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Author Topic: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?  (Read 2120 times)

Dinarius

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Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« on: November 23, 2017, 05:02:12 AM »

I hope that this is the right forum!

Which is better, scanning or photographing old photos and documents?

Pros and cons, please.

Many thanks.

D.
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BrownBear

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2017, 04:26:55 PM »

We tried both and settled on the camera.  Ask yourself this- Which has the better sensor- Your camera or the average flatbed scanner?  The colors were always closer to true and required less adjustment from the camera, and especially old framed photos can be stuck to any glass covering. 

Our preference could easily reflect some failing in our scanner software or quality of our particular scanners. But that's immaterial.  We got the results we wanted with the camera, so went with that rather than spending any more time or money on better scanners and software. Clients were always happy, which is the final arbiter when you hang an OPEN sign in your window.
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Dinarius

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2017, 10:36:27 AM »

Thanks.

Yes, food for thought.

Scanners are better than they used to be. They also do a few things by default, that can be awkward with a camera - keeping documents flat, squaring-off, evenness of lighting, etc.

Apparently, some scanning software can remove blemishes in old photos also - saving a lot of time in Photoshop.

That said, unless one has to shoot through glass (to keep things flat), photography is faster than scanning - one vs. one.

But, given that one can have three/four top notch scanners for the price of a decent lens; for a large scanning project, it might make sense to have a few scanners all running at the same time. It also allows expensive camera equipment to be put to more traditional use - taking photographs.

Decisions, decisions!

Thanks.

D.
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BrownBear

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2017, 12:48:46 PM »

Another market to keep in mind.  Painters and other flat artists need quality photos of their work for entry in far-flung competitions, as well as promotions. Yet most of them are rotten photographers.  Once you develop a following among them, you'll have more reasons for that quality lens and the skills to use it. Mix in artists producing 3D works with the same photo needs, and you might find even more clients. A step or two short of the skills and gear needed for ad photography, but a step in that direction.
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Dinarius

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2017, 01:22:23 PM »

Thanks.

Yes, I've been doing that as well for over 30 years.

My query relates to a specific project involving 000's of photos (mostly old black and white) and documents (mostly letters and A4 pages).

On balance, I think that scanning will be the most efficient and cost effective.

But, I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

Thanks again.

D.
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BrownBear

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2017, 01:55:31 PM »

My query relates to a specific project involving 000's of photos (mostly old black and white) and documents (mostly letters and A4 pages).

On balance, I think that scanning will be the most efficient and cost effective.

Kinda makes me curious why you didn't say so in the first place.  Carry on.
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Dan Berg

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2017, 08:05:37 AM »

We use 3 methods.
Camera  with studio lights for art digital reproduction.
Epson V750 for documents and hi res photo scanning.
Just received the new  Epson FF-640 photo scanner. Super fast but low res at 600 dpi.
Plan to offer photo scanning service archived to thumb drive.
Will report back once we break it in.

snappingsam

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2017, 05:55:23 PM »

Have a look at the Kodak range of scanners - they have one  - thats designed to scan 40 photographs a minute up to 8x11 at 600dpi - will obviously do documents too.  About $1000. They are quite rare - so you could buy one second hand and sell again for the same price!

https://www.kodakalaris.com/en-gb/b2b/solutions/photo-scanning/photo-scanning-system-family/picture-saver-scanning-system-ps50-ps80

Epson have one too.

https://petapixel.com/2016/09/16/epson-unveils-worlds-fastest-photo-scanner-scans-one-print-per-second/

Downside - if the photos are mounted in pages they won't work!
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Two23

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2017, 06:20:00 PM »

If it were me, I'd buy one of those Epson scanners, so the scanning, and then sell it.  The better photos (top 5%) I'd scan with the camera.  I've been thinking of buying a copy stand that I can mount my D800E to, and scan my 4x5 negs with the Nikon 105mm macro lens.  Using the copy stand I could take four photos of each neg, stitch in CC.


Kent in SD
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Doug Peterson

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2017, 10:00:18 AM »

This depends almost entirely on scale. At low scales a scanner is more cost effective and faster (due to effectively zero set up time and effectively zero time to switch object sizes or PPI). At larger volumes instant-capture is much much faster. It's also possible to get higher image quality (though this depends heavily on which camera, lens, lighting, stand, and technique are employed; it's also possible to get worse image quality).

Institutions that do this at higher volume (tens of thousands or higher) have switched very heavily toward instant capture (industry term for camera-based digitization as opposed to scanner-based digitization). The reasons are:
- Speed, especially for like-sized objects
- Quality, especially for those looking to digitize at FADGI 4-star preservation-grade quality
- Handling, since instant capture does not require contact with the object

This is true of nearly all kinds of materials at such institutions, but film scanning especially has seen a dramatic shift. The Library of Congress, as one fun example I'm particularly proud of, is using two of our systems to do the final preservation scan of the Farm Security Administration negatives.

We've written an extensive guide to modern digitization, largely aimed at institutions rather than individual photographers. We've also written a digitization color accuracy guide that is pretty universal to anyone who cares about excellent color accuracy.

Alan Klein

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2017, 11:33:09 AM »

Since you're scanning photos, not negatives, a lot of resolution is beside the point.  Resolution is limited in the existing document to 200-300 bpi max.  I'd go with a scanner.  They scan flat (Camera lenses distort especially at the edges) and have equal lighting across the photo (getting lighting equal across a photo is difficult). If using a scanner like an Epson V600 which costs $200 new, a lot less than a camera setup, the scanners program will eliminate creases and tears to a large extent saving time in post processing.  It will also correct colors in photos that have faded.  I've never scanned with a camera so I can't comment on its speed or quality.  Good luck on whatever you decide to do. 

As an aside, if you;re scanning an 8" x 10" photo at 300bpi, you're final file will be 2400 x 3000 = or 7.2mb.  Save as a tiff not jpeg.  Scanning at let's say 2400bpi is a waste as the photo doesn't have that resolution, not like a negative or slide film.  Also, the files will be huge with no better resolution. 

Doug Peterson

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2017, 10:31:39 AM »

Since you're scanning photos, not negatives, a lot of resolution is beside the point.  Resolution is limited in the existing document to 200-300 bpi max.  I'd go with a scanner.  They scan flat (Camera lenses distort especially at the edges) and have equal lighting across the photo (getting lighting equal across a photo is difficult). If using a scanner like an Epson V600 which costs $200 new, a lot less than a camera setup, the scanners program will eliminate creases and tears to a large extent saving time in post processing.  It will also correct colors in photos that have faded.  I've never scanned with a camera so I can't comment on its speed or quality.  Good luck on whatever you decide to do. 

As an aside, if you;re scanning an 8" x 10" photo at 300bpi, you're final file will be 2400 x 3000 = or 7.2mb.  Save as a tiff not jpeg.  Scanning at let's say 2400bpi is a waste as the photo doesn't have that resolution, not like a negative or slide film.  Also, the files will be huge with no better resolution.

Having done a huge amount of this work I have to strongly disagree. Very high res scans of photographs is enormously useful. Nearly any photo collection more than a couple years old will have dust, scratches, and rippled surfaces on at least some (often most) of the photos. With a very high res scan (e.g. IQ3 100mp filling the frame of an 8x10) you can very often (almost always) use frequency separation (or even the rudimentary dust-and-scratches tool in Photoshop) to eliminate the dust and, scratches, and rippled surfaces without affecting the underlying image since the content of the image is significantly more diffuse (lower frequency) than the content of the dust and scratches. With a lower res scan the results of doing so are not nearly as good. The raking light of a copy stand is also better in this regard than that of a scanner.

Plus some printing techniques had more effective resolution than most people would assume.

Moreover flat scanning often creates seculars and glare that are much more easily avoided with a copy stand setup.

Getting even light with a camera is perfectly easy if you're using Capture One. As outlined in our Color Guide you can use an LCC for perfect even fielding. Capture One's 3-channel AutoLevel is also very good at restoring natural color, and the color editor and color adjustments can be more easily/quickly/robustly applied across a set of raw files than across a set of direct-to-TIFF scans.

Alan Klein

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2017, 01:01:56 AM »

Doug  I respect your experience and what you said.  What dpi would you recommend?  One note.  The instructions for the Epson V600 shows 300dpi as standard.  They do say 600dpi is OK for more resolution but that's not their standard instructions.  The Epson program also corrects for creases, wrinkles bends etc. in the photo print. Yet they don't recommend such a high dpi as you recommend.  Why would they do that?  Is it possible that their process is different than what Photoshop does?

BartvanderWolf

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2017, 05:12:17 AM »

Doug  I respect your experience and what you said.  What dpi would you recommend?  One note.  The instructions for the Epson V600 shows 300dpi as standard.  They do say 600dpi is OK for more resolution but that's not their standard instructions.  The Epson program also corrects for creases, wrinkles bends etc. in the photo print. Yet they don't recommend such a high dpi as you recommend.  Why would they do that?  Is it possible that their process is different than what Photoshop does?

Hi Alan,

I'm obviously not Doug, but I do agree with some of the things he said, and here's why.

A good photographic print can resolve detail at least as fine as between 300 and 720 PPI and, with some specific settings, it might beat that. So in order to scan such detail without aliasing artifacts, one need to scan at least at double that resolution. Then there is the surface damage, which can also have very sharp-edged features.

The reason that Epson mentions much lower resolutions is for reasons of speed and file size, and because the resolving power of the optics/focus prohibits the system to actually achieve the high-resolution claims. That was demonstrated for film-scans in this thread. Do note that different lenses can be in use is such flatbed scanners, depending on Reflective or Transparent subjects, and depending on size. A camera system produces more predictable gains (more gradual loss) in recovered resolution with increasing number of sensels.

I'd probably arrive at a similar conclusion for scanning reflective copies, as I did for the film-scan test on a flatbed scanner. Best resolution (and ability to repair damage) is the highest resolution, but with diminishing returns. Other considerations like file size and intended output size of course also play a role.

Cheers,
Bart

P.S. having maximum resolution and lots of pixels can be a real benefit in postprocessing. Applications like Photoshop or Affinity Photo have multiple tools that can be used for that.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2017, 05:56:20 AM by BartvanderWolf »
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Alan Klein

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2017, 04:15:35 PM »

Thanks Bart for that info.  Next time, I'll scan at the larger dpi and compare to the 300 and see how both handles creases, wrinkles, etc.  You mention it should be double the existing dpi.  How does one know what that is since you said it could be between 300-720ppi.  Do you scan everything at 1440?

BartvanderWolf

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2017, 07:11:59 PM »

Thanks Bart for that info.  Next time, I'll scan at the larger dpi and compare to the 300 and see how both handles creases, wrinkles, etc.  You mention it should be double the existing dpi.  How does one know what that is since you said it could be between 300-720ppi.  Do you scan everything at 1440?

There often is no other way of knowing except by experience, or knowledge of the print process used.

I rarely scan documents below 600 PPI, or 1200 PPI if I know there is a fine raster or very small text print involved. I once had to scan a death certificate, and I noticed a very fine background raster that would aliase into dark blotches if not sampled dense enough, I then used 2400 PPI and all was fine. I then used high-quality downsampling to achieve a smaller file size without reintroducing aliasing, for sharing with the affected family (and also making sure that a print from that final resolution would be forensically easy to spot). A high scanning resolution also makes it possible to hide a very small watermark text in an image ...

Many modern C-printers use lasers and a resolution in the order of 254 or 300 PPI, so a 600 PPI scan would do fine in such a case. There are higher resolution printers, which would warrant a higher scanning resolution. Old B/W contact prints usually have very high resolution, worthy of a 600 or 1200 PPI scanning resolution.

I sometimes let an unknown printing service print a copy of my Print resolution target, which gives me useful information about the quality I can expect from them, if they won't/can't tell me what printer they are going to use. It also tells me if their equipment needs service.

If lots of retouching is necessary, I tend to go with higher PPIs, it gives the InPaint algorithms much more good sample area (including paper surface structure) to work with. And when raster dot removal is involved, high PPI scans can also be really helpful. I once helped someone involved in the research of the Kennedy assassination, with reconstructing a face in the scene background from a published raster image in a book, by using FFT techniques. Real data improves the chance of success.

Cheers,
Bart
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CeeVee

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Re: Scanning or photographing old photos and documents?
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2017, 08:15:58 PM »

Have a look at the Kodak range of scanners - they have one  - thats designed to scan 40 photographs a minute up to 8x11 at 600dpi - will obviously do documents too.  About $1000. They are quite rare - so you could buy one second hand and sell again for the same price!

https://www.kodakalaris.com/en-gb/b2b/solutions/photo-scanning/photo-scanning-system-family/picture-saver-scanning-system-ps50-ps80

Epson have one too.

https://petapixel.com/2016/09/16/epson-unveils-worlds-fastest-photo-scanner-scans-one-print-per-second/

Downside - if the photos are mounted in pages they won't work!
Obvious? Obiviously you need to do more research. A Document scanner is not a photography scanner.
I fell for that idea once - turns out the two are not one, I could wish.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

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