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Digitizing Old Magazines? 222

"I have a lot of old video game magazines, they're nice for playing 'classic games' because a lot of classics are impossible without the manual, and hard without a magazine (the magazine obviously negates the need for a manual usually). But they'd get damaged with a flatbed scanner, and digital cameras are hard to set up right for capturing old magazines. I know that old documents are digitally archived with very high-res cameras..." So, the question is, what is the best way to capture all the information in old magazines in digital format? Does anyone have a home-built rig taking after the angled-pair-of-scanners setup that Project Gutenburg uses?
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  • by warrior_s ( 881715 ) * <> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:04PM (#24070411) Homepage Journal
    I have the same question but for my old photographs. We have a lot of old (non digital) pictures when I was a kid (when there were no digital cameras). And it would really help if someone have some good suggestions on converting those to digital formats.
    I am scanning few of them from time to time, but there are way too much to manually scan each one of them. TIA
    • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:17PM (#24070497)

      I suggest paying someone $5-$10 US an hour to scan the photos on a 300DPI flatbed scanner. Try an ad on CraigsList for your area. There are a lot of unemployed people with tech skills and no unemployment checks coming in that would appreciate a job like this for a day or two. How many photos would need to be scanned? Several dozen? Several hundred? Several thousand?

          Usually adjusting the brightness, contrast, and gamma setting on black/white scan makes the image look good. I recently scanned all the images of my high school yearbook, put it on the web, and received thank yous from former classmates that I hadn't heard from in forty years.

      • by faragon ( 789704 )

        $5-$10 US an hour? That seems pretty low, also for non US salary standards. In Spain, where I live, entering in recession [], many unemployed people make 10 euro/hour for unqualified cleaning/brushing, while qualified black market (without paying taxes) is between 15 and 30 euro/hour.

        • by The Second Horseman ( 121958 ) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:59AM (#24074249)

          Minimum wage in the US (Federal) won't be $7.25 until next year. At it's inception in the early 70's, it wasn't indexed to inflation. If it had been, it'd be over $12 an hour. Some states set theirs higher than the federal and one or two are already a bit over $8. And on a "real" job, there are taxes - social security, medicare, workers comp, etc. come out of it. If you're paying someone $10 an hour, cash, they're essentially getting the equivalent of $15 or more on an over the table job. No benefits, which sucks, but if it's a part-time thing (like babysitting) someone's using to make ends meet or make a little extra money, it's not a bad deal.

          Sure, paying someone under the table isn't legal, but for small stuff it happens all the time.

    • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:39PM (#24070679) Homepage

      There are scanners which got feeder unit or there are some pro companies who can do such a thing with a price.

      Software is important for such a project. For such a job, I recommend Hamrick's Vuescan, it has executables for Windows, OS X and Linux. Thing is, it will make things automatically. []

      As I am perfectly happy with my el-cheapo Canoscan Lide 25 (upgraded from Lide 20 which had some accident), I went to Canon USA site to recommend such a scanner but it seems they have some mad invention there which they really failed to advertise. []

      It installs to a Canon printer (which looks cheap) like a inkjet ink and printer becomes auto feed scanner. As I assume you got a scanner already, that solution could be a better thing. I am not sure about the quality though. I also don't know if Hamrick Vuescan or even Sane would ever support such a thing too. It is really worth looking into, perhaps see some demo or review from a trustable source.

      Other solution is Xerox or HP multiple document scanners (with feeder). I would go with Xerox, I keep reading about HP driver horror stories.

      • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @09:47PM (#24071547) Journal
        Well, yes, there are scanners with page feeders. But he's worried about damaging his originals, so he can't follow the Project Gutenberg practice of cutting off the spines and scanning the pages. If he can't use a flatbed scanner, he might have to rig up a photo stand with the magazine under lights and a stand which holds his magazine open with the pages at right angles. Unless even that would cause damage. In that case he'll have to wait for CAT scanners to get good enough to read his magazine when it's closed.
    • by hadesan ( 664029 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @09:06PM (#24071269)
      warrior s,

      My wife is in the same boat as you - she had lots of slides (~3000) from her parents, lots of 35mm negatives (too many to count), and a bunch of photos (again thousands) from all different formats.

      I ended up buying her a Nikon Coolscan V ED for her to scan in the 35mm negatives she has and her parent's slides. She has been very happy with it. I already had an Epson 2450 flatbed scanner...

      She scans the slides, photos, and negatives while working on other projects in her office. The easiest tool I found for the photos is Adobe Photoshop CS (a bit expensive, but worth every penny - you could download a trial version from Adobe.) You put as many photos as can fit on your flatbed scanner (no need to straighten them perfectly), scan the photos, and then click on File --> Automate --> Crop and Straighten Photos - this will break up all the scanned photos into individual files, arrange them so they are straight, after which you can then edit and save each one.

      Someone else wrote some instructions at []

      There are probably some scanners where you can feed photos in - but some of the photos we have are irreplaceable (no negatives or copies.) We would not want to see them lost due to a scanner feed malfunction.

      Also, do yourself a favor, and make backups of the work that you do. You would hate to lose all that effort due to a hard drive failure.

      Best of luck!

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        There were some old photos laying around that I thought would be cool to scan
        on the recently acquired flatbed scanner. However, I found they were in thoseold style glue and cellophane pages. Attempting to remove the photos from the
        album would have likely destroyed them.

        So... I just scanned the whole album as is.

        It yielded some nice "better-image-quality-than-original-photos" jpegs
        as well as a kinkos ready PDF of the whole thing.

        It really wasn't that big of a deal to do. Just had a stack of pages
        that I would

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          It yielded some nice "better-image-quality-than-original-photos" jpegs

          Well, not really. But this probably isn't the place to start a digital/analog imaging flameware.

          Simply put, you can't get a better image out of digitizing than you started out with. And silver-halide based photographic images have incredible high resolution.

      • The easiest tool I found for the photos is Adobe Photoshop CS (a bit expensive, but worth every penny - you could download a trial version from Adobe.)

        Checkout Vuescan [] - a very flexible tool for scanning; it supports Mac and Windows as well as wide range of scanners. Outstanding technical support as well.

        I second the Nikon Scanner - I have a 5000 that I really like.

      • Try Artizen HDR []

        It has great tools like PS, but also does 32bit HDR editing giving even better results, especially if you have a 16bit/r/g/b scanner.


      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by toddestan ( 632714 )

        You put as many photos as can fit on your flatbed scanner (no need to straighten them perfectly), scan the photos, and then click on File --> Automate --> Crop and Straighten Photos - this will break up all the scanned photos into individual files, arrange them so they are straight, after which you can then edit and save each one./i.

        After scanning in nearly 7000 photos using Photoshop CS... how come no one ever tells me about these kind of things?


    • by Milkyman ( 246513 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @09:13PM (#24071313)

      you might try these guys, []
      basically you mail them all your negatives (i think they take prints too) and they scan em in india, put em online and you can choose which scans to keep, then you get your originals back in the mail with a disc containing your scans.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative) []
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by JasonB ( 15304 )

      I have used and been very happy with the bulk scanning service offered by Digital Pickle in San Francisco. There are other services like them, so take a look around.

      You can see some of their work here:


    • by HughsOnFirst ( 174255 ) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @12:37AM (#24072527)

      I recently rephotographed over six and a half thousand Polaroid photographs, google jamie livingston photo of the day if you are interested in the details, and scanning that many photographs on a flatbed scanner is crazy. Using a DSLR on a copystand I spent about 3 or 4 seconds per photo. Using a flatbed I could never get down to much less than a minute per photo, and a machine fed scanner was out of the question for 30 year old Polaroids. This was in 2004 , maybe scanners are faster now , but I doubt it.

      Post processing is about the same for both , photoshop scripts to crop , straighten , remove dust and scratches , and open up the shadows could run in batch mode. I also wrote a batch that assembled them into 61 files to be printed out and assembled into a 8 foot by 120 foot display.

      I also put the assembled version up on Search for it on for it on gigapan, it's interesting how different it looks assembled.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      A friend of mine is in the same boat. He has thousands of slides from a career in the military. He discovered two methods for scanning them in bulk. One is a negative feeder for his scanner. It digitizes directly from the negative so you can scan in all the images on the negative at once. The other method he used was a specially designed framework for the slides themselves that allowed him to scan several slides at once. Both methods are still time intensive, but they're quicker than the one-at-a-time
    • by Bigman ( 12384 )

      I photographed a load of pictures for a friend with my digital camera. What you need is a digital camera with a connection for an external flash (i.e. don't use the one built in). Use a tripod with a boom arm to hold the camera over a table pointing straight down onto it. Have the seperate flash positioned to one side and angled at 45 degrees so that the centre of the flash area is in the centre of the cameras view area. The angling at 45 degrees is to stop light reflecting off the subject going directly in

    • I am scanning few of them from time to time, but there are way too much to manually scan each one of them. TIA

      Define "way to much".
      My problem is two-fold - a few thousand photographs of my family's, plus approximately 40,000 slides of my father's. I also have a couple of thousand pre-digital slides of my own.
      OK, Dad has got a competent database of the slide collection, so that's most of the hard work taken care of. But despite having had a slide scanner for several years now, he's never scanned in more tha

  • by btempleton ( 149110 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:05PM (#24070419) Homepage

    Ok, you're going to hate me for saying this, because you feel they are collectors items, but really, they are just manufactured items made of bits.

    So cut off the spines with an industrial paper cutter and put them through a sheetfed document scanner. Get over your attachment to paper.

    If it's a special magazine that was signed by somebody or is rare, I could see keeping it. But otherwise it's a printout. The real value is in the information.

    Now alas, these are probably copyrighted and can't be shared. If this were not the case this becomes a no brainer, because the "valuable" "original" would stay locked on your shelf, and the digital copy would provide value to many. It would be a strange devotion to the magazine to want to deprive so many of access to it in the name of preserving its "essence."

    Scanners like the Internet Archive has are great, but they are expensive, and expensive to operate. As a result, fewer documents get scanned, and that's the tragedy, not the loss of the spine of a magazine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) *

      Now alas, these are probably copyrighted and can't be shared.

      Depends. Who owns the copyright? It's possible the copyright was assigned to the publisher and that the publisher has since folded, or that if you contact the publisher and explain your position that you could get a release to archive it online, at least for the parts that the publisher holds the rights on (screenshots, boxcovers, etc. - that's different but will anyone care? Given the use, they're probably fair use as part of the magazine too). The other thing to consider is that it may not be possible for

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ksd1337 ( 1029386 )
      Right now it may not be valuable enough to preserve. But give it 10 or 20 years, and you'll be glad you kept them intact. (read: eBay).
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I doubt it. Look through the listings and you will quickly see that the only magazines bringing significant money are historically significant (1st edition Mickey Mouse), or signed copies. Run of the mill mags from 50 years ago will fetch approx. $10 each if it is a highly regarded title and you have a whole year set.

        Keep the mags for sentimental or personal value but not as an investment.

        Have you checked to see if they are already available in a digital format? I found two of my old favorites like this. On

        • If you'll browse the listings, you'll also notice tons of auctions for things like "Vintage ad for the Amiga 500", and "Vintage ad for Super Mario Brothers" and whatnot, usually fetching a few bucks apiece. It's pretty obvious that these sellers are taking old magazines like this, cutting out the more interesting ads to sell individually for more than they would get for the whole magazine, and likely trashing the rest. In a few years, who knows how many original, well preserved copies will be left?

      • by Tetravus ( 79831 )

        Don't forget to calculate the total cost of storage over a period of 10 - 20 years into your total return.

        Oh, and of course there is the chance that there won't be _any_ copies of the games these magazines talk about around in another 10 to 20 years, in which case the magazines would be useless and (I assume) without any monetary value.

        I say - cut their spines and let the juicy fluids of their information seep out into the 'net!

      • If old computer magazines are your idea of an investment, you better learn to love the taste of cat food.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      I have to agree, scan them in any way possible. Then seed to Underground Gamer, probably the best way to get it to people who will appreciate it.

    • by Pitr ( 33016 )

      That's the same thing I was thinking. Having said that, I don't think I could bring myself to do that to my comic collection. There is a certain amount of sentimental attachment that goes along with collecting, not to mention it's nice to have a hard copy, especially when your hard disk explodes, taking all the data with it. (Or your raid array gets struck by lightening, and your off site backup gets eaten by dingos... whatever. What? It could happen!)

    • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:32PM (#24070619)

      I must respectfully disagree with the above reply. The magazine is not simply a print-out. It's an intact cultural artifact as a magazine. If not now, then in fifty or 100 years from now.

          Are you primarily interested in the text of the magazine articles themselves? Or the images (such as 'Mens magazines' like Club International that are primarily images)? Or are you interested in preserving the balance in the layout between the text, the images, and the adverts?

          For text primarily, use a stand for the magazine, and a 10 megapixel digital camera with a small tripod. Optical Character Recognition is the way to go in this situation. But it is hard to get the exact right program for your configuration.

          Are these magazines in English or a western European language? OCR is much easier and faster with 100 or so ASCII characters than it is with Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. OCR for these languages exists but the programs are expensive if you actually buy them. Personally, I believe that because the Chinese have stolen billions of dollars worth of software from the Americans since the earliest days of computers, the Americans have no moral, ethical, or legal obligation to pay for any software developed and sold by a Chinese company. But, opinions differ on this issue.

          Keep the magazines intact. You'll regret cutting them up in the future when a more elegant solution to digitizing them appears that doesn't entail destroying the original materials.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jonbryce ( 703250 )

        Personally I feel that as the Americans "stole" millions of pounds worth of literature from the Europeans since the earliest days of books, Europeans have no moral, ethical or legal obligation to pay for anything developed and sold by an American company. But, opinions differ on this issue.

      • Your Sinclair Rock And Roll Years proves that it's good when SOMEONE keeps copies of magazines (fortunately the Spectrum scene is pretty much completely scanned in, by hand I presume) link []
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Hello :)

          My name is Nick Humphries, and I'm the owner of the Your Sinclair Rock'n'Roll Years. Although I'm posting as an AC, you can verify it's me by sending me an email via the website.

          I agree with everyone saying "keep the magazines" - there's something about having the physical mags as a tangible connection to your childhood/the 80s/delete-as-applicable. The smell, the feel...


          All I used was an ancient UMAX 610P flatbed scanner. No spines to worry about as all issues of YS are stapled together.


      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )


        Digitize them. Destroy them if necessary. But capture enough information
        so that you could recreate the original if necessary.It's really not that
        hard and you aren't going to destroy much if any "context" by doing so.

        A $60 printer/scanner is all you really need to capture enough information
        to make a "reprint" with.

        Make copies.

      • by SoVeryTired ( 967875 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:18PM (#24071785)
        Personally, I believe that because the Chinese have stolen billions of dollars worth of software from the Americans since the earliest days of computers, the Americans have no moral, ethical, or legal obligation to pay for any software developed and sold by a Chinese company.

        Wow, just wow. I have to say that I'm saddened and a bit dissappointed to find that anyone, anywhere thinks like that anymore. If you actually gave a little more thought to that line of reasoning, you would presumably have to concede that, for example, native americans shouldn't be obliged to pay for anything, given that their land was stolen from them several hundred years ago.

        It is foolish, in the extreme, to punish anyone for the mistakes their predecessors made.

    • by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <orionblastar&gmail,com> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:35PM (#24070649) Homepage Journal

      magazine and comic book companies are creating digital versions of the old magazines and comic books.

      This might prove to be a business opportunity for a savvy geek that finds out what underwriting company owns the rights to defunct magazines like the Compute! series, and then buy the rights to them to reproduce them digitally. Usually some accountants and/or lawyers play the role of a corporate undertaker and buy out IP of failed companies. Then just scan the old magazines into PDF format, and sell them online for like $3 a copy to download the PDF version.

      Some companies did that for the old 8 bit computers and game consoles, and made things like the Atari Flashback console or the Commodore 64 joystick by buying the IP rights to the games and the computer/console BIOS so an emulator can run inside of a tiny computer that fits inside of a game system or game controller hooked up to a modern TV set. Some companies also sell the ROMs online by buying out the IP for Atari arcade ROMs and other things.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I reflected on this issue recently, wanting to digitize some old books. I was not in the position of having to use my own stock, as worn copies of the books were readily available, but the issue were similar. Here are my thoughts.

      First, make sure the magazines are not already available. About half of the books I wanted to digitize were already available in digital form. It might cost money. That might be ok. You are either going to have to destroy the magazines or spend huge amounts of time taking p

    • I would agree to this--just cut up the magazines, scan them, and toss them out.

      They can be much more accessible in electronic form--even to you--and aren't likely to ever be worth any significant amount of money. Plus you can pirate bay them, and they can be useful to lots of other people as well.

      As one who has digitized a few thousand old family photographs, I would say forget the camera now. It seems like an easy way out, after all a camera can take a picture a lot faster than a scanner can scan a p
    • by flajann ( 658201 )
      There may be some decent hand-held scanner "wands" that may allow you to scan without destruction. I've seen some of these, but couldn't say if they would do the trick. Worth a look, anyway.
    • I don't think that will work.
      If he is talking about the magazines I think he is, then we are talking very cheap, very very thin paper that would crincle the second it got touched. Every page would get jammed in a feeder. Some of that stuff was so smooth, the feeder may not even grab it.

      Ahh the memories.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:12PM (#24070467)

    I Use a Plustek OpticBook 3600 Plus scanner.
    It allows scanning a book without forcing it flat.

    The scanner itself is great, but be warned, the software is infuriatingly buggy, even in the latest release. Luckily there are work-arounds.

    regards ........ Zim

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is definitely the way to do it. I've scanned roughly 20,000 pages worth of textbooks in the last one and a half years. I don't know about the software being buggy, I mean it is, but not to the point of being a hindrance. I use the core ActionExpress software to watch the buttons on the scanner and save the images to a directory. I batch tweak all those images with XnView, then combine them into a pdf with Acrobat. Once in Acrobat, I do OCR then reduce file size.
    • See my earlier post about Vuescan [] - I really like it and it's stable, supports a lot of scanners and has great technical support. The support alone is worth the $40 I paid - especially since Nikon has orphaned their film scanners such as my 5000.

    • by sowth ( 748135 )

      Do you really need special software for the scanner, or are you talking about the drivers being buggy?

  • A mirror? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jadedoto ( 1242580 )
    The best thing I can come up with off the top of my head is get a light controlled room, and place a thin mirror (clean mirror, very clean mirror) in the pages... and photograph the image on the mirror when you get it at the right angle... Maybe.
    • by Skinkie ( 815924 )
      Then why not use a good handscanner? When I played with them 10 years ago the only issue was the data transfer rate over the LPT port, not the 'poor image quality'.
  • by j_presper_eckert ( 617907 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:15PM (#24070487)

    Depending on the kind of binding which holds the spine together, I normally wouldn't hesitate to use a flatbed scanner to digitize them. Stapled mags are easier to work with than ones which are perfect-bound or have saddle-stitched bindings. From my POV, the collectibility of the analog original is irrelevant; all I'm after is the data itself, regardless of the physical container. As long as I accomplish a sufficiently high-res scan, I'm happy. I've occasionally removed staples prior to scanning or even sliced off the spines with an X-Acto knife. Of course I'd be far more gentle if the originals were not my own property. :)

    For magazines which are bound too tightly (or are too large or fragile) to easily fit onto a flatbed scanner, you may have to consider setting up a photgraphic copy stand. You'll need twin lighting sources on each side of the stand, angled downwards at 45 degrees. The stand should have a screw fitting to mate against the base of your camera body. Reflections from glossy magazine pages may have to be eliminated via use of a circular polarizing filter added to your camera lens. I'm not sure how you'd weigh down the edges of the mag, though...slabs of a transparent material such as lucite or plexiglass? I don't envy anyone who needs to go down this route to take digital photos of the mag pages.

  • How are these going to be damaged by a flatbed scanner?!? Most game magazines have only been around for ~20 years, max. And I don't see how the heat would be an issue...
  • Classic Comics too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by managerialslime ( 739286 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:18PM (#24070511) Journal
    I have a collection of hundreds of comic books from the early 1900's. (So all of their copyrights have expired.) I'd scan and share them with the world but find scanning with my 30+ second per page flat bed scanner (in hi res) to be a time consuming.

    No, I will NOT slice the spines.

    The idea of 2-part solution where my digital camera is mounted and a separate stand that holds the comic perfectly is appealing. The solution would have to enable rapid turning of pages and the pages will have to remain as flat as possible.

    A non-glare glass plate that does not reduce picture quality is probably too much of a dream, but I'm open for suggestions.

    Give me some ideas and I may donate the images to Guttenberg or other worthwhile repository.

    • by kesuki ( 321456 )

      actually, the glass(plastic, whatever) plate from a flat bed scanner would be good for holding the page flat, i'm actually considering tearing up my old flat bed scanner and going with a digi cam/tripod, and a stand with the remains of the flatbed scanner to hold the pages flat.

      i'm wasn't going to do OCR work, the pictures are important to the text, IMO.

      i'm not cutting them apart, and yeah scanners take to long.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zakezuke ( 229119 )

      A non-glare glass plate that does not reduce picture quality is probably too much of a dream, but I'm open for suggestions.

      If it was me, I'd undo the staples, scan, reassemble. I presume this is not an option.

      But scanner or photocopier glass, a ring light. It would be the way I'd go about it. 8MP cameras are common. You might want to go SLR, something like a Pentax or Nikon where you can get the a stock manual focus 50mm. For something that is, I presume, 9x7 inches I doubt you need a macro lens. I didn't say Canon as the mount changed from the manual focus days, but that's an option as well, just good bang for the buck w

    • by adona1 ( 1078711 )
      FWIW, there has been an upswing recently in the number of comics (and magazines, if you count MAD as a mag ;) on the torrent sites - while I'm not suggesting you post them on the Pirate Bay, it may be worth browsing through & asking the people who submit them how they do it. They generally appear to be very good quality, so they may have a few ways of doing it which doesn't destroy the comic...
    • Look for a "reversing" tripod for your digital camera. These allow the post the camera mounts on to be removed and installed upside down, so you can aim the camera straight down between the legs of the tripod. This feature was more common on older tripods: mine is a "Velbon VEF-3" from around 1965. Also, for this work the heavier the tripod is, the better. Ask people who like garage sales to look for something like this for you.

      Use a large coffee table (or other low table) for your work area. Use a bubble

  • by RabidMoose ( 746680 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:18PM (#24070515) Homepage
    ...this is probably the result of a "compromise" between you and your wife, because those old mags are taking up too much shelf space?
  • by maiki ( 857449 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:21PM (#24070535)
    I'm not a professional magazine photographer (as in, photographer of magazines), but these tips might help. Whenever I photograph a document or painting, I just use my plain ol' digital camera.
    A few things:
    1. Do not use flash or direct light. Shiny magazine pages will reflect much of the light and create a glare. Use soft, ambient light (bounce it off a white sheet or something)
    2. Stabilize the camera. Use a tripod or a stack of books. Don't hold it in your hands
    3. Use a shutter release remote. If you don't have one, use the camera's timer feature (so you don't shake the camera by pushing the button)
    4. Use macro-mode, and set your aperture as low as it will go. This will help you focus on something close up.
    5. Use a low ISO. You'll might need a longer exposure time, but it will cut down on graininess.
    6. Maybe this is obvious, but use something to hold the magazine in the right spot (keep the pages as flat as possible to avoid "warping" in the picture)
    7. Try to keep the same distance for each shot, so the digital images are roughly the same scale. Also don't worry about seeing the background around the magazine, you can crop it later (better than zooming too close and missing the page number or something)
    • by jgrahn ( 181062 )

      I'm not a professional magazine photographer (as in, photographer of magazines), but these tips might help. Whenever I photograph a document or painting, I just use my plain ol' digital camera. A few things: [---]

      Good advice, but it's worth pointing out that you can be much sloppier than that and get away with acceptable results.

      I typically move two 100w bulb lamps to my desk, stand up with the book on the table, hold the book open with one hand, and take a picture with my camera in the other hand. Flip

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ratbag ( 65209 )

      3.1 If your camera has a mirror lockup mode, use it.

  • So, the question is, what is the best way to capture all the information in old magazines in digital format? Does anyone have a home-built rig taking after the angled-pair-of-scanners setup that Project Gutenburg uses?

    Unless we are talking about glued binding like national geographic uses, odds are we are talking about something stapled. Remove staple and use either a sheet fed or a flat bed scanner. Replace staple.

    If that's not an option, then one can setup a photograph rig where you place the camera on an arm at a right angle and press down each page with a piece of glass. 8MP cameras are common place which AFAIK are going to be slightly better than 300dpi.

  • Copy stand... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dalthaus ( 1130049 )
    You might want to investigate an inexpensive copy stand. Generally the base of the stand has a registration/alignment system you can use and the lights are set at a 45-degree angle to eliminate or minimize reflection. This will work best if the magazines are simple fold-and-staple binding. If they are perfect binding, you will have to break the spine so they will lay as flat as possible. The other thing you will have to do is cover the page you are photographing with a sheet of the cleanest glass you can ge
  • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:37PM (#24070665) Homepage
    There are a lot of scanned in videogame magazines online. Do a search for the name of the magazine followed by torrent and you might find some of them.

    Computer Gaming World put up the first 100 issues in pdf form when they switched to Games For Windows Magazine. I know there is an effort (if they haven't already succeeded) to scan in every issue of Nintendo Power. There is a lot of other stuff out there too.

    Look around for them and it might save you the time of scanning them in yourself.
    • Yes, yes, yes. Same answer for someone looking to digitize almost any popular-culture stuff. I get people asking the best way to digitize their favorite vinyl LP record albums. And the usual answer is, it isn't worth your time. Someone has already done it somewhere, and done a better job, and you can get their result for cheap or free. Just buy the CD, download the file, etc. Search very hard before you decide to do it yourself.

      Similarly, the best way to restore a faded, scratched, folded family photo? A

  • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @08:19PM (#24070941)

    Rent a monestary. It's slow, but it'll add some value to your magazines.

  • So you're looking to digitize "Gaming" magazines... I guess you can call 'em that...
  • Seeing all of the aversion in this thread to using a scanner (and I agree with all the reasons people say its not pratical), reminded me of a situation I was in a couple of years ago. My wife and I were visiting an aging relative of hers who had all kinds of pictures my wife dearly wanted. Said relative had no computer, we didn't have the time to take the pictures elsewhere, and expecting her to make duplicates to pass on to us at a later date was unrealistic.

    So, we used what we had available - our digita

  • I have many boxes of old magazines too - Radio-Electronics being the most valuable to me. But paper is not made to last, and takes up too much room. I cringed at first, but a digital archive is really much better.

    I got one of these stack paper cutters [] (seems to be a good model), cut the spines off the magazines, and use the networked scanner/copier/fax combo we have at work. It doesn't have enough options and file formats, but PDF is good enough for this purpose in practice. It saves the PDFs to a netwo

    • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

      But paper is not made to last

      Oh, cause a DVD backup is maybe? If you properly store your magazines, in 200 years they'll still be usable. That's coming from someone whose favourite childhood books were printed in 1869. What sort of modern digital media could be said the same about?

  • Modern Mechanix [] is a great website that reprints stories from old issues of Popular Mechanics and similar magazines. Thus guy's got a ton of scans and they all look great. You might want to visit the site and ask him how he does it.

  • At work, there was a Mustek A3 scanner. This is THE biggest scanner I've ever seen. two 8.5 x 11 pages fit in there perfectly. In my spare time at work, I scanned in every issue of Videogaming & Computergaming illustrated magazine I had. Why? They were fragile(some pages were falling apart), and it was an AMAZING magazine that put other publications to shame. Made in the early 1980s, it was fun & nostalgic to read over & over again.

    Not wanting to keep this to myself, I scanned in all the issues

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Here is something which can help make your scans better. If you see ANY print through in your scans -- some parts of the image from the reverse side of the page coming through to your scan of the side you're scanning-- try this. Put a black piece of paper behind the page you are scanning, and flat against it. This will minimze the image from the reverse side of the page.

  • the IA/OCA scanners. The Atiz Booksnap units cost around $1000 not including a pair of consumer digicams ($200-ish each depending on your choice of model). I've been wanting to homebrew something like it for a while but it's probably less hassle to just buy the ready made device. Of course their software is windoze-only but I wouldn't use it.
  • Read it yourself at [] I made the cardboard version myself -- works fine after a little fiddling, as long as you don't need to copy hundreds of pages.
  • How I do it... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ankh ( 19084 ) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:18PM (#24071783) Homepage

    I run [], a Web site devoted to scanned pictures and text from old books -- some more than 500 years old.

    I use an Epson Expression 1000XL flatbed scanner (A3+ resolution, approx 12x17.5" with colour calibration), Linux xsane and gimp, for most of the images, but this does involve damaging the binding of thicker books. I scan wood engravings usually at 2400dpi, but modern screened pictures at only 1200dpi or sometimes even lower. The idea that you only need to scan at twice your print resolution assumes (1) you know what printer you'll use 10 years from now, (2) that once you scale down by more than 50% there's no visible difference (false). For colour you will need to do some descreening, which will generally involve something like an 11 to 17 pixel radius gaussian blur followed by a sharpen.

    I also use a Canon 450D (Digital Rebel) camera on a tripod, with a 50mm f/1.8 lens (you can get the lens for around $75 to $100 in US or Canada, less if used) and a remote control; use the mirror lockup function of the camera and the remote to minimise camera shake. I point the camera at the open book.

    In either case if there are significant amounts of text I then use Abby FineReader OCR; the open source OCR programs (and most of the other commercial programs) are a waste of time by comparison, or at least that was true 2 years ago when I was last researching this.

    Go and buy a couple of large USB external disk drives, e.g. 500GBytes or more, and also write DVD backups frequently. Use a consistent naming scheme; I use a separate directory (folder) for each book or magazine, and I include the page number in the filename, together with -raw for the origial scan and -cleaned for the processed version. I use PNG to save the files because it's lossless, an open standard, and widely supported; I'd suggest avoiding GIF (not enough colours), TIFF (portability problems) or JPEG (lossy).

    Obviously if you want to put the magazines on the Web you'll need permission; in my case I am usually digitising out-of-copyright books, although copyright laws have changed since I started, and also my understanding of copyright has changed. E.g I started out believing Wkipedia :-)

    It can be a big project, but a lot of fun!

  • I have a lot of old video game magazines, they're nice for playing 'classic games' because a lot of classics are impossible without the manual, and hard without a magazine (the magazine obviously negates the need for a manual usually).

    It sounds like you're more interested in information that is in the manual, in contrast to magazine text itself. Since that's the case, I recommend looking into GameFAQs at [] . It's possible instructions for many of the classic games you speak of are already contributed for. If not, then I would suggest you provide your info there.

  • So, the question is, what is the best way to capture all the information in old magazines in digital format? Does anyone have a home-built rig taking after the angled-pair-of-scanners setup that Project Gutenburg uses?

    If all you want is an image, use a photo copying stand. It's basically a camera holder with a pair of lights to reduce glare and light things evenly. Once you've focused and set-up the lights (a lot easier with digital than film), you simply keep turning pages and shooting. With a camera co

  • I'm surprised nobody has mentioned that there are specialized scanners for this. Google "book scanners" for a starting point. The cheaper ones have glass right up to the edge so that you can scan to the spine and always keep the spine at a 45-degree angle. The more expensive ones are cameras above the surface, and the software that comes with them compensates for the page curvature.

  • - Slice off the binding (are they *really* that important? you're archiving them digitally, after all)

    - Use a modern imaging/copying machine that has the capability to store images digitally, likely as PDF

    - Stack the thing in the document feeder, and set it image both sides

    - Repeat

  • Some libraries have this: []. If you're in southern California, the UCLA biomedical library has one. Sixteen cents a page, though. The cool thing is that you can stick a USB drive into the thing and save in several image formats, including tiff. And you can preview the scan before saving (and paying for) images.

Trap full -- please empty.