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Photo: HP TopShot
The HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 is not your average scanner/printer. Unlike a 2D scanning bed, which can only take images of items that can lie flat, the HP TopShot has a camera and lights attached to an arm that takes pictures from directly above the scanning bed (six images are captured and automatically combined into a one image.) This allows the user to document anything that fits reasonably under the camera’s arm, which means the HP TopShot is ideal for documenting small 3D works that would be impossible to document with an average scanner (like a slice of pizza).

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The HP TopShot’s 3D scanning capability definitely has the potential to be very useful to crafters who work on a smaller scale and have trouble documenting their work. It’s like a miniature photo studio that also streamlines the process of posting images of projects by directly connecting to the internet.
One of my favorite ways to document 3D work is as animated GIF files. Not only is it a way to quickly show off a 3D piece from many different angles, but it can add character to the work itself. I discovered that the TopShot it is an amazing tool for creating high quality stop motion animated GIF files. This also means that the TopShot could be a great way to document the progression of a small project in a clean white space away from the rest of your work-in-progress mess.
Here are some animated GIFs that I made with the HP TopShot when I was working on my tutorial for The Pizzoetrope:

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The HP TopShot can take longer to scan and send an image to the computer than an average digital camera takes to display a picture but, because you can check the image quality right away, it saves time on having to go back and take pictures again if they turn out to be blurry. Plus, the HP TopShot comes with software applications that allow you to send images directly to online storage and auction sites. So if you are someone who uses a digital camera to document small 3D work, like jewelry, and then upload it to your computer and post it on the web later, the process of documenting your work could be better and more efficient with the HP TopShot.
It’s worth noting that the HP TopShot is probably not for everyone. It is an unusual scanner that is ideal for a specific type of work, but it also has limitations. Scanned documents are impressive for a digital photograph, but still not as good as most of the flatbed scanners that I’ve worked with. I scanned several documents and was able to read them and easily make out the signatures on them. I also scanned several images from magazines and found that the image quality was usually quite good, but if there was an irregularity on the surface of a glossy magazine page I often got a reflection from the lights that could ruin the scanned image.
The bottom line is that it is a 3D scanner that also happens to accommodate 2D scanning needs. There are lots of good 2D inkjet scanner/printers out there already, but if you are someone who wants to document smaller 3D work for display on the internet and can use the efficiency of a laser printer, then this printer might be perfect for you.
For more examples of the quality of image that the HP TopShot is capable of, take a look at the HP TopShot’s Photostream.

Andrew Salomone

Artist, writer, and teacher who makes work about popular culture, technology, and traditional craft processes.

http://www.andrewsalomone.com


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