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Sun May 4, 2014, 10:58 PM

Scored a photocopy stand! Need help on the bulbs for it and maybe rewiring

It's one my Dad had and used to copy historic photos and documents. I need it for the same purpose and also to copy large needlework.

This thing is old - originally made for using with a Polaroid Land camera - it's a Polaroid 208 Copymaker. But it has a good solid base with a gauge plate for squaring up the item to be copy, lights at 45 degree angles on both sides for even lighting, and a solidly mounted adjustable stand for the camera. My Dad adapted the camera mount for a standard camera screw mount and also added a taller post so the camera can be raised significantly.

One very similar to mine is at http://www.josephfazzio.com/polaroid-208-copymaker-115vac-20watt-afh242

First major problem - the timer for the light on one side is inaccurate and very noisy. I'm planning to rewire the thing to bypass this timer. I will always need both lights on at the same time and as it stands, the light on one side switches on, the one on the other side only comes on with the timer.

Second problem - the bulbs. Both currently work so I'm good for now, though I would rather have full spectrum or daylight rather than the cool white bulbs on there now. They are Sylvania Cool White 3W F3T5/CW z458 12" straight tubles. So far I haven't found replacements, though I have only started looking.

I'm wondering if I have to rewire the thing if I should look for replacement fixtures with easier to source bulbs?

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Sun May 4, 2014, 11:34 PM

1. It's going to be tough finding 12" tubes at all, much less...

full-spectrum ones. Years ago I sold them for Duro-Test, but Duro-Test is history now. Some Vita-Lites are still around, but mostly in more standard sizes. Even if you do find 12" tubes, though, it's more than likely that they won't work with those old fixtures and ballasts.

So, you can just install new screw fixtures and use standard 3200K or 3400K photofloods and hope you get even lighting. Standard bulbs are usually around 2800K, but vary. So, if you're doing critical copying, replace the fixtures with nice new fluorescent ones with electronic ballasts and pick something from a list like this:


Note the CRI's in the 90's, which is as good as you're ever going to get, and should indistinguishable from photofloods. Unfortunately, this outfit, like many others, doesn't make them under 2'

(BTW, NEVER buy any fluorescent or LED without the CRI on the label or etch-- they get you by leaving out the expensive red phosphors and calling it "daylight" )

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #1)

Mon May 5, 2014, 12:04 AM

2. I've been thinking I'd have to replace the lighting system

But one of the attractive parts of this copystand is that it is all one unit.

I'm wondering if I could get a couple of the desk or task lights similar to these:

Dismantle them, then attach to the base? I suspect the 42 watt would be overkill, but it is dimmable.

Of course, both of those have clamps as a option so I could just take the current fixtures off and install the new ones as clamp on. But I am wondering if the smaller heads would concentrate light too much in one area.

I do want good lighting, well dispersed as well as color correct. I am copying old photos and documents for family archival purposes - the better the quality of my copies, the less the originals will have to be handled and the better to transcribe the documents!

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Response to csziggy (Reply #2)

Mon May 5, 2014, 12:57 AM

5. I'd worry about the light pattern more than anything else...

color problems are usually easy to filter out, but if you don't have even lighting you're dead.

If you have any similar lights around, play with them and see if they seem to work before dropping a couple of hundred bucks. Of course, a lot depends on the size of the originals.

FWIW, many years ago I made a copy stand like that out of an unused enlarger, some cheap floodlights, and a Mamiya C330 twin lens reflex. It worked very well.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #5)

Mon May 5, 2014, 12:59 PM

8. Yes, that is why I'm wondering if those shorter length lights might not work

It may be worth it to find longer ones I can adapt. Then if I have really oversized items to copy, they would still be evenly lit. I have some large maps I don't want to run through the sheet feeder large format scanner at FedEx/Kinko's because they are so fragile - I might could copy them with this stand with larger lights and longer arms.

I opened the back and the ballasts are small but there is room for larger ones, especially if I took out the timer. The shades and lamp fixtures are screwed together, then attached onto the arms. I would bet if I could find the right fixtures, I could make them work on those arms and install the ballasts in the space under the controls.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #8)

Mon May 5, 2014, 01:40 PM

10. The smaller items might best be done on the scanner anyway...

if you have a good enough scanner-- I've noticed scanners on the newer printers tend to be flat and grainy. So, 2' or so fluorescent fixtures and full spectrum 5000K or so tubes might seem clumsy, but be the best way to go.

I saw your lens list, and I'm not sure any of them will be particularly good for this. If you look around, you might find a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 for 50 bucks or so. The one I have is extremely sharp, but I can't find it now to see how close it focuses. I think it's around a foot or so. Speaking of focus, you might not want to use autofocus if the glass cover throws it off.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #10)

Mon May 5, 2014, 02:06 PM

12. I've got great scanners

My serious scanner is an Epson Perfection V500 Photo scanner. My "go to" scanner for all around use is a Canon LIDE 600F. I've also got a couple of different dedicated slide/film scanners which I need to break out - I brought back three boxes (two holding a couple of dozen or more rolls of slides, the other only about a dozen) of slides to scan - some of these may be slides of old photos Dad took with the copy stand.

Autofocus is likely to be more accurate than me maunually focusing. My eyes are erratic these days. If I see a problem in my testing, I will have work around it.

The battery is charged for my D70 and I realize I have to relearn how to use this camera. It's been a long time since I attempted to do anything more than point & shoot.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Mon May 5, 2014, 12:24 AM

3. I used to have one that was similar

What camera/lens do you plan on using with it?

Before you go buying special bulbs and/or fixtures, try using the white balance settings on your camera to see if you can match what you have. Use a relatively slow shutter speed, say 1/15 or slower. Faster shutter speeds can yield unpredictable results with florescent as they will actually produce different colors depending on where they are in the electrical cycle. Using a slow shutter speed, preferably some harmonic of 60, like 1/60, 1/30 or 1/15 will ensure a complete cycle or multiple cycles and yield the most predictable results. The problem with using slow shutter speeds is that they will let in a lot of ambient light, so you'll want to do this in a dark room so that you only have one light source and just one color to match. Naturally you'll want to use a remote shutter release or use the timer and mirror lockup if you have a SLR. In general, if you can match white on the color balance settings, all the other colors should be OK. This is best done with a commercial color chart if you want to nail the colors. If this doesn't work, you can actually buy sheets or tubes of gel filters and wrap your bulbs in them to correct to 5500K. If you want the most accurate solution, this is the way you want to go because regardless of what florescent bulbs you go with, they aren't going to be perfect.


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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #3)

Mon May 5, 2014, 12:43 AM

4. I'm debating - I'd prefer to use a digital camera but I do have a 35mm available

But my Nikon D70 is too old and too small in megapixels for some of the larger pages. I've got my Dad's Kodak 7.1 megapixel digital and my Fujifilm 14mp that could be used. I've got to download the test pictures I took last week from each of those to see if there is distortion from the lens of each.

I suspect the Fujifilm will have noticeable distortion - I picked the camera for it's wide angle and zoom capabilities, and those features may be a detriment for using to make copies.

I've got to find the manuals for both those cameras and see what settings are available - neither is high end or intended for professional use. Upgrading my Nikon DSLR is not in the budget any time soon.

I could dig out my Nikon N70 and get some new film, but then I have the cost of developing the film and getting the pictures on CD - and the expense would add up fast. I think I have remote releases for both the D70 and the N70. With the other digitals, I could set them to use their timers and /or bracket the shots.

Dad used a Canon A-1 with the stand. We looked but couldn't find his cameras. I suspect the Canons (he had two bodies) wore out - we found a Canon TX (something) but there was a note in the box about getting it fixed with no indication it ever was. Dad had not used this stand for probably 20 years so all of his equipment has aged and been dispersed.

Frankly while I want to do a good job of copying these items, I do not want to spend a huge amount of time or money attempting to achieve perfection. I'd rather just get the stand and my set up working. I have thousands of documents to copy, not to mention the several hundred antique photos - though most of the photos are small enough to put on the scanner rather than the copy stand.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #4)

Mon May 5, 2014, 07:45 AM

6. One problem you may run into is lens focusing distance

You will need a lens that focuses close enough for this type of work. Otherwise you will find yourself moving the camera up higher than you want and cropping, which will effectively reduce the number of useful megapixels. Ideally you will also want a lens that has good edge to edge sharpness. A good rephoto setup will make higher quality reproductions than a scanner. I recommend going digital rather than using film. If you use film, then your images are going to be one more generation away if you want them in digital form as you'll have to scan them again to get digital format.

The D70 will do a good job. If you have the 18-55 kit lens, this should work pretty good for the task and will focus close enough for most copy work provided the prints are large enough. If you want to buy a lens, I highly recommend this one:

This lens will work on the D70, but will not meter. This is not a big deal for photocopy work. All you will need to do is look at your histogram and make adjustments accordingly. Once you get the settings right for your lighting setup you won't need to change them. This lens is excellent for copy work as it will focus as close as you need for all sizes of copy and it has excellent edge to edge sharpness. This lens is manual focus, which is not a problem because you'll want to be in manual focus mode regardless of which lens you use. If you want to spend a little more, this lens has the exact same optics, but will autofocus and meter with your camera:


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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #6)

Mon May 5, 2014, 12:48 PM

7. I have a choice of lenses for the D70, all will auto focus

They are:
Nikkor 18-70mm 1:3.5-4.5 G
Quantaray 19-35mm 1:35-4.5
Nikkor 28-80mm 1:3.5-5.6 D
And the least suitable: 70-300mm 1:5-5.6 G (this one has gotten the most use. I bought it with my N70 from B&H - it was open box but unused.)

I finally found the ML-L3 remote for the D70. Searched every spot I had camera equipment stored, then remembered its case attached to the camera strap. I'm not sure about the battery for it - I'm charging the camera battery now and can't test the remote until it is ready to go.

The copy stand in the link I provided above had a glass plate to flatten documents and photos. Mine doesn't have a place to mount one so I suspect it was added after purchase. I've called a glass place to price a clear piece of glass since many of the documents will need to be flattened - they are creased or curled. The glass they recommended is called Starphire (http://www.ppg.com/corporate/ideascapes/glass/products/ultra/Pages/StarphireInteriorGlazing.aspx). I asked them to price it will ground edges so there will be no sharp areas!

Also I found instructions on making a book cradle for the bound items. One of the first things I will be scanning will be my grandmother's journal of her first year in Florida when she arrived in 1925. The state archives wants it because it gives a nice idea of life in a mining company town - a town that no longer exists. That book does not open fully which is why I have not scanned it on my flatbed.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #7)

Mon May 5, 2014, 01:20 PM

9. The 18-70 or the 28-80 will probably be your best bet

Both have about the same minimum focusing distance at around 15-16". For both lenses, you'll want to use them at f/8 which should be pretty close to their sharpest aperture.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #9)

Mon May 5, 2014, 01:46 PM

11. Thank you - that will let me get started

I have a call in to the Florida Archives Photographic Archivist to check on the size of the final images. For scanning, he recommended 600 dpi for images of 5x7" or equivalent for smaller or larger images.

I've been trying to work out what that means in terms of digital photographs but my math and conversion skills are not up to the job. They have a webpage with their full recommendations, but I can't find it again.

That's why I was concerned that the 5mp D70 would not be sufficient for some of the larger items. Most of the documents are 14"x14" but as I said, I have some old maps I'd like to copy.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #11)

Mon May 5, 2014, 04:06 PM

13. There's only 300dpi (or less) of information in the best color print

Last edited Mon May 5, 2014, 07:28 PM - Edit history (1)

For documents and other things, it's going to be less than 300dpi and will be dependant on how it was printed. At some point the resolving power of the camera and lens is going to be more than the information available on what you are copying.

Here's how you figure out what the camera is capable of doing. The APS-C sensor on the D70 is ~ 2,000 pixels by 3,000 pixels. So for 300 dpi, divide 2,000 by 300 and you get 6.66". Divide 3,000 by 300 and you get 10". This means that anything smaller than 6.66" x 10" will be > 300dpi and anything larger than this will be < 300 dpi. For an 8 x 10 photo, you'd probably have to get a loupe on the final print to notice much difference and this assumes a high quality print you are duplicating.

Most likely your weakest point is going to be your lens and where you're going to notice the weakness is on the edges of what you are copying because the lens will be less sharp as you move out from the center. That's why I recommended you get the 55/2.8. With that lens you'll be able to focus as close as you want and fill up the entire frame, even with smaller prints. Sharpness will also be pretty even with very few aberrations on the edges.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Sun May 11, 2014, 03:05 PM

14. Put flash units in softboxes on it

Old Nikon SB-24s and other vintage flashes can be had REAL cheap these days. You'll need two, one on each side.

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Response to jmowreader (Reply #14)

Sun May 11, 2014, 07:34 PM

15. I really would rather not mess with flash units

Light fixtures with 13W full spectrum bulbs are easy enough to find - it's just be a matter of how to mount them. If nothing else, I can take the bulbs out of the old fluorescent fixtures mounted on the stand and clamp new fixtures onto them.

I'm thinking something like this: http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/combination_lamp_53_prd1.htm

A major advantage - some of the things I need to copy are larger than the stand was intended to handle. The plate on it is only 14"x16" or less. Dad had a much longer column for it than the 18" original, maybe to accommodate the lens for his camera, but with that and with lights that can be spread farther apart I can copy those larger items.

This past week I copied some scrapbook pages - 13.5" x 16" - and the installed lights are not providing even light across the full width of the pages. Part of the uneven lighting may be that the pages are not flat. I have a piece of ultra-clear glass on order to put on top of the pages to flatten them but even in my tests with blank, flat paper, I can see the dark area in the middle of the pages while the ends are brighter.

With independent light fixtures, I also don't have to worry about what camera I use - whether it has a flash shoe or any compatibility.

The final part is I have a very bad history with flash units. I've never found them easy to use or reliable. It's my problem, not the equipment, but I'd rather not hassle with them.

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