Image Acquisition: Best Practices and Getting Started

Proper image acquisition is the basic starting block for success and makes many more things possible for analysis.

Image analysis is a powerful tool.

Lab- or field-based imaging platforms can measure many traits- size, shape, color, morphology- in a fraction of the time it takes to measure by hand.

Talk to our team before starting.

Breeding Insight’s team is here to help you with every step of the process, from designing the image capture platform to analyzing the results.


Build the right protocol, then keep it consistent. 

Good data starts with good images. The more consistent you can keep your image capture protocol, the more accurate your results will be.

High-quality images are the starting point for successful phenotyping.

Move the slider to compare the two images.

Image analysis best practice: nothing is touching, size marker and color marker present, QR code present Poor image capture example: orange hue, orange background, objects touching, missing markers and labels.
Image Feature High Quality Image Low Quality Image
Spacing Objects are separated and regularly spaced Objects are touching and out of alignment
Background Background is neutral, uniform, and distinct from objects Background is irregular, color is similar to objects
Size Marker Circular marker to calibrate image size No marker for size calibration
Labels and Codes Both a QR code and human readable label are present No identification for sample tracking or labeling
Camera Position Camera was positioned directly overhead and level, so distortion is minimal Camera was held at an angle, resulting in straight lines in the scene appearing curved/angled in the image
Camera Setting Setting white balance in-camera renders color accurately Use of auto white balance causes an artificial blue color cast

Controlled Environment Imaging

Ideal for phenotyping color
  • Controlled lighting gives consistent illumination
  • External light is excluded
Highly repeatable
  • Camera, lens, and working distance are the same for all images
  • Focus, white balance, and exposure settings remain fixed
May simplify workflow
  • Camera can be connected to external computer (tethered shooting)
  • Images are saved directly to hard drive, no need to repeatedly transfer
Constructed photo box with lighting

Field Imaging

Sometimes image acquisition needs to take place outside or in the field which changes the ability to control for certain factors.

Best suited for phenotyping shape and size
  • Natural lighting is highly variable
  • Harder to accurately compare color between field-based images
Fast and simple
  • Less sample management
  • Work in moment
Image capture in field best practices: neutral background, center position, size markers, qr code with human readable text.

Consider how your current image capture could be changed to make it more consistent, include markers for size and color, and utilize arrangement to get the best images possible and therefore, more useful analysis.

Have questions or need support with improving your image analysis?

Schedule an image analysis consultation. Email us