Measuring the modulation transfer function of image capture devices: What do the numbers really mean?

Xujie Zhang, Tamar Kashti, Dror Kella, Tal Frank, Doron Shaked, Robert Ulichney, Mani Fischer, Jan P. Allebach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The modulation transfer function (MTF) is a fundamental tool for assessing the performance of imaging systems. It has been applied to a range of capture and output devices, including printers and even the media itself. In this paper, we consider the problem of measuring the MTF of image capture devices. We analyze the factors that limit the MTF of a capture device. Then, we examine three different approaches to this task based, respectively, on a slant-edge target, a sinewave target, and a grill pattern. We review the mathematical relationship between the three different methods, and discuss their comparative advantages and disadvantages. Finally, we present experimental results for MTF measurement with a number of different commercially available image capture devices that are specifically designed for capture of 2D reflection or transmission copy. These include camera-based systems, flat-bed scanners, and a drum scanner.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE-IS and T Electronic Imaging - Image Quality and System Performance IX
StatePublished - 13 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventImage Quality and System Performance IX - Burlingame, CA, United States
Duration: 24 Jan 201226 Jan 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceImage Quality and System Performance IX
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBurlingame, CA


  • Grill
  • Modulation transfer function (MTF)
  • Sinewave
  • Slanted edge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring the modulation transfer function of image capture devices: What do the numbers really mean?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this