The need for color accurate digital images for fine art reproduction is a reality faced by art museums and institutions around the world. It is the goal of most institutions to replace old, sometimes used and abused, transparency archives with digital image archives; many institutions have already begun this work. A number of different imaging systems with varied workflows, some idiosyncratic, are being used for this work. There is, therefore, an urgent need for the development and sharing of working methods that will ensure efficient, consistent, and color accurate results. These workflows must use camera systems to their fullest capability. It seems clear, then, that a complete understanding of the quality metrics used to assess currently available camera systems is the necessary first step in the development of newly suggested workflows.
The goal of this research project was to consider all of the steps necessary for photographers to create color accurate images of fine art for both archiving and reproduction purposes, and to introduce camera testing as the new starting point for digital imaging workflows. Introducing camera testing as part of imaging workflows will assist photographers with their imaging endeavors by enabling them to understand what quality metrics should be considered when working with digital imaging systems.
This research was restricted to the currently available colorimetric imaging equipment because most professionals within the industry use these types of imaging devices. One of the main concerns with most digital cameras is that their "spectral sensitivities are not linear transformations of an average human visual system's spectral sensitivities. This is the underlying reason why color inaccuracies exist in digital images" (Smoyer, Taplin, Berns, 2005, p. 4). This research has been focused on the most affective and efficient ways for museum photographers to accommodate for this inaccuracy.
This research began by considering a group of camera tests previously introduced to museums and institutions during a research project entitled Direct Digital Image Capture of Cultural Heritage: Benchmarking American Museum Practices and Defining Future Needs. The goal of this research was to consider all of the tests that were introduced, and to narrow the testing criteria down to four or five tests. This was completed and the key finding suggest that traditional photographic quality metrics remain the most important parameters to test for, in order to ensure high quality photographic reproductions. Thus, the key findings of this research recommend that tone reproduction, spatial frequency response, image noise, and color reproduction accuracy be tested for as the first step in a fine art reproduction imaging workflow.
Also considered within this research were the influential variables that play a part in digital imaging workflows within museums and institutions. These have been outlined and taken into consideration during the selection of the recommended camera tests. It is the feeling of the researcher that introducing camera testing to photographers will help them to understand the equipment, technology, and workflow parameters with which they work, and that this type of quality characterization is needed and very valuable.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Color photography--Quality control; Cameras--Testing; Museum exhibits; Image processing--Digital techniques
Print Media (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Print Media (CIAS)
Russo, Natalie, "The Consideration of Camera Testing for Accurate Color Reproduction Within Museums and Institutions" (2006). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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