Laptop with internal camera

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    • #132891
      Ellen Paul

      We are planning a community-wide gathering in which residents will bring memorabilia and accompanying stories. We plan to take digital photographs of the items (or scan them) and record the stories. The items will go home with the participants. Our society is planning to buy a laptop with an internal camera which will be utilized for the photographs. I have heard conflicting opinions as to the wisdom of this decision. The society insists the laptop will take better photographs than a digital camera. My go-to tech person says the digital camera is a wiser choice. Does anyone have experience with a good laptop with the capability to take photographs as good as a digital camera? What brand would that be?

    • #132897
      Ron Kley

      I certainly agree that the camera would be a better choice, espectially by virtue of greater portability and maneuverability.

      Either way,the concept is an excellent one. I’ve long advocated the idea that historical organizations should proactively document significant artifacts and documents that remain in private hands. The potential advantages include:

      Recording items that are historically significant, but which may never come into institutional possession;

      Providing owners with documentation that might prove valuable in the event of theft or damage;

      Establishing evidence of institutional interest, which may encurage future donation.

      There is, of course, a necessity to maintain confidentiality regarding such records. They should never serve as a catalog from which thieves might assemble a “what’s where” shopping list.

    • #132896

      A digital camera gives you more flexibility for adjusting resolution, exposure, white balance and macro mode options. Moreover, holding a camera is easier than holding a laptop especially if you have an item that needs photographing from different angles. Laptop cameras can be grainy and you have far less control over lighting and balance, the resolution could be very low too. If you really want to document things well then I would use a digital camera. In the collection where I used to work we could only afford a cheap digital but it was enough to take good documentation photographs, I found the macro mode invaluable for small labels and things like that.

    • #132895

      I don’t know where the idea that an internal camera on a laptop would take better pictures came from. It is ABSOLUTELY not true. These days, a digital camera that can take very good pictures (about 10 megapixels in size) can be had quite inexpensively (less than $200). If you want to create digital images that are considered archival, you need to buy a camera that can take Raw files or can convert to TIFF, rather than just JPEGs. If you don’t know what any of this means, then you need to go to a reputable camera shop and have someone thee explain the various options in a digital camera. But whatever you do, don’t rely on an internal camera on a laptop to take documentation pictures.

    • #132894

      I don’t understand the “laptop with internal camera” issue. Do you mean the web camera over the display?. If yes is ridiculous. To show respect to memories in images you better make use of a DSLR with macro lens, a repro stand and a source of light. Quality of lens and light source are proporcional to the money paid for them.
      As John D. Childs says, you need a raw master file, better, from my point of view, DNG raw file, and a caracterized workflow with the help of color reference charts: IT8.7/1, IT8.7/2, ColorChecker, for profiling, and a AIC PhD Target from Robin Myers Imaging for visual check of constancy among other things.
      Take a look to Peter Krogh’s site resources as aproach. Contact an experienced professional working in the archives, libraries and museums environment in your area for more information.

    • #132893

      You may want to look into purchasing the American Institute for Conservation’s publication, “Guide to Digital Photography and Conservation Documentation.” It is $75 so a bit of an investment but it has good and recent information on camera specs, digital photography file types, Adobe Photoshop, etc. If you are going to be doing more events like this in the future or photographing museum collections, it would be worth the cost.
      See more at

    • #132892
      Ellen Paul

      I very much appreciate the input of all respondents. Please remember that I share your opinion that a digital camera is a better choice for capturing digital images, but since I am a member of a board which has differing opinions, I thought it was my obligation to sound out the archival community.

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