scanning vs photographing

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by ian_dunross, Dec 5, 2015.

  1. I know this has been asked before, but I'm curious if there are new answers given the advancements in tech.
    I have a lot of old 3x5 and 4x6 photos I need to digitalize. I can either use an Epson 750 flatbed scanner, which seems to produce very good quality scans
    I could use my 5DsR with the 100mm Macro lens to photograph the prints
    Which would be better? And if I use the camera, how can I ensure an even lighting and that the picture is completely flat?
    Scanning seems to produce good results, but the tiff files are huge (about 300mb each at 600dpi), and even at 4 prints per scan, it's very slow
  2. Scanning works beautifully, particularly with your excellent scanner. You don't need 600dpi. Use 300 and you'll get all the resolution that exists on your prints, while reducing the time and file size.
    You've identified the issues with using your camera. It can be done, of course, but it takes more effort. Setting the lights at a 45 degree angle has to be done once, but you'll work at centering the prints and, if they're borderless, dealing with glass.
  3. SCL


    Best answer, honestly, since you have the two ways vehicles, why not just try a couple of pictures done with both methods and see what works for you. As much as I hate scanning, I've found that I generally get better results with my scanner than if I reshoot with my camera & macro lens. Where the reshoot becomes useful is when the print or negative exceeds the available space on my scanner.
  4. Photographing is really fast. One night I sat with my wife and her siblings as they went through the family photos. I was set up and ready, and was shooting them as fast as they were looking at them--hundreds of photos in an hour or so. It's good in proportion to how well you set up the situation, not inherently inferior unless you do a sloppy job.
  5. Light copy stand like they use
    for macro? My 2c.
  6. Scanning is simpler, faster and generally better than copying photos with a camera. The only exception is when there is a surface texture (e.g., silk surface) on the photo which requires offset lighting to overcome. All the scanners I've used have more than enough resolution to capture the detail in a print, and dynamic range as well. With a copy setup, you are responsible for centering, framing, lighting, focusing, and keeping the object flat - all things the scanner does intrinsically.
    Slides and negatives are another matter. I have dedicated film scanners, but find it much faster to use a camera, with superior results. Unlike prints, slides and negatives are generally smaller and contain much more detail and dynamic range, which I find a camera does better and much, much quicker. Flatbed scanners are harder to set up for film, and don't do nearly as well as a dedicated scanner or camera.
  7. I know tht my epson scanner is nothe same (or as good as) a nikon coolscan.
    it s 35mm only. I am considering how I could scan a 120 6 x 6 color negative.
    I guess photographing a print would be the easiest.
    I know that is not the question.
    I have 50mm macro lenses and zoom shide duplicator for 35mm.
    I have no simple way to directly make a positive scn of a 6 x 6 negastive.
    and suggestions besides buying a new flatbed scanner?
  8. I have scanned thousands of old family pictures and photographed 100's of album pages for the purpose of reproduction. It is possible to
    do it either way, but photographing carries extra demands.
    Estimate the number pixels you will have on the long side. This will serve as I guides as to resolution and how small or large your
    reproduced prints will be
    1. Need tripod set up and remote release
    2. The 45 degree is a guideline and I have found that it does not alway work. Very glossy prints or prints with lots of architecture will
    require modification of your illumination
    3. The picture must be absolute parallel to the sensor and should be centered on the center of the sensor. Otherwise you will get a
    distorted picture.
    4. Be sure the background will be easily edited out
    BUT I have taken quick snaps with my iPhone and those are ok to let me know what is in the picture.

    I scan 600 color dpi all the time at 8bit (not 16 bit) and they tend to average about 70MB so your large size is most like related to your
    chosen bit depth.
    Scanning does not need a complicated setup to get very good results. Yes it can seem to take a long time, but the overall quality is likely
    to be better than photographing. I use image capture on the Mac (Vuescan is excellent), I like the auto segmentation of image capture. I
    typically get through about 1 image a minute running two scanners at the same time.

    A lot depends on why you want to do this. When I began, I held the belief that I was preserving those image for future generations. In
    retrospect, I was not able to identify anyone in my family willing to devote the time to backup, archive, maintaining, covert to newer media
    over time. At that point I sort of decided the analog to digital conversion is great for reproduction of as many prints I want, and is great as
    long as I am alive, but if my goal is to preserve those images for future generations, I will need to reprint them. And in fact I am in
    process of actually do that, so you may want the images to be the best quality images
  9. The Epson software will correct some of the marks on the prints while scanning so you don;t have to do that in post as much as if you use the DSLR. The scanner will also correct colors, fading etc. Unless, of course, your prints are clean and color perfect to begin with.
  10. Steve: If your family is not interested in archiving, maintaining, coverting etc., why do you think they're interested in saving all your re-prints? Wouldn't it be more productive if you just took a few of the best or family memorable, and duplicated those, framed and give them as gifts. Those will be the only ones they're going to save if they save any at all.
  11. Ian, try both and proceed on your findings. If you have a specific question on technique or something fine, but you can do this yourself. Share the results:)
  12. I agree with Barry. Jump in and try. That is the only way you will find what works for you.

    @Alan. I have scanned some pictures that date back To the 1870-1880. Tin types. It is very difficult for me to imagine
    someone preserving my digital files for 145 years. It just seems very unlikely. But many of the pictures I scanned, I was
    probably the first person to look at them in 30-40 years, preserved in a box in my parent's basement. Hard to image a
    digital file surviving a 10-20 year interval of observation, although I recent pulled some 8-10 year backup drives out of my
    basement, and I could read/access the files!

    My reprint effort is to gather the very best of all those images, and create heirloom type album for each of the kids. Those
    will have the ability to survive long between observation intervals and perhaps will find their way to a descendent who has
    the same curiosity and interest that I have had.

    I think a lot of people view the analog to digital conversion as an effective means of preserving the images. While
    perhaps that is true, I think it is an unlikely outcome without the re-creation of a hard copy.
  13. I am in agreement with Edward. Scanning will be better for flat prints and the scanner will hold them nice and flat (more difficult when being photographed). Digicopying might be better for lustre prints, but you will need even illumination and in this case it will be more hassle. The only reason I would like a 5Ds/r would be to digicopy my old slides for which I think it would be sensational.
  14. I have tried both a scanner and DSLR for slides. For prints, only a scanner.
    Scanners use linear (1D) CCD arrays, which they then either move, or move the source, such that it ends up scanning the whole picture. The CCD arrays are much cheaper than the big 2D arrays for high-end cameras, but if you already have a camera ...
    The design of the scanner usually includes the right focus, and even illumination over the image. In the case of the DSLR, you have to do that yourself. Putting glass over the print is the best way to keep it flat, but then you have to worry about reflections. A good scanner will give more pixels than many DSLRs, but probably both give enough.
    But the DSLR is usually faster. For quantity, and not top quality, I would use the DSLR.

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