A friend of mine had a glass plate from 1926, when my friend was a mere toddler of three. It showed a motorcycle his father built all by himself! The cylinders were lathed out of two single pieces of metal, all of the gears in the gearbox were home made in the same vein. The gearbox is a replica of a well known British gearbox of the time. Quite an accomplishment!
The Canon Canoscan 9000F cannot handle 9×12 cm glass plates so I first made a makeshift lightbox, shot the glass with my 5D2 in RAW and ventured on some manipulation in Aperture. The result was really below what I had expected.
In the end I put the glass plate directly on the scanner, put the 6 cm wide image mask over it only to have the software fooled into thinking I was scanning a 120-film. As it turned out the motorcycle fit in the 6 cm wide strip and I scanned the plate as if t was a 6×12 cm film. The scanner supports up to 6×12 cm.
I was fascinated by the result. In two ways. Firstly, the 86 year old glass plate really delivers, secondly the scanner was sharper than I am used to.
The amount of detail is quite surprising. Take a look at the starter for example:
Not bad for a picture from 1926!
There is more to discover in the picture, and also fun looking over ever minute detail of the vehicle. If you are into that, here is an uncompressed version to download.
I think the scanner outdid itself with this picture. The amount of detail is higher than I have come to expect. Perhaps the non-existant distance between the photo and the scanner is the key? Must check with more film!