Multispectral Imaging of Pigments with a digital camera and 12 interferential filters

Download are new paper “Multispectral Imaging of Pigments with a digital camera and 12 interferential filters


Multispectral Imaging of Pigments with a digital camera and 12 interferential filters (827 downloads)


This paper illustrates the method that we’ll use for the “Multispectral Imaging for Art and Archaeologycrowdfunded project.

A. Cosentino “Multispectral Imaging of Pigments with a digital camera and 12 interferential filters” e-Preservation Science, 12, 1-7, 2015.

Abstract: This paper discusses a low-cost multispectral imaging system for the identification of pigments in artworks. It is composed of a full spectrum modified digital camera, a DSLR with the IR cut-off filter removed and sensitivity extended to about 360-1100 nm. A set of 12 interferential filters covering the range 400-805 nm completes the equipment. The system uses on-scene reflectance standards and the raw images are split in the 3 CFA (color filter array) components (RGB). An appropriate set of 12 RGB components was chosen to form the set of 12 spectral images to build up the reflectance imaging cube. This system was tested on a collection of 54 historical and modern pigments and their reflectance spectra were compared with a database of FORS spectra (360-1000 nm) of the reference pigments. The performance of this system was evaluated against a commercial spectral imaging system equipped with the same set of 12 filters, but mounting a conventional monochromatic high-sensitivity CCD. The performance of the digital camera system is comparable to that of the monochromatic CCD camera, but the latter provides more accurate spectra thanks to its higher linearity, especially at the edge of the spectrum and in the condition of low signal. The proposed system is of interest for the art conservation sector because of its low cost and because the same digital camera can be used for other technical photographic methods, reducing the weight and cost of the overall imaging equipment necessary. The proposed method implements a small number of filters and consequently it has limited analytical capacity. It must only be used for an initial mapping of the pigments and this preliminary identification must then be confirmed by elemental or vibrational spectroscopic methods.

pigments checker v2 vsPigments Checker is for photographers, conservators and scientists interested in technical documentation of paintingss. It has 54 swatches of historical pigments designed for infrared photography, ultraviolet photography and other technical photographic methods for art examination. Check it out!

Pigments Checker is a collection of 54 swatches of his­tor­i­cal pig­ments that have been applied using gum ara­bic as a binder on a cel­lu­lose and cot­ton water­color paper, acids and lignin free. This paper is not treated with opti­cal bright­en­ers, it’s slightly UV flu­o­res­cent, and it reflects IR. Two cross-hair lines, 0,2 mm (ver­ti­cal) and 0.4 mm (hor­i­zon­tal) are printed on each swatch of paper before the appli­ca­tion of paint, in order to have a means to eval­u­ate the pig­ments’ trans­parency in the IR and IRR imag­ing. Among all the pig­ments and their vari­eties ever used in art these pig­ments col­lec­tion select the most used ones from antiquity to early 1950’.



  1. Taylor June 23, 2015 at 10:06 am - Reply

    This is great work, Antonino!

    • Antonino Cosentino June 23, 2015 at 1:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Taylor, I thikn it was something missing in our art conservation field. There are plenty of works on the multispectral imaging technique but not much to actually make it open to a wide audience of users. The MSI for Art and Archaeology crowdfunding project aims to publish a method that anybody can replicate.

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