Skip to Main Content

Digital Foundations: Equipment

Online tutorial in digital humanities skills and techniques.

Digital Imaging

There are many options available to you when it comes to capturing digital images. While a scanner or camera can be flexible enough to digitise most material, you may find that one is better suited to your project. Some of this technology can be very expensive but a lot can be done at lower cost by improvising with your resources and using various accessories to help you get the best out of your scans.

Digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera - Camera commonly used in photography. Can be mounted and used to image documents etc. May come with own software. File format output is usually JPEG and RAW.

Flatbed scanner - Original is placed on bed of scanner and lid is closed. Usually comes with own software allowing you to set resolution and file format output. Not suitable for tightly bound items.

Mounted camera - The original is placed under the camera. Camera is focused (usually) manually at lens and by adjusting distance from item. Some come with software which allows real-time view of item.

Book cradle - Used to support bound volumes when digitising. Some cradles move to accommodate depth and weight of book as you scan through the thickness of the book and may provide space for the spine to hang. Others hold the book in an open position at a 'comfortable' angle so as not to place stress on the spine.

Colour checker - This is a mat or card containing standardised colours to enable you to calibrate your digitising equipment. When captured in an image it allows you to determine the true colours of the original. Greyscale checkers are also available and use just black, white and shades of grey. You can also use black and white card to set white balance.

Foam cushion - Foam or cloth cushions can be used to support items held in a specific position. This is very useful for holding a page up to the underside of a glass plate.

Glass plate - It is useful to have a glass plate to place over originals to hold items in place. You can also use the underside of a fixed glass plate as a point of focus for all scans. Be careful, however, not to place too much pressure on the original.

Gloves - Wearing latex or nitrile gloves protects originals from oil on the skin and are especially useful for handling photographs. Care should be taken when using gloves as there may be loss of dexterity, especially if using cotton gloves. Gloves may also leave fibre or powder residues on originals.


UL logo



This project was seed funded by the Shannon Consortium's 2016 Take 1 Step initiative.


© Glucksman Library, University of Limerick