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Toward the end of last year, team members at Africa Media Online were excited to take delivery of a brand new Phase One XF camerawith an 80-Megapixel CCD digital back. For some years now we have been looking for a more versatile high end medium format camera technology to boost our scanning capability. Camera technology generally has been receiving far more of the research and development dollars in the industry as a whole than scanning technology and so we were on the hunt for a system that could take our digital capture to a new level.
We looked at systems from the world’s best medium format camera manufacturers. Finally we settled on Phase One as the system that could both deliver very high quality 16-bit per colour channel digital images with the high throughput of a single shot system ensuring we can deliver the best images in a cost effective way.
Main entrance to the Kwazulu-Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg (The Heritage Portal)
Our first project on the new system was the digitisation of maps and posters at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum. We had developed a custom rig to hold the camera in place and were able to set it in a position that produced an image of any item on the surface of the copy table at exactly 300 dpi. We were amazed at the colour fidelity and sharpness of the final images, noticeably sharper than what we have been able to produce on scanner systems in the past. The blue ring Leaf Shutter lenses produced by Schneider Kreuznach of Germany are a brand new innovation and certainly live up to the hype with resolving capacity of over 100 megapixels.
The Africa Media Online team working on digitising maps and posters at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum. The Phase One XF can be seen at the top of the picture suspended above Nkanyiso Ngcobo’s head.
While setting up the rig correctly takes many hours, once it is in place our productivity was significantly higher than comparative scanning systems. In terms of digital imaging the South African heritage sector is now certainly on a par with the best in the world!