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Is there a way people have used to import a paper map as a raster without using a large format scanner. I do not want to cut my map. I'm wondering how much success people have gotten using things like a regular digital camera, and what software they used to process the image to the point where I can just georeference it. I might even try something like microsofts photosynth software, or canons stitching software.

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  • In most situations you will get better locational accuracy by georeferencing each image separately, rather than mosaicing the images and georeferencing the mosaic.
    – whuber
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 17:48

5 Answers 5

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I think if you want to use a camera, you would need to use a stand to ensure that the sensor is parallel to the map. I previously did this and mounted the camera using a monopod leg, clamped to the top of a bookcase. This enabled me to photograph 1m x 1m quite easily, and I didn't need to stitch anything together.

I think stitching it together using any program that deals with panoramas (photoshop or gimp, for example) should not be hard.

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  • I've done a similar method and stitched together in Paint.NET: getpaint.net/download.html (free). Commented Aug 20, 2011 at 16:05
  • May have to try this. It's a rather large map (about 2 USGS quads in physical size). I tried a single picture of the whole map, and the resolution isn't nearly good enough.
    – mike
    Commented Aug 20, 2011 at 18:37
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    @red If you used a point-and-shoot or even a high end camera (such as a DSLR) with a mediocre lens, you were getting about 0.5 mm resolution or worse with your image, which is marginal. A DSLR (or larger format camera) with a large sensor and high-quality lens (corrected for geometric distortions in software with aperture optimally set around f/7 - f/8) will get about 0.2 mm resolution. That's twice as good as the expected resolution from manual digitizing of the map (and exceeds national mapping standards in the US). So a camera literally offers a decent one-shot solution when used right.
    – whuber
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 17:54
  • I'm not sure what kind of megapixels you have - but an single image with a 5MP camera (say 2000x2500 pixels is only good for a small part of the map - maybe 8 inches x 10 inches @ 250dpi.
    – mike
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 23:14
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To get an idea of what is possible, or just to be awed, have a look at the About the Technology section of the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection site, put up by Cartography Associates.

http://www.davidrumsey.com/about

Their optical capture and digitization methods are the gold standard in my opinion.

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  • The collection is awesome! Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 21:05
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If you need another free (and working, as I experienced) sticher with fine defaults as well as an unbelievable number of manual settings try Hugin.

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  • I gave this a try - I may need to read the documentation - it does what I want - but it seem best for images taken from a single point, just rotate the camera.
    – mike
    Commented Aug 20, 2011 at 18:39
  • @redbeard: I've used this successfully for scanned maps. You can set the "camera" parameters to values that resemble a scanner. I was really happy with the results.
    – Jake
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 2:15
  • What kind of values did you use?
    – mike
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 23:43
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You could also try Autostitch -- I have had great luck with it.

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You might try kinkos, Staples, or another engineering supply (our area has triangle A&E)
They will have a large format scanner that you get get a raster on cd for $8-15.

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