Friday, April 18, 2008

New Changes in the Imaging Lab

It's been awhile since our last blog entry, so we thought we would update everyone on our daily scanning operations...

Exciting stuff has been going on in the imaging deparment! We recently hired three new imaging technicians bringing our total to six, which is the most we've ever had. (Previously, the most we ever have had was five...)

In other news, we have put our Better Light scanning station back into full-time production. This was a major station used in the scanning of large rare books for the Illustrated Garden website. It is a large copy stand setup comprised of a Cambo large format camera and a Better Light scanning back and is surrounded by four hot lights. Once we shifted our focus to Botanicus, this station had unfortunately fallen more and more out of use in favor of the rapid scanning we were achieving with the Indus book scanners. The Better Light produces far better quality scans than the Indus scanners, however, its major drawback its speed. (Since it is a scanning back the imaging sensor moves across the back of the camera much like how a flatbed scanner operates, which in turn creates long scan times as opposed to the instant capture of a CCD in a digital camera.) The good news is that we upgraded to a newer model of Better Light scanning back which is much faster both in scanning speed and data transfer speed, so using the Better Light scanning station as a full-time production station for Botanicus station is much more feasible than before! This station will be useful in adding what we consider "oversized" material (books that are too large to be scanned on the Indus book scanners), so expect to see an increase in the number of folios that are added to Botanicus in the future...

We have also been taking steps lately to further improve our image quality. Every scanning station has undergone calibration methods so that our image captures can be as close to the original as possible. The major drawback to calibrated systems is that the monitors of the end users of Botanicus are not calibrated, so the difference to the average user may not even be noticeable. However, for archiving purposes, it is reaffirming to know that our stored images are more accurate to the source material than ever before in the past.

Mike Blomberg
Imaging Lab Coordinator
Missouri Botanical Garden