View Full Version : scanner vs digital camera

03-10-2007, 11:53 PM
We just had a thread about the mustek A3 scanners all crapping out on us in the creator community section. So I was wondering if anyone considered using a digital camera instead for getting pages on file. My mother in law has a 10 pixel camera that works awesome for taking pictures, when you zoom in you can see pores, sweat, pimples, hair and all kinds of stuff on the faces we took in the pictures. I think I may go this route instead of shelling out more cash for another scanner.

Does anyone know the advantages or disadvantages to using the digital camera vs the scanner?

03-11-2007, 12:53 AM
i've often thought about using a camera in this way. i've actually tried it for pdf's of site plans at work, but you have to get the background and lighting right. i gave up, but might try again

03-11-2007, 10:44 PM
Scanners are way easier to "control". Just keep the glass clean, and as long as the scanner itself is working right, it's just the scanner and the image. With a digital camera, you have to control the environment around the image, plus unless you have a dedicated setup, you'll have to measure the angle (between the image and the camera) every time, which will be a pain in the ass.

No, for actual images (as opposed to photographs) I'd recommend a scanner every time. Even a really crappy scanner, versus a really high end digital camera.

03-12-2007, 06:24 AM
For black and white drawings scanner are the best.
But when it comes to scanning colors like aquarelle its a bit worse. Actually it ainīt easy with a camera either. Why? Because of the ICC-profiles that will be used for printing. The regular thing is to actually scan the image in RGB. Not sRGB since its just a computer colored RGB but Adobe RGB that is more suitable for correct colors for printing. But then it comes to the converting part. When the RGB image needs to be converted to color printing CMYK and needs to have a correct ICC-profile suited for where its going to be printed. A print in CMYK has a less colorspace then the colorspace in RGB. It means you will lose some information in the conversion like most common: some blue colors will turn grey or similar. A camera is better then a scanner to find suitable colorspace then a scanner from the start but it still holds the same problems when the image is going to be translated to CMYK for regular ofsett printing. Some prints made digitally could look better printed from RGB mode since some digital printers at start uses more colors than the CMYK mode to match the RGB image. But printing digitally isnt always better quality then regular offsetprinting.

Good to know is that most programs wants to add its own preinstalled ICC-profile when you open the file. For example a scanner uses one, photoshop uses one, illustrator uses one, Adobe Acrobat uses one and besides your screen uses one to view the image. Either way you process the image itīs good to keep track on the ICC-profile so not another program you use and save the picture in messes it up.

A second thing about the camera except from light and enviroment is the lens. For actually getting a good image that holds quality for reproduction use the lens has to be flat. If you use lens that is wide it will scale the image non proportionally.

Best qualityscans from plain original you can only get with a expensive drumscanner. But the original must be able to bend and able to attach around the drum.

It was fun readng the other thread about Mustek scanner. I had ordered one recently but never got it delivered so i cancelled the order. And now I feel lucky. ;-)

03-12-2007, 04:42 PM
I've never used a digital camera but when taking photos of paintings with a regular 35mm camera it was always slightly (noticably) warped because of the lens.
If anyone has a good suggestion for electronic delivery of non-electronic colored art, I'm all ears.

03-12-2007, 08:49 PM
Mojo gotta hand it to you, you really know how to make a guy feel retarded.

So I guess the digital camera is out.

Next question, what kid of scanner do the professionals use. Please don't let this turn into everybody elses version of what a pro is or supposed to be.

What do the people who have had 10 years plus experience use?

Did it break down before? If so how long did it last? Is it still going?

03-12-2007, 09:08 PM
Depends on what you mean by "professionals". If you mean the contract pros working for the big boys, then drum scanners it is (since Marvel and DC can afford the tens of thousands of dollars they cost).

It seems the semi-pros, like we have a lot of on DW, like the Mustek A3. I can't blame them. It's got fairly poor resolution, but it comes in at around 200 dollars. Most A3 scanners run about 1100 dollars (but have much better resolution. Comparable to the A4 scanners, which are about 5-10 times higher than the Mustek A3. That's why people say the Mustek isn't so hot for color scanning). But, since a lot of the semi-pros can write off expenses like equipment, if you can afford it, it's worth investing said 1100 dollars in a decent A3 scanner (if you're going the write off method, try purchasing the scanner from a Christmas sale :) ).

Dano, I think there are photo lenses out there that simulate flat shots. Also, I think some digital cameras that don't have optical zoom tend to have flatter lenses. The main thing is, you want a consistent (and likely dedicated) set up, you know, with a stable mount for the artwork, specifically measured angle of display, fully controlled lighting, etc. And the best thing is to know your camera. If it warps due to the lens, then try capturing a larger area (ie space outside/around the artwork) so that the artwork itself resides in the "safe zone" (the non-warped area) of the photo. This way you can crop it down after you scan it.

Remember, artwork used to be considered "camera ready", so there must have been some very professional way to photograph artwork and avoid said pitfalls. We need to find us a retired graphic designer for more info :) (If it's really important, I might know where to find just such a person)

03-12-2007, 09:37 PM
Mojo gotta hand it to you, you really know how to make a guy feel retarded.

So I guess the digital camera is out.

Next question, what kid of scanner do the professionals use. Please don't let this turn into everybody elses version of what a pro is or supposed to be.

What do the people who have had 10 years plus experience use?

Did it break down before? If so how long did it last? Is it still going?

Sorry it wasnīt my intention! :slap:

The scanners i use is:

Canon Canoscan4200F - A simple and very cheap A4 scanner Very good for black and white drawings.

And for some part I use drumscanners. My friend has one in his home really cool but not much lika a home anymore ... (Its so hughe)

Once I used to work on mac and then used a Agfa SnapScan600 But i have stored that away now. Both the mac and the scanner. Nothing broke down but PC stuff is cheaper to use and nowdays more integrated with mac.

In only 1 occasion I have been hiring in the service from digital experts. but it turned out that they delivered crap for a tremendous cost that I had to rework with.

Otherwise I use a Nikon D50 camera but I still havent bought a lens, lamps and enviroment light measure tools good enough to take photos of original art.

My experience is about 15-20 years by now.

03-12-2007, 09:51 PM
As a Nikon user I guess this lens is good to work with for studioshot:
Nikon AF 85/2,8 PC-Micro
Im sorry i only found a swedish website to the lens:

Here is also a good site with Drumscanner and High end scanners:

03-12-2007, 09:52 PM
That brings up another good point. If you do have to go the "hiring an outside service" route, always get references from them. A good service will have some kind of reference clause in their contract, and if the company is good, anybody else who's used their service should have no qualms about recommending them. Also, learning about the procedures on your own, then asking them briefly about their own setup can help (although if they are well versed in the refined art of business bullshit that might not do you much good ;), then you go back to plan A).

03-12-2007, 10:30 PM
That was my thought to in my case. But it didnt help. The digital pros sat in a dark room with their nose attached to a screen with a helmet on. ī
The only thing they let me know was the type of scanner and the icc profiles. But from the originals I experienced that there was A LOT of dust and such all over the scanned images and the images was some % rotated diffrently each one. Wich I first come to see from my own office and computer. Well it was high end images but to have 60 colorpaintings to digitally rework was no fun at all. I tried to contact the firm about the issue but they never got back to me.

I guess i learned my lesson. Well not the payment since the customer payed for it but the experience. I will no more give it to someone else to scan my images unless I can be with them when they do. Or if they have my thrust. its their loss and my growing in knowledge. Now I just guess i need to be even better on ICC.

This guy I found a couple of months ago seem to have way cool knowledge on digital images (preferable cameras), color spaces and such on.

I also found this link that could be some part helpful