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Copying Old Family Photos


inPhoto Capture application:
Copying old family photos

This story is the courtesy of Mr. Allon Maxwell, Australia. Mr. Allon Maxwell uses inPhoto Capture camera control software designed for full computer control of his Canon A85 digital camera.


Copying Old Family Photos
I am 75 years old, still in remarkably good health. However the death of my wife last year has made me increasingly aware of my own mortality. It is time to compile a family history to leave for my children and grandchildren, while I am still able to remember some of the things they would probably wish they had asked me about while I was still around. The project will include making digital copies of many of the old Black and White and Sepia tinted photos which were handed down to my wife and myself from our parents and grandparents.

In past years I have used my Minolta 7000 camera, with a 50mm macro lens, mounted on a commercial copy stand, and using Black and White film to copy these old photos. However I gave the copy stand away, and I don't have a darkroom any more. In any case the impending demise of silver photography is an incentive to find a different answer which doesn't require me to mix those messy chemicals. I could of course use a scanner for the task, but I have observed that the results I obtain by this method are not nearly as good as those from a digital camera.
Copying Old Family Photos
About 3 years ago I made my first venture into the world of digital photography. I purchased a Canon Sureshot A85 camera. I haven't use it a lot, and still need to read the User Guide quite often. I tried using it mounted on my tabletop tripod, but the lack of a remote Shutter Release accessory made it unsuitable for copying. The shutter button on the A85 takes a fair bit of pressure to operate, and it is virtually impossible to take a photo without moving the camera and tripod assembly slightly. I suppose I could use the time delay feature, but that "feels" a bit clumsy. What I really wanted was to find a digital camera that has that "instant" Remote Shutter release option which I have on the Minolta.

Just this week (December 2007) I discovered a feature built into Paintshop Pro X which can operate the A85 shutter from the computer, but I haven't found a way to preview the results or control the camera setttings. Then that same day, I discovered that the "ZOOMBROWSE EX" software that came with the camera also has the capacity to operate the A85 shutter from a computer. However, while it offers quite a bit more control than Paintshop, it still doesn't seem to do as much as I would like. Maybe it's my "Computer Dummy status" showing, but amongst other things, I haven't yet found a way to to use the Black and White or Sepia modes. Another limitation is that the EULA is for one computer only. It doesn't allow me to have it on my Laptop as well as my Desktop. There doesn't seem to be any way to get it on a second computer without buying another Camera! Pity about that.

So I went looking for some alternative software that could be used to control more of the Canon A85 features from my computer. After a fair bit of Googling I eventually found inPhoto Capture (Olympus and Canon camera control).
Copying Old Family Photos
Wow! The trial version seems to offer all the features I need - including a facility to set the cammera for Black and White or Sepia. Of course it works just fine with color as well! And I can save the photos direct to my computer, ready for editing and restoration with Paintshop Pro. (Some of them need a fair bit of that) The only feature I haven't found yet is one to set the "Macro Mode" on the A85. That would be the "icing on the cake"! Maybe it will appear in a future version of inPhoto? I decided that the tabletop tripod wasn't really satisfactory as a copy stand, but didn't want to invest any of my scarce Age Pension resources in a commercial one. So I designed and made a simple one with the features needed for indoor use on my Kitchen table. It had to be simple and easily made with my limited workshop facilities. And it had to work OK in conjunction with my Laptop Computer and inPhoto. inPhoto is VERY "user friendly" and makes the task so much easier. The attached photos show the table top setup and a couple of the results..

This is the setup I will use to copy all those old Black and White and Sepia Photos, ready to compile into a digital album for my children and grandchildren.

Using this equipment I can sit at my kitchen table and make all the required copies in a very short time. I don't have to change films any more, every 36 photos, and I don't have to mix those messy chemicals for B&W processing, and I don't have to make that double visit to the processing lab to drop off and pick up color films, and I don't have to use the scanner to transfer the results to my computer, It is going to save me heaps of time and effort. Thank you "Mr inPhoto"!


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