Scanner (A3?) for old albums of prints?

ChrisR

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#1
Hi, my sister showed me today some hundred year old family albums, some including shots from 1915 in India, and some campaign shots from 1919 in Afghanistan. She would like to scan these, but the pages are significantly bigger than A4. Any advice on a good flatbed scanner for work like this?
 

robhooley167

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#2
If it is just prints that need scanning (I assume they can be taken out of the albums?) then basically any A3 flatbed will do the job really.

One issue that you may run into is getting one shipped, A3 scanners will be neither light nor small.

Here's a few I dug up on ebay
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Epson-GT-...1563347285?pt=UK_Scanners&hash=item3f3a6fd555
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mustek-Sc...1408637229?pt=UK_Scanners&hash=item19f078e52d

An alternative is a copy stand and your digi camera, something like this perhaps?
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-P...graphy_StudioEquipment_RL&hash=item1e8fa627d5
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Olympus-h...656?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item35da5f1f18
 

excalibur2

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#3
You could photograph the photographs...that's what I would do and quite a few cheap old zooms are good for close up shots so you don't need an expensive macro lens. Even an enlarger lens can be used although many are M39 so you'd need a step up ring to M42 (about £2 from China)....or even a digital camera can be used :eek:
 
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#4
If it is just prints that need scanning (I assume they can be taken out of the albums?) then basically any A3 flatbed will do the job really.

One issue that you may run into is getting one shipped, A3 scanners will be neither light nor small.
The plan is to leave the prints on the album page because of the handwritten notes with some pictures. You're right, the A3 scanners are pretty big... and expensive.

You could photograph the photographs...that's what I would do and quite a few cheap old zooms are good for close up shots so you don't need an expensive macro lens. Even an enlarger lens can be used although many are M39 so you'd need a step up ring to M42 (about £2 from China)....or even a digital camera can be used :eek:
This might be the way to go; I don't think I would use a fillum camera because of not being able to check what we're getting for a week or so... My only non-fillum camera normally is set at 6mp but I guess I could up that to 12mp for the job, and use copystand like Rob was suggesting. Flatness might be an issue.

TBH I'm not quite sure what my sister's objectives are, whether this is just for backup purposes (almost all her possessions were destroyed in the Pickfords Watford warehouse fire some 20+ years ago, so she's a bit paranoid), or whether she plans to pass the albums on to an archive but wants to keep some copies for family use. Need to check before spending too much money on this!
 
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#5
If the largest picture and information fall within an A4 scanner footprint then I'd use one of those and just move the album around.

If you use a copy stand with an SLR and macro lens you have to know how much DOF you are going to need.

Do you have any local copy shops near you that have the digital photocopiers that can scan in full colour to a pdf for example? This way you could just create a document which was a straight pdf of the album in one go. Or split it into meaningful sections.

I have a similar album or two and I've been carefully fishing out the prints and scanning the notes or scribbling on the backs. Sensibly my relations used those corner mount thingies so I'm not having too much trouble.

You could scan the print if it removes then scan the relevant note and rename the file to the print number with an appended n for note so you knew they were matched? I've done that with a few as well. Easy to do with vuescan as if you change a filename it checks before it saves so there are no gaps. I've been doing prints with writing on the rear so while it is previewing the next one I'm amending the last one's filename and adding a 'b' for back so I know it is the back of the previous print.
 
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ChrisR

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#6
Well, I visited my sister again last week, and we looked at the albums again. The A3 scanner is out: too big and too expensive. The local photography firms she tried weren't interested (they suggested Boots might have the right gear... I don't think so!). So we had a go with a camera and zoom/macro lens, just hand held at this stage, and the results were remarkably good... at least as viewed on the screen of my laptop. We were seeing soldiers by tents in the far distance that we hadn't noticed with the naked eye. Didn't print out quite so well, though.

Copy stands, new, seem to start at over £100 and go up to well over £1000. Not really on. I did find an Instructables piece on the 'net on making a copy stand out of an old breadboard, some screws and some angled aluminium... but the necessary precision in drilling looked a bit beyond me!

BTW some of the prints were the work of R B Holmes, nothing on him in wikipedia, but he took over his father's business in northern India from 1918 to 1947, AFAIK. He travelled a lot with the army (including the 3rd British-Afghan war in 1919 that my grandfather fought in). This is one of his shots...
 
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#7
I've very interested to see these Chris, though I can't help with a copy stand. My ability to do precision is somewhat lacking!
 
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#8
the phase one youtube channel had some book and art archiving vids, you could check them

a sigma dp should give you best bang for buck if you choose to spend money, sensor brings out tons of detail
 
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I've very interested to see these Chris...!
Here's one, maybe not the best example, except for the 100% crop that follows it. There was another that was called "agreeing terms" that is really amazing. A young political officer standing alone in front of a crowd of maybe 40-odd fully armed tribesmen, ready to accept a gift of a couple of goats! BTW I'm not absolutely certain of the copyright status of these, but given they were taken in 1919 I think it's probably OK. If someone has a rightful claim to R B Holmes copyright and objects, I'll take them down.





These were taken handheld with a 12 mp Fuji X20, no special lighting. It would be easy to do quite a bit better, and a copy stand would make it very much easier. BTW my maternal grandfather may well have been in that camp; Holmes was documenting the campaign he was fighting in, and the pics came from his album, which also includes much more amateurish shots, many in very poor condition.
 
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#10
Here's one, maybe not the best example, except for the 100% crop that follows it. There was another that was called "agreeing terms" that is really amazing. A young political officer standing alone in front of a crowd of maybe 40-odd fully armed tribesmen, ready to accept a gift of a couple of goats! BTW I'm not absolutely certain of the copyright status of these, but given they were taken in 1919 I think it's probably OK. If someone has a rightful claim to R B Holmes copyright and objects, I'll take them down.





These were taken handheld with a 12 mp Fuji X20, no special lighting. It would be easy to do quite a bit better, and a copy stand would make it very much easier. BTW my maternal grandfather may well have been in that camp; Holmes was documenting the campaign he was fighting in, and the pics came from his album, which also includes much more amateurish shots, many in very poor condition.

Looks pretty impressive from here.

I'd not worry too much about copy right. Unless you start to make millions, at which point a grubby lawer will turn up with the nefew of a cousin and claim a cut...
 
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#11
BTW I'm not absolutely certain of the copyright status of these, but given they were taken in 1919 I think it's probably OK. If someone has a rightful claim to R B Holmes copyright and objects, I'll take them down.


At the time they were taken, it was life of the author + 50 years. It's since retrospectively been increased to life + 70 years. If RB Holmes lived past 1944, as you alluded to above, it's still under copyright. I only mention it for purely pedantic reasons, though. As Steven says, it's only an issue if they turn out to be worth fighting over . . .
 
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ChrisR

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#13
Fascinating! How many images are there to scan, Chris?
My sister is not sure. There were a couple of dozen (of the large Holmes prints) that I saw, but she's convinced there are more albums with more images in them (in particular she remembers one of a camp, with the handwritten caption "before the Show", referring to a battle). One problem is that the albums have been sitting in parts of her farm outbuildings for ten years or so (mostly in a fairly dry and well-ventilated part, used by her late husband as a music room).

There was also a stack an inch or so high that I saw of other interesting loose photos, smaller sizes, which would (will) be easy to scan on a normal scanner. They included two family portraits taken in late 1910 showing my mother and her twin sister as babes in arms, grandfather behind, with two Indian servants, plus one taken a few months later with just the one baby, the twin having died meanwhile. Quite a poignant set.
 
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#15
If you're happy to send them through the post I'd love to have a go at scanning some of them! It would be a great shame to not preserve them somehow, even if digitally.
Thanks for the offer Paul, but most appear to be fairly firmly stuck to the album which, from memory, is getting on for 18*15 inches and 3 inches thick, weighing a kilo or more. That's why we were experimenting with photographing the pages. The album is also in Somerset, and I'm not!

Wondering about getting a chemistry retort stand and a couple of clamps, rather than a proper copystand. Would be a bit more flexible for other work, like still life wildflowers etc...
 

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#16
Could you use a tripod with either an extension arm that can be arranged horizontally, or one that allows the camera to be mounted on the bottom of the arm (possibly by reversing the arm)? The biggest problems would be getting everything squared up and having even lighting.
 
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Could you use a tripod with either an extension arm that can be arranged horizontally, or one that allows the camera to be mounted on the bottom of the arm (possibly by reversing the arm)? The biggest problems would be getting everything squared up and having even lighting.
My tripod is an ancient Vanguard, £10 from Oxfam, and doesn't have sfisticated stuff like tilting arms. But your post did make me wonder if a bit of angle iron (or aluminium) could be screwed onto the tripod socket, sticking out sideways, and the camera fixed to the vertical side via a drilled hole and a tripod screw thingy. I'm guessing the whole thing would be a bit bendy and fragile and liable to overbalance, but the X20 is quite light and has a thread for a shutter release cable, so it might be doable. As you say, getting things exactly horizontal and evenly lit would be a challenge. You can buy double (or quad) light fittings for copystands, but not cheap and I don't know if they would fit on a tripod leg...
 

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#18
Kaiser make (or made) lighting units that could be fitted to their enlarger columns to convert them to copy stands. Now Kaiser enlargers (as well as my Durst and LPL ones) have specially shaped columns, presumably for rigidity. My first enlarger though had a simple tubular column, not much different from a thick wardrobe hanging rail you can buy at DIY shops. On that basis, how about a piece of rigid board with a thick hanging rail fixed to it vertically as a means of holding lights and camera? If you have reasonably diffused light, you can successfully copy using daylight. I've done it in a north facing room. Not perfectly even, but close.

If you do take the double Anglepoise method rather than stand based lights, you should use an incident light meter to balance the lighting. Or a tape measure and matched bulbs.
 

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#19
Nothing to add to the A3 scanner/copy.

But wow....the one you copied here looks pretty damn good to me. And what a great photo and love the family history behind it. I love old photos and the quality on that is stunning with so much detail. Wonder what size the plates were...it could have been a contact print?

Would love to see some more results
 
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#20
But wow....the one you copied here looks pretty damn good to me. And what a great photo and love the family history behind it. I love old photos and the quality on that is stunning with so much detail. Wonder what size the plates were...it could have been a contact print?

Would love to see some more results
I've a feeling it was more like 12*16 than 8*10 (but not sure, I may have to ask my sister to measure them). I'm not sure whether view cameras were that sort of size in those days. However, I can't quite imagine an enlarger from (say) 4*5 being common in those days (CMIIW), so I'm assuming it's more likely a contact print.

That shot, by the way, was taken flat on a table some 12 feet inside the room across from glass doors, with no internal lights. So nearly horizontal lighting. I did stand on the other side of the table to take the shot. I don't think I held the camera level as there is clearly some keystoning. When I looked back at the shot, at first I thought there was visible light gradation across the shot, but in fact I think it is the very bad foxing of the underlying album leaching through into the print itself.

I don't expect to be down there for a while, but my sister may be willing to email me some more of those we took. If so, I'll post them.
 
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#22
I've a feeling it was more like 12*16 than 8*10 (but not sure, I may have to ask my sister to measure them). I'm not sure whether view cameras were that sort of size in those days. However, I can't quite imagine an enlarger from (say) 4*5 being common in those days (CMIIW), so I'm assuming it's more likely a contact print..
View cameras seemed to come in any size you can imagine so these were probably contact prints
 
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