Simple and cheap photosystem for herbarium digitization


small collections
photosystem construction

How to Cite

Novikov, A., & Sup-Novikova, M. (2021). Simple and cheap photosystem for herbarium digitization. Plant Introduction, (91/92), 50-53.


The digitization of the natural history collections is a crucial task of today. It allows not only sharing the data but also virtually preserving the specimens. This is especially important for small collections that suffer from limited financial support and can be easily lost.

Here we share our experience of the building of cheap and simple photosystem that can be used for routine digitization of local herbaria with low or without incomes. This photosystem is modular and based on the regular components that can be easily purchased and/or updated. It is compact and can be conveniently assembled and disassembled, and transported. This photosystem consists of horizontal tripod Beike Q999H with two led lamps Yongnuo YN-300 Air mounted on the 11” Magic Arm handles. The camera Canon EOS 800D was chosen due to presence of fully rotated display, the high resolution, modern focusing system, RAW format support, and low price on the market. The lens Tokina AT-X M35 PRO DX AF 35 mm f/2.8 Macro was chosen due to extreme sharpness along the whole capturing field, low aberrations and optical distortion, high light sensitivity, and fast autofocus.

We also tested light box as an option for herbarium specimens’ digitization. However, we found that light box is inconvenient for herbarium digitization dues several reasons, among which its massive sizes, limited access to working space, and necessity of application of huge mounting system that should hold the camera far higher over the center of light box. In general, work with light box significantly decelerated the digitization process. We did not find any advantaged in use of the light box and therefore it was rejected. We hope that our experience will be useful for other curators wanting to digitize their collections and having limited budget.


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