Getting the most accurate color in scans of old documents, photographs, etc.

Started 3 months ago | Questions thread
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GTaillefer New Member • Posts: 13
Getting the most accurate color in scans of old documents, photographs, etc.

Hello everyone, I know that I had already made a post a few days ago but wanted to come with another question that I have. So again for context I am currently trying to scan a bunch of old photographs, documents (ranging from a few decades ago, to a few hundred years back), etc that I have in my possession, and am going to begin the process of scanning them. In doing so, I wanted to get the most accurate scans of exactly what they looked like (especially in color), to preserve and digitize exactly what these things looked like and their details that each artifact holds (and have become a little obsessed over the matter).

So therefore I have decided to ask questions and for thoughts about the accuracy of capturing the exact color of the things being scanned.

One of the things that I would hate to do and that I never like seeing people doing is editing their scans or the color options on the scanning applications, photoshop, or some other thing like that. The reason I don’t like this is I believe that when that happens, the details from the artifact get lost in the process, and if that scan ends up being the only copy of the artifact where the artifact becomes lost or destroyed, then that becomes a problem (and especially of the fact that humans aren't very precise so theres prone for more error than a computer in editing). An example might be a faded photograph due to time and environment where someone fixes it in photoshop to « restore it », films being edited to a more realistic look of the images (through changing of color), negatives turned from their negative forms to a positive ones, and especially when the « super tool » of removing scratches and bends is used.

However a while back I took interest in something called a color correction card. I don’t remember which way I first saw it but one of which was when I was doing some research through vital records (États civils) in the city of Bordeaux when I saw what is presented on the first page of most of them:

After learning about these and seeing this I started to do a little research into them to see if they are worth it or not. This was especially after I had been testing out scanning some of the old documents on my Epson WF-3540 Series 2 then my ET-4760 Series printers/scanners to find that they didn’t seem to correctly capture the exact color of what the document actually looked like with the naked eye. I have since then decided to buy a Epson V600 Perfection scanner so as to use a more professional scanner in order to scan these things, and from what I’ve experienced it does a way better job at getting the colors more accurate to what they actually are than the printer-scanners. Although now that I think about it it probably, and always does, have to do with what type of light and camera the scanners are using in order to capture the scan. I also wanted to mention that on my V600 when I scan at different dpis the brightness of each scan differs a little from one another. Thoughts?

However now that I think about it the use of a color or greyscale correction card seems to conflict with the idea of editing the original scan. That therefore brings me to these questions:

If I want to go for accuracy in scans on each detail of each artifact including the color, meaning that I do not want to edit the scan, would it really be ideal to actually use a grey scale/color correction card? If so why? What would be the benefits and disadvantages of using or not using them? Etc.

Would it be better to just keep the coloring of the plain scan, note down what scanner you are using, and in the future use a hypothetical program that could show you what the document would look like under different sources of light for example? In that case would putting a correction card in the scan but not editing the image be a better solution to both problems (which in that case, without editing the scan, you can at least use a more universal point of reference to know what its real colors were)?

I also wanted to know thoughts about the color of the lid that touches the document, photograph, etc. Should I keep using a white one or should I get a black one (I was thinking maybe since it would probably be a good alternative for papers from typewriters that can be easy to see the other side's contents)?

Is there any other advice relating to color accuracy that you all could give? Thanks

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