How could you use your digital camera to digitize and scan text?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Albretch, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. Albretch

    Albretch Guest

    Including doing OCR on them?

    I am a student trying to save money on copies you need from a
    libraries. (Aren't digicams expensive enough already?)

    Sometimes papers are not that good anyway and you only need sections
    of them.

    I know there are ways to tell an OCR software to read a file from the
    file system, but I haven't found an end-to-end, comprehensive
    explanation about how to do this, and AFAIK there is no web site that
    consistantly lists features in comparison charts

    Most hits I found after googling for it were about using cameras
    primarily to take pictures, which might be not the case for the large
    amount of students that would basically use them as scanners.

    I tech monkey I know was telling me about high res imaging cameras,
    which come with a PCI card to plug into a PC so that 'you get what you
    see' functionality which is useful for running the OCR right and keep
    working at the same time.

    Could you explain to me at least your experience with such things?

    What are the involved issues?

    I guess all cameras are not created equal. Which ones are best for
    text scanning? Those best for B&W Mode or gray scale?

    I think this is pretty much doable with current commercial gadgets,
    but I just don't know how.
    Albretch, Jun 6, 2004
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  2. Albretch

    Bob Salomon Guest

    You just need a digital camera with 3mp or better and macro mode at more
    then one distance if you want to crop, some lights and OCR software like
    OmniPage Pro X (or the Windows equivalent).
    Bob Salomon, Jun 6, 2004
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  3. Albretch

    Bert Hyman Guest

    Since the free copy of ABBYY "Fine Reader Sprint 4.0" which came with my
    old scanner can do it, I'm assuming that any OCR software can be pointed
    at digital photos of pages of text and convert them.

    I just grabbed my Canon A60 (a 2MP camera), photographed a piece of paper
    on my desk, downloaded the resulting JPEG and OCRd it. The parts of the
    page that were in reasonable focus and not too distorted perspective-wise
    came out pretty clean.

    If you had a suitable rig with a camera mount and some lights, you should
    get decent results.
    Bert Hyman, Jun 6, 2004
  4. Albretch

    nixjunk Guest

    Save yourself the headache and buy a cheap and inexpensive flatbed. I bought a
    Canon LiDE 20 for only US$20.
    nixjunk, Jun 6, 2004
  5. Albretch

    Bert Hyman Guest

    He's apparently talking about making copies in a library.

    Dragging in a scanner and associated PC might be a bit more trouble than a
    camera and a small table-top tripod.
    Bert Hyman, Jun 6, 2004
  6. Albretch

    jean Guest

    OR he could be a spy??
    jean, Jun 6, 2004
  7. Albretch

    Bert Hyman Guest

    In "jean"
    A digital Minox C would be perfect for his needs :)
    Bert Hyman, Jun 6, 2004
  8. Albretch

    Ron Hunter Guest

    I would have to agree. Some things can be done (and this CAN be done),
    but aren't really worth the bother.
    Ron Hunter, Jun 7, 2004
  9. Albretch

    rs Guest

    The suitable rig would be a copy stand. Once that's in place then it would
    be a piece of cake.
    rs, Jun 7, 2004
  10. Albretch

    Bill Funk Guest

    Laptop, cheap scanner, cable & power strip.
    And orange witches' hats to keep people from tripping over your stuff.

    Bill Funk, Jun 7, 2004
  11. Albretch

    Bob Flint Guest

    I've done it in the past - I found you need to convert the picture to a 2-color
    TIF file at 300 DPI to get success... You will want maybe 50-pixel high
    Bob Flint, Jun 7, 2004
  12. Albretch

    Donald Gray Guest

    Cross posting removed, & reply to this group only!!!

    OCR from an image works well as long as you have a good image in the
    first place. Use 'photo editing' software to increase the contrast as
    high as commensurate without loosing textural info.

    I have Nikon 5700 & photographed many documents & use Abby Fine Reader
    OCR software to convert to *.rtf/.doc. The OCR software will treat the
    image as if it is a scan.

    It depends on what you want to do with the 'copy'. You state that you
    want to save money on (library charge?) cost of photo copying - this
    infers that you do not want to 'edit' the text. If it is just a copy
    for reference & NO editing, other than cropping the image, then you
    need not OCR it, just print the image (I use a b&w laser for the quick
    reference prints)

    If, on the other hand, you want to plagiarise or otherwise edit the
    text, then you will need to OCR the image.

    Photographing a document is far quicker than 'scanning' or using a
    Xerox. The largest single 'photograph copying' I did was a 72 page A4
    hand written book. - I did use a tripod for that - It was as quick as
    I could turn the page.

    If you do have a lot to do and need to use a tripod, then use one that
    allows you to put the camera (on a tilt/panhead) UNDERNEATH the column
    rather than on top as normal. That way the tripod straddles the
    document without the legs getting in the way

    For the occasional copy, I cant be fluffed with using a tripod. I just
    hand hold & use the built in flash, framing the doc as big as possible
    in the viewfinder.

    BTW: Copying a document, especially in a library raises a couple of
    issues that you have to consider:

    1) Check with the librarian on their policy re copying and ask
    permission to use a camera. (Or take the book home and do the biz

    2) This is the sticky and contentious one - the Copyright issue. I
    believe that copyright laws in most countries is similar to the UK. A
    document/text/image/artwork et al is automatically the copyright of
    the author and is not 'registered' anywhere as such. It therefore
    follows that any copying of a document, even for private 'one off'
    use, IS a breach copyright of the author's work. That said, hands up
    anyone who hasn't breached this for private use...
    Donald Gray
    Putting ODCOMBE on the Global Village Map!
    You do not have to email me, but if you wish to...
    Please remove the SafetyPin from my email address first
    Donald Gray, Jun 7, 2004
  13. Albretch

    Albretch Guest

    I am not trying to plagiarize anything, but since you posted your
    mesage on the net, I assume you are talking in general. So, people
    plagiarize all the time, free exchange of info is of paramount
    importance for the well being of a society.

    'Fare use' is also part of the copyright laws.

    You have a good point, but is civilization going to depend on
    'copyright laws'? when are we going to understand that we should go
    from 'paper' to e-docs as people some time ago went from carving on
    wood to writing on paper?
    Albretch, Jun 7, 2004
  14. Albretch

    Donald Gray Guest

    Indeed so. Perhaps I used the 'p' word in the wrong context. It was
    not intended as a personal comment. No offence meant. Sorry for any
    hurt taken.

    I strongly believe that is not so. Copyright is copyright. Period. To
    copy anything that is copyright is a breach unless you have permission
    from the copyright owner. All you have to do is read the copyright
    notice in most book to see the strict terms of the copyright restated.
    That is not the author's or publisher's terms - it is the law.

    Again that said, fair use does, to a certain extent, come in to it
    based on the _spirit_ of the law rather than the _letter_ of the

    However, the main point I was wanting to put across was that unless
    you wanted to edit the text, (for whatever the reason), selecting
    certain sections/paragraphs from a photographed document, you do not
    need to OCR the photo.
    Do you mean to say I can stop using clay tablets as well?
    Donald Gray
    Putting ODCOMBE on the Global Village Map!
    You do not have to email me, but if you wish to...
    Please remove the SafetyPin from my email address first
    Donald Gray, Jun 8, 2004
  15. Albretch

    Albretch Guest

    Well, this is exactly the problem, things can not be put like this.
    EVERYBODY plagiarize, including you, people use 'language, laws,
    etc.' to dress it, but as part of communication you do use it, and so
    take owbership of it to a certain extent, this is just -part of

    I wanted if not exactly to edit the text, have it a searchable form
    I think you should, unless you are a lawyer and have a different
    understanding of reality
    Albretch, Jun 8, 2004
  16. Albretch

    stan Guest

    True, but dealing with digital camera output just to photocopy of few
    pages of a book or magazine seems like a big headache to me when the
    library's photocopier can do it much faster and probably at much less
    expense than any other way, when time is factored into the equation.
    stan, Jun 8, 2004
  17. Albretch

    stewy Guest

    My Sony S70 has a 'text' mode which saves as a high contrast positive. The
    files are quite small but it takes around 10 seconds for the camera to save.
    I sometimes use this for text or monochrome graphics. I have an old 35mm
    enlarger stand and a piece of bar with standard tripod screw sized holes -
    the nut came from an old 35mm camera case.
    stewy, Jun 9, 2004
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