Introducing our new Plan Scanner (just don't tell the camera!)

In this blog post we intend to provide you with an insight into our digitisation practices – and in particular our newly acquired tool, the plan scanner.  How exactly does it match up against photography?

State Records has been delivering a digitisation service for around five years. In that time the copying tools used to meet the requests of our customers have consisted of a high quality SLR camera and a scanner.

Much to the excitement of our archivists, a new plan scanner has recently joined our ranks. This addition promises an improved service to customers who request digitised copies of plans and maps from our archival collection.

One of our archivists recently compared the images of a map produced by the SLR camera with the images produced by the plan scanner.

We have long deemed the camera to be an option for high quality copying. The lighting is set up to produce the correct amount of exposure in the image and the camera auto-focuses on the archival records as required. 

The image to the right is a close-up of a map previously maintained by the Surveyor-General’s Office, titled 'Map of the leased lands with the counties and hundreds of South Australia 1857 - 1859' (GRG35/585/72). This image was created with the SLR camera. While the quality is reasonable, there are some unavoidable imperfections with the image. Due to the size of the map, the camera needs to hang over it at the tripod’s maximum height. This increases the distance between the camera lens and the edges of the map, creating a noticeable amount of blurriness around the focal point. For extremely small handwriting such as that which appears in this map, this technique is not perfect.

However, the plan scanner is different. It is the future of plan scanning for State Records! The same map was fed through the plan scanner, with the following results.

Aside from the richer colours in the image to the left, there is a greater level of detail available. The names of the lease owners, the lease numbers and the land marks are readable without the need to squint. This is owing to the most recent developments to the technology which the plan scanner uses. The issues with focus are no longer present as the scanner evenly captures every detail of the record which travels through it.

Although we cannot use the plan scanner for items which are at risk of being damaged, this new tool is a much welcome addition to our digitisation facilities.

For further information on copying options, including information on our copying services, visit the State Records’ website.

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