Digital Master File

The goal of digital reformatting is to produce a rich digital master image file. The digital master image file has the following attributes (NARA 2004):

  1. Digitization is done in a “use neutral” manner, not for any specific output. The image quality parameters are selected to satisfy most types of outputs.
  2. The primary objective is to create digital images that look like the original objects and are “reasonable” reproductions without enhancements.
  3. Master Image Files document the object at the time of capture, not what it might have once looked like if restored to its original condition.

In general objects should be captured at the highest bit depth that is allowed by the specific camera or scanner. Currently, all three scanning devices in the Scanning Lab can capture 16 bit files. Scanning at high bit depth reduces the degradation of the image file during the editing stage. Photoshop CS, a very common photo editing program used in the scanning lab, is capable of handling 16 bit files. The Master Image File should be saved as a 16 bit file.