finder.

    I've tried (at home, using the newspaper) various settings with flash on or
    off, and off looks better although I'm concerned that the wife might find a
    lot of sub-optimal lighting conditions in these kinds of archives. Also
    tried different ISO settings.

    Of course I told her to use Macro, but I am sure there are other, very
    valuable tips for settings to use in this specially challenging kind of
    photography, and that the tips would vary as to make and model of camera (at
    least, short of the high-end cameras that can do anything).

    I should also mention that sometimes she needs to photograph books which
    cannot be completely flattened beyond what gravity does, which I realize is
    a major limitation on trying to get good close-up focus, but any ideas about
    dealing with that would be great.

    So that's why I'm here! Any thoughts, tips or pointers will be GREATLY
    appreciated!



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    Ted Kerin, Jul 26, 2009
    #1
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  2. Great tips, William! I immediately knew when the missus first asked me, that
    this was a highly specialized task, (and just as you said, more compicated
    than it looks a first glance), whose solution might require special hardware
    and/or setting solutions. She has described seeing fellow researchers
    placing 4-legged photographic platforms over these books (with built-in
    lights?? not sure), almost like what I would call (as a former animator), an
    old-fashioned (before Flash!) "animation stand". And my attempts to google
    such equipment have been sadly, totally unsuccessful. But since it's
    important to her, I'd be happy to invest in a couple of books such as you
    mention, so would you mind sharing your recommendations of a title or two?
    Or, do you know where the special hardware we're talking about could be
    obtained (or, even what it is called)? Thx again!



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    Captain Howdy, Jul 26, 2009
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  3. Ted Kerin

    Ted Kerin Guest


    Sorry, my apologies for accidentally using a different nym in that last
    reply. Thanks again.



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    Ted Kerin, Jul 26, 2009
    #3
  4. Ted Kerin

    Rob Guest

    To photograph documents, you want a high resulution. I do not knw a
    Canon Powershot 850, the models I know have a letter and a number like
    Powershot Axxx of Powershot Sxxx.
    So I do not know how many MP you have available.
    Anyway I would much prefer a normal SLR with a larger sensor, the one
    in the Powershot cameras is really tiny.
    The recent EOS500D might be a good choice, much larger sensor than the
    Powershot, much better results in bad lighting and much higher
    reolution (15 MP).
    Of course the EOS 5D mark II would be even better, but the price....!
    The EOS 500D is much cheaper.
    There is an EF-S 60mm macro lens available, not very cheap, but
    hopefully within your reach. Check it out.

    The lighting tips you already received should be sufiicient, I would
    only want to add that a polaroid filter may come very useful to avoid
    reflections.


    The Powershot cameras are not designed for this kind of work, I'm
    afraid the results will be disappointing. So if you can afford it (I
    of course can not look in your bank account) get a new EOS model like
    the 500D or even 50D. You won't be disappointed!

    Kind regards,

    Rob, Amsterdam.








    Op Sun, 26 Jul 2009 10:52:46 -0400, "Ted Kerin"
     
    Rob, Jul 26, 2009
    #4
  5. Ted Kerin

    Ted Kerin Guest

    Thanks to all for the helpful replies and GREAT information! I'll start
    pricing out the suggestions, as it seems some grant money is available.
    Thanks again.



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    Ted Kerin, Jul 31, 2009
    #5
  6. Ted Kerin

    Rob Guest

    Today I had to photograph an old book on watermarks. If was not
    permited to use the photocopy machine, nor could I use a flash or a
    tripod (I had two small tripods with me.)
    I had to put the book flat on a table near a window (standing it
    upright was also not permitted). So I had to photograph it page by
    page, using my EOS 50D with an old 50mm macro lens.
    I took 467 photographs in about an hour, and I am quite satisfied with
    the results. (Only I had some backpain because I had to bend over when
    taking the photographs.)
    The exposures were around 1/60 to 1/80 sec. by f2.5 to f3.2. with the
    'P' setting (Program AE, i.e. automatic w/o flash). ISO was 100.
    Fortunately it was a bright, sunny day.
    All pages are perfectly readable, the pictures of the watermarks are
    clear. The use of a tripod would certainly have improved sharpness,
    but what I got is quite sufficient for my needs.

    Kind regards,

    Rob, Amsterdam.









    Op Sun, 26 Jul 2009 10:52:46 -0400, "Ted Kerin"
     
    Rob, Aug 31, 2009
    #6
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