View Full Version : Use of cameras at TNA

Errol Martyn
16th August 2010, 03:42
Could someone please tell me approximately how long ago it was that TNA introduced the facility of using one's own camera for copying of documents? (I'm trying to get an archive institution here to come out of the dark ages!)


16th August 2010, 05:24
Hi Errol,

although not specifically answering the question re:the TNA, the National Archives & Records Administration, College Park, USA, has allowed documents to be photographed since at least 2006; both the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, have allowed documents to be photographed since at least 2005, and; Library & Archives Canada have allowed photographing since at least 2007.



16th August 2010, 09:02
Hi Errol,

I have also not the exact info but I was using it already in 2008.
Since 2009 it was also allowen in Central Military Archive, Prague:)


16th August 2010, 09:33
Hello Pavel,

I took my own first digital pictures in April 2004. This I did when I saw others doing it, so I bought my first digital camera, filled in the paper form, a sticker was stuck on my reader's ticket (they don't do it anymore) and it was the beginning of a revolution for me.


16th August 2010, 10:45
Hi Joss,

thanks for your post. I was sure that the cameras were allowed earlier than I use it for the first time but to be honest I was thinking it was not earlier than 2005-2006 so 2004 is quite surprise for me.

On the other hand, the time is running veeeeery quickly...


Errol Martyn
16th August 2010, 11:24
Thanks Rod (for those additional archive dates), Pavel and Joss, info much appreciated.


David Duxbury
17th August 2010, 22:22
Just to show that New Zealand as a whole is not that far behind overseas developments, I recall physically assisting a friend of mine using a REAL camera (negative) for the copying of photographs at the NZ National Archives about 30 years ago, and with the permission of staff! However as to the digital revolution, Archives NZ has been permitting photography of its own documents for a few years, and in fact encourage it at every opportunity as it seems that the normal photocopying process is just too time consuming and labour intensive - in other words this privilege has been made available to keep costs down and free up staff time. It would seem that such photography is regarded as a God-send by the powers that be, and the public is just lucky that it suits everybody.
David D

Errol Martyn
15th October 2010, 04:47
Further to my campaign to drag a certain New Zealand archive institution into the 21st Century, I'd be interested to hear from forumites as to their opinion (based on experience) of the following response I have received from said institution:

"my staff advise that although some institutions already offer the opportunity to use digital cameras to take copies (usually at a charge), this appears from widespread."

Not widespread? At a charge?


15th October 2010, 07:20
Having just spent a month at the LAC in Ottawa, Errol, I can confirm that not only do they not charge clients to take photographs with their own cameras but in chatting with the staff there there they welcome it.

The other option is the 40 cents/page photocopying fee (80 cents/page for rush jobs) which have to be done by said staff so I fully understand why they prefer the client take their own photos. The staff there are busy enough as it is.

The only requirement one has in Ottawa is to have a photocopied page of the list of files you will be filming sitting on your desk. This is to satisfy the commissionaires who walk about that all the files you are filming are permissible to be photographed.


15th October 2010, 08:44
Hello Errol and Dave,

At TNA, no charge to take digital pictures.

At the Service Historique de la Defense in Paris, when they started permitting digital pictures, at first they charged a fee : it was 3 or 4 s for a few pages in a reference (or even only one), and about 15 s for a larger number or the whole of a reference / box. You also had to fill in a paper listing the documents you had pictured, and send them a CD when you had done the latter option ! I don't know if they received many CDs. They thought they might build their own digital archives this way !

The system was withdrawn later, and during my last visit in March, no charge at all. But they don't encourage people to take digital pictures (no good lightning, so camera stands like in Kew).


Peter Caygill
16th October 2010, 21:33
On my last couple of trips to the National Archives I have taken my digital SLR and the results have been excellent - no stand used, just hand held at 1/30 sec. I have a Pentax K100D with shake reduction. It is so much cheaper and a lot quicker.

Previously I used the copy facilities. I would have thought that archives everywhere should encourage the use of digital cameras. It is in their own interests as the copy process could (depending on the item being copied) lead to damage.

17th October 2010, 21:05
Hi all,

Totally agree with Peter on this one. I was at a conference last weekend and one of the big debates was digital cameras. I photograph everything I look at at Kew. This saves time and as Peter says also saves the considerable damage to documents which photocopying inflicts.

I have seen popular documents regarding Far East POW's that are now almost unreadable due to copying.

The other big plus with photos is that you can zoom in on small sections of a document without having to use a magnifying glass on a printed page.


Peter Caygill
19th October 2010, 18:12
I love the double standards at TNA. If you want to read a bound volume the security 'police' are on to you in a flash if you don't use foam wedges at the sides to protect the spine.

However if you want to copy said document you take it to the copiers, lie it flat and then crush it even further under a large piece of glass. No questions asked!

Matt Poole
22nd December 2010, 15:22
A friend of mine spends many Saturdays at NARA in College Park, MD with a small team of helpers taking hundreds of digital photos of entire files, at no charge whatsoever. He has copied massive amounts of documents in this way in the last year or two.

I have used a digital camera at NARA to photograph negative after negative of 10 by 10 inch wartime air recon images on a continuous film roll, backlit on a long, narrow light table with handled spools at each end. A camera is set up above to shoot one neg (either hand-held or on a tripod), test shots are taken and downloaded to a laptop for inspection (reversing the negs to become positive images for viewing), and when the first image is OK the process continues. The roll is manually advanced one frame, the new frame is easily centered and held down against the glass, and the second image is shot using the camera's pre-set timer. Etc.

I copied a long stretch of Burma-Siam Railway imagery from one recce mission this way. The negs were, one at a time, reversed to become positives back at home, and images which would have cost thousands to copy via the NARA-approved vendors, after a waiting period of three or four weeks perhaps, are in one's hard drive for FREE. With the right camera, the quality can be very good, too. This particular test was sent to Death Railway expert Rod Beattie in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, who stitched each of the overlapping stereo images together to create a mosaic for his museum. All for free, free, FREE!!

Errol, I hope you can make the NZ archive folks change with the times, for mutual benefit.

Happy holidays, all.

Errol Martyn
29th December 2010, 21:46

Many thanks for your comments, all of which add strength to my on-going battle with said institution (a local, non-aviation, museum here that includes some aviation material in its holdings). A corner may now have been turned but it will be sometime in January before this is confrimed for certain.