Which Compact Digital Cameras...

  Trepan 09:59 28 Aug 2011

...should I consider for photographing documents - these are old documents that for a variety of reasons are not allowed to be photocopied - many are quite small print (6/8 point) some are large plans in multiple colours (surveyors plans of underground workings)

A few product suggestions would be helpful and within a budget range of £150/200

  Trepan 08:41 31 Aug 2011

No opinions then?

  onionskin 00:07 01 Sep 2011

Buy a cheap camera and invest in a pair of side lights.

  onionskin 01:00 01 Sep 2011

It isn't that easy to copy documents like this. You need to have some means of getting the image plane of the camera dead square with the document, small deviations can produce large perspective distortions in the image and using perspective correction software might blur the small print.

With a £200 budget it might be better to get a profesional photographer or printer to copy them.

  onionskin 00:08 03 Sep 2011

If you want to experiment, get hold of a large wire framed lamp shade and strip the covering off it, or get one from a craft shop without any covering - place the camera on the top pointing down through the opening, mark off the picture area at the bottom. Place the lamshade on the document and fire away. For large documents, move the lampshade along, taking a series of slightly overlapping photos and then stitch them together in Microsoft's ICE.

You wouldn't really benefit from an expensive camera, as long as it will focus down to the distance you require, you wouldn't benefit from a resolution greater than 8 megapixels and the file sizes will be enourmous for a large plan. Self-timer or remote shutter release for rock steady shots would be a bonus. See what they've got in Cash Converters or eBay.

Flash would be no good, the light would bounce straight back up through the lens, you'd need to fit some kind of side lights, angled down at about 45degs so that the light is reflected off the document and away from the lens. At least two, for even lighting.

Just a thought. It might work :)

  Trepan 17:19 03 Sep 2011

Thanks onionskin for this i will give it a go with my daughters Sony Cybershot. I like the 'lampshade' idea not sure if the National Archive will though:) :)

  onionskin 21:36 03 Sep 2011

I'm wondering if you'd get better results using a film camera and scanning the reulting slides or negatives.

  onionskin 21:37 03 Sep 2011


  Trepan 13:15 09 Sep 2011

I have in the past used my Canon SLR but the results were quite poor hence digital.

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