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A Simple Model for Sharpness in Digital Cameras – Aliasing

Having shown that our simple two dimensional MTF model is able to predict the performance of the combination of a perfect lens and square monochrome pixel we now turn to the effect of the sampling interval on spatial resolution according to the guiding formula:

(1)   \begin{equation*} MTF_{Sys2D} = \left|(\widehat{ PSF_{lens} }\cdot \widehat{PIX_{ap} })\ast\ast\: \delta\widehat{\delta_{pitch}}\right|_{pu} \end{equation*}

The hats in this case mean the Fourier Transform of the relative component normalized to 1 at the origin (_{pu}), that is the individual MTFs of the perfect lens PSF, the perfect square pixel and the delta grid.

Sampling in the Spatial and Frequency Domains

Sampling is expressed mathematically as a Dirac delta function at the center of each pixel (the red dots below).

Figure 1. Left, 1a: A highly zoomed (3200%) image of the lens PSF, an Airy pattern, projected onto the imaging plane where the sensor sits. Pixels shown outlined in yellow. A red dot marks the sampling coordinates. Right, 1b: The sampled image zoomed at 16000%, 5x as much, because each pixel’s width is 5 linear units on the side.

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A Simple Model for Sharpness in Digital Cameras – I

The next few posts will describe a linear spatial resolution model that can help a photographer better understand the main variables involved in evaluating the ‘sharpness’ of photographic equipment and related captures. I will show numerically that the combined spectral frequency response (MTF) of a perfect AAless monochrome digital camera and lens in two dimensions can be described as the normalized multiplication of the Fourier Transform (FT) of the lens Point Spread Function by the FT of the (square) pixel footprint, convolved with the FT of a rectangular grid of Dirac delta functions centered at each  pixel, as better described in the article

    \[ MTF_{2D} = \left|(\widehat{ PSF_{lens} }\cdot \widehat{PIX_{ap} })\ast\ast\: \delta\widehat{\delta_{pitch}}\right|_{pu} \]

With a few simplifying assumptions we will see that the effect of the lens and sensor on the spatial resolution of the continuous image on the sensing plane can be broken down into these simple components.  The overall ‘sharpness’ of the captured digital image can then be estimated by combining the ‘sharpness’ of each of them. Continue reading A Simple Model for Sharpness in Digital Cameras – I

Chromatic Aberrations MTF Mapped

A number of interesting insights come to light once one realizes that as far as the slanted edge method (of measuring  the Modulation Transfer Function of a Bayer CFA digital camera and lens from its raw data) is concerned it is as if it were dealing with identical full resolution images behind three color filters, each in their own separate color planes:

CFA Sensor Frequency Domain Model
Figure 1. The Modulation Transfer Function of the three color planes can be measured separately directly in the raw data by open source  MTF Mapper

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Linearity in the Frequency Domain

For the purposes of ‘sharpness’ spatial resolution measurement in photography  cameras can be considered shift-invariant, linear systems.

Shift invariant means that the imaging system should respond exactly the same way no matter where light from the scene falls on the sensing medium .  We know that in a strict sense this is not true because for instance a pixel has a square area so it cannot have an isotropic response by definition.  However when using the slanted edge method of linear spatial resolution measurement  we can effectively make it shift invariant by careful preparation of the testing setup.  For example the edges should be slanted no more than this and no less than that. Continue reading Linearity in the Frequency Domain

Information Transfer – The ISO Invariant Case

We know that the best Information Quality possible collected from the scene by a digital camera is available right at the output of the sensor and it will only be degraded from there.  This article will discuss what happens to this information as it is transferred through the imaging system and stored in the raw data.  It will use the simple language outlined in the last post to explain how and why the strategy for Capturing the best Information or Image Quality (IQ) possible from the scene in the raw data involves only two simple steps:

1) Maximizing the collected Signal given artistic and technical constraints; and
2) Choosing what part of the Signal to store in the raw data and what part to leave behind.

The second step is only necessary  if your camera is incapable of storing the entire Signal at once (that is it is not ISO invariant) and will be discussed in a future article.  In this post we will assume an ISOless imaging system.

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How to Measure the SNR Performance of Your Digital Camera

Determining the Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) curves of your digital camera at various ISOs and extracting from them the underlying IQ metrics of its sensor can help answer a number of questions useful to photography.  For instance whether/when to raise ISO;  what its dynamic range is;  how noisy its output could be in various conditions; or how well it is likely to perform compared to other Digital Still Cameras.  As it turns out obtaining the relative data is a little  time consuming but not that hard.  All you need is your camera, a suitable target, a neutral density filter, dcraw and free ImageJ, Octave or (pay) Matlab.

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