Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How is ScanStand made? Is it durable?
A: ScanStand is made of handsome, sanded clear pine or cedar with high quality stainless or plated steel hardware. Wooden channels that might otherwise wear or become loose are fit with steel threading cylinders. ScanStand includes an approximately 12" x 16 " panel of non-glare acrylic plexiglass which flattens the page for consistent focal distance at the same time it resists hot spots from extraneous overly-bright light sources (a lamp, the sun).
Q: How long does it take to scan a book using ScanStand?
A: We scanned a 200-page book in about 15 minutes.
Q: Is any special software required?
A: Just OCR. OCR software is ubiquitous and can be gotten free open source or commercially. We use Omnipage Pro 14 because we can define the areas of the image to be processed (omitting headers and page numbers and pictures of our thumbs in the image <g>). Then, if your follow one of our list of Tips (included), and have used masking or painter's tape to secure the book covers in place on the ScanStand platen, you'll find even if you turn the pages quickly your desired text will stay inside the processing areas you've defined. We like OmniPage because it can take a folder full of 100 or more images and crop each of them according to the template you've given it, and process them automatically in succession, giving you a single .doc or .txt file containing all of your exposures.
Q: What if I don't have OCR software? Do I have to buy it?
A: Great OCR software is available FREE! Google's, called TESSERACT (one of the best) can be downloaded here (for Windows). If you are a Mac user you can still install TESSERACT but it involves using MacPorts or entering sudo commands in a terminal window, and unless your expertise is up to it, you should take the $65.00 option of ABBYY's Finereader Express for Mac.
Q: What if any other equipment is needed, or do you recommend?
A: We believe a good camera cable release is essential. It completely avoids camera shake from your hand and finger tripping the shutter. No special lights or flash illumination is needed; most modern digital cameras are fast enough to work well in daylight without flash (and for that matter many have flash built in). If you do decide to use flash, you only need one, but you might want to avoid the built-in flashes if you are using the included non-glare acrylic page cover. Otherwise the flash will rebound directly into the lens and your picture will have a bright spot that prevents recognition underneath it. With a separate flash, just angle it in from the left or right and the bright spot will reflect off to one side, outside your photo. Note, if you still wish to use your camera's built-in flash, getting it to work is as simple as taking a small mirror about the size of the flash lens and angling it at 45 degrees directly below, which has the effect of perfectly redirecting your flash towards a nearby diffuser surface such as a wall.
Q: What focal length lens do I need to cover the platen?
A: Our primary lens has a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 50mm. This is about right to cover almost the full platen. The length of the holdout arm can be adjusted. A 35mm focal length would cover beyond the dimensions of the platen (for very large books). The camera is distanced approximately 2' from the platen. You should try to get sharp images with good contrast (this is what the ScanStand is designed for).
Q: How good will my results be?
A: There is no reason your results will not be as good as ours, shown on this website, once you learn the factors that influence recognition accuracy. This learning will come quickly, by the time you have processed four or five sample chapters of your favorite book. Of course all OCRd books should be proofread since no OCR job is ever perfect. But some are good enough you won't notice any errors there are-- did you catch any error or error(s) on the output file we posted?
Q: Can I get technical support?
A: Absolutely! We respond to your emails within 24 hours, often the same day. We love scanning and preserving books, and want you to get the same enjoyment. Chances are if you're having a problem we've had it too (I think we've had ALL of them, in fact), and we can give you the solution right away. If you need, we will be happy to give you help by telephone or Skype!
Q: What about pre-sales questions?
A: Unlike most, we deliberately make that easy. Our phone number will be included in our first email response to your question.