Why Image Quality Matters In Megapixel Cameras

A single megapixel image constitutes a lot of data to be transmitted across a network or stored for future viewing. Video compression techniques are used to make the data more manageable. MPEG-4 compression is used for streaming media applications; some “frames” of the video are incomplete and only include information that changes in the image. Motion

JPEG (MJPEG) is used to provide frame-by-frame images – each frame is complete in and of itself. A third compression standard, H.264 (MPEG-4, Part 10), can help to minimize storage and bandwidth requirements of megapixel video. Megapixel cameras that offer multiple streaming capabilities can provide the type of video compression an application needs at any given moment, and switch back and forth in response to application needs. For example, a camera could use MPEG-4 compression to minimize bandwidth and switch to higher resolution JPEG mode in case of an alarm.

Lenses and other components can also impact the performance of megapixel cameras.

Higher-megapixel images require higher-quality lenses that can accommodate the increased detail, especially without losing quality at the edge of the image.

Why Image Quality Matters
Resolution (number of pixels) is only one aspect of image quality. Generally, more pixels mean better pictures. Of course, the number of pixels isn’t the final word in image quality.

The number of pixels represent the theoretical maximum resolution of the image, but other factors such as inter pixel noise, distortion in the image sensor, poor or noisy DSP design and poor lens quality can all contribute to a degradation in the final image. Therefore, a reduction in the actual amount of image resolution that is yielded from the megapixel sensor.

Care must be taken to ensure that all components of the camera are maximized to provide the highest possible yield, otherwise much of the cost associated with recording and transporting the megapixel image will be wasted if the end result is a low yield image where pixels are not producing any usable information. But that oversimplification ignores a long list of other variables, including light sensitivity, signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range.

Incorporating intelligent technology into cameras to process the megapixel images – pixel by pixel – is the best path to realizing the full benefits of megapixel technology. The potential of megapixel technology makes attention to the quality of the image even more important.

Incorporating time-proven image quality enhancements can make the technology even more powerful. Image quality historically has been a point of differentiation for Panasonic cameras, and it is this capability that enables the company to enhance and expand the benefits of megapixel technology.

How To Maximize Image Quality in Megapixel Cameras
Maximizing camera functionality related to image quality can enable megapixel cameras to capture high-resolution images as the human eye does – regardless of highly contrasted lighting conditions within a scene, direct sunlight or the dim of night. To ensure the very best megapixel video performance, consider how these factors affect the quality of an image:

• Dynamic range – The span of gradations in an image from the lightest to the darkest areas. Based on proven Super Dynamic technology, Panasonic’s latest-generation Mega SD technology uses pixel-based natural contrast image correction to optimize contrast and faithfully reproduce objects in every area and position, resulting in a 128x wider dynamic range. Using Adaptive Black Stretch technology, the image processor transforms dark areas into natural high-contrast images in real-time.

• Light sensitivity – Panasonic’s megapixel cameras are sensitive to low light levels (1.0 lux color and 0.08 lux black-and-white at F1.4 in 1.3 megapixel mode for one recent model.) The cameras’ Electronic Sensitivity Enhancement and Day/Night feature further enhance the low-light capability.

• Color quality – A primary (RGB) color filter provides superior color reproduction.

• Focus – Auto Back Focus (ABF) in Panasonic megapixel cameras adjusts the positioning of the CCD sensor to provide accurate focus in both color and black and white modes (the whole CCD printed circuit board moves to the focus point).

• Noise – Adaptive Digital Noise Reduction integrates 2D-DNR for moving objects and 3D-DNR for the b
ackground to ensure noise reduction in various conditions.

• Lens – The use of a megapixel lens ensures XYZ alignment therefore eliminating distortion on the edge of the image. 

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