Spectral imaging using a commercial colour-filter array digital camera

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The Conservation Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM-CC)

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Berns, Roy; Taplin, Lawrence; Nezamabadi, Mahdi
Color management; Cultural heritage; Digital archiving; Digital photography; Spectral imaging
article description
A multi-year research programme is underway to develop and deliver spectral-based digital cameras for imaging cultural heritage at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The cameras will be used for documentation, production imaging, and conservation science. Three approaches have undergone testing: a liquid-crystal tunable filter (LCTF) coupled with a monochrome camera, a six-position filter wheel containing absorption filters coupled with a monochrome camera, and a two-position filter slider containing absorption filters coupled with a colour-filter array (CFA) colour camera. The last approach is the most practical as it uses conventional digital photography methodologies and equipment and can easily be incorporated into existing museum workflows. A virtual camera model was created that predicted camera signals from incident radiation and was used to design a pair of absorption filters. The filters were fabricated and tested using a commercial CFA digital camera. Our first experiments have been very promising: Average accuracy was under 1 CIEDE2000 and about 1.5 per cent RMS for both calibration and verification data. This level of performance was superior to our other, more complex approaches.