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Old 10-04-2007, 10:13 AM   #31
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I didnt find anything about the camera
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Old 10-04-2007, 02:07 PM   #32
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Summary of some points

Yes, this thread is kind of a tutorial, but nevertheless it is nice to get a feedback from the readers. So here is summary of some points.

1. Scanner vs. digital camera

Scanner is ok for single page documents, and a scanner with a feeder is very good for a pile of single sheet documents. Scanners can also be used for scanning your old photos to digital form. They do not require any lighting arrangements and take care of the white balance (usually produce white background as white - but not always). However, getting the right colors with a scanner requires as much care and processing as with a digital camera. You can learn a lot about scanning from the author of Scanview and the links on his pages: http://www.hamrick.com/vsm.html

I have a HP scanner on my desk that I don't use anymore (I dont't use a photocopier anymore either). The main reason is that the scanner is very slow in color mode. The mono mode is faster but still too slow for me. The other reason is that you cannot spread flat a book in the scanner even if you use a heavy weight on the scanner's cover. If a book page is not flat, the lines of text will be curved, and OCR will be unreliable.

Sometimes (e.g. for professional printing) you may need a scanner resolution of 1200 dpi or more. Few (very expensive) digital cameras can match that resolution for A4 pages today.

2. Digital cameras

I started with a 1.2 Mpixel digital camera only five years ago. Totally useless. (Even before that I had an opportunity to casually talk about the idea of using digital cameras as scanners with some high level HP executives. They didn't "get the picture".)

My next camera was 5 Mpixel Canon PowerShot G5. Image sensor 1/1.8 inch CCD. Image size up to 2592 x 1944 pixels. Very good.

My current camera is 8 Mpixel CanonPowerShot Pro 1. Image Sensor 2/3 inch CCD. Image size up to 3264 x 2448 pixels. Canon does not want my money for the successor of Pro 1. Apparently it competes with high priced reflex cameras.

Most Canon cameras can be connected to a computer to shoot pictures (not just to download them). Most reviewers negelect this advantage and also do not understand the need for higher resolution and never refer to repro applications in their reviews. While 8 Mpixels are good enough for A4 pages (210x297 millimeters) and more than good (with zoom) for A5 pages (you can calculate the resulting resolution from image size and paper size), it would be good to have as high resolution as possible for A3 and even A2 pages. As a matter of fact with my Canon I can shoot a picture of a distant object over the heads of the crowd and read the text which I cannot see well with my eyes. It is also the only way to read small print instructions that come with some products (recently I used my camera LCD to read a serial number on my Archos 704 wifi). The higher resolution (in terms in Mpixels) cameras should come with larger sensors. Higher resolution with the same size sensor is sometimes a disadvantage for repro applications. A nice feature for repro applicatons would be the manual focus. It is very awkard in my Canon (requires three hands).

When shooting, always use a neutral mode (no color or contrast improvement in the camera - you can always improve it with proper software) and the lowest ISO possible at a given lighting condition. In my experience, it is better to underexpose than to overexpose. Always take care of proper focus. For all practical reasons, you cannot improve on that once the shot is taken.

As for cheaper compact cameras, it looks from the specification that 10 Mpixel Canon A640 or a succesor may be good for repro applications.

There are cameras available with a special text mode. It is just a selection of camera settings. Good for novices.

My other two cameras: 8 Mpixel Casio Ex-Z850 and 10 Mpixel Casio Ex-Z1000 provide the text mode. They have a very nice 9 point focusing screen. Since they use the same size sensor, the 8 Mpixel Casio is better for repro applications. It is more difficult to focus with the higher resolution Casio.

3. Lighting

With the v-cradle design use a bright light as high over the cradle as possible. A diffusor to dissipate lighting and make it more uniform is useful. A soft flash (possibly redirected against the ceiling) can be used for black and white pages. The most uniform lighting you can get is the sunlight outdoors, with the original paper document at a proper angle to the sun..

4. OCR

Abby Finereader 8 is a marvelous piece of software but sometimes it is vicious and puts strange and obscene words in the recognized text (it is just the way it interprets the picture). It is very risky to use the OCR-ed document without correcting the misspellings manually. I never waste time for correction since I produce the output as the picture-true pdf copy of the original with OCR-ed text layer underneath. In that way you can index and search the documents in your computer and always read and print a perfect copy of the original document.
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Old 10-04-2007, 02:36 PM   #33
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I've done some research on the web about cradles and discovered that rare book libraries use several different kinds, including book pillows. I'm going to do some experiments (I hope this weekend) to see if these alternatives will work for this type of 'scanning'.

My camera is a 7.1 megapixel Olympus C-7070 with a good macro capability. I'm hoping it will work. I have a remote for it, which will help I think, but the software I'm going to have to look into further. No doubt the solution will be PC only, which is always annoying but not a deal killer. (I usually use Macs, but I have PCs.)

For OCRing I usually just use Acrobat. I used to use a version of Iris but there were limitations that I just didn't want to deal with (they are probably gone in later versions, but I haven't looked). I've also used Omnipage in the past, but not at all recently. My biggest issue is that for many books OCRing is a waste of time. The 18th century long 's' totally, uh, messes up the results.

I'll be printing out ereszet's instructions and trying to replicate with on-hand equipment before buying (or building) new stuff. This looks like a great solution to the problem of scanning page by page in a scanner, even one as useful as the Opticbook (also PC only ).
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Old 10-04-2007, 04:43 PM   #34
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pillows and ocr

A book pillow? Never heard of that. I can imagine a black soft pillow as a "cradle" for books but it would be a daunting task to keep the book pages at the same position for sequential shots. What about a glass to flatten the pages? Can you give more info on that?
As for OCR, you apparently use it for English texts which are so easy that Acrobat Capture (and even free ocr programs) may be ok. I ocr all kind of languages (even old Russian cyrilic) and books as old as 17th century. I tried Omnipage, Iris, Textbridge, an IBM program whose name I forgot, and any demo/evaluation I could find on the internet. There is no match to Finereader (they even offer a version for Gothic Fraktur and Old European Script but it is too expensive for personal use - apparently they sell it to libraries).
OCR is crucial if you search thousands of books for specific terms and purpose, like genealogical research. You just cannot read thousands of books page by page.
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Old 10-04-2007, 08:56 PM   #35
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Here's the first instance of a soft book cradle, complete with instructions on how to make it:

Velvet book cradle

And here's the site that sells the book pillow:

Book support bag / cushion

There's also the more traditional library cradle:

Acrylic book cradle

That last one does not have adjustable sides, so that would have to be dealt with. (There is another model that has front 'stops' on it to keep a book from sliding.)

The last cradle (I should say cost-effective cradle) was one made for book binders. A sewing cradle is very close to what's needed, though I think the sides may be a bit too steep and, in the ones I saw, the sides weren't adjustable.

I saw some of the more commercial cradles for digitizing and wish they weren't so expensive! The most common one seems to be flat blocks of varying heights, where one side of the book can be raised and lowered depending on where the book is open to. This would be especially nice for thick books.

If I understand the process clearly, the main concern is to keep the plane of the camera lens even with the plane of the page being imaged, along with keeping the book steady. To keep the efficient flow ereszet has worked out, it's necessary to not have to readjust after each image, so those are the two things I keep in mind when evaluating the usefulness of the cradles and pillows, etc.

I really appreciate the work ereszet has done. It's amazing!

(And you're right, I'm only doing English books - with a few scattered French ones - and nothing earlier than the 18th century. After reading your list, I realize I have it easy! )
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Old 10-05-2007, 01:54 AM   #36
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I am afraid I will have to echo what everyone else replied in this thread: mr ereszet your work in marvelous

I was thinking weeks ago something similar to what you made, but a bit different, here is my idea:

first, there are two ways to digitize afaik: cameras and scanners

the camera problem is that cameras cant create an image of the quality of a scanner (low resolution, much distortion, many artifacts, needs specific lighting conditions, specific camera angles, camera needs megapixels 35MP or more to reach scanners' 300dpi resolution) and we need expensive equipment to achieve results as a scanner easily does, however they are very fast

the scanner problem is that pages cant be flat, which results in distortion at the edges and that it takes too much time to scan each page, however the scans are top quality

my idea is about a scanner that will scan books easily, fast and accurate, without damaging the book

it will scan the book with best quality including the area near the binding
it will scan the book in the half time of a scanner, since it will scan two pages at once

this scanner will look as if you take two flatbed scanners and bind them as a book

here you can see a scheme of it:


you can imagine it as an A3 scanner (that scans both pages of an opened book) but it will be foldable

the scanner I propose wont damage the book at all, since the book will be in its normal position as when you read it

you may also look at this picture:

http://www.diy.atiz.com/diy_detail_info.php

http://www.diy.atiz.com/diy_componen...g_book_cradles

it looks like the scanner I propose, but these glasses dont scan, they are only used to eliminate the shadow and to make the bookpages flat so that a digital camera will take a picture of the pages

opticbook solution is not adequate imo, although I havent used it
it is just a simple scanner with small border:


microtek scanner has the same 'small border feature' plus its slim, so these scanners maybe the appropriates to create the dual scanner I say

it looks simple, however I dont know if it can be implemented and if there will be any benefit

looking forward to hearing your opinion
thanks

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Old 10-05-2007, 04:57 AM   #37
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other cradle designs

I am proud to see that both the velvet and the acrylic cradle can not match my design in terms of precision positioning and flexibility. You can add a soft padding to my v-cradle panels if you wish. With my new improvement (four regulated bolt legs) my v-cradle will allow to change horizontal and vertical angles to any precision required without touching the tripod. And it allows you to shoot very fast without adjusting the postion for every page. Instead of glass you can use your fingers or a clip or a transparent strap.
If I had a few thousand bucks to spend, I would buy an Atiz two camera v-cradle, but my design does the same (with less automation), with more precision and flexibility.
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Old 10-05-2007, 05:09 AM   #38
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maybe a plate that will stand on an axis which will allow the plate to rotate it self 180o (and the book on it) would make more easy to shoot the next page
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Old 10-05-2007, 06:07 AM   #39
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although it will be the first time I will shoot a book, I cant say all the work ereszet is proposing is needed

this simple and cost-effective scheme will be more than enough imo, since it enables you to make any adjust in the shooting angle you may ever want to make, but ofcourse please feel free to make any comments

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Old 10-05-2007, 08:03 AM   #40
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Anything similar to what is in your drawing will work. I tried before and suggested a number of substitutes in my previous posts. When I am in my office, I don't bother to go to a copier. I frequently shoot a paper document placed on a table over a black background, keeping a camera in my hand. As I have already mentioned, I run a paperless office. Fifty or so pages of documents that come to my desk every day can go to my camera and my computer in a matter of 15 minutes. Any distortions I can correct later with batch software processing, but I prefer to do the photos right from the very beginning with the v-cradle in my home studio).

For precise positioning and fast shooting of a book you need more than your design. When trying to aim and zoom your camera from a tripod you will learn how difficult it is to adjust the tripod angles precisely (in three dimensions). I did it once and I don't touch my tripod and camera anymore, I can just move my v-cradle forward and backward, left and right, up and down, change the angle of v-panels (in the next model, even precisely change the length of micrometer legs). Also remember that you need to obscure your camera behind a black curtain or a paperboard, otherwise the camera will be reflected in a glass or a glossy surface of the (color) paper document/book.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:12 AM   #41
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rotating table

A rotating plate was my idea for shooting two opposite pages one after another. A marble rotating plate for serving cheese can be all right for that. However you would need a v-shaped glass and a book with wide margins between the pages, beacuse a joint of the glass would obscure the middle part. What's more, turning the rotating table 180 degrees will take about the same time as turning a page. On top of that, the positioning of opposite pages will be different for books thicker than pamphlets. So I dismissed the idea, and I shoot all the odd pages first and even pages next.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:25 AM   #42
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nice

since you are more experienced, can you post here some:

1) program macros for batch image correction (what to correct)
2) calculations for the optimum angles, camera distances, amount of lighting (I suppose prof photographes may help)

something else, your camera costs over 1k USD, will cheaper 12MP cameras will do the job? anyone tested?

also, has anyone tried to work with any of these?
they are supposed to work well, since many industrial strenght book scanners, look like these, eg

last, I suppose all people occupied with book shooting have tried the snapter program from atiz, JFYI

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Old 10-05-2007, 08:36 AM   #43
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v-shape scanner

Quote:
Originally Posted by user View Post
the camera problem is that cameras cant create an image of the quality of a scanner (low resolution, much distortion, many artifacts, needs specific lighting conditions, specific camera angles, camera needs megapixels 35MP or more to reach scanners' 300dpi resolution) and we need expensive equipment to achieve results as a scanner easily does, however they are very fast
.....
this scanner will look as if you take two flatbed scanners and bind them as a book
With 10 Mpixels camera you get over 300 dpi for A4 format, over 600 for A5, and over 1200 dpi for your collection of small print business cards.

Cost is minimal. Just a tripod and do-it-yourself v-cradle. Today, you need a digital camera anyway on all kind of occasions.

A v-shaped scanner plus automated turning of pages (mechanical or pneumatic) would be a breakthrough. HP already offers some see-through scanners, and that technology would be appropriate for the v-shaped design. I hope somebody from HP or their competitors will read this and make it work (you should better go to the Patent Office before them).

With all that, the v-cradle will be a choice for home and non-corporate users, and will help you copy even large size documents or newspaper pages without spending a lot of money.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:51 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by user View Post
nice

since you are more experienced, can you post here some:

1) program macros for batch image correction (what to correct)
2) calculations for the optimum angles, camera distances, amount of lighting (I suppose prof photographes may help)

something else, your camera costs over 1k USD, will cheaper 12MP cameras will do the job? anyone tested?

also, has anyone tried to work with any of these?

last, I suppose all people occupied with book shooting have tried the snapter program from atiz, JFYI
For batch processing, I am posting some hints and problems in the pdflrf by cacapee thread in Content rather Accessories forum.

You do not need any calculations for angles, lighting, etc. You just shoot your photos and compare results.

My Canon Powershot 1 is today less than 500 USD (I guess), Canon A640 is even less. My two compact Casios are good enough as well, alas there is no way to connect them to a computer for shooting and they have no remote.

I have Bogen/Manfrotto copy stand at home away from where I am now, and I am going to use it instead of tripod with my v-cradle when I am back home.

Atiz hardware looks very good, and Snapter is a promising tool but it is too slow and buggy in version 2.0
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Old 10-05-2007, 09:50 AM   #45
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If you don't have a tripod and a remote

Picture 1. A flexible cheap arm bought in a photo accessories shop, attached to a chair. I do not recommend that particular type of arm - it is neither flexible or stiff enough even for small cameras.

Picture 2. Details of a wired remote (again a computer accessories shop) attached to the camera.

Picture 3. Professional flexible arm by Manfrotto (it is for lighting support rather than a camera). It is very solid but costs a lot.

I tried all that some years ago, and I recommend buying a good tripod whith short legs (if you want to keep it on a table together with the cradle) instead.
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