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Using a Digital Camera as a "Scanner"

Tip Provided by Dave

Are you still using a scanner to convert your color prints into digital format for posting on the web or for emailing to friends and relatives? Well here's a simple alternative that could be faster than scanning. If your digital camera is capable of making good close-ups, simply shoot your color prints with your camera. The simple setup is shown in the first picture below:

The color print is just placed against a white construction paper background. It's lighted from the right side by a "soft-light-box" (a fluorescent tube whose light is softened by a white diffuser). On the opposite side is an ordinary make-up mirror that's used to reflect spill-over light onto the left side of the print (I usually use the "magnified" side). The result of this simple set-up is shown in the photo directly below.

In addition to often being faster than scanning, using your digital camera allows you to do some chopping and cropping (determined by how much of the picture you decide utilize or eliminate), as well as enlarging just one particular area of the print, giving you an additional detailed close-up view of that area only. It's shown it in the example below.

So go ahead, set your scanner aside for a while and try using your digital camera instead for conversion. It's faster, usually easier and adds the bonus of additional creative options.

Note: If your digital camera isn't meant for close-ups or "macro" work, then this tip won't be for you. But that may be something you'll want to look for in your next camera.

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