Last month Sam Dyer, one of our digitisers working on the Wellcome Trust project ‘Digitisation of Mental Health Records‘, visited The Photography Show in Birmingham. Here, he talks about his experience and the impact this may have on the Digitisation Centre.
In March 2015, professional and amateur photographers from all over the UK gathered in Hall 5 of Birmingham’s NEC for The Photography Show, a four day event showcasing the latest photographic and print products from over 200 exhibitors. Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fujifilm, Hasselblad, and Leica attended, as well as some smaller niche manufacturers that were of particular interest to the Photographic Unit and our Digitisation projects.
Up first was Nikon, who have recently announced their D810 DSLR, a camera with a few noteworthy distinguishing features
that are of interest to digitisers. The cameras internal anti-aliasing filter has now been completely removed, allowing a very real jump in the sharpness and level of detail present in images, ideal when photographing Special Collections’ Incunabula, or the University of Glasgow Blackhouse Charters. The digital sensor has now increased in resolution to 36 million pixels, further improving image quality, and adding a degree of future-proofing.
Kaiser, a manufacturer of studio photographic equipment, is one of the smaller more specialised companies. Kaiser copy-stands have long been staple kit here at the Photographic Unit, and some of their other products caught our eye at the Photography Show. The Book Holder is specifically designed to solve an issue that is encountered frequently; photographing aging volumes under glass while keeping the spine supported. The hinged glass allows the digitiser easy and safe access to turn each page, while the foam supports reduce strain on the volume. We hope to be incorporating the Book Holder into the workflow of the Photographic Unit very soon.
For very high quality high resolution images, the camera system of choice at the Photographic Unit is the 50 million pixel Hasselblad 4D 50ms, and while Hasselblad were present at the Show (along with a very convincing Marilyn Monroe look-alike model), so too was Leica. The S System is Leica’s medium format answer to Hasselblad, and it was a great opportunity to have some hands on experience with the camera and the Leica experts. It is looking likely however that Hasselblad, with their unique Multi-shot image capture technology (allowing the creation of 150 megabyte files in the studio) will remain with the Photographic Unit for the foreseeable future.
Overall The Photographic Show 2015 was a fantastic experience and a unique opportunity to get a first-hand look at the equipment that will shape the way we deliver a first class service to the University, and our growing number of external partners, including The Wellcome Trust. We look forward to returning next year to see how the industry continues to evolve.
Many thanks to Sam for reporting back on what sounds like an exciting and innovative event. We look forward to keeping you up to date with the future developments in the Digitisation Centre. Watch this space!
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