“Truth in imaging” is a phrase that encapsulates Image Science Associates’ approach to imaging science as it applies to digital imaging and ISO standards. For Image Science Associates (ISA), located in Williamson, NY, it’s all about digital capture quality control. The key to success is bringing high-quality measurement tools (rulers) to the process.

Education on the science of digital imaging is one of the biggest challenges ISA faces in ensuring digital capture quality. The ISA team understands the science of imaging. Their expertise is honed from decades of working on the computational aspects of digital imaging at Eastman Kodak. ISA’s customer base is unaware of the valuable metrics gained by the science. That’s where the ISO standards come in; those are science-based metrics. ISA aims to help educate users about the standards and how they apply to their work. It’s not just “megapixels.”

Enabling their customers to take a statistically controlled approach requires specialized skills. That’s why ISA chose Applied Image. In ISA’s view, “Nobody except Applied Image can help us do this kind of work. They have a corner on this market.“

Casebook Situation

ISA provides image quality targets, software, and consulting to the digital image archiving community. The company’s products enable quality control for the digitization of transmissive and reflective material, from books to historic maps to artwork, baseball cards, and more.

The Library of Congress (LoC), the world’s largest library, and the Smithsonian, the “nation’s attic,” are key ISA customers. The LoC must ensure that images meet Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI). This means all the pertinent aspects of measuring digital imaging quality must be considered. ISA takes care of how that gets done by bringing the relevant ISO standards into a single package. ISO provides guidelines for how things are measured with consistency.

ISA needed to help LoC incorporate these tools and guidelines into its workflows. The LoC has more than 173 million items in its collection. ISA estimates it will take five years to digitize. So, how does the team set up a day-to-day workflow with various equipment and have all the results look the same?


ISA created a simplified method to define, share, and test performance specifications and GoldenThread™ software to generate reports based on user-defined test profiles. The system communicates image quality standards within the digital archiving industry. It eliminates waste, subquality products, and the maze of image quality specifications.

This custom software is ISO compliant and measures:

• Grayscale and color response
• Resolution
• Sampling frequency
• Spatial frequency response (SFR)
• White balance
• Color channel registration
• Noise
• Color encoding accuracy
• Lighting uniformity

About ISA

Image Science Associates‘ mission is to educate industry professionals on the protocols, tools, and best practices used to evaluate digital image quality. The ISA imaging scientists and engineers specialize in integrating image quality targets and analysis software into a cohesive package. The company serves various industries, including research libraries, digital labs, museums, and system manufacturers.

When the software indicates digitization is out of spec and correction is necessary, it automatically executes full-scale tone and white balance correction with dark or light background cropping. Object-Level Target information makes benign, do-no-harm tone and white balance corrections to user-selected aim points. The software also helps create derivative images from master image files.

Applied Image was essential to the ISA system’s development. An SFR Target was critical for properly calibrating the system to meet end-user requirements. ISA researchers provided rough drawings to the Applied Image team to get started. Once ISA reviewed and approved the Applied Image draft drawings, the target was put into production. ISA then cuts the tiny custom SFR target to integrate it into a larger target. In addition to the resolution items, color components are integrated into the targets. The completed product is plated and sold to ISA’s valued customers.

Rez Checker Target: Miniaturized target for assessing color, tone, and white balance and
measuring resolution and Spatial Frequency Response (SFR) or Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) for digital cameras/scanners using edge gradient analysis of ISO 12233 and ISO 16067.The slanted edges can be used to reliably measure SFR or MTF out to 3000 dot-per-inch or 60 cy/mm. with the appropriate software. NIST traceable calibrations and certificate are available.

Morning setup to be sure the cameras are calibrated and performing properly. The Library of Congress requires its vendors to submit an image of the target daily for their approval to ensure accuracy. ISA’s tools support this requirement.

Why was this Important to ISA?

By designing quality controls around digital imaging, the ISA team helps prevent variability in content digitization. To accomplish this goal, ISA needed very small high-quality components for its custom machine to measure resolution. ISA relied on Applied Image’s microlithography expertise to produce the required precision component.

ISA founder Don Williams explained, “When we go to a web browser and search for images like Woman with a Water Jug, The Seine, The Mona Lisa, etc., many images will come up for each. And we notice that they’re all different. That illustrates the kind of variability in content digitization that the team at ISA is trying to prevent.”

Variability in content digitization.

Would You Recommend Applied Image’s Products and Services To Others?

 Don Williams noted that the Applied Image team’s unique expertise and ability to communicate at a scientific level makes them invaluable partners for innovative development organizations like his. Mr. Williams has engaged Applied Image on projects for decades, beginning with his early days at Eastman Kodak. So Applied Image’s one-of-kind capabilities were well known to the ISA team.

Once ISA was awarded the Library of Congress contract for targets, Williams said, “We’re going to Applied Image for these components. And frankly, they’re the only ones who know how to manage film these days. So, I can talk with their people about film imaging because that’s what they know. They have deep image literacy, and that’s why it’s so easy to work with them.”

Applied Image’s expertise in precision-imaged optical components with NIST traceable calibrations runs deep; it is the go-to company for producing revolutionary designs, whether you need one or hundreds of components.

 Applied Image’s unique manufacturing processes and industry expertise allow us to create custom components and standards that meet the specific needs of our customers.