While both types of equipment work with about the same technology and process, the application and performance of each one is contrasting.
Both technologies use light and time exposures to capture images using a sensor and then store that image on a device; but the major difference comes with the depth of field (DOF), which is the distance about the plane of focus (POF) where objects appear acceptably sharp in an image.
Let’s define each one
Photographing or capture
Capturing means take a digital photography of the artwork in an environment with controlled light conditions, using area sensors and shooting a single frame shot.
A scanner is a device that optically scans images, text or objects, converting them to a digital image. Scanning technology is composed of a glass panel under which there is a bright light, which illuminates the panel, and a moving optical array which records the image as a digital file line after line by moving a sensor.
Pros and Cons
Even when both technics of digitalizing are acceptable, there are still some pros and cons for both options:
- Best for digitalizing 3D artwork (such as mosaics), oil and acrylic paintings.
- Don’t need to remove artwork from their frames.
- All sizes of artwork can be photographed, no matter how large.
- If you can’t transport your artwork, the photographer can attend on site to photograph the artwork.
- Much lower resolution than scanning.
- Requires appropriate camera equipment (tripod, camera, sharp lens, and lighting)
- High-resolution images (up to 6400 dpi).
- No need to focus
- Stable color calibration due to consistent lighting conditions.
- Best for digitalizing artwork that are matte or low gloss (watercolour, pastel, charcoal, pencil, crayon, wax, oil sticks, line art, etc.).
- The protruding points of oil paint will be flattened in a scanner (although now there is an alternative or this with the “Metis 3D Colorgate Edition”)
- Artworks have to be removed from their frames.
Either by scanning or photographing you can obtain good results; it will just depend of the quality of the equipment and the skill of the person using it.
I don’t highly recommend photographing your artwork with a mobile phone or tablet even though the cameras on them are quite good, it’s wiser to use a professional artwork reproduction service, who knows how to handle the equipment properly and capture your painting or 3D artwork, with all it’s colors and detail.