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  • Getting the Most Out of Your Image

Photonics Spectra
May 2003
Recent advances in image-processing technologies are meeting the demand for better picture quality, faster data rates and higher accuracy.

Sarah Sookman

For developers of scientific or industrial image-processing applications, robustly and accurately extracting the vital information contained in each pixel presents a constant challenge. Recent developments in camera, frame grabber and algorithm technologies have contributed to raising the standards for picture quality, data rates, processing capabilities, robustness and accuracy.

The front of the line

At the front end of an application is the camera (or sensor). Typical analog cameras provide 640 x 480-pixel, 8-bit resolution at 25 or 30 fps. Many imaging applications, though, demand higher resolution and frame rates. As digital cameras made their appearance, those in industry began to see their benefits: Converting analog data to digital was no longer necessary, and images at a greater resolution and bit depth could be acquired. With digital cameras, image data can be transmitted directly to the PC, eliminating the need to convert the digital data to analog and back again. The benefits of an all-digital interface spawned research efforts in this direction...

A precisely defined series of steps that describes how a computer performs a task.
A light-tight box that receives light from an object or scene and focuses it to form an image on a light-sensitive material or a detector. The camera generally contains a lens of variable aperture and a shutter of variable speed to precisely control the exposure. In an electronic imaging system, the camera does not use chemical means to store the image, but takes advantage of the sensitivity of various detectors to different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. These sensors are transducers...
frame grabber
Image processing peripheral that converts video images from cameras into digital format and transfers these digital images to PCs.
Contraction of "picture element." A small element of a scene, often the smallest resolvable area, in which an average brightness value is determined and used to represent that portion of the scene. Pixels are arranged in a rectangular array to form a complete image.
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