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A Camera for Scholarly Research- i.e. pictures of documents
Hi folks.

I'm a PhD student and I'm thinking about buying a camera for research. Camera's are allowed into most archives and libraries, it allows you to get around copyright issues in reproducing manuscripts and saves you spending heaps on photocopies and scans. I'll be taking pictures of text, both typescript and hand-written, so I was wondering if someone could provide advice on what would be a good compact camera, with good stabilisation and which would allow me to enlarge the images on a macbook or get decent printouts on A4. Either features or models would be cool..

Cheers...

Comments (18)

The olympus E410 or hte 510 would be good candidates for your profile / use...

Image stabilisation and compact form factors plus amazing kit lenses would be good on the spec sheet and lite on the wallet- considering that you are a student- you wouldnt want to spend too much.

Hope this helpsgood luck..

Comment #1

I had that problems 3 months agowhen I am doing my thesis, working with much much text and radiographic pics.

I have been using these cameras and a mini tripod- sony S 700 (borrowed)very dissapointed.. 50% of my shot is blurusing it for 2 days only, have to repeat all the blurso I switch.

- nikon P 5100 (borrowed from department)with the VR.

Blah almost the same, the small info detail in each of my MRI photos still +/- 30% blurred.

Use it 1 weeks, has enough.

- canon A570IS, borrowed from colleaguegreat IS+/- 90% of all shots in macro and text is crisp sharp.

I finish my thesis with data from 120 patients with this baby.

Buy myself a Fuji F40the greatest onehiks now all my text and radiologic photo repro 100%sharpcrispno blur at allwithout using tripod.

Damn, I wish I know Fuji before , so my thesis would go smooth..

Comment #2

Scanning would be my first recommendation for reproducing flat art, including documents. However if you insist on photographic copying [with a camera], I recommend using a copy stand or a tripod adjusted for copy use. In the days of film, there were also so-called "copy pods" for this kind of work; they might still be available..

You will also need a lens that excels at flat-field rendering. Most camera lenses suffer from curvature of field to a lesser or greater extent. For your intended application, getting a *macro lens* would be the natural choice, since they're designed for short subject-to-focal-plane distances, flatness of field, and low distortion...

Comment #3

(1) Photographing does not get around copyright any more than photocopying..

(2) Because of the potential for "adjustment" of digital images your institution may have (and if it doesn't it ought to have) a policy controlling use of digital images for documentation. You, at least, should think about how to handle authentication...

Comment #4

I think the best compact has already been suggested - the Fujifilm F40fd. It doesn't have image stabilisation though, so you might prefer the F50fd. The word on the street is that the F50's image quality is not quite as high as the F40 (the extra pixel count comes at the cost of higher noise) but if you are taking hand-held shots in poor light the IS could be the deciding factor..

It would be wrong to answer this without mentioning the *huge* increase in image quality that you would get from a DSLR. The perfect choice (IMHO) would be the Canon EOS 400D (XTi in some countries) with the EF-S 60 mm macro lens. This lens will give you virtually distortion-free images, sharp from corner to corner. However, once again you don't have image stabilisation so this could force you to look elsewhere. The problem is, I don't think any of the DSLR bodies with in-body IS offer a lens to compare with the EF-S 60 mm. Someone will correct me if I am wrong..

Will the libraries allow you to use a tripod? The latest Manfrotto 190 is relatively small and light (for a 'proper' tripod) and has a clever design which allows you to point the camera downwards very easily:.

Http://www.manfrotto.com/Jahia/site/manfrotto/cache/offonce/pid/13145.

Then there is lighting, which will have to be off-camera to avoid reflections... maybe all this is more than you need. There is a huge jump in complexity and cost from the F40 which will take good snapshots, to even the most basic entry-level DSLR solution...

Comment #5

I agree with the utility of a fuji superccd compact. The F20 is still available and is inexpensive; it would be good for your purpose..

I wonder if a pane of "Low Reflectivity" glass might be useful for making copies from magazines & especially bound volumes? It seems to me that shallow depth of field & distortion might be a problem that could be mitigated by flattening the page to be photographed..

I hope that someone with experience will comment on this suggestion..

Dave..

Comment #6

Dave Martin wrote:.

I wonder if a pane of "Low Reflectivity" glass might be useful formaking copies from magazines & especially bound volumes? It seems tome that shallow depth of field & distortion might be a problem thatcould be mitigated by flattening the page to be photographed..

Yes indeed. Photocopying machines often allow one to position books so that the spine is over an edge and the page lies flat. Even when the book is lying on the bed, the weight of the book alone will flatten it somewhat..

Photographing books opened upwards often leads to problems of page curvature and I have used glass to flatten pages out. I use regular glass, but with lights at 45, so reflections arent a problem. I have never transported glass to libraries, but I would imagine a laptop case would work well. But I think that even anti-reflective glass would cause reflection problems in a library setting. (I dont think you can get away with flash, off camera or otherwise, in a library, unless you can find a very secluded nook.).

I have successfully used a Fuji F31fd, but it is no longer in production. I like the idea of a Fuji F50fd with IS..

Steve is of course right. Something like the Canon 400D with a EF-S 60 mm macro lens would produce the best image quality, but at a substantial increase in cost..

Brian A...

Comment #7

Dedalus451 wrote:.

I'll be takingpictures of text, both typescript and hand-written, so I waswondering if someone could provide advice on what would be a goodcompact camera, with good stabilisation.

I.S may not be of much help as you might be photographing the images from top down. Flash will be helpful though (use +1 exposure compensation)..

Therefore go for Fuji F20 or F40fd. Both are the best option for your application (with or without flash).Best Wishes, Ajayhttp://picasaweb.google.com/ajay0612..

Comment #8

Cheers guys, thats all really helpful. Off to the shop today to have a look...

Comment #9

An obvious suggestion would be to use any of these cameras and just get some small lamps or other lighting so that you can get a faster speed..

Good luck!-C..

Comment #10

As I have mentioned previously, I have already tried to use all the IS , from Sony, Nikon and Canon.

The most effective is Canon.

But I wonder.

How come a F40 without IS give 100% results of non shaking clear repro of pages and photos?.

And to prevent any distortion, I give a slight teleit would make the distortion go away.

Total for my thesis I have already photograph lets say about 2000 pages and 100 people complete MRI and +/- 30% I use sony and nikon and the rest with canon A570IS.

But now I am stick with Fuji F40FD in my daily work and research..

Comment #11

Music_healing said..".

How come a F40 without IS give 100% results of non shaking clear repro of pages and photos?....".

Maybe you have learned how to hand hold the camera well and could now be successful with a camera you could not use at first?.

By now you have a lot of practice...

Comment #12

IS or optical image stabilization should work as it's purpose is to reduce movement from the lens (camera) and not the subject; so unless your book is really jumping around, IS should work..

I bought my wife a Panasonic for her needs - which are basic - and I would say you would be well served by it. The camera has IS - not digital IS which is garbage - and a good lens. I paid around $200 for 7.1 megapixels, 6 to 1 lens with macro, it's all your really need..

Or you could get the old Minox spy camera which served spies well over the decades, the camera was used for document reproduction..

I'd try a camera with optical IS before I bought the tripod, then if you find blur is a problem, pop for a cheapy tripod - which is all you really need in book page reproduction...

Comment #13

Rsn48 wrote:.

IS or optical image stabilization should work as it's purpose is toreduce movement from the lens (camera) and not the subject; so unlessyour book is really jumping around, IS should work..

But high ISO performance may work better. Most small sensor cameras have very poor performance above ISO 100 or 200. Some of the Fujis do well up to ISO 800, that is 2-3 stops difference..

This is why the Fuji F50fd has been suggested, it has good low light performance and IS..

I bought my wife a Panasonic for her needs - which are basic - and Iwould say you would be well served by it. The camera has IS - notdigital IS which is garbage - and a good lens. I paid around $200for 7.1 megapixels, 6 to 1 lens with macro, it's all your really need..

Just out of curiosity, what is a 6 to 1 lens?.

Brian A...

Comment #14

I know the techniquesand from majority of my friends , my hands are the most steady  hehehe.

Beside I am using tripod and 2 sec timer for my research photos.

But it turns out like I said.

The sony anti shake and nikon VR are quite dissapointing.

Canon is ok.

But the high ISO technique and text program in Fuji blown all three away..

Comment #15

Music_healing wrote: ...I am using tripod and 2 sec timer for my research photos.

...the sony anti shake and nikon VR are quite dissapointing.

Canon is ok.

But the high ISO technique and text program in Fuji blown all three away.

Thank you. This is good to know. It implies Fuji focus is excellent for text...

Comment #16

Rsn48 wrote:.

IS or optical image stabilization should work as it's purpose is toreduce movement from the lens (camera) and not the subject; so unlessyour book is really jumping around, IS should work..

1. Photographing books is a different ball game. You have to normally do it by holding camera vertically down. I don't know how much I.S. will help in such situation as the gravity will not be helpful..

2. And there could be additional vertical movement (which may affect focus at such close distances) which won't be corrected by I.S.Best Wishes, Ajayhttp://picasaweb.google.com/ajay0612..

Comment #17

Music_healing wrote:.

I know the techniquesand from majority of my friends , my hands are the most steady  hehehe.

Beside I am using tripod and 2 sec timer for my research photos.

Interesting. This is from your first post:.

Music_healing wrote:.

Buy myself a Fuji F40the greatest onehiks now all my text and radiologic photo repro 100%sharpcrispno blur at allwithout using tripod.

So which is it?..

Comment #18

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