It’s not every photographer who gets to use a camera set-up as large as the one we now have in our offices. Many of our projects involve digitization work, and we’ve recently installed an ICAM ‘GUARDIAN’ camera to help us whiz through digitization projects and protect our collections.
Our collections are often difficult to photograph or scan by traditional means. Many are fragile and difficult to manipulate without damage; books don’t often lay flat, film must be handled carefully and objects need to be photographed from odd angles.
We’re in the middle of various projects that involve digitizing some of the many millions of photographs – as well as other forms of audiovisual material and collection objects – that are held in the MERL Library and Special Collections. Desktop scanners and handheld cameras can do the job, but they often take time and manipulation. Having an open scanner that allows us to rotate, move and support our material quickly and carefully is important.
The GUARDIAN is a large freestanding piece of photographic equipment consisting of a digital camera mounted on a column with a base unit that can accommodate many different formats and sizes of documents, as well as bound volumes through the use of the book cradle which is situated under a piece of glass. Instead of scanning the negatives, a process that can take up to 15 minutes for 2 quarter plate (4.75” x 6.5”) glass negatives, using the GUARDIAN and a lightbox we can now digitize a box of 50 negatives in about an hour.
Keep an eye out for the fruits of our labours!