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Can I turn my digital SLR into a large format grid scanner? Answered

I am an artist and want to make prints of my large paintings. I have been using a flat bed scanner to scan artwork in multiple chunks and "stich" them together in photoshop thus far with success. However, using over 2 separate chunks, it is hard to get lines and shapes to line up. Also, the larger the image, the more akward it is to try to get the work on the scanner.

So i was thinking of some way to use a digital camera to create the same affect. Ideally, the camera would be mounted to a rig floating over the painting and scan it into chunks. I can manually do the "stitching" but it would be sweet if some software would do it for me ;)

Anyone know of anything like this? I have a very low tech version in mind, but would love a sort of automated plotter setup.


Search instructables for a dual page reader that uses cameras instead of scanners. It's not exactly what you want to do, but a damn good source of ideas.

The technical term for it is 'panorama', and Hugin ( hugin.sourceforge.net) contains pretty much every tool you could need.

You can quite easily, I did an art project based around misaligned photos of things like a reverse of what you're after.

However if you're using standard paper sizes on the project you might be able to get the scanner method to work as long as you line up the corners each time, that'll work well up to four chunks, if it takes a bit more lining the square edges of and taking multiple scans of the piece can work, take three instead of two scans.

For the camera method you could get by with a tripod a flat straight wall and take the photos like panoramas, if the pieces get a little distorted getting a piece of string and pinning it across the room parallel to the wall the arts against then use two of the tripod feet as a reference, that way each photo will be the exact same distance from the art, minimizing distortion.

Hope that helps and made enough sense...

There are free software packages that stitch images better than you can do by eye, because they can automatically compensate for some lens distortions too.

I don't think you need a fancy rig, just take a methodical sequence of pictures. You might be interested in www.gigapansystems.com/


Free automated (windows only) with fantastic results:

Microsoft Image Composition Editor.

Import pictures, click 'go'.  Simple as that.  It does all the figuring out.  I've made 1+GB png pictures from over 80 snapshots and it made a flawless output - just make sure your lighting is even.

Why scan?

If your budget is large enough*, the Hasselblad H4D-60 has a 60 mega-pixel chip, which should be enough detail to take most paintings in a single shot (from a tripod).