Photonics Dictionary

pixel binning

Pixel binning, also known as pixel merging or pixel combining, is a technique used in digital imaging and camera technology. It involves the combining or grouping of adjacent pixels on an image sensor to enhance certain aspects of image quality, particularly in low-light conditions.

In pixel binning, multiple pixels are combined into a single, larger pixel. This process is often employed in smartphone cameras and other digital cameras to improve sensitivity to light and reduce image noise. Here's how pixel binning typically works:

Increased sensitivity: By combining the charge or electrical signals from multiple adjacent pixels, the resulting larger pixel can capture more light. This increased sensitivity is particularly beneficial in low-light situations, helping to produce brighter and clearer images.

Reduced noise: Pixel binning can help reduce the amount of electronic noise in an image. Electronic noise, often seen as graininess, is more noticeable in images taken in low-light conditions. By combining signals from adjacent pixels, the signal-to-noise ratio is improved.

Improved dynamic range: Dynamic range refers to the ability of a camera to capture details in both bright and dark areas of an image. Pixel binning can contribute to an improved dynamic range by optimizing the way light is captured and processed.

The downside of pixel binning is a reduction in the overall resolution of the image since multiple pixels are combined into one. However, for certain applications, such as low-light photography, the trade-off in resolution may be acceptable in exchange for improved image quality.

It is important to note that different camera manufacturers and models may implement pixel binning in various ways, and advancements in image sensor technology continue to refine and optimize these techniques.

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