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Thread: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

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    Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    If I use my camera to take a photo of an old photo can I get as good a quality print as with scanning it with a photo scanner?

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    If I use my camera to take a photo of an old photo can I get as good a quality print as with scanning it with a photo scanner?
    Not an easy answer I'm afraid.

    In theory, no - in practice, maybe - but - it's quite tricky to get everything right.

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    This is one of those Yes and No answers I'm afraid, Jeannie.

    It depends on the subject, the camera equipment and quality of the scanner. I've used both methods.

    With a photo, you need a suitable lens and a tripod plus the correct light. Without proper studio lights, I have had some success by mounting the 'copy board' (any flat surface) vertically but at 45 degrees, approx, to the sun, but not evening sun which can cause tints. Then the camera is set up facing squarely to the copy board.

    I have used this technique to copy prints which were stuck into an album in a way which prevented their removal. And at one time I also used this method to create film slides from photos.

    But I mostly prefer to use a scanner when practical.

    However, we really need a bit more detail about your camera kit and the type/size of the original photo.

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    I have a photo scanner, but it will only accept up to 5 x 7 prints. I have some old 8 x 10 photos that I would like to copy, but I am not really set up to "copy" photos with my camera which is a Canon EOS 300D with a 18-55 mm kit lens.

    Would an HP scanner/printer/copier get better results than my camera?

    Just trying to copy some old photos for safekeeping.

    Thanks!

    P.S. Don't you just hate those old photo albums that have the sticky pages that you stuck the photos on and then have a clear page cover over them?

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    You should be able to get a decent replica of the original photograph but you will also copy any imperfections such as cracks, dust onto the new image. However, the same imperfections would be transferred using a scanner as well.

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    I have a photo scanner, but it will only accept up to 5 x 7 prints. I have some old 8 x 10 photos that I would like to copy
    Probably easier to just scan them in 2 passes and stitch the resultant images together into one (or pay to have them scanned commercially).

    I photography art / photos quite often, but getting a top-notch result isn't for the faint hearted.

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    I have a photo scanner, but it will only accept up to 5 x 7 prints. I have some old 8 x 10 photos that I would like to copy, but I am not really set up to "copy" photos with my camera which is a Canon EOS 300D with a 18-55 mm kit lens.
    I haven't heard of a flatbed scanner that small (5" x 7"), which makes me wonder if it is one of the ones that are effectively just a 1MP (or less) camera built into a box with a light. They almost certainly will produce a worse result than your camera, as long as you get the lighting right and picture square and focused (with your camera). I'm not sure whether that lens will focus close enough though, it may for 8 x 10.

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    Would an HP scanner/printer/copier get better results than my camera?
    Yes, almost certainly. (don't use the minimum resolution though)
    As John (Shadowman) says, there may still be some things you need to deal with in an image editor to archive a decent copy, but you can do that as a second process later from the saved files. I believe some flatbed scanner software has built in functionality to fix common problems, if you do some tests, you may find this will help and in theory, doing before saving (especially as jpg) is bettter than going in to do it later and resaving the jpg, but I have no experience how effective these are.

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    Just trying to copy some old photos for safekeeping.
    About to do some of that myself today/tomorrow. If I learn anything more, I'll let you know.

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    P.S. Don't you just hate those old photo albums that have the sticky pages that you stuck the photos on and then have a clear page cover over them?
    But at the time of mounting, weren't they soooo much easier than the alternative of phaffing around with little sticky corner mounts?
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 1st January 2012 at 08:08 AM.

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    The scanner I was referring to is an HP PhotoSmart photo scanner than scans slides, negatives and photos up to 5x7. It does quite a good job, but is limited in regards to size. I have noticed all my color photos (film) from the 1970-1980s are really degrading in color. The prints are taking on a reddish hue. Apparently it was either the film or film processing during that time frame as a friend told me she was having the same problems. My photos have always been kept in a cool, dry place. So those photos have "priorty" as I want to scan them before they further deteriorate.

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    The scanner I was referring to is an HP PhotoSmart photo scanner than scans slides, negatives and photos up to 5x7. It does quite a good job, but is limited in regards to size. I have noticed all my color photos (film) from the 1970-1980s are really degrading in color. The prints are taking on a reddish hue. Apparently it was either the film or film processing during that time frame as a friend told me she was having the same problems. My photos have always been kept in a cool, dry place. So those photos have "priorty" as I want to scan them before they further deteriorate.

    Do you still have the negatives of the prints? Why not see if you can get some decent shots from the negatives, have the film processor digitize the images.

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    Shadowman...uh....can't see your real name while on this page - for the photos from the 70-80s, I am trying to find the negatives...they are here somewhere. The larger photos (8x10) are photos taken by my great-grandfather in the late 1880 to early 1900s. He was a photographer and photographed a lot of work scenes in Michigan...although I believe he set his tripod up a half a mile from the scene. LOL. Some of the photos are closer up. I think in some of the shots he was trying to portray the vastness of the prairie.

    Thanks everyone for the helpful suggestions.

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    I've done a lot of this over the years, starting in the 1980s. I used a copy stand, tungsten film, and a mamiya 645. the results could be very good, but nowadays I'd recommend a flatbed scanner, which should cost you less than $100.

    Better results, too.

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    The larger photos (8x10) are photos taken by my great-grandfather in the late 1880 to early 1900s.
    I work with prints from the same era on a regular basis and find a lot of 'glossier' prints (closer to a pearl than a high gloss) from that time have a fairly course surface texture. If your prints don't that's great, makes scanning much easier. However if you do have prints with a course surface texture it can be tricky to eliminate the tiny highlights caused by the scanning light reflecting off each ripple in the surface texture.

    I find the best way of dealing with this is to scan the print twice or even four times, rotating the print through 180 degrees (or 90 degrees if scanning 4 times). You then end up with the highlights on different parts of the texture in each scan. Once you have your scanned images you can import them into PS (or similar), one image per layer. Then rotate them all to be in the same orientation and line them up. Then set opacity of the top layer to 50% or if you have four layers set the opacities to 75%, 50% and 25% and start with all overlay modes set to normal. You should then be able to juggle the overlay modes and opacities to remove most if not all the highlights.

    You can do the same with photographing the original 4 times, moving your light source for each exposure.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,
    Adrian

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    Guess it depends on what your goal is to do with the prints- store them in the computer for safekeeping before the print degrades further or to make another copy of the photo?

    I recently did this with a 16x20 framed color print of a photo shot from a plane of the farm my father in law grew up in. it was taken in 1972 out of one of those open cockpit planes they used for taking pictures from the air. The print was drying up, had some marks, scratches, etc. I took a pic of it, did a little touching up and printed it out 8x10. Thats all they wanted, a copy of the pic they could show around at a family reunion. Didn't look too shabby, and it preserved a piece of the family history.

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    Re: Copying an old photo with camera versus photo scanner

    Thanks everyone! Never heard of the technique you suggested Adrian. Will try it out if I have problems.

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