scanner-based digital camera

Scanner Photography: A large-format 4x5 115 megapixel digital camera... that takes from 15 seconds to 5 minutes to take a picture, because the camera back is a flatbed scanner:

I really like that time-slice effect. I used to goof around like that with photocopiers, before they got fast enough that it became too hard to track the scanning element with your face.

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20 Responses:

  1. jerronimo says:

    I did some experiment with linear strip photography a while ago with a small java-processing app, and a firewire webcam:

    • grahams says:

      A modification of that process is linear pushbroom photography, where you have a slit/line based camera and you move the camera physically to collect more than a line of image.

      This is useful when creating, say, very high resolution plane-based surveillance cameras. =)

      • greatbiggary says:

        I'm sure I'm not the first to come up with the idea, but I did something very similar to slit photography a few years ago. I got the idea while driving to work one day to hold my little Elph S230 against the driver's side window and video a long stretch of me driving. On the way home that night I gave it a try, and recorded several 3 minute 320x240@15FPS movies heading north on Sepulveda in LA (Getty Center area - lots of hills and twisty roads).

        Not having any good way to manipulate images in code back then, I used Quicktime to export every frame to jpgs, then made a blank 240px tall image in Photoshop, and an Action to batch in every frame, copy the center vertical line, close it, enlarge the blank image, paste, flatten, and repeat - poor man's slit camera.

        I can't find these images right now, but they were awesomely wide. Interesting things were the cars that passed me, which would flip around in the image and appear to be going my way. Cars that matched speed with me for a moment before passing would look like stretch vehicles. The background would be very long and blurry in areas where I made leftward arcs around hills, as the camera was filming an inner concentric ring that was moving relatively slower, and very sharp and compressed in areas where I made slow arcs to the right, which swept more land quickly, and fit much more hill detail into a tighter space.

        Of course I tried the effect on action figures and my face later, with crappy results. I also tried the trick vertically with movies shot out the windshield, but they were so abstract as to be unintelligible.

  2. deificar says:

    The idea sounds awesome, but all the examples have those scanners artifacts that drive me nuts! Those lines that stripe across each of the frames ruin the entire image. Too bad, too, it othwerwise looks really cool.

    • grahams says:

      Assuming those stripes are predictable variations in the CCD sensitivity you could calibrate them away...

      • superbacana says:

        At the risk of repeating myself, yes, you can (see the paper).

        • grahams says:

          I know, that's why I stated it as fact as opposed to postulating it... =)

          I work on pushbroom sensor systems to pay the bills...

        • grahams says:

          The reason why I said "assuming" is because while the paper you cite assumes a quality CCD, you can't assume the same from a desktop scanner, so you might not be able to destripe the image so simply

          • superbacana says:

            The paper uses a $200 flatbed scanner (Canon LIDE 30).

            • grahams says:

              I was just replying to say that I was reading the wrong paper (I read my tabs out of order).

              Regardless, if the striping is caused by predictable fluxuations in the individual array elements, you can calibrate them away, but most $200 scanners aren't that predictable. In fact, many multi-million dollar arrays aren't either

              That said, you can reasonably approximate a decent image using averages, etc.

  3. matrushkaka says:

    I know a lot of photographers that do photography with scanners; right now there's an artist who is having a show up at a gallery in Palo Alto who creates images with scanners - you can read my post about that here.

  4. valacosa says:

    I read about a Waterloo engineering grad who did something similar a while back - he gives a bit more technical detail here.

    Please take a minute and skim his home page. Based on the kind of stuff you post, a couple of his gadgets may interest you.

  5. superbacana says:

    Here's a somewhat more professional job, with 123-megapixels and full color. Zooming in on the images is pretty impressive; they are heart-stoppingly huge and look fantastic even at high resolutions. There's a paper there that explains how to build it.

  6. strspn says:

    Have you tried the autofocus on the iSight? I'm no expert, but it seems pretty smart. I wonder how much logic it has running the focus. It seems to prefer to focus on faces, text, and everything else, in that order. I can't figure out how it can tell a picture of a face from a picture of a cat. It's probably some higher-dimensional DFT-based something that I'll never understand but allows them essentially knobs to decide what to try to focus on by convolutions, or something. Uh. Nice camera, for certain.

  7. A pretty sweet use for this type of photography was using a finishlynx slit camera. Its basically a slit camera pointed at a finish line that captures when people run past it.

    Anywho, what they did was point the camera across some rail road tracks and then captured the image of the train as it went past. The website, which was all in japanese (which is why I can't find it now) had these huge images that scrolled for forever. It was like watching a train go past.

  8. greatbiggary says:

    Reminds me of Matthias Wandel's scanning camera, except he took apart the scanner and built a contraption whereby the scanner's drive assemblies turn a small lens turret. He's made all manner of wacky, hackish inventions like this, from wooden PC drive bay CD changers to C64 drum scanners.

  9. srattus says:

    it's captured some slammin' gams though.

    mission accomplished, says I.