A Photo Scanning Jig

I had some photographs that I purchased on eBay that I wanted to scan. Unfortunately, I am currently “between scanners” so I had no good way to scan a photo. I did a bit of thinking and ended up using my DSLR camera on a tripod to do the job. Here are a few

I started with my Cameron CF 650 tripod (video review here), which has the ability to flip the tripod legs “over the top” so that it basically is working upside down. Mount the camera to the tripod – carefully so it doesn’t fall off – and Bob’s your uncle!

Upside down tripod
Upside down tripod

Well, the tricky part is actually the lighting. This giant tripod assembly casts a lot of shadows, so you need a light source to overpower the shadows and evenly light the photograph you are trying to take a picture of.

I used a big scrapbooking light with a daylight flourescent bulb (something like this) to provide the light source.

Focusing was essential, so I put the lens in manual focus mode with the switch on the lens, and I used Live View on the camera to give me a good view of the final image as I manually focused the lens to get it “just right”. My camera allows me to “zoom” the image so I can be sure the focus is correct.

The results are pretty good!

I don’t think this will beat a scanner, but I see this as useful for “scanning” magazines and other items that are hard to put on a scanner. It did the job in a pinch.

For another reference, This article from B&H describes the process well.

Just One More Thing

I am looking for a new scanner, though. I polled people online and the overwhelming consensus is that everyone uses the Epson V600 scanner for photo and slide scanning. It’s capable of photo, negative and slide scanning at up to 6400 dots per inch. This is a pretty serious scanner.

It comes with “digital ICE” technology to improve the image, but it sounds like that really slows the process down and isn’t really worth it if you’re going to edit the image anyway.

It’s not the cheapest scanner, so I’m going to have to save my pennies before I can justify buying this. I have so many things I’d love to buy, but I have to budget…

6 thoughts on “A Photo Scanning Jig”

  1. I call that a ‘redneck scanner’, Steve. Although I don’t use a tripod. So that is another layer of difficulty I put on myself. Focus truly is everything. Depending on the application, I don’t always run down to the 3-in-1 scanner, which is all I’ve ever used for actual scanning.

    My brother is the ‘scanning king’ in my eyes, using a flatbed scanner to capture entire pages of timetables and documents at a very high resolution for his Rolly Martin Country blog!

    Anyway, looks like your jig works for you!
    Thanks for sharing,

  2. I use an Ion Slide Scanner, bought of Amazon. It was in my price range, though it doesn’t have the megapixel quality that Epson V600. But it does the job, and if I have to tweak a slide then I’ll bring it into photoshop.


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