I'd also like to say thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I am
currently using a Canon 50mm f/2.5 compact-macro lens. I agree with Don
that photographing using the "Live View" on the larger computer screen is
absolutely necessary to make the copy stand approach effective. Also, while
the lens has both auto and manual focus settings, I keep it on manual while
photographing with the copy stand. Making fine adjustments to the focus as
necessary is easy to do when viewing on the computer screen.

I am in the habit of using the "P" (Program AE) mode when photographing the
records and their packaging. In this mode, the aperture and shutter speed
are both automatically adjusted by the camera, while I can still control
the general brightness of the image through the EOS Utility software. This
comes in handy when the colors of the record cover or label change
dramatically from image to image. However, based on the discussion of
f-stops above, I think I'll revisit the "AV" (Aperture-priority AE) mode,
which would allow me to manually control the aperture setting and
brightness while the camera adjusts the shutter speed accordingly.
Hopefully, the improved depth of field would outweigh the cost of longer
shutter speeds. I'm also going to take another look into acquiring lighting
for the copy stand. As mentioned, this is probably the best bet for overall
improved images.

I've seen some beautiful nature photography that uses the focus stacking
method mentioned by Tom and Richard, but never tried it myself. I'm sure
the 5D Mark II can be programmed to do it. If I ever try it out on some
records, I'll be sure to share the results.


William R. Vanden Dries

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

On Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 5:42 AM, Don Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On 02/03/2015, William Vanden Dries wrote:
> > 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.
> >
> Kaiser seem to be the only company still making copy stands of usable
> quality. (There are some toy "copy stands" around, for use by eBay
> sellers.)
> When using a camera on a copy stand, a hinged LCD screen is a must. Good
> "Live View" rather than SLR viewing is best.
> > 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.
> >
> Besides USB, there are cameras that can be controlled through Wi-Fi, for
> instance from a phone.
> If you want to photograph the back of the sleeve, with sleeve notes, it
> is desirable to use a camera with a high resolution sensor. 24
> Megapixels or preferably more.
> If you want only the label, a lower resolution will suffice.
> > 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.
> That is a problem with the lens rather than the camera. You should not
> expect a flat field on a zoom lens.
> Copying work should be done with a macro lens, designed for the job. It
> need not be new: there are many good used lenses around such as the 55mm
> Micro-Nikkor, or similar lenses from Olympus and others, which can be
> used on any good mirrorless camera with an adapter.
> > 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.
> JPGs of the highest quality the camera allows are often good enough. Raw
> files show their advantage in high contrast lighting, such as when
> photographing live bands on stage. Copying work is low contrast and the
> files should not need any manipulation.
> >
> > 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 above.
> >
> > 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 NgÄ
> > Taonga Sound & Vision, we'd love to donate them to you! (That goes
> > for any other libraries, archives, and museums out there, too.)
> >
> > Best,
> > William
> >
> >
> >
> > William R. Vanden Dries
> >
> > Chairman, Audio Preservation Fund Research Engineering Scientist
> > Associate I, Applied Research Laboratories [log in to unmask]
> > 512-731-9616
> >
> > 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
> >>
> >> *NgÄ  Taonga Sound & Vision*
> >> 324 Cashel Street  · PO Box 909  · Christchurch 8140
> >>
> Regards
> --
> Don Cox
> [log in to unmask]