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

Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Everything camera related. Includes triggers, batteries, power supplies, flatbeds and sheet-feeding scanners, too.
JeffB
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Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Post by JeffB » 28 Aug 2018, 13:55

I am wondering if the primary need for the software control of the camera is to allow manual settings for the best picture. Some cameras have manual controls, so it seems that perhaps those cameras would have less need of the raspberry pi type controls.

Of course remote shutter control is also a pretty big deal. Do many cameras come with software such that they could be remotely controlled by a Windows comuter?

I am trying to figure out if the two camera recommendations I have seen on here are still clearly the best options or not. I would kind of hope to have a camera/cameras do double duty as a general purpose camera for our family & also for capturing scans.

BillGill
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Re: Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Post by BillGill » 29 Aug 2018, 10:02

There shouldn't be any problem with using any reasonable quality camera for both scanning and general purpose photography. In my scanner I am using a Canon ELPH 160. It is a nice little camera for scanning and general purpose photography. I have also used a Sony RX10 II, which is a much better camera. They both worked well.

The biggest difference between the cameras most discussed on this forum and others is remote control. Remote control can be very handy, but it isn't totally necessary. If you don't have the camera linked to a computer with software that downloads the scans directly to the computer you have to take the pictures, then download them separately. This adds one step, but is not a huge burden.

The biggest problem with not having remote control of the camera is operation of the shutter. If your setup is sturdy enough you can just press the shutter release by hand. Otherwise you might need to rig up some sort of remote release. There have been several descriptions of such releases on the forum. Some cameras can be operated using a manual remote cable. These cameras have a threaded hole in the shutter release button. You just screw the end of the cable into the hole, then press the button on the other end of the cable to take the picture. Almost all better quality cameras will have this feature.

Good luck
Bill

duerig
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Re: Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Post by duerig » 29 Aug 2018, 11:24

To follow up on BillGill's answer, control software is mostly about having a convenient way to trigger the shutters of the cameras. There are some other nice things that a controller can do at the same time (automatically interleave odd and even page photos, automatically choose good settings), but the main thing is to trigger the camera or cameras.

So if you find a way to trigger a camera remotely without a computer, then that can work just fine. And this is a great way to use a camera that isn't supported by CHDK or gphoto.

Note that I would recommend that you avoid triggering the shutter by hand if possible. Usually you spend a fair amount of time aligning the camera properly. And every time you physically touch the camera you are potentially moving it out of alignment. Not to mention the fact that usually the camera and the book are positioned such that it is really awkward to get to the shutter and turn the pages at the same time.

-Jonathon Duerig

JeffB
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Re: Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Post by JeffB » 29 Aug 2018, 17:38

BillGill wrote:
29 Aug 2018, 10:02
There shouldn't be any problem with using any reasonable quality camera for both scanning and general purpose photography. In my scanner I am using a Canon ELPH 160. It is a nice little camera for scanning and general purpose photography. I have also used a Sony RX10 II, which is a much better camera. They both worked well.
Do you use both of them together in a 2 camera setup?
The biggest difference between the cameras most discussed on this forum and others is remote control. Remote control can be very handy, but it isn't totally necessary. If you don't have the camera linked to a computer with software that downloads the scans directly to the computer you have to take the pictures, then download them separately. This adds one step, but is not a huge burden.
Yeah, I was wondering about that. It seems like something I could live with if it was just a matter of manually transferring the pictures.

Having manual control over the settings is pretty much a non-ssue then? I first learned a little photography as a kid years ago with light meters etc. Automatic metering was a new thing, but they tended to try and make everything gray. So bright snow or sand was dulled down to a bland looking gray. I suppose even the point & shoots now allow either manual settings or adjustments so that wouldn't happen with book scanning?
The biggest problem with not having remote control of the camera is operation of the shutter. If your setup is sturdy enough you can just press the shutter release by hand. Otherwise you might need to rig up some sort of remote release. There have been several descriptions of such releases on the forum. Some cameras can be operated using a manual remote cable. These cameras have a threaded hole in the shutter release button. You just screw the end of the cable into the hole, then press the button on the other end of the cable to take the picture. Almost all better quality cameras will have this feature.
I guess the point & shoot ones don't, so I'd be better off finding a camera supported by CHDK of gphoto.
Good luck
Bill
Thank you very much!

JeffB
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Re: Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Post by JeffB » 29 Aug 2018, 17:44

Thank you for your reply.
duerig wrote:
29 Aug 2018, 11:24
To follow up on BillGill's answer, control software is mostly about having a convenient way to trigger the shutters of the cameras. There are some other nice things that a controller can do at the same time (automatically interleave odd and even page photos, automatically choose good settings), but the main thing is to trigger the camera or cameras.

So if you find a way to trigger a camera remotely without a computer, then that can work just fine. And this is a great way to use a camera that isn't supported by CHDK or gphoto.

Note that I would recommend that you avoid triggering the shutter by hand if possible. Usually you spend a fair amount of time aligning the camera properly. And every time you physically touch the camera you are potentially moving it out of alignment. Not to mention the fact that usually the camera and the book are positioned such that it is really awkward to get to the shutter and turn the pages at the same time.

-Jonathon Duerig
If you had two cameras & stored the photos on an SD card or whatever, is there software available for a PC that would still interleave them together after you transfer them to the computer? I have been browsing around & don't remember exactly where I was reading what, but I remember some software that could rotate every other page, or both pages separately, and crop them as well. That looked pretty awesome.

If so, I guess that could be done with a single camera setup as well? eg. have one file for even # pages & another for odd # pages?

BillGill
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Re: Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Post by BillGill » 30 Aug 2018, 09:37

No I didn't use the 2 different cameras when I had a 2 camera setup. Back then I was using 2 of the Canons and controlling them with the PiScan software running on a Raspberry Pi computer.

I had problems with scanning down into the gutter margin on a lot of paperbacks, so I went to a 1 camera system.

If you use a one camera system and need to interpolate the pages then you can do that fairly easily. Just put the odd and even pages in separate directories, then rename the even pages something like 001A.jpg … and the odd pages something like 001B.jpg … When they are placed in the same directory they are sorted in the correct order. You can use Bulk Rename Utility https://www.bulkrenameutility.co.uk/Main_Intro.php to rename the files. It is free.

My latest is the simplest I have come up with. It does keep the pages in order so you don't need to do that step. viewtopic.php?f=14&t=3467. The camera is mounted in a fixed position so that the field of view just covers the platen area, without any zoom. This way I get a very stable configuration so that I can operate the shutter release by hand.

Hope this helps.
Bill

JeffB
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Re: Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Post by JeffB » 30 Aug 2018, 18:51

BillGill wrote:
30 Aug 2018, 09:37
No I didn't use the 2 different cameras when I had a 2 camera setup. Back then I was using 2 of the Canons and controlling them with the PiScan software running on a Raspberry Pi computer.
Can the same software be used on a PC? Buying a Raspberry Pi doesn't seem outrageously expensive. Is there a big learning curve or time involved in setting it up for a relative newbie? I've played around a little bit with Linux as a simulated system & live version, but not very much.
I had problems with scanning down into the gutter margin on a lot of paperbacks, so I went to a 1 camera system.
Why would a one camera system eliminate that problem? I pulled the glass out of an old scanner & might be able to find another. I was wondering how to hook them together for the typical two camera systems, but assumed they would leave the same gutter. I also thought I saw a video or page about the software being able to crop out the gutter.

In the past I played around a little with trying to scan books using a regular scanner & manually cropped pages & at other times used a cloning tool to convert the dark gutter area to looking like the rest of the white part of the page. It seemed to work well but is time consuming to do by hand. Cropping them by hand seemed reasonably OK, but I ended up with pages of different width as the gutter wasn't uniform from page to page.
If you use a one camera system and need to interpolate the pages then you can do that fairly easily. Just put the odd and even pages in separate directories, then rename the even pages something like 001A.jpg … and the odd pages something like 001B.jpg … When they are placed in the same directory they are sorted in the correct order. You can use Bulk Rename Utility https://www.bulkrenameutility.co.uk/Main_Intro.php to rename the files. It is free.

My latest is the simplest I have come up with. It does keep the pages in order so you don't need to do that step. viewtopic.php?f=14&t=3467. The camera is mounted in a fixed position so that the field of view just covers the platen area, without any zoom. This way I get a very stable configuration so that I can operate the shutter release by hand.
Something like that single page scanner might be a good option for me. Using one camera would perhaps allow me to get the more expensive Nikon 1 J5. It sounds like that camera would give a little better results & would probably last much longer than a couple of Canon ELPHs.

Do you think that the whole process from start to finished product is about 150% of using a 2 camera system?

I guess you would still need to have the software rotate every other page separately & crop the pages & maybe adjust the lighting?
Hope this helps.
Bill
It does. Thanks.

BillGill
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Re: Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Post by BillGill » 31 Aug 2018, 10:06

The PiScan software is strictly for the Raspberry Pi. The advantage is that you can do all the scanning without having to hook it up to a computer. There is software that will run on a PC. If you load CHDK on the camera, which you need for PiScan anyway, you can control it using PtpCamGui http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/PtpCamGui. Twocamcontrol adds the ability to control 2 cameras at the same time https://github.com/nod5/TwoCamControl. I had some problems getting everything working for that, and I was having the gutter problem.

The gutter problem isn't the gutter itself. The problem is that the edge of the platen on one page covers the ends of the lines on the other page, so you wind up having to do some heavy editing to correct almost all the lines that go down into the gutter.
ObscuredText (4).JPG
If you look you can see that the edge of the plastic I am using for the platen is thicker than the distance from the text to the gutter. So the scan misses a character at the gutter end of each line. By using only one camera, and one sheet of plastic, the problem isn't there. There may be other ways to take care of the problem. If you can find a thin enough sheet of glass that is very strong (Gorilla Glass?) you might be able to do a 2 camera system that minimizes the problem. I don't know if there is such a thing.

I am using ABBYY FineReader 14 for OCR. With it I don't have to rotate or crop the image, the software does it for me. I do occasionally wind up with an image, fingers and such like, in the middle of the file, but those are easily deleted. There is a free software package, FreeOCR http://www.paperfile.net/ . This includes the ability to rotate and crop the images in the software. It does require that you process each page separately, and leaves carriage returns at the end of each line. There is a relatively simple process that can use the search and replace function in a word processor to correct that problem.

Creating the images for the scan takes me about twice as long as with a 2 camera system. I have been keeping track of the times for scanning a book lately. The longest scan time that I have is 50 minutes for a 300 page book. It took me 40 minutes to scan a 187 page book. However, this is just the start of the process of creating a digital book. The rest of the process is what takes the longest time. The total time I have spent from start of the scan to a finished ebook, in EPUB format, has ranged from 20 hours to 50 hours. The 50 hour one was a 300 page book with complex formatting, and strange words that had to be individually checked for spelling and format. The 20 hour one was 187 pages, basically written in plain english. The longest time was the time spent editing the book to correct the errors that occur because no OCR software is 100% accurate. It takes a lot of editing to catch most of the mistakes. I did an average on the time required to finish a book. It turned out that I have been finishing books at the rate of 7 pages per hour. That is an average, any given book make take a longer or shorter time, but it should give a good rough estimate for any book.

I think your choice of the Nikon for use in both scanning and for general purpose photography is probably a good one. It might give you better results for the OCR process than the Canons. Maybe it wouldn't keep turning 'rn' into 'm'.

Bill

JeffB
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Re: Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Post by JeffB » 31 Aug 2018, 16:01

BillGill wrote:
31 Aug 2018, 10:06
The PiScan software is strictly for the Raspberry Pi. The advantage is that you can do all the scanning without having to hook it up to a computer. There is software that will run on a PC. If you load CHDK on the camera, which you need for PiScan anyway, you can control it using PtpCamGui http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/PtpCamGui. Twocamcontrol adds the ability to control 2 cameras at the same time https://github.com/nod5/TwoCamControl. I had some problems getting everything working for that, and I was having the gutter problem.

The gutter problem isn't the gutter itself. The problem is that the edge of the platen on one page covers the ends of the lines on the other page, so you wind up having to do some heavy editing to correct almost all the lines that go down into the gutter.

ObscuredText (4).JPG

If you look you can see that the edge of the plastic I am using for the platen is thicker than the distance from the text to the gutter. So the scan misses a character at the gutter end of each line. By using only one camera, and one sheet of plastic, the problem isn't there. There may be other ways to take care of the problem. If you can find a thin enough sheet of glass that is very strong (Gorilla Glass?) you might be able to do a 2 camera system that minimizes the problem. I don't know if there is such a thing.

Bill
Thanks.

in re: the gutter problem. it looks to me like you are only using 1 piece of glass. I was under the impression from looking at the pictures of scanners with 2 cameras that two pieces of glass were joined somehow at about a 45 degree angle and through weight or other pressure on the glass pushed the pages flat or nearly flat.

From the picture, it looks to me that you are using only one glass to semi-push back the page you are taking the picture of, but do not have the other piece of glass over the page you are taking the picture of. It seems to me that a 2nd piece of (plexi)glass over the other page would provide the necessary leverage to hold the opposing pages flatter and out of the way.

Am I misunderstanding how your are doing it there? Or how the two page scanners are designed?

BillGill
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Re: Do cameras with manual mode minimize/eliminate need for remote software?

Post by BillGill » 01 Sep 2018, 09:57

You are right I am only using one piece of plastic. The 'standard' 2 camera system does use 2 sheets of plastic, or glass, joined together at about a 90 degree angle. I think Deurig uses a larger angle. Because of the narrow gutter margin on many of the books I am scanning I kept losing the inner characters on each line. This adds a lot to the editing time, since I had to repair almost every line in the book. If you are going to be scanning better quality books you can use a 2 camera system. Using a 1 camera system I don't have the platen for the second page overlapping the characters at the end of the line on the first page, and vice versa. That more than makes up for the extra time spent scanning.

The platen holds the page I am taking a picture of flat. The edge of the platen pushes the opposite page back so that the camera can see down into the gutter. In the actual scanner the camera is parallel to the plastic.

Here is a closer picture of the layout of my current scanner.
Tower (3).JPG
Tower (3).JPG (304.16 KiB) Viewed 758 times
As you can see the platen is at the top, with the camera mounted below it and facing up. This way I can lay the book face down on the top. I push the book into the edge of the platen so that book is held fully open and the edge of the platen is well down into the gutter. Then I take the picture and move the book across to the other side of the platen and take the opposite page. This sort of thing is sometimes referred to as an inverted platen, since the platen is below the page instead of on top of it.

One thing you can't see in this picture is the mirror mounted below the camera. I did that so I could stand in front of the scanner and see the camera display. That way I can easily check the book registration so I will be sure to get the whole page.

Bill

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