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How Does Everyone Get Such Beautiful Crisp Scans?

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Valued Member
Canada
338 Posts
Posted 03/14/2011   2:58 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add lux1228 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've been troubleshooting with my camera all day long. All I am getting is fuzzy unfocused pictures no matter what I do. I know this is not a photography 101 site, but how do you all get such beautiful pictures of your stamps. Mine are just not doing the stamps justice therefore I cannot post any...any tips?
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Valued Member
United States
428 Posts
Posted 03/14/2011   3:03 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ldhaber to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Most of the sharp photos you are seeing are, in reality, scans.

Given the size of most stamps and the level of most consumer cameras, taking a photo is hopeless. Not sure if you have a scanner, but it would make a big difference.

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Valued Member
Canada
338 Posts
Posted 03/14/2011   3:13 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lux1228 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you very much :) I should have spared myself the frustration and asked earlier. I will be on the hunt for my scanner and software tonight! if I can leave my stamps long enough...
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Pillar Of The Community
United Kingdom
1361 Posts
Posted 03/14/2011   3:14 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AnthonyUK to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
With a camera you'd need good lighting and one that has a macro mode as a minimum to get close to what a scanner can achieve.
A scanner is designed for this very thing so is so much more suitable.

I wrote a brief guide a while back if you decide to go the scanner route which I hope may help.

http://goscf.com/t/10675
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Valued Member
United States
302 Posts
Posted 03/14/2011   3:31 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add panda.bear to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A lot of people like to talk down digital cameras when it comes to digitizing their stamp collections but with the right equipment you can get just as nice results with the benefit of being able to capture your stamps at various angles and lighting (helpful to show gum condition or defects) as well being able to digitize items larger than the average scanner bed. Here are a few tips:

For simple point-and-shoot cameras make sure you have your MACRO mode enabled which will enable you to focus more closely.

For all cameras:

*I would suggest using a focal length of 80-180mm if possible to reduce image distortion. Avoid focal lengths less than 50mm if possible as distortion will be obvious.

*Use the best source of artificial lighting available to you and if possible the Custom White Balance setting with either a white or neutral grey card for adjusting the setting.

*Use a tripod and make sure you align the film plane and subject plane as parallel to each other as possible.

For High-End Digital-SLR's with full manual control:

*Find the sharpest aperture for your lens. Typically large aperture settings (i.e. ~f1.2-f2.8) produce softer images than smaller settings (i.e. f5+) there will be a little bit of trial and error to figure this one out.

*If possible use a macro lens

The biggest pieces of advice, especially if you're having trouble with blurry/out-of-focus images would be using a tripod. If you don't have one available you may be able to rig something up to do the trick. I will post a few more tips here later on tonight along with some scanner/digital camera comparison shots!
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Valued Member
Canada
338 Posts
Posted 03/14/2011   4:03 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lux1228 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for taking the time to explain this to me. I really very much appreciate it :) I'm working on it!
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Pillar Of The Community
Canada
5132 Posts
Posted 03/14/2011   4:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lithograving to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Lux

Before I bought a half decent scanner I experimented with a
cheap little Canaon Power Shot SD200 and got results like these
using macro setting, hand held, no special lighting.





A couple of years ago I bought Epson Perfection 4490 Photo scanner
and I get much better results.

For coins I still prefer the camera since I never got good results
with the scanner.

Here are a couple of examples taken with the same camera.



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Valued Member
United States
302 Posts
Posted 03/14/2011   4:27 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add panda.bear to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Below are two comparisons I've uploaded which compare the image quality of my six year old 5MP Compact P&S Fujifilm Digital Camera and my Epson Perfection V33 Flatbed scanner. I've posted these to show that decent photos of stamps can be attained (and quickly) by the majority of digital cameras available today. Clearly the scanner images are superior but the margin is surprisingly small, especially at the size most people will be viewing images on the web at, and also considering that my digital camera, to put it nicely, is not the best. The quality of modern digital cameras available today is leagues above my humble Fujifilm and I imagine that with a $600 D-SLR and a basic $100 prime lense you could approach museum-like quality. Incidentally, when the National Postage Museum here in the US wanted to digitize their collection they did so with high end digital cameras and I think their images at the Arago site (http://arago.si.edu/) turned out pretty darn good!


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Valued Member
Canada
338 Posts
Posted 03/14/2011   4:36 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lux1228 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Outstanding :) thank you all for your extensive input. Now I'm trying to find cords for the scanner and continuously working with my camera and different circumstances. Hopefully by tonight I'll have something decent to post!
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Pillar Of The Community
Canada
5132 Posts
Posted 03/14/2011   4:43 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lithograving to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would like to add that the colours via digital camera appear closer to the original than the results from a scanner.

Strictly my observations though.
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
1927 Posts
Posted 03/15/2011   08:02 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Triggersmob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
This is how I take my pics of my coins. For stamps I place them on a flat black background instead of using the screw.

Prepare a black background and mount a screw into it, then add some felt on top to hold the coin in place.


Balance the coin on top, lean the coin to one side slightly if you have to, to save reflection from coin.


Place cut-down juice or milk container over the coin. This not only stops glare but gives you a steady platform for taking the pic. Try different length containers until you find one that you can focus closest with.


I then place an old magnifying glass on top to increase the size of the pic. At this point you could place a piece of paper with a hole cut in it, and shoot through this to stop the glare of LED's.


I then shine light through the side of the container, this stops the glare. You can adjust the height of the light to add or subtract the amount of light on the coin surface. I only have one light, but two might work better.


This is the coin pic after editing in Microsoft Picture Manager.
No colour adjustment, just cropped and darkened a little. All this on fully automatic setting on the camera.


Hope this helps
and like Panda.Bear, this was taken with a 5MP Fujifilm camera.

Oh and a stamp pic...


Steve



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Valued Member
Canada
338 Posts
Posted 03/15/2011   08:17 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lux1228 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you Steve!! Excellent advice :) I admire your enthusiasm!
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Pillar Of The Community
United Kingdom
1361 Posts
Posted 03/15/2011   08:31 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AnthonyUK to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It appears most people use Fujifilm cameras for macro.




I have one and found it to be great for this too although I only use it for certain scenarios such as this phosphor band.



I wouldn't have thought it would be possible to do this for example with a camera at the moment. I think you would need a 24mp camera to replicate the 4800dpi scan let alone anything higher. I appreciate not everyone requires such detailed images though.


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Edited by AnthonyUK - 03/15/2011 08:39 am
Pillar Of The Community
United Kingdom
1361 Posts
Posted 03/15/2011   4:44 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add AnthonyUK to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I know nothing about coins but have a few in a small box.
Is there anything wrong with this scan?
It looks OK to my untrained eye and the focus was better than I was expecting.

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Pillar Of The Community
2664 Posts
Posted 03/16/2011   02:32 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spock1k to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Steve,

amazing just amazing I have never have had anyone explain it better
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
6409 Posts
Posted 03/16/2011   05:54 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add stallzer to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well, the one thing you can't do with a Camera is shown here. If you love the engraved Stamps and the detail in some of the engravings then there is no substitute for a good scanner. I scan all mine @ 1200dpi, upload them to a hosting site and the images can't be beat. Photos take a lot more effort as these images were scanned, uploaded and pasted here in under 3 minutes



and for coins, scanners I think do equally as well



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Edited by stallzer - 03/16/2011 05:57 am
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