Need lens recommendation for large quasi copystand setup

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by greg_matthews|2, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. One of my hobbies is collecting very old Sunday newspaper comics. I like to share these on the internet in high resolution. Since old newspaper pages are typically much too large for a scanner or copystand that I could easily afford I photograph them. My problem is that the lenses I have cause distortion (curvature) on the edges of the pages. I edit the pages in Photoshop to remove the foxing, orient the pages correctly and a few other things. The distortion can add several extra steps since I have to do Transforms on 2 to 3 corners normally to work out the curvature on the corners and lines of the boxes in which the comics appear.
    My camera is a Nikon D7100. I once rented Nikon's 105mm f/2.8G macro lens and it gave me fantastic results. There was no curved distortion at all. Since I wanted a macro lens, but didn't want to pay for the expensive Nikon lens I got the Tokina 100mm which gives great results with macro photography, but I get a little more distortion than I want with it when photographing these newspapers. It's better than my other lenses, but not quite perfect as I want it.
    One problem with the Tokina is that I have to have about 8 feet between the camera and the newspaper page due to the angle of view of the lens. This is somewhat problematic in that I don't really have a good spot in my house with enough room for the easel holding the page, lightboxes on either side and the camera 8 feet away. With the Nikon lens I have to be even further away.
    I bought Nikon's el cheapo 40mm "macro" for another purpose and tried using it, but I get distortion. My regular 200mm zoom lens is even worse (although not so bad if I move in relatively close and zoom out).
    I'd like to have only 4-5 feet between the camera and newspaper. Even closer would be fine.
    I guess I could spend up to $1000 on the lens if I absolutely had to, but I'd rather spend less if possible! Are there any good recommendations for me?
  2. The Nikon Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f/2.8 AI-s it is so sharp with ZERO visible distortion at any distance .. distortion at 3 meters (10 feet) is under ± 0.1
    The lens you rented is a very good lens but this is better and what you need for your distance consideration ,take time tripod ,shoot in manual ,check your images on the computer of your tests then proceed .
  3. Thanks, I had been reading that this 55mm was one of the sharpest, but I wanted other opinions.
  4. Also there is the same lens with 3.5
    Nikon 55mm f/3.5 AI
    it is not as sharp in the corners but "cheaper" in cost but not in built.
  5. I agree with Robert 100% The 55. 2.8 is wonderful for this.
  6. I was just looking at the price of the 55mm f/2.8. It's definitely in my price range!
  7. It's been a while since I needed to scan a very large original but I seem to recall that it was surprisingly easy to scan these in A4 sections with just a small overlap and stitch these together in Photoshop. It's by far the easiest way to get perfect flatness and adequate resolution (same-size 300 ppi, more of course if you want).
  8. David, when I first started doing this that was the method I used, but that is far more time consuming than photographing. The upside is, as you say, perfectly flat images as well as no distortion and the best lighting possible. The downside is finding a place to put the scanner where I can easily move these delicate newspapers (some are from the 1890s) around on the scanner bed without tearing them, making sure I've got the proper overlap and then in the end I still have to take the time to line up the edges in Photoshop, cut off the overlap and even out the lighting on the edges. Photography just works out better for this. The only thing I can imagine that would work out better would be a scanner or copystand that could hold A0/A1 paper and those are in the range of $10,000+.
  9. Trying downloading for free from Nikon their "Capture NX-D" editing software. It has a very effective "Distortion Control" option. You're using a modern Nikon camera (D7100) and Nikon lens (40mm f2.8G DX AF-S, I'm assuming) which will be recognized by the program and will with a simple click of the mouse apply the correct amount of distortion correction. You can also "Straighten" and "Crop" with the program, altho the crop option probably won't suit your needs. This only will work with Nikon cameras and lenses. I use it on every image I edit with that program.
    I'm attaching two images of a before and after edit using Nikon, Capture NX-D.
  10. Here's the before.
  11. Here's the after.
  12. If your lens is one that Adobe has created a profile for, Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom (which uses ACR as its image
    processng engine for JPEGs as well as raw files) have lens correction profiles available that will solve your distortion
  13. I've used Lens Correction in Photoshop and while it makes improvements I still have to tweak it. When you're doing portraits or macro photography or landscape photography or anything similar you can get by with Lens Correction from various software, but with these newspaper Sunday comics I'm dealing with straight lines on each page that are obviously distorted if they aren't dead on straight. The only thing I found that would produce perfect lines was the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 macro lens. Per the recommendations in the first few replies I've ordered the Nikon 55mm lens in the hopes that the sharpness of this lens and its superior optics lives up to the reputation.
    Here's an unprocessed image that has had lens correction to it. It's fixed all 4 corners except the bottom left which still needs to be adjusted. If you were to draw a marquee around the boxes you could also see some bowing in the middle of the image.[​IMG]
  14. For years I made 35mm copies of art and cells for animation and slide shows on a Sickles camera w/400ft rolls of film using a Micro-NIKKOR. Either of them should be the ticket. They're not expensive
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As it has already been mentioned, Nikon's earlier 55mm and more recently 60mm macro lenses are designed for copy work. They have very little distortion by design. Find one that is your price range.
  16. Another vote for the 55mm
    f/2.8 AI-s micro-nikkor. If
    that doesn't do the job then
    nothing will.

    Incidentally. Soft boxes for
    copying flat artwork? Hard,
    open reflector lights are
    better since they don't
    scatter as much stray light back on
    the camera and everywhere
  17. +1 for the Micro-Nikkor 55mm/2.8 AI or AI-S. I have one and love it. I recently did imaging of a friend's artwork for a catalog, using this lens on my D7100. No distortion to speak of whatsoever, so long as I keep the art and focal plane perfectly parallel.
  18. @Rodeo Joe, one of the post processing things I do is to balance Levels (or Curves) to get rid of the brown foxing of the pages which they have a tendency to do since cheap newspaper paper will brown with town. When I do that any hard lighting becomes very obvious since it creates a bright spot where ever the light is pointing. I meant to say SOFT box instead of LIGHT box. The soft boxes spreads the light out so there's not a harsh central point where it shines. The positioning of them is a matter of trial and error, but gives much better results over direct lighting. The photo I posted earlier was done with soft boxes however I didn't have them slaved to my camera to flash. The best lighting I've ever gotten was when I tried scanning them on a small desktop scanner, but as I mentioned in an earlier post that's time consuming and potentially destructive.
  19. I'm not sure about this, but it's something I'd definitely look into, just to be on the safe side - the copyright on the cartoons, it could easily be argued that you are copying someone's "valuable" designs, republishing them and possibly depriving the author of revenue. The cost of getting this side of things wrong could well exceed the price of any lens.
  20. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    If you can get hold of an old Nikon Nikkormat Handbook by Joseph .D. Cooper there is a plan for a terrific copy table in volume 2, section 7, page 11-29. Be easy to build, table top 42 wide, 32 tall, adjustable. Even has a storage slot for similar size glass. Could easily be completely foldable. I'd attach a photo, but for the copyright. Looks like it would be perfect in your situation. These books are around and still a great reference in a lot of areas even though they came out in 1974 (EPOI Days). The 55 Micro Nikkors are excellent -- even the older 3.5.
  21. Afterthought: one solution you could certainly afford if you could find one and had a place like a garage to put it would be a Kodak Statfile system:
    This consisted of a horizontal copy stand with a glass-fronted easel with a rear pressure plate, lights, a little railway and a 5x7 camera which also took a lamphouse for use as an enlarger (I am sure the camera mount would accept another camera). I used one in the late 1960s, they are of course obsolete and may well all have been scrapped by now!
  22. Only a pitiful 5x7 camera on that Statfile David?
    One of my jobs involved the use of a "Littlejohn" repro/process camera, which had a 20" x 24" vacuum back, and took up to 600mm lenses. Little it wasn't. The lens, bellows and copy-board lived in one 20 foot long room, while the back end had a darkroom all of its own. The copy-board was lit by 4 open reflector hard lights and we never had a problem with hotspots. Hotspots would have been a total disaster because much of the work we did used very high-contrast lith film.
    I recall that the pump for the vacuum back was pretty loud in that tiny darkroom, especially when there was no film fitted to quiet the rush of air into the pump.
  23. Joe I can't quite match you on the size of your Littlejohn - mine was only 16x20 - but I can certainly beat you on potential lethality. Mine was lit by 4 open carbon arcs, running on IIRC 120 V DC and each consuming 30 amps. Not only were safety goggles mandatory but also, being DC-powered, any physical contact with the operator would cause muscles to contract, making it very hard for him/her to let go. The only way to cheat death was to shoulder-charge the person receiving the shock with sufficient force to break their grip! Kids today with their namby-pamby glass light bulbs don't know they're born :)
  24. The 55/2.8 Micro Nikkor is one of the few Nikon lenses which can compete at the pixel level on a Sony A7Rii (42 MP, no AA filter). I use one for slide copying in lieu of scanning. They are popular in the Mirrorless Forum for general use as an inexpensive lens with exceptional performance. I have not noticed any linear distortion.
    A vacuum platen sounds like a good idea. Perhaps one could be made from perf board, a shallow wooden box and a shop vacuum. I'd paint the board black so that text on the reverse wouldn't show through as much.
  25. Ha Ha, this is turning into a Monty Python sketch! if I was satisfied that I wasn't contravening copyright, I'd be looking at rigging up a table around my scanner at the same height as it and then stitching the images together. I've got an early Canoscan 9000F, even a brand new one will cost around the same price as a decent lens.
    Fortunately I have 45mm Nikkor PC-E which works very well for taking pics of artworks, without needing the tilt or shift functions.

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