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It is a common practice in brazilian law offices to take pictures of case files, page by page. The procedure is required because the files can't be taken longer than five days, so it's more convenient to take pictures.

The pages in a case file are organized in a way that you can't simply take the pages and insert in a conventional scanner. They all have a couple of holes through which a metal string passes (very similar to a binder), which can be quite a burden to put back a few hundred old pages.

I've been doing some research to figure out the best way to take the pictures and so far I only have vague ideas concerning camera holders, page flippers and handheld scanners. Although this last seems like the best idea it's hard to find any information regarding how fast they are.

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I think getting a whole camera setup and page flipper would be prohibitively expensive. If you can't take them apart and feed them into a scanner with an automatic feeder (this would keep them in order), I would say your best bet will be to just take pictures.

There are numerous iPhone apps that are designed to "scan" documents (ie. they will straighten and enhance the photos so they look almost like a real scan and then put each page in order in a PDF. My favorite is JotNote Scanner

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I wouldn't bother with a flipping mechanism. A dual-camera setup with a transparent wedge you can raise/lower by hand is relatively simple to build. Make it so the cameras take a picture once the wedge is in place, and you'll see a productivity gain compared to taking pictures by hand a page at a time.

For large documents it can be a bit of a chore, but it's basically lever up, turn page, lever down, for as many pages as you have. OCR software compensates for typical page geometry deviations.

There are a wealth of resources available on the internet regarding the frame and wedge construction, I kind of freelanced the capture/trigger mechanism since it was a prototype.

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The folks at diybookscanner.org have some very neat ideas for quite cheap setups and software. –  0x6d64 Jul 30 '12 at 8:56
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They all have a couple of holes through which a metal string passes (very similar to a binder), which can be quite a burden to put back a few hundred old pages.

Do they have to be exactly the same as before you start to scan them?

Why not take them apart and feed them into a scanner, then bind them back using modern techniques. Then they will look better, last longer and maybe save a bit of space.

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The original pages cannot be replaced by any means because they are authenticated. It would be fraud in other words. Another problem about using a conventional scanner is how poorly holed most of the papers are, which makes it quite impossible to straighten up and have all the holes aligned. –  Renan Jul 29 '12 at 3:09
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