Headaches Almost Extinct: CSNTM Trains in New York City on State-of-the-Art Equipment

By: Laura Peisker Bandy and Mark Gaither

Decades of sore muscles, negotiating with fragile manuscripts to frame the perfect shot, and hours of post-processing are almost history!

Elijah Hixson, Mark Gaither, Laura Bandy, and CSNTM volunteer Jason Pedersen, a doctoral candidate at Dallas Theological Seminary, met in New York City this month for training on Digital Transition’s DT Atom digitization stand.

Jason Pedersen, Elijah Hixson, and Laura Bandy in front of the New York Public Library.

The entire CSNTM team is extremely excited to work with this new system, which uses the Phase One iXH 150-megapixel camera. Our digitizers have previously adjusted manuscript pages before every capture to fit CSNTM framing standards, and have often needed to incorporate a plastic stylus or other device to keep pages flat and the text in focus. The DT Atom’s document cradle, however, can adjust itself on two separate axes to accommodate warps and bends in the manuscripts. It gently lifts the artifact and presses it against a fixed glass plate, giving the digitizers greater control and a consistent plane of focus.

Elijah Hixson lifts the DT Atom’s glass plate to turn pages.
Jason Pedersen practices with the DT Atom’s post-processing software.

Not only will the DT Atom stand require less direct handling of each manuscript and decrease the physical strain on our digitizers, but it will also save CSNTM large swaths of time in image capturing and in post-processing—all while dramatically increasing image quality with the Phase One camera. The lighting system and camera software will also take photos with greater color accuracy, ensuring that holding institutions receive a precise digital color record. This will allow institutions to track the fading or discoloration of their manuscripts over time.

The DT Atom digitization stand with its Phase One iXH 150-megapixel camera attached.

We expect to use the new DT Atom on the upcoming expedition to The Museum of the Bible along with our Multispectral Imaging equipment. With this new, state-of-the-art equipment, we will capture even sharper, clearer manuscript images while drastically reducing the travel and living costs associated with expeditions. In fact, by our calculations, each unit we purchase will pay for itself within 20 weeks of on-site shooting!

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