Flatbed Scanner vs Photography

Large Flatbed Scanner

1. Color & White Balance

A Flatbed scanner uses a consistent even light during the scanning process and it is color calibrated once a week, using the manufacturing color (White too) calibration balance sheet. This significantly helps lowering set up time and costs compared to photography. After scanning, an additional calibration step can be done using a color checker, such as an x rite color checker in Adobe Photoshop.

For photography, changes in color temperature occur more frequently depending on the lighting. Cameras need to be color calibrated and white balanced ideally for each project and item captured leading to higher set up times and costs.
Both photography and flatbed scanning can take advantage of the X rite color checker calibration using an image editor like Adobe Photoshop or adobe illustrator.

2. Lighting

Flatbed scanners, when properly white balanced, provide an evenly distributed 5500k Color Temperature (Pure White) color across the image. The lids of the scanner ensure no outside lights interfere with the scanning process.

The scanner uses White LEDS, classified IEC 60825-1: class 1 free or IR and UV emission

Artwork Being Scanned

For Photography, light sources need to be properly white balanced in the internal camera calibration tools. Studio lighting is also required to ensure proper even lighting across the subject which can be very difficult and time consuming.

3. Resolution & Geometric Accuracy

Our Flatbed Scanner features 4 true/optical 600DPI camera heads which will capture artwork as big as 48” by 70” (28,800 pixels by 42,000 pixels) or up to 1.21 Gigapixels, capturing the fine brush strokes and even texture of the canvas. As the camera heads travel across the image, they achieve a geometrical accuracy of <0.1% for maps, which is especially important, making sure the grid lines and topography match exactly the original.

properties menu

For photography, the resolution depends on the quality of the camera and lens. Some high end DLSR camera can capture subjects at 45.7 MegaPixel (6760 pixels by 6760 pixels). However these cameras cannot capture geometrical accurate photos without using image editors due to the lens distortion around the edges of the image.

4. Lens Distortion

In a nutshell lens distortion occurs when straight lines are curved in an image. There is barrel distortion and pincushion distortion.


For Flatbed Scanning, lens distortion is not a problem since the camera heads move along the bed evenly. Issues arise when the painting is not flat against the glass. Instead of lens distortion, stitch lines can appear. This can occur with paintings that have a thick frame or any indentations large than 2 inches.

For photography, len distortion is always present and can be corrected by using more expensive equipment and image editors to attempt to straighten the lines.

5. Print Size

For Flatbed Scanning, at 600 DPI most prints can be reproduced up to three times the original size. The image print size will match the actual size of the painting because of how close the painting is to the camera heads.

For photography, it depends on the quality of the equipment. DLSR Camera won’t match the print size due to the distance between the subject and camera. Prints can only be reproduced at original size or smaller.

6. Production Time

For Flatbed scanning, production times are rather quick, given the uniform lighting and weekly calibration needed. A simple well-kept piece can take up to 30 minutes from scanning to DVD or Cloud Services.

For photography, the process can take longer due to set up time needed to make sure the lightning is uniform and properly white balanced.

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