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Old 09-25-2007, 03:57 AM   #16
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Old 09-25-2007, 06:31 PM   #17
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ereszet;

Thanks for the posts on the Cradle, Cardboard Cradle, Detailed Instructions, Masking Instructions, OCR Recommendations, Lighting Perfection Tips, and Software Tools!

This is quite a huge, detailed, beautiful set of instructions. Thanks!

Any chance you want to take it the next step and add it to the wiki?

You've provided an incredible tutorial for the rest of us.



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Old 09-26-2007, 12:25 PM   #18
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wiki tutorial

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Originally Posted by phrodod View Post
ereszet;

Thanks for the posts on the Cradle, Cardboard Cradle, Detailed Instructions, Masking Instructions, OCR Recommendations, Lighting Perfection Tips, and Software Tools!

This is quite a huge, detailed, beautiful set of instructions. Thanks!

Any chance you want to take it the next step and add it to the wiki?

You've provided an incredible tutorial for the rest of us.



Phrodod
I am glad to here the good words from you and I welcome your suggestion to produce a wiki tutorial. However, I am afraid that I cannot devote enough time for that in the near future. If you or anybody else would like to use my posts to produce such a draft tutorial (e.g. From paper to reader: hardware and software tools), I would be only to happy to contribute to its next version. In the meantime, I will post only a few more hints on the hardware setup in this thread (after all, I see no more problems to solve unless somebody asks for advice), and more on preprocessing software in the cacapee pdflrf thread forum.

Please note that I am neither a professional photographer, nor a reprographer, nor a software developer but I try my hand in a number of fields beyond my call of duty, which covers a lot of areas. It is to be more efficient in my professional life (and pastime as well) that I follow or sometimes precede new developments.
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Old 09-26-2007, 12:33 PM   #19
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Copy stands - a poor alternative to v-cradle

1. Do-it yourself - see http://www.frontiernet.net/~rjacob/copystnd.htm. The picture I attach here is from that page.

2. Semi-professional copy stand by Manfrotto (Bogen in the US).
I guess that this is something similar to what some US university libraries offer for the use of students (It's been quite a few years since I last time lectured in the US, so I am not current on that).

I bought the Manfrotto in Italy a couple of years ago together with lots of accessories:
micro ball head, a mini laser level (that I attached to camera flash rail to aim the lens at the middle of the document page), extra 500 watt halogen lamps, reflector lamps, a variable friction arm, micrometric plate, various brackets, quick change plate adapter, multiclips (to hold black sheets protecting from side light), etc.

I was quite proud of the results achieved with that setting, although I was never happy with the lighting and shadows.

Since I am now a few thousand miles away from home, I had to device something provisional. So I designed and constructed a repro v-cradle as a temporary solution. It proved better than the flat bed copy stand for at least four reasons:
- it is ideal for books, magazines, etc. because of the V shape;
- it allows to position the original paper document at any distance and angle to the lens without touching the tripod or other camera stand;
- it solves the problem of lighting (see desperate solutions for flatbeds in the attached pictures taken from the internet);
- it does not require a tripod or a stand with precise positioning, anything that holds the camera steady at about 45 degree angle to the horizon level will do.

3. Professional reprographic systems. There are dozens of them with sky high prices. They may be right for automated reproduction of thousands of pages per day, but not for quality of each and every page. I assume that google books uses something like that and the results are sometimes disastrous (see yourself at google books).

I believe that with my repro v-cradle setup, I can match quality of any professional reproduction and I can photoscan hundreds if not thousands book pages a day (individual sheets of documents are just too easy to photocopy to mention).
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Old 09-27-2007, 10:50 PM   #20
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Thank you for this! I have an old copy stand stashed away. Definitely time to pull it out.
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Old 09-28-2007, 06:06 PM   #21
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A convenient photoscanning setup

Shooting photos and processing them takes time but it is not necessarily my time, I let most of the burden to my computers.

I work in my home studio at a desk with my old laptop plus an infrared external keyboard (I have to get a radio keyboard one day) and a Linksys modem/router. In another room, I have a desktop computer with dual core processor. The computers are connected as a LAN through an Ethernet cable but wireless works as well (I use wireless to surf with Archos 704 wifi when I am in bed). I use Windows terminal services to operate the desktop computer from my laptop.

To my right, on another desk is my photoscanning setup: a tripod with a camera (connected to the laptop) and the v-cradle. I can turn document pages in the cradle without moving from my chair and I shoot photos with my mouse. The shooting is the only time when I need to give my full attention. After that I switch to the other computer and start the download of pictures from the camera to the computer. It takes time, but in the meantime I work with my laptop doing other things. Next, I run all the picture processing programs (like OCR, conversion to pdf, and pdflrf) on the desktop computer. It does not take my time at all. I work with my laptop, and only occassionally I switch my screen to see what is going on with the picture processing.

I do not mention all the external hard disks, a maze of cables, power supplies, UPS towers, US, various European and other adapters for different plugs, usb extensions, card readers, etc., plus a big fan to cool my laptop.

Somehow it all works most of the time. Every evening for half an hour or so I photoscan the documents that I want to have in my computer, then I OCR and index them. I have not yet met anybody else who runs that kind of paperless office (now with the Sony Reader and Archos 704 extensions). But I assure you that it works (until hard disk crashes).
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Old 09-30-2007, 12:03 AM   #22
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Can you be a bit more specific about the actual image-taking stage? Do you use the glass on each page?

Do you:

- place the glass on the page to be photographed
- focus the camera to the right or left page (I realize this is done at the beginning, but not continuously)
- assuming all the computer stuff is set up, take the photograph
- lift the glass, turn the page, replace the glass
- take another image of the left or right page
- continue until all left or right pages have been photographed, then repeat the process for the opposite pages
- clean up images in software
- collate images
- save as pdf (or whatever)

Is this how you're doing it?

I'm asking because I thought I understood, but when I went to step through the process, I realized how much I didn't understand.

Thanks for sharing this. I have a large (quarto-sized, I think) book that is very heavy for a traditional scanner (both for the scanner and for me!), and your method looks like it will help me a lot.
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Old 09-30-2007, 05:56 AM   #23
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Image taking stage

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Originally Posted by Studio717 View Post
Can you be a bit more specific about the actual image-taking stage? Do you use the glass on each page?
The heavy glass serves to flatten the pages. It is five millimeters thick. An anti-glare glass would be nice, but I use just ordinary glass and it is ok with my lighting arrangement.

For single sheets of paper documents it is not necessary to use the glass unless the sheets are creased, like the ones that come folded in the envelopes.

In case of multipage documents, magazines, and books, I manually set the focus for the first page (i.e. I let the camera to focus automatically and if I am happy with the result, I fix it for the rest of the pages). The automatic focus for all the pages can work as well but some of the pages can have no print in the middle, where camera focuses, and the image will be blurred. If the first or cover page is like that and the camera cannot get the focus right, I use any printed page to put it over the book in the cradle to set and fix the focus before photoscanning the book.

My Canon connected to a computer allows me to zoom, set the focus, and change all kind of camera settings without touching the camera itself, with the results seen in a compter window (in a viewfinder, preview or downloaded image window).

For my other compact cameras (both Casio - 8 and 10 megapixels), which cannot shoot from the computer, I use a universal remote trigger that can be attached to the camera (I bought it in a photo accessories shop). I let the camera set the focus automatically for all the pages, however for the pages that have nothing to focus on in their middle, I put a half sheet of printed paper over the blank part to make the focus possible. The image has to be later cleared of that manually at the processing stage.

As for the zoom, it is a good idea to set it to such an extent that the whole page of the book (with no background visible) is in the picture frame. However, not all paper documents or books have the format proportions of the camera photos, so you wil have a background in the view whatever is your zoom, unless you zoom in to see only a part of the original image. With thick books it is advisable to adjust the cradle position every 20 pages or so in order to get the picture without the opposite page getting in the view (the middle part of the book moves a little with the turning of pages).

The background itself is a v-shaped black matt piece of paperboard that I put in the cradle. It is black because some programs make it easy to remove the black background automatically for mono images (it is much more tricky for color images).

For single sheets of documents that are not in color, there is no need to worry about zooming and background. The black border background can be taken care automatically in batch in the processing stage.

As a matter of fact, I am too impatient at the photo taking stage to adjust the cradle every so often. I let the black background margins and a fragment of the opposite page to be in the frame and I cut the margins in the processing stage. For that (cutting margins) it is important that the book pages are always in the same place in the cradle. Therefore, I use a "delimiter", a v-shaped stiff black piece of carboard one or two centimeters wide, one or two millimeters thick (v wings about 2 centimetrs high) that I put at the edge of my black backgroud paper in the cradle, and I always push the book against it.

Once the position of the cradle, camera zoom and focus are set, I shoot all the odd pages first by turning the pages and flattening them with glass, and then I reverse the book and shoot all the even pages. After downloading the images from the camera, I put the first half of images (odd pages) in a separate folder and the second part (even pages) in another folder. Now I can cut the margins in batch automatically - separately for odd and even images (there are programs that can set the cutting parameters different for odd and even pages in one batch). Next, I rename the images in the folders automatically using Irfanview, so that odd images are 0001.jpg, 0003. jpg, etc., and even images are 0952.jpg, 0900.jpg, etc. The even images are in the reverse order since the book was reversed in the cradle for the shooting. I do not bother with pages being in horizontal or upside down position. My OCR program takes care of it. However one can rotate all images in the batch (separately for odd and even pages) automatically with Irfanview of Picasa (recommended).

Now, the two batches go into one folder, and can be processed by OCR or any other program and converted to pdf.

For small booklets or magazines I do not shoot odd and even pages separately but I reverse the original after every shot. Than I crop margins manually in Picasa.

For single sheet documents the whole workflow is much more simple. Just taking a shot a replacing the sheet. Five seconds per page. After downloading images from the camera (Picasa recommended) you can review them and improve by cropping and fine tuning if you wish.

BTW. Apart from anything else, the scanners are much too slow for book copying. They are really good for a batch of single sheet documents fed by an automatic feeder.
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Old 09-30-2007, 12:21 PM   #24
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"delimiter" explained in pictures

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Originally Posted by ereszet View Post
For that (cutting margins) it is important that the book pages are always in the same place in the cradle. Therefore, I use a "delimiter", a v-shaped stiff black piece of carboard one or two centimeters wide, one or two millimeters thick (v wings about 2 centimetrs high) that I put at the edge of my black backgroud paper in the cradle, and I always push the book against it.
In one of the next post I will show how to take photos with a small compact camera not connected to the computer.
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Old 09-30-2007, 12:28 PM   #25
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Fast shooting

[QUOTE=Studio717;101293]Can Do you use the glass on each page? /QUOTE]

For really fast shooting, I set the focus of the camera and a time of i.e. 10 seconds for automatic shooting. Then, I only turn the pages and keep them flat with my fingers. The fingers in images can be later removed by trimming the pictures in batch. A book per hour is possible.

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Old 10-01-2007, 06:49 AM   #26
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ereszet,

Thank you for this! I'm considering making a cradle out of foam core. Plenty of strength and yet easy to cut (at least I'm hoping so - on both counts). I have both an old copy stand and a small light tent, so once the cradle is built, it should be a matter of putting it all together and tweaking.

I'm looking forward to your next 'installment'. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:04 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Studio717 View Post
ereszet,

Thank you for this! I'm considering making a cradle out of foam core. Plenty of strength and yet easy to cut (at least I'm hoping so - on both counts). I have both an old copy stand and a small light tent, so once the cradle is built, it should be a matter of putting it all together and tweaking.

I'm looking forward to your next 'installment'. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
A foam cradle should work with two improvements.

1. Glue it to a heavy base, so that it doesn't move easily.
2. Make some wedge panels of different angles (the foam should be ok for that) to put them either under or over the cradle to avoid trapezoidal/perspective effect. The v-cradle should be at an angle greater than 45 degrees to make it possible to use the wedges. The wedges can make the angle smaller but not larger, unless you put them under the cradle at the opposite side of the book page (in that case you can use anything, e.g. for my cheap and dirty cradle I used books of various thickness under one end of the cradle to change the angle.

Attach the pictures of your setup, when it is ready.

For my do-it-yourself v-cradle I am going to add four bolt legs, to regulate precisely the horizontal position of the v-panels to match that of the camera lens. In theory a small level tool should help to get both the camera and the cradle in the right horizontal position, but in practice the camera postion changes a little when you fasten the ball head (unless you buy a precise and expensive 3-dimensional ball head for your tripod or copy stand). That is why a preview on a computer screen is the only way to make sure that the picture is a perfect rectangle.
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:10 PM   #28
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The importance of uniform lighting

Can you see the differences in lighting at the margins of the original picture? Hardly so.
But the computer can, as displayed in the decorative frame of the second picture.

For my example how to remove black background see my post #223 in the thread "Yet another PDF to LRF converter" (Reader Content).
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Old 10-04-2007, 07:45 AM   #29
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I am very interested in your project

can you tell me please some info: what camera you use, what lighting, what equipment, is OCR satisfactory? like scanner's scans?

thanks
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Old 10-04-2007, 08:04 AM   #30
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If you read from the start of the thread, user, you'll find all your questions answered.
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