First, thank you, thank you, thank you.
I have been working with an off-shelf top-down desktop camera stand and digital camera for some time and was struggling with the poor quality of images of bound materials when I found this forum.
So, now I am working on a relatively inexpensive portable build for doing up to about 12x14 books in my office, colleagues' offices at other universities, homes, and library settings. The archival research I do is often in an academic library, but sometimes is in someone's kitchen, garage, or office, going through papers and materials they lugged out of storage or the back of a file cabinet, etc.
I've gone through some portable builds here and have basic 2-camera V-shaped design done and parts on order right now for the camera stands, the base, etc., After that comes together, I will be doing platen work and finishing with the lighting. These boards and especially other builds have helped a great deal, so thank you again. The one thing that still has me stymied is lighting.
I have read a good deal here on lighting and the LED bulbs seem pretty popular but quite pricey ($30 each and you need 4?). I've been tempted to go simple CFL in a cone for price reasons, but I don't think the bulbs are durable enough to travel well and breaking a CFL is nasty (toxic) business. I'm not averse to spending some funds, but $100 on lighting alone seems excessive.
However, my major concerns about lighting are a bit more social and institutional: I may be using it in a room where other people are reading / working on unrelated projects and blaring a few k of lumens around will be awkward if not prohibited. I considered shrouding the device but I wonder if the lighting might be configured to make shrouding less necessary. The more obtrusive and obnoxious the setup becomes the less likely the archival librarians will tolerate me and even less likely they will be helpful (and helpful archive librarians are invaluable). Given that the archive libraries increasingly encourage the use of digital cameras but forbid the use of flash, I may also face issues with library policies in some locations if I am blaring bright light at their archival documents. I have never had any push-back against the straight-down setup in an archive because it has no additional lighting, but likewise the images do not tend to be the best quality.
I was thinking of something like a 12" 110v LED dimmable bar light on an in-line dimmer, allowing me to negotiate with the particular librarians and situation and giving me (hopefully) the durability of LED for travel, but they seem wicked expensive. So then I thought about 2-4 LED bulbs but they seem quite large and unwieldy as well as expensive.
Cameras are A480s. Images are mostly text but some are faded and in bad shape (19th c. books in private collections, mid-20th c. mimeographs that have sat in a box in a garage for fifty years, etc.), For platen, I am currently planning to use Acrylite.
Ideas on lighting are well appreciated. Once I have a functional build (with or without lights) I will post design and pics.