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Posts: 29
Reply with quote  #1 
I have a left field kind of question...

Have started going through family photos from early 20th century and some from late 19th century, mostly my Mother's side with the goal of digitizing them for my siblings and anyone else in my family who might be interested.

Most of the early 20th century stuff is B&W and I've sent some of it to Scancafe.  However, I have about a dozen or so tintypes that appear to be from the timeframe of 1870 to 1900 (or at least that's what my research indicates).   Question: any ideas on the best way to convert them to a digital format?  I've tried my home scanner with mixed results.   Scancafe won't touch them because they don't want to be responsible for them either getting damaged or damaging their own scanners.  I've been told that a capturing them using a quality digital camera is the way to go.

Any thoughts?  Jimy V, is this a project you be willing to take on on a paying basis?



Jim Adgate
IT Security guy concerned about vendor IT security risk management and other such stuff.....

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Posts: 58
Reply with quote  #2 
Is there no shop local to you that can do this?  A place that specializes in high end / high res scanning?   The would be the best as they have the right stuff.

Shooting them with a camera -is- probably the best alternative.  I can take a go at it. [smile]    I'm just a bit nervous to be responsible for such non replaceable items. [frown]

Hacked Mark's Facebook Account
Posts: 273
Reply with quote  #3 
Jim, do you have a DSLR and a decent tripod?
if so, you can do it yourself.  You need
  • Said camera and tripod.  A cable release might be great also, as you'll have only mens-a-mens light
  • A neutral gray card would be nice for making the white balance perfect
  • Some masking tape to lay out a rectangle where the pix go
  • A cloudy day that is not windy
  1. get a picture.  Lay it on some deck outside.  Set up the camera, place the picture so you can get a nice "straight on" shot.  Lay the masking tape around it... you now have a "frame."
  2. With the test picture in the frame, screw with the settings so you're happy with them, and you have a nice first shot.
  3. Drop the gray card atop it.  Shoot again so you can use this to create perfect color balance.  As long as you work quickly, the WB setting you get will almost certainly be able to be adjusted en masse to all of the other pics.
  4. Now you start cooking... drop the picture, check the viewfinder that it's straight, shoot, move to the next one.
Having an assistant to place the tintype and then carefully tuck the last one away could be valuable.  After the setup, you can probably do three or four a minute.  So 100 tintypes is a 15/20 minute job. Then they're safely back inside, the light can change, and you have some easy Lightroom work ahead of you!

What, that sounds too tough?  You can probably do it with a modern smartphone.  Best to find one that shoots DNG (digital negative) or raw files, but it can be done with most of the better Android or iPhone models. Best bet would be one of the 20+ megapixel Windows phones.  Get a clamp-y doodad to clamp the phone to a tripod.  Enable the phone's 10 second delay.  Point, click, getcher hands offa that phone, and away you go.

May I ask that everyone please populate the first name and last name in your user account profile.  Thanks!

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Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #4 
Following up with Mark's idea about using a smartphone, I bought a scanbox off of KickStarter (link) a few years back, and it works a treat. I use it mostly for document scanning, but in good lighting it works for digitizing photos as well. If you're looking to build your own, there are probably instructables out there for something similar.
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