project scancam

Before Christmas I got chatting to some guy who was a photographer who makes very large pinhole cameras, some of them digital. I was fascinated and started to do some research and found many people who make images using a combination of older photographic equipment and modern scanning techniques. Thus project scancam was born in my head as I too want to make large format images using odd equipment! My plan is to combine either an old bellows rail mounted camera or a pinhole camera with some kind of scanner, probably an old flatbed scanner, to produce my scanning camera. Although I do have a scanner it isn’t actually mine (it’s on loan) so I dont think it fair that I use that one..I will have to source an old scanner from somewhere else. It would be good if it was powered through the USB as the I can run it from a laptop which should make the camera portable-ish. And the camera, well my budget for that is low too. I am willing to give it a go and learn as I go along. Photos to follow later…


5 thoughts on “project scancam

  1. For 8×10 focal plane scanning you’ll need a scanner with a “CIS” (contact image sensor) such as the canon LIDE series. These are cheap and light and are powered from the USB port. You can only take monochrome images as these scanners make color by flashing colored LEDs at the original — not a practical option for photography. You will have trouble with sensor calibration if you unplug the LEDs , and trouble with unwanted light if you don’t. However, If you get one of the older USB 1.1 models (N650, LIDE50, …) that are based on the National Semiconductor LM9832 chip, you should be able to control things better by adapting my scanning panoramic camera software, which I share freely.

    Good luck, Tom

  2. Tom, saw your site, it’s an inspiration. I do have a scanner, an LIDE but am reluctant to break it until I get another one to use for day to day scanning! Its on my todo list for this year…

  3. Peter and Tom, i have seen lot of people have already done this project. I think it was Michael Golembewiski who did it firs time with canon lide30 scanner and a large format camera attached.
    I have a Mustek scanner which i bought with broken glass. It has same technology as LIDE. Its censor is labelled with canon that means its the same technology as lide with LEDs blinking during scan time and a full frame censor.

    Tom i agree with you i am really upset that i could not be able to calibrate scanner with my lens. When i put-off my scanner upper body i get row of blue, row of red, row of green and they keep on repeating. I have pasted black tape on my LED but nothing seems to be working. Please! Tom guide me how do i do it. The scanner has LED on its right side and it fits into a plastic body that has one lens rod that is just over the censor and a plastic rod that is for LED light distribution. Should i replace the lens rod and tape the censor and than try to focus censor with my lens or take out the censor and try to focus directly over it( currently i am trying to do it in this style). Main problem will be calibration…

    Please! help me….

  4. Emad,
    I hope you don’t still need help; but do let me know how your project is going (email

    I would have recommended leaving the lens and light pipe rods in place, and the white calibration strip as well, and adding switches to turn off the LEDs when the carriage is in the image area. Then scan s/w can do its calibration in the usual way.

    As for the 3 color images, you know it is really a monochrome image with triple resolution in the “scan” axis and the scan lines alternately colored red, green, blue. The sensor records only intensity, the color is supposed to come from the LEDs. The easiest way to get the desired image is probably to tell the scanner software that you want to do a greyscale scan, then it will record only 1 line per horizontal pixel and mark the file as greyscale. Probably just the green LED is used then. If you want color you have to use filters and scan 3 times.

    If your scanner has an LM9832 or LM9833 controller chip (as many of the Canon LiDEs do) I may be able to help you make software to calibrate the sensor “through the lens” using black and white targets. That could also take care of exposure control.

  5. Shouldn’t it work better with a common trilinear CCD scanner?
    I haven’t tried it, but I’m very interested in this. Has anyone any web references to suggest?

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