Daniel Reetz, the founder of the DIY Book Scanner community, has recently started making videos of prototyping and shop tips. If you are tinkering with a book scanner (or any other project) in your home shop, these tips will come in handy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn0gq8 ... g_8K1nfInQ

Straight From the Camera

Everything camera related. Includes triggers, batteries, power supplies, flatbeds and sheet-feeding scanners, too.
Post Reply
User avatar
clemd973
Posts: 121
Joined: 22 Aug 2010, 21:20

Straight From the Camera

Post by clemd973 » 15 Mar 2011, 23:32

Hi everyone. This thread is being started to give us a place to post images that come 'straight from your camera.' When you post, post an image that has not been manipulated by your pre- or post-processing software/scripts/etc. Take it straight from your memory card and insert it here. What we're trying to do is have the images viewable to everyone so that people can comment on how to better prepare the scanner environment, e.g., lighting, camera settings, platen/book positioning, and anything else you happen to notice about, or within, an image. From there, the member who posted it can take those suggestions/comments and make the appropriate changes and later update their posts in order to have a before and after comparison, hopefully moving toward a better starting image for their pre- and post- processing.

This might be changed later, depending on Daniel adding EXIF, but let's try to be consistent in giving initial information and follow the format below: Camera model, Exposure (if applicable), My Colors (if applicable), Image Quality, Resolution, Zoom, and lighting scheme. These were taken from the menu screen on my PSA480 and may be different on other model cameras. Image Quality, Resolution, and Zoom, should be consistent across models.

For starters, here's one page - straight from my camera - from a recent 1200 page project:
(Camera = PSA480, Exposure = +1, My Colors = B/W; Image Quality = Fine, Resolution = 10M, Zoom = 83, Lighting = Three 10W LED Wall Wash Flood Lights, ~5000-6500K each, white light; see here)
SFTC1.jpg
The idea here is to make this image better straight from the camera, not with post manipulation. The post manipulation will always make it look better, but I think it can look even BETTER if the starting image is the best it can be. For example, what I notice in this image is that the text from the subsequent page "bleeds" through, the text on the page looks "cloudy," for lack of a better way of explaining it, and perhaps the page could appear whiter. In my opinion, these things could be improved with brighter, and whiter, light - like perhaps three 20W LED's instead of the three 10W's. Or if someone uses a different lighting scheme, perhaps that would work better for me. I have an advantage because my whole build is documented here, so people might be able to look at my build and make other suggestions accordingly. Anyway, you get the picture (no pun intended, lol).

Please feel free to begin adding to this and making your comments. Be on the lookout for some changes to this thread as Daniel will be adding some particular functionality to the forum.

dvelleman

Re: Straight From the Camera

Post by dvelleman » 06 Apr 2011, 12:50

Well, for perspective, here's one less polished than Clem's. :D This is a pretty wart-y raw image from the first round of test shots I took on my scanner. It was taken with an A480 using a plain ol' 60-watt incandescent bulb for lighting -- there it is, reflected, up at the top of the image.
sq7anej_sample.JPG
I was impressed that incandescent light worked as well as it did here, which is one reason I wanted to post the image. It's definitely not good, but it's useable (and Scan Tailor cleans it up real nice). One consequence of the weak light is bad depth of field. The image gets blurrier where the page curls away into the gutter -- check out the page number. Also, lots of bleed-through from the other side of the page. But for some purposes this would be good enough.

Anyway, I'm hoping to have a better lighting setup soon, so I'm not worried about that. The problem I'm wondering about here is the platen glass itself, which (besides being, yeah, not all that clean) is very reflective. In the outside margin you can see some color variation where the reflections of my hands are superimposed on the image, and with a bigger page that would have been a bigger problem, since it would have run into the text. In y'all's experience, is this something that better lighting would help with? Or what solutions should I consider?

User avatar
clemd973
Posts: 121
Joined: 22 Aug 2010, 21:20

Re: Straight From the Camera

Post by clemd973 » 06 Apr 2011, 15:36

dvelleman wrote:It was taken with an A480 using a plain ol' 60-watt incandescent bulb for lighting -- there it is, reflected, up at the top of the image.
I also use the A480, and the incandescent bulb does usually provide "enough" lighting - depending on the wattage - but is it the "type" of light you want to use? I began using the flood light type bulbs Daniel suggested in the original plans but switched to LED lighting which you can see here (scroll to the bottom of the page). In this shot I only had two, but now have 3 10W LEDs that seem to work fine for me. If you remain with the incandescent bulbs, you might try changing the setting on the cameras to accommodate for the yellow tint, which would help whiten the page and darken the text.
dvelleman wrote:The image gets blurrier where the page curls away into the gutter -- check out the page number. Also, lots of bleed-through from the other side of the page. But for some purposes this would be good enough.
I wonder why your page curls into the gutter. Doesn't your platen fit into the spine of the book well enough the flatten the pages? If not, you might consider making some adjustments.
dvelleman wrote:The problem I'm wondering about here is the platen glass itself, which (besides being, yeah, not all that clean) is very reflective. In the outside margin you can see some color variation where the reflections of my hands are superimposed on the image, and with a bigger page that would have been a bigger problem, since it would have run into the text. In y'all's experience, is this something that better lighting would help with? Or what solutions should I consider?
First, when building my scanner I presupposed this problem that you have and purchased non-glare acrylic (plexiglas). However, this weekend I'm going to experiment with regular acrylic because I think the non-glare acrylic is causing some washing out of the black in the text. See the image in my post at the top of this thread. ScanTailor takes care of this issue well enough, but I want to try to get the sharpest image I can coming straight from the camera. I think the better the starting image is, the better the final product...but we'll see. Hopefully I'll have some comparison images to post here by the end of the weekend. In your situation, though, better lighting - more wattage or different type of light ought to help. See if anyone else offers suggestions before you go changing though, and also see if your final product is acceptable for your particular needs before you make any more of an investment in your rig. (personal opinion) You might try the glare-free route. If I had the cash, I'd look into "Museum Glass" from one of the local craft stores.

jgreely

Re: Straight From the Camera

Post by jgreely » 06 Apr 2011, 17:55

dvelleman wrote:Also, lots of bleed-through from the other side of the page. But for some purposes this would be good enough.
A sheet of black construction paper placed behind the current page eliminated almost all bleed-through for me. A little more overhead to page-turning, but much better results (this is from a paperback with very thin pages). It also provides a neutral black for accurate color and contrast adjustment in your workflow.
In y'all's experience, is this something that better lighting would help with?
If you're getting reflections from the scanner lighting, use two lights placed at 45-degree angles to the platen. If you're getting reflections from room lighting, block it off with something, or make the scanner lights so powerful that the exposure time is too short for the room lights to contribute much.

-j

jgreely

Re: Straight From the Camera

Post by jgreely » 06 Apr 2011, 18:25

clemd973 wrote:However, this weekend I'm going to experiment with regular acrylic because I think the non-glare acrylic is causing some washing out of the black in the text.
Looking at your full-resolution image, the platen looks etched. Even the part near the center where the focus is best has some fuzziness that's more than JPEG compression. I once had a framing shop use a similar "non-glare" glass, and I hated the way it made my tack-sharp photos look fuzzy. The good stuff uses the same sort of optical coating that camera lenses do, which is why it's so much more expensive. The cheap stuff is like putting a soft-focus filter in front of the lens (worse, actually, since the etching is almost in focus).

-j

jgreely

Re: Straight From the Camera

Post by jgreely » 06 Apr 2011, 18:54

Since I'm commenting on other people's work, I thought it appropriate to include my own. Since I'm shooting RAW, I've provided a straight conversion to JPEG using Minolta Dimage Viewer, just applying the in-camera settings without the additional adjustments that I have set in Adobe Camera Raw.

(Camera = Minolta Dimage A2, Exposure = ISO 64, f/9, 1/250, Contrast = +3, Sharpness = Hard, White Balance = Flash; Image Quality = RAW, Resolution = 8M, Zoom = 118, Lighting = Speedotron 1200 watt-second pack with two heads, minimum power setting; see here)
PICT0024.JPG
paperback scan from my lego build

dvelleman

Re: Straight From the Camera

Post by dvelleman » 07 Apr 2011, 23:35

Thanks for the tips, y'all. I'll tinker a bit and see what works. Rigging up a homemade LED setup is probably going to take more time than I've got right now, but more/brighter bulbs would be easy enough.
I wonder why your page curls into the gutter. Doesn't your platen fit into the spine of the book well enough the flatten the pages? If not, you might consider making some adjustments.
It's a paperback with a pretty tight spine, is I think the problem.

jgreely

Re: Straight From the Camera

Post by jgreely » 08 Apr 2011, 17:10

I thought it would be interesting to see how all three of our images looked after the same simple cleanup process. I loaded them all into Photoshop, used Levels with the white point set just above and to the left of the page number and the black point set to a comma near the middle of the scan, used Desaturate to get rid of any residual color, and then used Posterize to reduce them to 8 shades of gray. No unsharp masking, etc.

Mine (upper-left, center, lower-right):
Image

In mine, you can see that the lighting is slightly uneven, with the page number and other text near that edge lighter than the text in the center. You can also see this in the full-sized image, where the black construction paper behind the page clearly has more visible texture at that end. My flash heads are six feet away from the platen, so I either need to aim them more precisely, or adjust the reflector to spread the light over a slightly larger area.

My page is very flat against the platen and goes deep into the gutter because it's just a single sheet of acrylic, but it still looks like the lower-right corner is a bit softer, likely due to the camera being at a very slight angle to the platen. I can align the camera more carefully, but I could also compensate by adjusting the manual focus to be slightly closer; at f/9 the depth of field is quite deep (check out my finger in the full-sized image!), but it's mostly behind the focus point, and I focused on the center of the page with the lens wide open.


Clemd (upper-left, center, lower-right):
Image

In Clemd's, in addition to the low contrast and slight fuzziness caused by the non-glare acrylic in his platen, there's a definite depth-of-field problem. Shooting at f/4.5, only the center is really in focus. In the full-sized image, it's clear that the page is also at a slight angle to the camera, making the problem worse. The low contrast also made it impossible for these simple adjustments to completely eliminate the bleed-through, as you can see in the lower-right corner.


Dvelleman (upper-left, center, lower-right):
Image

In Dvelleman's, the upper-left corner is out of focus due to not being pressed firmly against the platen, but it was shot at f/3 (!). With (a lot) more light, his camera would have enough depth-of-field to compensate, and with even lighting, the entire page would be as crisp and clean as the center.

-j

User avatar
clemd973
Posts: 121
Joined: 22 Aug 2010, 21:20

Re: Straight From the Camera

Post by clemd973 » 18 Jul 2011, 12:13

Picking up on this thread, I contacted Misty who did a write up on different types of cameras used for scanning and archiving in order to ask if she thought I could get better results if I went from a compact to an SLR camera. She made some good suggestions in response to a private message I sent to her...so here's the info for the benefit of all. The reference image she is talking about is the very first image in this thread:

No problem!

So, one thing I noticed on that photo you took is that the ISO is pretty high. "ISO" controls the camera's sensitivity to light - on higher ISOs, you can get faster shutter speeds but you also get more noise. With that photo you took, the noise is starting to become noticeable. I would recommend trying to reduce that to the lowest setting you can. Unfortunately, you will need better lighting at lower ISO, since it'll be less sensitive to light. Lighting is important, so you'll want better lighting anyway. ;)

You also seem to be getting corner softness - which is pretty standard on compact cameras of that type. You can try experimenting with different zoom distances to see which ranges have the most and least corner softness; that may let you improve overall sharpness. I would also recommend leaving more of a border around the edges of the pages. An SLR or mirrorless camera with an okay lens would have less corner softness, but I'm confident that you can improve your performance with a compact. I don't recommend an SLR if you're only planning to process your books with Scan Tailor and have no illustrations. SLRs improve on image detail in stuff like page texture and illustrations, so they're important for books with illustrations and books where the intent is to archive a true photographic representation of what the original page looks like.

It looks like your page is not totally parallel to the camera - it's angled with the top closer and the bottom further away. It's hard to tell, but in addition to corner softness you may also be getting focus problems from that.


I'll be posting more sample images shortly.

Post Reply