A New Scanner and a New Scanning Process

A few days ago, I read Fraser Speirs’ account of scanning books and saving them to Evernote. He mentioned a scanner he purchased, the Canon P-150, which scanned in duplex mode (two sides at once) and was sheet-fed. A lightbulb went on in my head,

and after two days of attempting to buy one at a reduced price from eBay, I found a nearly new unit for less than $200 (The average retail price seems to be $259). The unit is ridiculously small (my wife will appreciate this instead of me leaving a multi-purpose printer/scanner in the front room for weeks at a time), feeds off of two USB cables (one for power, one for data), and is really fast. It scans a complete document in the time that my multi-purpose scanners scan a single page. I’m not kidding.

That printer arrived today. For some reason, my MacBook wouldn’t see the scanner until I turned the MacBook all the way off and on again, with the scanner plugged in. I then used Canon’s included software package (it came with a CD that my MacBook couldn’t read, so I downloaded it from Canon’s website) called CaptureOnTouch P-150M.

I’ve mentioned before that it seems best to scan black and white music (or in one case this evening, brown and white–crazy scores from the early 1980s) in Black and White, 300 dpi. I also allowed the scanner to Deskew, and I also enable continuous scanning, in the event that I need to scan a large choral work (the scanner likes about 25 pages at a time, but with continuous scanning, you can keep adding pages to the original file).

As I knew the scanner was arriving today, I prepared my remaining choral octavos by using a Fiskars paper trimmer (they don’t seem to sell the model I own at this point, but they still sell similar products) to remove the “fold” of the music, making each page both sequentially “loose” and also the same size (cutting all the pages at one time). Some situations (thicker scores) required cutting from both sides. Yes, you need to cut one piece of music to scan each title you own…but it’s worth it. And won’t your piano player (particularly if they don’t own an iPad) want a non-bound copy anyway?

CaptureOnTouch worked perfectly for me, and in no time at all I had scanned 60 pieces of music. Specifically, it was less than an hour, and some songs had more than 20 pages. Once a piece was saved, I opened it in Mac Preview, deleted covers and blank pages, checked to make sure that all pages of a song were present (one misfeed in 60 pieces, by the way), and saved the file again. Even pages of scores that were in poor condition (ripped, missing corners) scanned well.

I’d also be willing to say that the quality of the scans was equivalent or better than the scans I made by turning pages by hand on a flatbed scanner.

I’m currently in the process of letting PDF Shrink compress the original PDFs to be optimized for the iPad, resulting in good PDFs that at 25% (or smaller) of the original file. I do save the originals, in the event that a future iPads needs files with greater optical quality, but my settings for PDF Shrink work great with current iPads. If you need those settings (PDF Shrink is a purchase that is well worth it, in my opinion), here they are again:

Click on the “New” toolbar button and the click the “Advanced” button.

1) Color & Grayscale Images – select 150 dpi, JPEG, Medium quality

2) Monochrome Images – select 200 dpi, Flate

At the moment, I’m thinking of the hours upon hours I spent scanning music over the past two years. I’m not sure that the vocal books would have scanned properly (the pages may be too wide), but I could have scanned all the choral music I’ve scanned in a matter of days. Had I simply purchased a better scanner (rather than using a flatbed scanner), my workload would have been greatly reduced. My time was worth more than the $200 I paid for the scanner, believe me! So I’m feeling a number of emotions tonight–I’m excited to start a new scanning project in the near future (About 2000 titles), I’m amazed at how well the P-150 works, I’m thankful that things worked out so well, and I’m embarassed that it took me this long to figure out how to scan more effectively.

Let me state this again: I could scan all the music I need to use with all of my choirs (six in total) in less than an hour.

So, my advice to you if you plan on scanning a choral music library: get a sheet fed scanner and a paper cutter; and invest in PDF Shrink.

And if you are scanning Band and Orchestra scores, you may still need to make photocopies of your music first to convert scores to normal sized paper that can be scanned. The P-150 scanner can handle smaller paper sizes (including custom sizes), but it cannot handle larger paper. You might need to look at a more expensive duplex auto-feed scanner to accomplish your tasks without photocopying…which might be a worthwhile investment if you have to make photocopies anyway (time and money), such as this Canon scanner.  (Paul Shimmons, at iPad and Technology in Music Education, recommends this scanner by Brother [MFC-J6710DW] that is also 11×17 and feeds 35 sheets at a time).


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