Digitizing Your Collection: Future Proofing

Posted on Posted in Science

As the third, and final post in our series, Digitizing Your Collection, we tackle the question: How do you choose technology that will ‘future-proof’ your digitized collection? You’ll need to define who your audience, and several sources discuss this, such as  “A Guide for Managers Planning and Implementing Digitization Projects” by the Ministry of Culture History and Sport in Canada.

Our automated macrophotography system, GIGAmacro Magnify2, outperforms other systems where extreme detail and easy sharing are required… where your digital collection may be used for:

  • Scientific research
  • Collaboration with remote experts
  • Interactive displays
  • Cases where you may lack the resources to re-digitize these items in five years.

More Data = Better Science

The Magnify2 system captures a huge amount of data. In some cases, we combine data from thousands of images into one very large data file that could be 10, 20, 30 or more gigabytes in size. In imagery, data is detail and we capture a lot of it! The image below shows an image of a butterfly and a detailed view of two sections; more data leads to better analysis, which leads to better science.

Panacea Prola Overview and Detail

More Sharing = Better Science

Despite containing a huge amount of data, your images can be easily shared online with our viewer software allowing your colleagues, students or other experts from around the world to access your collection for analysis, comparisons and input. By sharing your valuable specimens or artifacts electronically, you also protect your collection (less handling since there’s no need to ship anywhere.) The maple leaf shown here is a 5.3 gigapixel image that can be viewed, even at full resolution, easily anywhere with internet access!

Future Proofing

The typical method used to digitize collections is with Digital SLR cameras.  They have great sensors that make detailed images and are relatively inexpensive. The problem is that camera sensor technology is changing rapidly.

If you started digitizing your collection five years ago, today you would have some very good 10-12 megapixel images (which was the standard at that time). By today’s standard, however, this resolution is very low and, in fact, is common now in the cameras within mobile phones. The most advanced (and expensive) professional cameras can capture 40-50 megapixels, while even inexpensive DSLRs are capable of 20-25 megapixels. Therefore, all that work that went into digitization needs to be re-done if you want to keep up with current standards.

To capture more data, the Magnify2 system combines data from up to thousands of 25 megapixel images to capture more detail than is possible with any current camera system.  Often our images are measured in gigapixels (1,000 megapixels). 

Technology will continue to improve, and we’re sure that some day there will be gigapixel cameras – in the meantime, you can capture all that data right now so your collection will last more than a few years and will still be relevant 10-15 years down the road.

Read Part I and Part II in our Digitizing Your Collection series.

To learn more about creating data-rich extreme-macro images: