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EOS R10 settings for photographing pictures and documents


I use an EOS R10 camera for general photography.  I now plan to use it for a different purpose, and I could use some advice on optimal camera settings.

I am going to use my camera to photograph some old documents and photo prints.  I've always preferred the results I've seen from cameras over scanners.  I have a good lighting setup and a rig to hold the camera.  I am using a 50 mm 1.8 lens.  What's are the best settings?  I assume auto probably isn't the best.  But if not, what should I use?  If manual, what is a good aperture setting?  Are there any other settings I should consider for this type of photography?




Hi and welcome to the forum:

If you are shooting from a fixed rig and the lighting is both even and consistent, shooting in manual mode with a low ISO, something in the region of f/4-5.6 and whatever shutter speed gives you the best results, given that you need the whites to be white and decent contrast.
I assume you know that the metering system to seek to render whites as a mid -grey, so you need to do some tests to get the right degree of exposure - perhaps 1-2 stops of extra exposure.  Assuming the pages are of consistent tone (e.g. not using different colours) then you should get good results.

All that said, I am slightly surprised that you don't get reasonable results from a good quality scanner, but whatever, this is the method I have used to shoot documents with a camera, but others may have different advice.  I hope this helps

cheers, TREVOR

"The Amount of Misery expands to fill the space available"
"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris


Are the documents completely flat? Or are they in a bound book?  If they are completely flat, you could use wider apertures, though do experiment with your particular lens as perhaps f/2.8 or f/4 may lead to sharper results.

I would though use the widest aperture possible that you find gives the best sharpness and then reduce ISO as much as possible as Trevor mentioned earlier.

I would definitely recommend having a tripod rig such that the camera can shoot downwards.  You could then use ISO 100 and slower shutter speeds.

Also agree with Trevor regarding having very even lighting.   You may also find that a circular polarizer may be useful.

Other things to consider:

  • If the documents are not flat, you'll need to use narrower apertures to ensure proper depth of field.  Though you could do focus stacking, but I would recommend against that.  Still use a tripod rig so that you could keep ISO at its minimum and use slower shutter speeds.
  • They'll be some sort of distortion from the lens, so be sure to apply correction in post processing.   Agree with Trevor though in that a scanner may be better.

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers


I do not feel that you can capture documents in a single photo because of the resolution constraints associated with using a DSLR.  You would be much better off using a document scanner for the documents.  A scanner can have a resolutions ranging as high as 1200 dots per inch.

Using a DSLR would probably require capturing several images and stitching them together to achieve that type of resolution for a letter size document.  Setting up a rig to capture multiple frames of a document would probably cost you more than a simple document scanner, anyway.

"The right mouse button is your friend."

Excellent point; I had not considered resolution.


Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers