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Old Feb 25, 2013, 12:57 PM   #1
Spanky Deluxe
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Does anyone have any experience using a copy stand?

Has anyone got any experience with using a copy stand versus a scanner?

I've got a huge number of old family photos that I would like to digitise - i.e. thousands. I've also got a significant portion of documents of my parents that I would like to digitise - A4 stuff.

I've tried using various scanners before but found the slowness of it all too unbearable. 20/30 seconds per photo just seems insane and I figure with the right kind of DSLR setup, I could do a photo in seconds. I know resolution used to be an issue but my camera's not lacking in megapixels - 24mp D3200.

I want to keep the additional outlay as low as possible right now so if I do go the copy stand route, I'd be going for an eBay cheapy. I figure something like this would do the job coupled with a couple of diffuse home lights (I don't have any stand alone flash units) either side might work. Maybe a pane of glass to cover the documents to ensure they're flat. I do have a decent lens at least (35mm 1.8 prime so ~50mm full frame equivalent) so I'm hoping I could get decent results.

Has anyone used this kind of method to digitise a large quantity of photos or documents? I'd be using Aperture to catalogue all of the photos and I have Adobe PDF Pro to convert any document photos into PDFs.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 03:04 PM   #2
phrehdd
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I wish things were as easy as you hoped they would be but alas, to do the job correctly you should be considering the following -

1) glass on top of anything is reflective
2) copy stand lights should be at certain angles to the subject to avoid both glare and shadows
3) any subject that has color requires lights that are ideally color balanced and if just slightly off, you can correct in camera or via post editing.
4) copy stand work is NOT faster than scanning in most instances
5) whether copy stand or scanner, some like items can be scanned/copied at same time.
6) resolution vs dpi - for scanners most scan at 300 dpi output tiff. My rule of thumb - smaller than 8x10, scan at 600 dpi. Larger than 8x10 often scan at 300 dpi. Copy stand work - doesn't require 24mpix for most items but output should be tiff if possible.
7) post work is often used to correct issues and this will take some time

I honestly would suggest continuing the scanner route if you can and consider scanning more than one image at a time IF* they are similar enough. Copy stands are often for oversized subjects. A good copy stand set up would often use polarized material over the light source and similar on the camera. However, for what you are doing you could skip that. If you choose to use your camera, get a macro lens. Macro lens is a flat field lens ans is akin to those lenses used for copy work. Also, stop down the lens at least to f/4. Most DSLR lenses are not as "crisp" when fully open. Check the charts for what f stop provides the best results for a given lens. Avoid auto feed units on any scanner. Manually set up your subjects on the scanner. For copy stand work, you might have to place a piece of glass on top if the subject is not absolutely flat and again, this requires you set your copy stand lights correctly to avoid glare AND make sure each time you clean the glass after using it.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 03:33 PM   #3
snberk103
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I wish things were as easy as you hoped they would be but alas, to do the job correctly you should be considering the following -
.....
Everything phredd has said, I agree with. Except that scanning or copying more than one item at a time means you have extra steps to separate the images ... that can take as long to do as dealing with them one at a time.

I will also add.... I use Vuescan. I don't know that this feature is unique to this product, so look around. But Vuescan has an auto repeat feature which you can set to various time delays settings. With auto-naming switched on it means you can just sit there and swap photos every few seconds for long periods of time. It does the mean the originals need to be similar in size so you aren't scanning a lot of blank space each time. But if you can organize your originals this way you can work through a lot of images in a sitting. I scanned 256 SX-70 Polaroids in an hour or so this way. The trick to be very sure - very very sure - that your settings and auto-naming are correct before you start. Otherwise you will very very efficiently scan not much of anything. (Don't ask how I know...) So start with a few at a time to get the hang of it.

While I understand your reluctance to spend more time than necessary scanning.... it's the post production that is going to eat up the biggest slice of time.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 04:07 PM   #4
phrehdd
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Originally Posted by snberk103 View Post
Everything phredd has said, I agree with. Except that scanning or copying more than one item at a time means you have extra steps to separate the images ... that can take as long to do as dealing with them one at a time.

I will also add.... I use Vuescan. I don't know that this feature is unique to this product, so look around. But Vuescan has an auto repeat feature which you can set to various time delays settings. With auto-naming switched on it means you can just sit there and swap photos every few seconds for long periods of time. It does the mean the originals need to be similar in size so you aren't scanning a lot of blank space each time. But if you can organize your originals this way you can work through a lot of images in a sitting. I scanned 256 SX-70 Polaroids in an hour or so this way. The trick to be very sure - very very sure - that your settings and auto-naming are correct before you start. Otherwise you will very very efficiently scan not much of anything. (Don't ask how I know...) So start with a few at a time to get the hang of it.

While I understand your reluctance to spend more time than necessary scanning.... it's the post production that is going to eat up the biggest slice of time.
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I find that like items such as documents, some black and white images with similar tones/grey scale can be gang scanned and very quickly "separated" into unique files per image. Also once can put four images on the scanner (as example) and scan each as separate instances. This saves the time to load and reload.

Vuescan is a great software. In the past I have used it and also use Silverfast. I try to avoid as much as possible the software that come with most scanners. I have not scanned for a while but I use both an Epson 700 series and also a very old film/slide scanner that is my fav - Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400. I haven't had the need to use a copy stand in a long long time.

You brought up a point I totally forgot about and yet, is extremely important - setting up a system to handle naming convention of the output. Kudos.

Last - invest in compressed air (cans are typical but a small compressor with a water filter trap is ideal) and lint/dust free clothes. I find that a soft anti-static brush is also good in some instances with delicate images with tears.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 05:21 PM   #5
snberk103
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I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. ....
I don't think we so much disagree as we have had different experiences. It's good to get both into a discussion. People can then make a better informed decision about what is appropriate for them.

I too use the Epson 700. Nice machine.

And good points about lint etc...

I will add a further thought... if one has a cat in the house, check to see if the sound of the can of air being used freaks 'em out. Our cat is deathly afraid of my can of air. If she is being difficult and isn't leaving my studio when invited, I just show her (not use!) the can and - whoosh - she out the door.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 06:02 PM   #6
phrehdd
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i will add a further thought... If one has a cat in the house, check to see if the sound of the can of air being used freaks 'em out. Our cat is deathly afraid of my can of air. If she is being difficult and isn't leaving my studio when invited, i just show her (not use!) the can and - whoosh - she out the door.
grin.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 09:15 PM   #7
dimme
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Back in the day I work in a photo lab. I have done lots of copy stand work. Spend over 10k in the 80's setting up a system. I also have done scanning in the lab. Scanning will always be faster/better. Plus if you scanner has ice it will save you time. If you do deside to go the copy stand route and you have a nikon camera try to pick up a used 55micro lens. It was/is the industry standard in copy work.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 06:55 AM   #8
Spanky Deluxe
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I'm going to give the VueScan software a try (if I can resurrect my HP printer/scanner). It had never occurred to me that there was third party scanner software available. Scanning used to be slow and painful with the HP Scan software but since OSX took over the scanning in Mountain Lion it became painfully slow, hence my reticence.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 05:21 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by snberk103 View Post
I will add a further thought... if one has a cat in the house, check to see if the sound of the can of air being used freaks 'em out. Our cat is deathly afraid of my can of air. If she is being difficult and isn't leaving my studio when invited, I just show her (not use!) the can and - whoosh - she out the door.
Mine freaks out and leaves the room the moment I use my Rocket Blower. Does that count?
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 09:36 AM   #10
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Mine freaks out and leaves the room the moment I use my Rocket Blower. Does that count?
My Rocket Blower works both with the cat and with a 4 month old Airedale pup (who barks furiously at it, but backs away).

I'm late to this thread, but a long time ago I did a lot of copying via a copy stand, glass, and a film camera (yes, with 55 micro-nikkor). I wouldn't do it again on a bet, and for the reasons others have given: reflections, color temp, etc etc. At least I had a waist-level finder, which let me view and focus without breaking my neck. I wouldn't want to do it with a stock DSLR unless it had an articulated screen.

And I second Vuescan, which I use with Epson V300 and V600 scanners.

Not too long ago I scanned 300+ pages and about a year ago, more than 1,000.

The trick is to spend time experimenting and setting up your physical workflow. Have the documents or pictures arranged in a stack, and have space to restack them when they're scanned. Or if you don't like stacks, figure out what you do like.

Get the scanner in the most comfortable position for you -- things like that go a long way towards making scanning as easy as it can be.

It's important to get into a rhythm, if possible.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 01:51 PM   #11
phrehdd
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Originally Posted by Spanky Deluxe View Post
Thanks everyone for the advice. I'm going to give the VueScan software a try (if I can resurrect my HP printer/scanner). It had never occurred to me that there was third party scanner software available. Scanning used to be slow and painful with the HP Scan software but since OSX took over the scanning in Mountain Lion it became painfully slow, hence my reticence.
Vuescan is the best bang for the buck. There is one other quality software which is called Silverfast. The latter is more elegant than Vuescan but for your needs, go with Vuescan. If you get into items such as film/slides, Silverfast would be in my estimates a better route.

While some may disagree, try putting smaller subjects together on the scanner. Either scan for each (if 4 items then 4 scans) or scan all at once and then separate. If you get decent skills at this, it will save time or load and reload. The latter is akin to what people do with a group of slides on a flatbed scanner. The software knows it is multiple subjects(slides) and the process is built in.
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