Taking still pictures of printed circuit boards


TPF Noob!
Oct 20, 2015
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I am not a photographer by any means, but I need a way (tripod I assume) to take pictures where the camera is pointing directly down on a desk or table. I would have the part on the table and then take picture. My concern is that the camera be exactly 90 degrees with respect to the table so the images come out square with respect to the camera. I then take these images and super impose them on a 3D Model. What kind of camera stand is available for this?
I would recommend a copy stand rather than a tripod. There area number of different iterations, some with built-in light supports and other features, but they are designed for exactly the sort of task you describe.
You can "invert" the center column of many of the better tripods (you can also increase how far the legs will spread to make sure they aren't in your way. That would allow you to place the camera on a table, face down, and carefully focus.
A few tripods have a center column that tilts, and extends the camera outward, away from the three legs of the tripod. Tilting center column or side-swing center column are possible search terms. The Benbo brand was the first one to offer this. There is also a Benro (coattail rider?), and a Manfrotto model or two that do this.
While there are numerous tripods which accomplish your goal, wouldn't it simply be easier to set up an easel which would mount your circuit board vertically? In that position you could even take you shots handheld.

There are also several software packages for post production which feature a "tilt" option. Use this tool to bring the board into proper perspective.
A copy stand is best, however right now I just use my tripod. I can put the vertical shaft to horizontal, then I raise and lower the item I am photographing. Lighting is important, usually from two sides at around 45 degrees and adjust to eliminate any reflections. I just use my iphone to check levels of camera and object.
If you have a standard setup with items all about the same size, you can just whip together a copy stand from some pvc pipe. All the parts can come from Home Depot for a few bucks.
If the circuit board doesn't have any components mounted on it or having only small components you could use a flat bed scanner. I am sure you have a photocopy machine. Try that out if it looks kinda OK then get a scanner.

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