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

Started 1 month ago | Questions thread
Sasquatchian Regular Member • Posts: 175
Re: Getting the most accurate color in scans of old documents, photographs, etc.

You're entering into a big can of worm and I think you're probably expecting a bit much.

First things first. I didn't see where you mentioned your monitor and your editing environment. You'll need a good quality hardware calibrated monitor set up in a room that has neutral walls, preferably gray, but anything neutral will do. Dimmer ambient light is better and no room light at all hitting the monitor. If you don't do this, nothing else you do will matter.

Second, whatever scanner you use, find a software package for it that allows you do load scanner input profiles. There's a fairly steep learning curve in how to properly make input profiles and not all software packages that make them are equal. Far from it. Ask me how I know. Ha. You'll need a good IT8 target with a custom read data file for it and you'll need software to make the profile. The Faust targets  previously mentioned here should be good.

Once you get the scanner properly set up, and start making scans, you WILL have to make adjustments in Photoshop or whatever editing program you prefer but Ps is by far the best for this. Profiling the scanner will get you close and in some cases it will get you right on straight out of the box, but most of the time it just gets you in the ballpark. There are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which, is that the media that the IT8 target is printed on will not be the same as what you are scanning. And on top of that you're probably going to want to correct the resulting scans unless you goal is to simply reproduce old faded photos and papers. Most people actually want to get somewhat close to what the image looked like when it was new. And your supposition that color correction somehow harms the image is just patently not true. If you do huge moves on an 8 bit per channel image, then maybe, but if you scan in whatever high bit option your scanner provides, be it 10, 12, or 16 bits per channel, you'll be able to tweak to your heart's content.

Finally, you'll need to have a calibrated light source to  view the originals with while you compare to you calibrated display. I like  to use a 4700K tungsten light for print viewing, as it's close enough to the industry standard 5000K standard and has a full color spectrum with a 99+ CRI. Almost every LED light I've measured has been deficient in the R9 column and will give you misleading ideas of what the original really looks like.

Probably the most affordable profiling applications are from X-Rite, now known as Calibrite. Pretty good and certainly affordable.

Some really great folks to talk to about all of this are at in Seattle. Patient and very knowledgeable.

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