I DON'T know much about cameras, but I need to preserve old photos still stored in photo albums and boxes. I tried my Coolpix 7600 and found it difficult to focus and slow in photographing old photos. I need a camera that will allow me to quickly focus and take old photos continuously without much waiting. Speed is what I'm after and average quality (4x6 print) is sufficient. After some reearch on the Internet, I have a feeling that dSLR is the way to go and I kind of like D40x.
1. When photographing old photos still in albums, will D40x allow me to move from page to page and take pictures quickly without much work (meaning just pressing the shutter button)? How?
2. If I set the camera up on a copy stand, when photographing old photos of same size, can I preset the camera so that I only need to replace each photo and just press the shutter button? How?
3. Is D40X with AF-S DX Zoom Nikon ED 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G II sufficient? Do I need close-up lenses or the more expensive macro lens?
4. How do you remove reflection on glossy photos or transparent sheet covering photos? Can a circular polarizer do the job?
5. Do cable releases work on all cameras or do you need to get the one designed for Nikon?
I must say that taking pictures of my old pictures had never really come to mind as an option for me when considering this topic - instead I have always resorted to scanning the images in via a high quality, fast scanner. Of course, I am a novice in the field of photography, so maybe there's a system in place to perform this task better with a camera than with a scanner.
I'm interested to hear the responses also; but I have always used a scanner when wanting to archive or "back-up" old photos / documents. And if they're important enough, they go on a data storage (long term storage quality) CD or DVD and into a safe deposit box or fire safe.
If you're primarily looking to back up old photos, I would recommend against purchasing a D40x. Taking high-quality photos of old photos is not the best way to achieve your desired task. Instead, purchase a high-quality scanner and back up your photos that way. It not only produces better results (flat-bed scanning) but is easier to do and more cost-effective.
Not knowing the type of album being used in your situation, I have scanned many photos / documents that could not be removed from their "whole" by leaving the scanner lid open completely, or partly, and scanning the item - similar to photocopying pages from a book at the library. Just an idea.
I may be wrong, but last time I used a scanner to scan a picture it took more than one minute, and the post scanning edit adds more time. What's your experience in terms of the time required in splitting out each photo? (I feel using a camera is quick and no post processing is required.)
Time to scan depends on the quality of the scan (ppi) and the scanner itself (some are faster than others). For example, here's an excerpt of a review from PC Magazine's website:
"The 8600F's performance is well within the typical range for a flatbed scanner for prints and a little slower than typical for slides. With 4-by-6 photos at 300 to 600 ppi, it took between 8 and 19 seconds for prescans and 11 to 27 seconds for scanning. (Scan and prescan times can vary depending on whether the scan element has to warm up or the scanner needs to calibrate before a given scan. Scanning at higher resolution usually takes longer as well.) Scanning slides took about 50 seconds for a prescan and about 2 minutes 30 seconds for scanning at 2,400 ppi."
The full review can be found here. So, to answer the question, yes, the scan could take over a minute per photo, plus more for prescan and placement time. As for post-processing - that's something I think you'll have to deal with either way (scanner / camera), but not necessarily at the time of scan. PC Magazine's scanner reviews and info can be found here. A few more reviews can be found on Imaging-resource's website here, as well as Popular Photography and Imaging's website here. Note that some scanners can scan 3 4x6 pictures and save them as individual files - thus saving a lot of time. Lastly, some generic information about scanners can be found on the ConsumerSearch site here.
Hopefully the above links have helped - there's a lot of information to read over at the sites, but it could point you in the right direction (i.e. - help determine whether using a camera or scanner is the best option).
Thanks for the great info on scanners. I still lean towards using a camera, because some photo albums are kept by other relatives and carrying a camera is much easier. Any suggestions regarding the questions I posed on use of D40x for this purpose?
On taking pictures of pictures with a digital camera: here (note: on my browser, some of the text of the article is covered by the "after" picture example - to get around this, you'll have to select the text and copy it to MS Word or alternate)
On taking pictures of art (flat art like paintings, etc): here
That's all I could find for now and have run out of time for today. Many of the results I was finding while searching were coming from message board posts on sites related to genealogy, scrap-booking, etc. People on those boards were asking many of the same questions. A possible source of information that I did not have time to pursue was methods for taking pictures of flat art (paintings). There may be a solution for your situation there.
As far as the D40 or D40x being a good camera for this, I can't say. Most of the sites only talk about method, not specifics like camera models. I would assume, because of that, that any DSLR with decent capabilities could be used. If that assumption is true, then the D40/x could very well be a good choice.
In conclusion, the common opinion is that the best way (as far as quality) to archive old photos is to scan them. This also correlates with the difficulty in locating information about taking pictures of pictures on the web. However, with proper technique it seems your goal can be achieved.
Edit: Forgot to add link to thread from another message board discussing this very topic here, some opinions and previous experiences to note.
I have worked in a Library where used old Nikon f film cameras.
The only thing is you need a good flat field lens and maybe a polarizer on the camera and the lights.
Flat field lens are generally called macro.
Nikon has two -- the 60 and 105. The 60 is less money. Both are way sharper than any lens you have ever used.
Sigma, Tamron and Tokina have some really sharp ones. (Some of these are equal too or better than the Nikon ones.)
A tripod with a side arm - get it with a geared column is a substitute for a copy stand.
The 90/100 mm lens give a little more working distance so lighting is easier and will work better with big albums.
There is nothing different about taking a picture of a picture than taking a picture of a bug and getting a sharp image.
Since the camera works for bugs it will work for photos.
Just remember -- photos are flat and need a flat field lens for best results. (The photos should also be flat)
I can think of no camera that would do a better job -- you might also want a right angle view finder and a remote release.
The D200 with mirror lock-up might be a better choice but if you use flash this is not important -- a sturdy stand and using the self timer will get around mirror vibration and if you are enlarging only to 4x6 is will not be a issue.
The Nikon macro flash system would also be a nice addition since it is small and portable.