Low-cost overhead capture system

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A couple of years ago, we did an in-house analysis of scanning speeds versus costs, and determined that overhead capture systems provided the most captures per dollar spent. Since all the vendors speak very highly of their capture systems, we then went performed a survey to find out which ones were performing best out in the field. You may have read the results of our survey of overhead scanners that was published in Library Hi Tech last year (“Overhead Scanners: reports from the field”, Library Hi Tech 29:1, 9-33). Well, we took things a little further still.

Our Digitization Manager, Jeremiah Colonna-Romano, is not only a professional artist, he also has remarkable engineering skills. Due to the high cost of overhead scanners, and the clear benefit they offer over flatbeds, Jeremiah designed a simple desktop overhead capture system. Although it’s not suitable for large formats, it works fine for most manuscript materials. Total cost is estimated at less than $5k. We’re sharing it here for those of you who need to get the most out of your money!

Diagram of Desktop overhead workstation

This scanner station uses a Canon EOS 7D digital camera, a desktop station with Windows 7 (64bit, 4 GB ram, 2.4 GHZ processor, 80 GB hard drive), Adobe Photoshop, a Bencher Copy-mate III fluorescent camera stand with lights, tempered plate glass, and heavy weight rag paper for the background surface. A UPS is included in the cost. For more detailed information, see Jeremiah’s overview.

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