The digitization of both volumetric and flat objects is the nowadays-preferred method in order to preserve cultural heritage items. High quality digital files obtained from photographic plates, films and prints, paintings, drawings, gravures, fabrics and sculptures, allows not only for a wider diffusion and on line transmission, but also for the preservation of the original items from future handling. Early digitization procedures used scanners for flat opaque or translucent objects and camera only for volumetric or flat highly texturized materials. The technical obsolescence of the high-end scanners and the improvement achieved by professional cameras has result in a wide use of cameras with digital back to digitize any kind of cultural heritage item. Since the lens, the digital back, the software controlling the camera and the digital image processing provide a wide range of possibilities, there is necessary to standardize the methods used in the reproduction work leading to preserve as high as possible the original item properties. This work presents an overview about methods used for camera system characterization, as well as the best procedures in order to identify and counteract the effect of the lens residual aberrations, sensor aliasing, image illumination, color management and image optimization by means of parametric image processing. As a corollary, the work shows some examples of reproduction workflow applied to the digitization of valuable art pieces and glass plate photographic black and white negatives.
Many digital image applications like digitization of cultural heritage for preservation purposes operate with compressed files in one or more image observing steps. For this kind of applications JPEG compression is one of the most widely used. Compression level, final file size and quality loss are parameters that must be managed optimally. Although this loss can be monitored by means of objective image quality measurements, the real challenge is to know how it can be related with the perceived image quality by observers. A pictorial image has been degraded by two different procedures. The first, applying different levels of low pass filtering by convolving the image with progressively broad Gauss kernels. The second, saving the original file to a series of JPEG compression levels. In both cases, the objective image quality measurement is done by analysis of the image power spectrum. In order to obtain a measure of the perceived image quality, both series of degraded images are displayed on a computer screen organized in random pairs. The observers are compelled to choose the best image of each pair. Finally, a ranking is established applying Thurstone scaling method. Results obtained by both measurements are compared between them and with other objective measurement method as the Slanted Edge Test.