Dear Marie,

I have some experience photographing recordings with a set up that includes
a copy stand and Digital SLR with software and a USB connection. The
non-profit I chair, the Audio Preservation Fund, photographs each
collection item we receive before donating it to an institution. This
includes the disc (or cylinder, cassette, etc) as well as the cover,
sleeve, and any inserted materials. When photographing discs, I image the
entire disc instead of focusing in on just the label.

The equipment and software I use include a Canon EOS Mark II camera, a copy
stand and camera mount made by Kaiser (with an additional homemade black
background surface), and the Canon EOS Utility software to control the
camera through the USB connection. Unfortunately, we couldn't afford the
diffuse lighting options, but we make do with ambient room lighting through
trial and error placement of the copy stand.

As far as a workflow, I generally photograph the items in batches that are
closely related, so that I can use the automated file naming options in the
software, followed by batch file renaming using Bulk Rename Utility ( Our file naming
structure is likely different from what you will need, but the file naming
options in the software are pretty flexible. I also try to photograph
different parts of each item in the same order
(Cover-->Sleeve-->Disc-->Inserts), so I can make sense of each item's
relationship to it's packaging when viewing and editing a large batch of
photographs later.

To reduce editing time, I use the grid overlay in the software to position
each disc in the same spot, which allows for batch cropping (I use
IrfanView for this). This works less effectively for inserts and sleeves
because they are not as uniform in size, but the grid still allows me to
straighten the item on the copy stand base so I don't have to rotate the
image during editing.

One drawback I have experienced with this method includes the ability of
the SLR to focus on the entire object. If I focus on the center of a record
cover, the edges tend to be a little out of focus. I experienced this when
imaging manuscript items on a large-format Digibook as well, which also
uses a mounted SLR. I expect this wouldn't be an issue if the objects were
scanned on a large-format flatbed scanner. However, I find it takes much
less time per image using a copy stand instead of a flatbed scanner, and
the focus issues are relatively minimal.

Another drawback is that (as far as I can tell), I cannot capture images
with this Canon Mark II/software combination in uncompressed TIFF format.
For an uncompressed image, I need to capture in RAW and then convert. If
you are not as worried about compression, there is a high resolution JPEG
option which also looks very good.

Lastly, some discs are difficult to find a brightness/contrast/color
balance that results in an accurate representation of both the label and
the grooved part of the disc. This problem might be alleviated if you
install the diffuse lighting. I would be very interested to know if that's
the case.

I'm happy to answer any other questions you have about our set up and
workflows. If you would like to see some pictures that resulted from our
set up, our website ( has thousands of images of
the collection items we receive. All of the discs, cylinders, and cassettes
that have pictures available were photographed with the set up I described

And it may be a long shot, but if you see any recordings on our site that
you would like to add to your collections at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision,
we'd love to donate them to you! (That goes for any other libraries,
archives, and museums out there, too.)


William R. Vanden Dries

Chairman, Audio Preservation Fund
Research Engineering Scientist Associate I, Applied Research Laboratories
[log in to unmask]

On Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 3:30 PM, Marie O'Connell <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> Our preservation committee is scoping out a proposal for photographic
> capture of disc label information and also possibly capture of the disc
> surface and covers.
> We are looking at using a copy stand with diffuse lighting and run the
> camera via USB software. We are also considering incorporating OCR software
> somewhere in the process.
> Is anyone else doing this?
> What equipment, software and work flow are you using?
> We would appreciate your wisdom here.
> Regards
> *Marie O'Connell*
> Audio Conservator
> *Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision*
> 324 Cashel Street  · PO Box 909  · Christchurch 8140