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Proceedings Paper

Resolution and sensitivity: simplified imager performance by MTF and PTC
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Paper Abstract

How to quantify something that is typically subjective in nature can be a daunting task. Image quality is no exception and the pursuit of quantifiable results has thus led to an exhaustive battery of tests, methodology, and reporting formats. How many specifications are really required of a camera to establish its imaging performance? Of these which are actually pertinent and further which are truly unique? Most all design decisions can eventually be reduced down to a simple tradeoff. Whether it be, for example, weight versus strength or cost versus reliability there is always a struggle to be had at some point during the design process. For sensor makers this tradeoff typically manifests as resolution versus sensitivity. It is irrelevant to have a 100 megapixel sensor if the pixels are not sensitive enough to respond to reasonable illumination. On the other hand it is also irrelevant if you can image with virtually no light but do not have enough pixels to resolve your subject. Resolution and sensitivity are essential to ascertaining imager performance. This paper will discuss how these two specifications are more than just a megapixel count or simply an ISO film speed equivalent. Resolution of a sensor is best reported as its modulation transfer function (MTF) and sensitivity is more informative when described in terms of a photon transfer curve (PTC). This paper will show how to create and interpret these two curves and finally how to translate the results back into the qualitative realm.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 April 2010
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 7662, Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, Modeling, and Testing XXI, 76620O (22 April 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.850553
Show Author Affiliations
Jason A. Mazzetta, Electro Optical Industries (United States)
Stephen D. Scopatz, Electro Optical Industries (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7662:
Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, Modeling, and Testing XXI
Gerald C. Holst; Keith A. Krapels, Editor(s)

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