jon malis

Test Charts

Photographic test and calibration charts are used to confirm that colors match the scene in which they’re captured, ensuring that the camera and lenses are performing to their maximum ability.

Many charts have expiration dates stamped into them, and it has become general practice to replace them every few years.

Through collecting and documenting so-called “retired” and obsolete charts, I wonder about how notions of photographic accuracy have changed throughout the development of the medium. Is “red” from a 1950’s photographic card still as “red” as a 1980’s TV test chart? Can a contemporary lens still resolve to the maximum power illustrated in a test chart from the 1960’s?


Test Charts Dr. Kenneth S. Tydings' Instant-Reading Lens-Testing Chart (1964) (42" x 27", digital pigment print)
Test Charts Vertex Video Systems: Accu-Chart NTSC Color Reference (c 1980's) (12.5" x 9.75", digital pigment print)
Test Charts Ikegami Camera Registration Test Chart (undated) (24" x 18", digital pigment print)
Test Charts Vertex Video Systems: Accu-Chart Logarithmic Reference - EIA Standard (c 1980's) (12.5" x 9.75", digital pigment print)
Test Charts School of Modern Photography: Filter Color Target (designed by Ed Hannigan) (22" x 15", digital pigment print)
Test Charts JOBO Labortechnik Color Test Chart (Designed by Agfa-Gevaert) (undated) (9" x 6.75")
Test Charts Vertex Video Systems: Accu-Chart Resolution Chart (c 1980's) (12.5" x 9.75", digital pigment print)
Test Charts Sharps' Colour Chart For Cinematography and Photography: Card #1 (1956) (8" x 4.375", digital pigment print)
Test Charts Sharps' Colour Chart For Cinematography and Photography: Card #2 (1956) (8" x 4.375", digital pigment print)
Test Charts Sharps' Colour Chart For Cinematography and Photography: Card #3 (1956) (8" x 4.375", digital pigment print)
Test Charts Sharps' Colour Chart For Cinematography and Photography: Card #4 (1956) (8" x 4.375", digital pigment print)
Test Charts Custom-Built Whitepoint Viewing Device (origins unknown): SP30 Calibrated Fluorescent (18" x 6", digital pigment print)
Test Charts Custom-Built Whitepoint Viewing Device (origins unknown): Cool White Fluorescent (18" x 6", digital pigment print)
Test Charts Custom-Built Whitepoint Viewing Device (origins unknown): Warm White Fluorescent (18" x 6", digital pigment print)