Digital Imaging Studio

Digital Collections and Initiatives

Digital Imaging Studio

The following is a description of studio equipment as well as some possible recommendations for alternatives. This equipment is not an endorsement or requirement; feel free to contact the studio if you consider purchasing or renting equipment.

Digital Photography:

  • The studio uses Phase One IQ280 digital camera backs mounted to a compatible camera/lens system. This is an 80-megapixel system capable of reaching suitable technical specification standards for various materials. This camera is mounted to a copystand for photographing bound and unbound material laying flat. The material this system can’t efficiently reach resolution for in a single capture is large format film. This type of material may require multiple captures stitched together to meet recommended resolution, a consideration for large-volume projects.

  • Alternative to the medium format digital backs, the studio also uses high-resolution 35mm DSLRs for some projects. These cameras are significantly less expensive than the Phase One system. Nikon makes a 47-megapixel camera that can be coupled with a Zeiss lens for high quality imaging of materials that are approximately 26- x 17-inches. Note that there are limitations to the size of the material to be photographed, based on the 3:2 aspect ratio of the image sensor. The closer to 1:1 that the aspect ratio of an object is, the less suitable this camera becomes. This type of camera may be best for material slated for OCR or certain special collections material.


The studio uses both continuous and strobe (flash) lighting. Ideally, continuous lighting should be LED (avoid high UV-emitting light sources), have a color temperature ~5000 Kelvin and a Color Rendering Index higher than 90 (on a scale of 0-100) and preferably above 95. LED are low energy, thus low heat-producing. The recommended color temperature approximates daylight, while the CRI indicates how accurately known color values are represented with the given light source.

Strobe lighting comes in various forms, from embedded camera flash to battery-pack powered studio strobes. The key numbers when considering this lighting are the color temperature and the CRI and should meet the same standards.

Either lighting is acceptable, thus cost may be a factor when considering. Continuous lighting can be expensive, both to purchase and maintain, but will undoubtedly be more comfortable for the photographer.

Flash lighting is less expensive, does not produce a significant amount of heat, providing enough light to photograph at low ISO and higher shutter speeds than with continuous lighting. A drawback is that the continuous and intense light bursts may be unpleasant to work with for long periods of time.


Flatbed scanners:

  • The studio uses a dedicated reflective scanner capable of sufficient resolution for various types of originals, but is limited in functionality by the size of original material and imaging speed. Most of these types of scanners are ideal for flat, legal-sized or smaller items. These types of scanners are versatile but slow, and not efficient for large scale projects.

  • Larger scale projects may require automatic document feed capability, but this isn’t suitable for varying-sized or delicate originals, even if not rare. With ADF, be mindful of originals getting damaged.

Orbital scanners:

  • The studio has previously used a Zeutschel OS 14000 and similar models are in use at Mudd Manuscript Library and in Special Collections. This scanner, and others of this type, have the scan head above the material. They’re ideal for flat, larger-sized (up to 30” x30”) originals and delicate materials. The caveat is that these scanners are slow and expensive. Other types of orbital scanners are made by Metis and I2S.

Transparency scanners:

  • These are capable of very high resolution and are targeted to a specific type of material. The studio uses an Epson V850 scanner that will also work as a flatbed scanner for reflective material. However, it’s main purpose and highest functionality is for scanning modern film. It is also capable of scanning “odd” film types, such as glass plate negatives and obsolete film formats, up to 8- x 10-inches.