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Scanning rare books, old historical maps, paintings, museum art Print E-mail

My background in art history and archaeology is what led me to research which precision reprographic scanning equipment would be good for professional needs. In the world of art, art history, and archaeology. If you are dealing with a rare and valuable work of art, you don’t want to have it digitized with a second-rate system.

So I spent seven years learning about scanners, especially flatbed scanners and drum scanners. We selected the CreoScitex EverSmart Supreme as the top model. The Screen Cezanne is also good, as was the Fuji Lanovia, but these are not as readily available these days for many years. Kodak stopped manufacturing the CreoScitex EverSmart Supreme II: I have visited their factory in Israel (FLAAR has two CreoScitex scanners for testing and evaluation).

We put the same effort into evaluating tri-linear scanbacks: every two years, five days each time, of visiting every booth at Photokina, PMA, and PhotoPlus (PhotoEast in New York). I have visited the headquarters of BetterLight three times, most recently in 2008. FLAAR has been a beta-tester of BetterLight scan backs since the 1990’s. Again, this is the effort and time that FLAAR dedicates to testing and evaluating scanning and digitization equipment.

For the last eight years FLAAR (a non-profit research institute dedicated to the art history, architectural history, art and archaeology of Latin America), has been studying reprographic copy stands. FLAAR was hired by the Malta Centre of Restoration to train their staff. Many other museums, libraries, and universities come to us to ask for assistance. FLAAR is a consultant to giclee ateliers all around the world (Monaco, Greece, Hawaii, Vancouver, and across the US). So I have learned what professional studios prefer.

Metis DMC 1015, compared with Cruse and Jumbo Scan III from Lumiere Technology

At Photokina 2002 I saw the Metis copy stand digital camera system. It literally looked like a knock-off copy of the Cruse reprographic scanner. But the construction details did not have the appearance of sophistication or structural strength of the Cruse.

Metis DRC, Digital Repro Camera
Metis DRC, Digital Repro Camera at Photokina 2002.

There is potentially a patent issue too, since Cruse has a patent in Germany for their Synchron lighting system and Synchron table system.

The other advantage of Cruse is that they have a full-time office in the USA and full-time staff, including an experienced installation technician, all of whom knows the Cruse reprographic inside out. There is no way a French or Italian company can provide that level of support across the entire USA on a daily basis. Calculate how long you would have to wait for a spare part, or a tech support person, and in English too. With Cruse it's all in English and all when you need it.

Surely the people at Metis put in years of effort, but I can’t help my first reaction when I saw their equipment. Why did they not at least try to do something new and different?

Metis literature even appears to copy the words used by Cruse to describe his German-made Synchron system.

Why do all these other reprographic camera systems copy the Cruse?

Innovation is a valued trait. If you have a good product, and it’s unique, FLAAR is a good place to have it evaluated.

But if there are several brands, and one is clearly the most innovative, and most of the other brands copy the leader, this is simply more reinforcement that the leading technology is the one to look at.

In the world of reprographic scanners (copy stand digital cameras), the most prestigious brand is clearly Cruse Digital. Why?

Basically it’s because this company dedicated it’s entire intellectual know-how on one technology: digital reprographic copy stands: for industrial uses, for reproducing wood grain for veneer, for digitizing paintings for giclee, and for scanning museum work such as historical maps for digital safekeeping.

So when I see a company advertising SynchroLight and repeating this keyword on their web page, I ask, who invented this technology? (besides, the correct term is Synchron light, but that is trademarked by the originator, Cruse GmbH, so companies that copy have to try to vary it).

If Cruse invented this technology, then these are the digital products that I tend to look at: not the copyists.

FLAAR is open to all companies and all products. FLAAR is not owned or operated by any camera company. Of course we have corporate sponsors: all universities require this nowadays. But we do not focus on just one corporate sponsor, it is more realistic to have options. We have BetterLight and also Cruse (two competing products). We have Canon and Nikon (D300) (definite competitors). We have Phase One P25+ too: another competing product.

I have visited the leading giclee ateliers in the US and Europe: roughly half use a Cruse; the other half use BetterLight (each has advantages; each has abilities not on the other; each is good for certain applications; no one system is perfect (only different).

I saw Metis only once, at Photokina six years ago. I have never seen Metis since, and have never seen a Metis at any leading giclee atelier; I see only BetterLight or Cruse systems at the giclee atelier and photo studios that I have found so far. Since Cruse has patents, it would be unlike they would appear in another German trade show (Cruse is a German technology company). Cruse often exhibits at Photokina and FESPA, and occasionally at DRUPA. BetterLight is easiest to visit at their headquarters in Silicon Valley area of California (south of San Francisco). BetterLight does not exhibit at Photokina or FESPA, and rarely in the US. But BetterLight is alive and well; I was at their headquarters several times, most recently in March 2008.



Most recently updated August 3, 2012

Previously updated June 27, 2012. March 24, 2008.

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