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Paper: Evaluating Commercial Scanners for Astronomical Image Digitization
Volume: 410, Preserving Astronomy's Photographic Legacy
Page: 111
Authors: Simcoe, R.J.
Abstract: Many organizations have been interested in understanding if commercially available scanners are adequate for scientifically useful digitization. These scanners range in price from a few hundred to a few tens of thousands of dollars (USD), often with little apparent difference in performance specifications. This paper describes why the underlying technology used in flatbed scanners tends to effectively limit resolutions to the 600-1200 dots per inch (dpi) range and how the overall system Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) can be used to evaluate the quality of the digitized data for the small feature sizes found in astronomical images. Two scanners, the Epson V750 flatbed scanner and the Nikon Cool Scan 9000ED film strip scanner, are evaluated through their Modulation Transfer Functions (MTF). The MTF of the Harvard DASCH scanner is also shown for comparison. The particular goal of this evaluation was to understand if the scanners could be used for digitizing spectral plates at the University of Toronto. The plates of primary interest were about 15 mm (5/8 inch) wide by 180 mm (7 inches) long and ~50 mm x 80 mm (2 x 3 inches). The results of the MTF work show that the Epson scanner, despite claims of high resolution, is of limited value for scientific imaging of feature sizes below about 50 μm and therefore not a good candidate for digitizing the spectral plates and problematic for scanning direct plates. The Nikon scanner is better and, except for some frustrating limitations in its software, its performance seems to hold promise as a digitizer for spectral plates in the University of Toronto collection.
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