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The Fine Art of Image Capture

A Viable Alternative

by Gretchen A. Peck

Part 2 of a 4-part exclusive online series

Digital and analog camera systems are no longer the only technologies capable of digitizing works of fine art. Digital scanners are better, faster, and bigger these days, making them a viable alternative for fine art reproduction.

The quality of the fine art reproduction largely depends on the quality of the imaging solution that transforms the original artwork to a digital file. Artists will demand only the best, most reliable technology for capturing their work—whether it’s with the best-of-breed analog and digital cameras, or some of the latest and greatest in large format scanners.

Capturing a First-Generation Digital Image
The print engine is just one factor in the fine art reproduction equation. Print suppliers intent on tapping the market must be committed to investing in the front end of the workflow, as well—in image capture and color management solutions. Artists will appreciate a one-stop shop, and print suppliers will have greater control over the total workflow, from start to finish.

For years, the best way to capture original art was to use analog cameras to create film, which then could be scanned. Then came digital cameras, which eliminated film from the process. And lately, advances in digital scanning equipment have made it possible to eliminate the extra step of shooting altogether.

Digital scanners have not only grown in size—there’s even a 72-inch-wide scanner from Widecom, Inc. now—they’ve also gotten faster and better, offering higher resolutions that match the output capabilities of the latest inkjet printers.

Colortrac Inc., for example, offers Colortrac SmartLF Gx 42 large format scanners that enable 1,200 dpi optical resolution and a rated speed of up to three inches per second. And Océ North America’s CS4100 Series color scanners are capable of 9,600 dpi enhanced resolution and speeds of up to 12 inches per second.

While speed and resolution may be the two most important features for print suppliers researching large format scanning solutions, there are other factors to consider, as well—width, color technology, and media compatibility. As a fine art reproduction supplier, media will vary greatly. An automated solution that self-adjusts and accommodates a wide range of media thickness will allow the print company to serve an equally wide range of artists.

And before choosing a scanner, check out the manufacturer’s stipulations on media compatibility—perhaps even speak to a few of their customers who are doing fine art scanning. After all, not all digital scanners are recommended for use on canvas or oil paint jobs.

Digital scanners—particularly those in the large format category—can be expensive, tens of thousands of dollars. But the investment in a large format scanner doesn’t have to be made exclusively for fine art customers. Printers can speed up ROI by extending their services to other types of business, as well, like scan-to-file services for architectural or engineering firms.

Don’t miss the next two installments of Digital Queue, in which we’ll take a closer look at fine art reproduction, and explore the technologies and best practices fueling this promising market.

Also, look for a full feature article on giclée in the February 2007 issue of Digital Output.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, Beyond the Niche

Jan2007, Digital Output

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