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Magazine scanner recommendations?


Mudron
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Hey all -

  So, about 2 years ago I bought a lot of Famitsu magazines (maybe 50 in all, from 1987-88 and 92-93, along with a few weird little yearbook compilation books), and I was thinking about investing in a book/magazine scanner to get these uploaded, but before I pulled the trigger, I thought I'd ask to see what everyone else uses to scan their magazines and if anyone has Mac-compatible hardware recommendations (I've been looking at some scanners on Amazon, and the CZURE ET16 is pretty much the fanciest scanner I can manage right now, for $400).

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Yeah, those CZURE scanners have really great infomercials, huh?  Don't believe everything you see in an advertisement, though, and please don't waste $400 on one of those if your intention is to use it to scan magazines.  That simply isn't what they're designed for, no matter what their marketing video will tell you.  Those scanners are mounted cameras with software that will crop straighten the photo.  The software will also try to distort the image in such a way as to straighten lines of text in a book that may be curved due to the curvature of the page.  There are many apps for phones which do the same thing (though presumably the Czure scanners are better cameras.)

But while they may be fine at creating an OCR copy of a text-only book, there's simply no way that a mounted camera can approach the level of quality that a scanner provides when dealing with magazines or other media comprised largely of images.  You are free to scour the internet looking for a high quality "scan" of a fully-bound magazine created with a mounted camera, but I'm afraid you'd be wasting your time.  It's just not the right kind of equipment for magazines.

BUT

The good news is, with your budget, you can get a high quality ADF scanner.   I use the Fujitsu Scansnap iX500, which is no longer sold but has been replaced by the comparable Fujitsu Scansnap ix1500 . Fujitsu's scanners are highly regarded as some of the best for magazine scanning.  E-Day uses a more expensive Fujitsu scanner capable of scanning A3 pages, but the ix1500 is all you will  need for magazines made in the USA or Japan, since they are almost all printed at A4 size (including Famitsu).

The bad news is, no matter what scanner you decide to use, the ONLY way you will get a quality scan which would look good enough to be accepted here is if you debind the magazines.  That means removing the staples and cutting the pages down the center before  running them through the scanner.  This is how almost all of the magazines you see here at Retromags are scanned, including 100% of the Famitsu issues you see here.  The fact that you were looking at a mounted camera to photograph your mags suggests that you were looking at a way to avoid debinding your magazines, but I promise you that it is a necessary step to creating a quality scan, particularly for a thick magazine like Famitsu.

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That may be okay for your own personal scans or putting them up on archive.org but book scanners are not suitable for archival purposes as kitsunebi has stated previously.

If you do NOT want to debind your magazine your only realistic option for good scans is a flatbed scanner. If you go down that path I would suggest an A3 scanner like the Brother MFC-J6530DW as although you only need A4 it gives you the ability to try and flatten the magazine as much as possible to reduce blurring in the gutter.

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11 minutes ago, KiwiArcader said:

That may be okay for your own personal scans or putting them up on archive.org but book scanners are not suitable for archival purposes as kitsunebi has stated previously.

If you do NOT want to debind your magazine your only realistic option for good scans is a flatbed scanner. If you go down that path I would suggest an A3 scanner like the Brother MFC-J6530DW as although you only need A4 it gives you the ability to try and flatten the magazine as much as possible to reduce blurring in the gutter.

Yes, but please be aware that no amount of flattening will be able to completely eliminate gutter distortion on a thick stapled mag like Famitsu, so you will probably still end up with a scan destined for archive.org at best, and not Retromags.  For skinnier mags like a sub-100 page American mag printed on thin paper, the curvature may be less extreme so that a flatbed scan of a bound magazine might be passable, but not for a 200 page mag on thick quality paper like Famitsu.

Also worth pointing out is that no amount of flattening will make a scan of a bound square-bound magazine presentable.  Dunno if that would affect any of your issues - Famitsu is usually stapled, and only their especially thick issues are squarebound.  But all squarebound mags need to be debound before scanning.

 

EDIT: Oh yeah, and just so you're aware (since it doesn't sound like you've ever scanned a magazine before), scans made with flatbed scanners are FAR FAR more time consuming than those made with ADF scanners.  The scanning process itself is longer (and who knows how long it would take if you're also fiddling with trying to keep a bound magazine flat), and the editing process will require significantly more work as well.  I don't believe anyone here who regularly scans magazines uses a flatbed as their primary scanner.

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Thanks for the advice, guys - I was wondering how good scans of a top-down open-spread magazine scanner like those CZUR machines could be, and I admit that HUGE part of the appeal of using something like that would be, yeah, that I wouldn't have to destroy these magazines/yearbooks AND I'd be able to scan them relatively quickly just by flipping the pages and pressing a button (I'm an artist who grew up using flatbed scanners to scan artwork and books/magazines for reference and I swore I'd never go back to that way of laboriously digitizing piles of paper unless my life depended on it.)

Also, I had no idea that Retromags held itself in such high regards (at least in comparison to archive.org) - not that I'm complaining, I'm glad that someone is taking this as seriously as humanly possible and is working to archive stuff like this at a professional level.

That said, is there a FAQ anywhere of what Retromag's standards are in regards to file formats, file sizes, acceptable resolutions, etc.? I'm not sure I can live up to the expectations here, but I'd like to at least have a firm grasp of how high the bar is before considering whether or not I can jump it.

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There are scanning and editing guides under the "support" tab above.  These are just general guides created by one person as relates to their own setup - they aren't meant to be hard rules - everyone has their own system which will be tailored to the particular hardware.

That said, the general rules are simple:

All scans must be straightened and cropped.  Blemished such as creases, scratches, or tears should be fixed in photo editing.  Color correction or black/white level adjustments should only be applied as necessary depending on the inadequacies of the scanning equipment used.  Excellent scanning equipment rarely needs such adjustments.  Each page must be saved at a constant height.  Minimum pixel height is 2200, maximum is 3240 (or something like that - around 300ppi).  Images saved in Photoshop should be saved at quality level 9.  Finally, all images should be compiled into a cbr/cbz (which are just renamed RAR/ZIP files.)

 

I hear ya about flatbed scanners, btw.  I scanned ONE full magazine on a flatbed before declaring "NEVER AGAIN" and promptly bought my ADF scanner.  Though it's still useful to have a flatbed around for secondary purposes.

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Flatbed scanners are great when you just cannot seem to get a page scanned through the ADF without slipping causing bad scans OR because the cover is cardboard and simply cannot be used on an ADF system (I scan books as well as mags which is where that comment comes from).

1 hour ago, Mudron said:

Also, I had no idea that Retromags held itself in such high regards (at least in comparison to archive.org) - not that I'm complaining, I'm glad that someone is taking this as seriously as humanly possible and is working to archive stuff like this at a professional level.

 I think you misunderstand although I can only comment regarding my website and not Retromags. kitsunebi has spelt out the standards here at Retromags and they are not that onerous. Try looking at OoPA if you want to see quality nitpicking of the Jedi magnitude. Meanwhile, for OGM I take a similar but slightly more relaxed view in that as long as:

  • They aren't raw scans, e.g, they have been cropped
  • Scanned more than 200DPI preferably
  • preferably received NOT resized but that is desirable and not mandatory

.... then I am okay with that. Blemishes on the pages I am okay with as I'd rather get the magazines out there for someone else to contribute by editing. There are too few scanning members in our "scene" so I adopt that mantra because if a scanning member quits or becomes incapacitated and they never got around to scanning their collection because they were too busy doing nitpicky editing work then that's a tragedy for the preservation scene, especially if they are the only one with previously unscanned mags.

The big problem with book scanners is that by having the lens so far away from the printed page it layers in the typical blurring you get as a result of that. With images that isn't really a problem which is why camera's are good for that type of thing. Text of the size on a typical magazine on the other hand really doesn't lend well to being photographed. Too many factors come into play. Archive.org is probably THE WORST place for quality scans. They use book scanners in a major way as they use them to photograph Library of Congress and other material etc which obviously cannot be destroyed to get a digital copy. You can see it in their scans which can be described as mediocre at best. The best scans they have over there were ripped off sites like our wholesale by their resident wanker Jason "Sketch the Cow" Scott without any acknowledgement of where he got them at all. They are pretty much a swear word around here.

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I believe E-Day says he can edit about 2 mags per day.  This is only possible when scanning debound pages with an ADF scanner, but it basically just means checking the scans for crooked pages, and then creating and applying a single action set to do any and all adjustments to all the pages at once.  The only "nitpicky" editing that might be required is usually on the front/back cover, since those receive the bulk of any wear and tear on a mag and often need to be cleaned up to be presentable.  Usually almost all of the the interior pages are fine and don't require extra work, though you sometimes might have no choice but to scan a poor-condition copy with rips and dog-eared pages throughout.

Editing flatbed scans of debound pages will probably slow things down by a factor of 10, since every page will likely need straightened and cropped on all 4 sides.  And if the mag is still bound, factor in much more time, since hiding the gutter distortion may require significantly more editing work and probably several rescans of pages as well (and even then it probably won't look that great).

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Okay, just for shits and giggles, I sat down and photographed the cover of the 70 issues of Famitsu I have and checked them against Retromag's Famitsu database, and, yeah, it seems that barely any of these are actually in the database. Crazy. Anyway, now to figure out how to scan all this stuff (and thanks to you guys for all this scanner advice):

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I don't think it's crazy. I'd happily scan Japanese mags for my website but the simple fact is that there are no mags for sale on the local auction site in New Zealand.

I have almost every issue of Dreamcast Official (Japan) to scan and will be doing so soon. My guillotine to cut them is buggered and at $400 to replace it I don't have the funds to so therefore have to look at scanning the whole pages after destapling them. That requires decent splitting software which I am looking into.

But again, these weren't procured locally. A Retromags member asked if anyone would scan them here and no-one volunteered so he shipped them at a HIDEOUS cost from the States to New Zealand for me to scan them. That's because Japanese mags are friggin' huge and no-one in Japan seems keen to accommodate shipping offshore. It's all a very weird situation as according to kitsunebi there is an underground scanning scene there but where people trade scans and nothing gets a public release.

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Yeah, not weird at all.  I'm the only person scanning for Retromags who doesn't live in North America.  Which is why we have mostly American mags, and also why most of our Japanese scans are mine.  People scan what they have access to.

To a certain degree, $$$ plays a role as well.  I live in Japan, so I don't feel weird destroying Japanese mags for the purpose of scanning since I know how cheaply they can be bought at auction.  But someone living outside of Japan, even if they bought those same magazines, would ultimately spend much more money, if just on shipping, so they may be more reluctant to debind them to be scanned properly.  What is just a common mag to me like Famitsu can seem like a rare collector's item to someone living in a different country, since few of those mags were ever exported due to the language barrier.

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3 minutes ago, KiwiArcader said:

Have you checked eBay lately? Friggin' heck. You have Japanese sellers touting Dengeki or Famitsu mags for $150 for ONE mag. If that doesn't show a rip-off merchant I don't know what does?

Yeah, I bought around 150 issues of Dengeki PlayStation for around $60 total.  All of the Famitsu's I bought averaged out to less than $1 per issue as well.  Video game mags are cheap as $##@ on Yahoo, y'all. 

I strongly suspect that anyone selling anything on eBay who is based in Japan is a foreigner fleecing other stupid foreigners.  But to be honest, almost all mags being sold on eBay are crazy overpriced, even the super-common American ones like GamePro and Nintendo Power.

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18 minutes ago, KiwiArcader said:

What I'd like to know exactly how much it would cost to ship a box of mags from Japan to New Zealand? It can't be that expensive surely?

Well ... maybe it can but you don't know if you can't get a price as an indicator.

No idea.  I've never had reason to mail anything larger than a letter.  I despise selling things online, so I just throw my trash away rather than auction it. 😋

Just did a quick estimate at the Japan Post site.  No idea if it's accurate, but they estimate a magazine's weight as 600g.  So I put in 6000g as the weight (assuming 10 mags were being sent) and the shipping cost to NZ is 10,100yen (around $100 US - sorry, I've got no idea what your exchange rate is).  That was the rate for printed matter, btw.  So, not cheap.

EDIT: I changed the shipping on this hypothetical shipment from "printed matter" to "parcel" which opened up a slower shipping rate of 8,350 yen.  So slightly more affordable, supposing they allow printed matter to be shipped by a method other than "printed matter" (which is specifically listed as "printed matter (books/magazines)"

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2 minutes ago, KiwiArcader said:

That's about $150NZ. Assuming 10 mags because Japanese ones are always 400+ pages ... LOL ...that's $15 each plus whatever the seller wants for them. So the guy selling one mag for $150 with free shipping is making $130 in profit for a mag he may have paid $1 for. Yikes!!

Yeah, like I said, I PROMISE you that whoever is doing that is an expat.

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5 minutes ago, KiwiArcader said:

That's about $150NZ. Assuming 10 mags because Japanese ones are always 400+ pages ... LOL ...that's $15 each plus whatever the seller wants for them. So the guy selling one mag for $150 with free shipping is making $130 in profit for a mag he may have paid $1 for. Yikes!!

One mag at 600g would be 2,180 yen to NZ.

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1 minute ago, KiwiArcader said:

Well, if you happened to be throwing out 10 square bound Dengeki Deamcast mags into the trash at some point I'd probably be tempted to get them shipped  🙂 

I've only got the first issue of Dengeki Dreamcast.  I've got a metric ton of Dengeki PlayStations, though.

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