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I have used the Simple Scanner (really nice app, by the way) to scan some sheet music. Looks nice but it's picking up too much detail and would like to adjust the levels.

Example

Sadly, the GIMP fails so miserably here that it's unacceptable to use it. The PDF programs in the software-center are all incapable of doing that as well. I've looked at PDF Studio (the commercial linux PDF editor) and it doesn't look like you can do that as well.

Am I doomed to use a friend's photoshop in Windows?

This will be for a high quality, 50 page document. In GIMP, one must edit each individual layer. There is no batch processing applicable (unless I'm missing something). Further, I cannot export as PDF (or .ps or DeJaVu) again. Please, no roundabout workarounds (I intend on editing about 100 50-page documents and would rather not spend time fiddling around with programs that aren't suitable).

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2 Answers

Curves in gimp may also do the trick for you, as shown in the next example. But if you are looking for an automated batch correction tool I can suggest other than saving the curves/levels Preset (using the "+" button beside the "Presets" combo box) and you will be able to quickly apply the same curves/levels to all your images.

Screenshots provided for your convenience:

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Gimp in action with curves doing the correction.

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The Curves applied to the final image.

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The image after the curves process.

Note: In this example, the curves are set to an aggressive condition which makes the images look darker, that's why there are yet lots of undesired details on the image, different than the results that @falstaff provided on his example. You can adjust it in order to get the same results but I wanted to provide a different example. Thank you for your comprehension.

Good luck!

P.S. If you are not affraid about terminals, you can take a look at GIMP BATCH MODE on which you can get a useful tool for batch processing your images. Additionally there are those Photolab Plugins which aims to do the batch processing and other tricks via GUI. This "Clear paper to "white" for a scanned pictures" may be of your interest inside of the Photolab Plugins.

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I got special interest on your issue, that's why added a P.S. with information of a few tools that I find interesting but I haven't tested myself. Please let me know if one of these did the trick for your case. Thank you! –  Geppettvs D'Constanzo Sep 9 '11 at 15:56
    
Sadly, the batch processor does not export to PDF (not even PS or DeJaVu). It must be in one of those formats. –  user6658 Sep 9 '11 at 22:50
    
This is worth for another question, such as "How to create a PDF from JPG" or something. You can create as many jpg's as you wish, put them altogether in a folder, go to a terminal and change directory to that working folder, then drop the [convert *.jpg FILENAME.pdf] command, which will result in a pdf file containing all the jpg images in a single PDF file. The order of the pages will depend on the filenames, for which I would suggest you to use Phatch for batch renaming all your JPG's. If you need further information it would be great if you drop a different question. Good luck! –  Geppettvs D'Constanzo Sep 9 '11 at 23:15
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But creating a JPG would reduce the quality of the scans. It is a lossless image. It would also require more work than I'm looking for. This is not a very elegant solution. Simply put, the GIMP is not suitable. Thank you for your help, both of you, but this question is looking for a program that's actually geared toward what I want. –  user6658 Sep 10 '11 at 0:27
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What's the problem with GIMP?

Did you tried to use Colors => Levels? There are three Buttons on the lower right half, which can be used to define white/black.

enter image description here

That's what I could do with GIMP with a few clicks

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Now try exporting it into a PDF. and then applying that to a 50 page document. –  user6658 Sep 9 '11 at 15:39
    
Converting a whole bunch of JPGs into a single PDF can be done with ImageMagick's "convert *.jpg out.pdf" utility. –  colan Apr 25 '12 at 22:42
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