Electronic Imaging Conference 2013 - Dietmar Wueller (Image Engineering)
The major difference between a dSLR camera, a consumer camera, and a camera in a mobile device is the sensor size. The sensor size is also related to the over all system size including the lens. With the sensors getting smaller the individual light sensitive areas are also getting smaller leaving less light falling onto each of the pixels.
This effect requires higher signal amplification that leads to higher noise levels or other problems that may occur due to denoising algorithms. These Problems become more visible at low light conditions because of the lower signal levels. The fact that the sensitivity of cameras decreases makes customers ask for a standardized way to measure low light performance of cameras. The CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) together with ANSI has addressed this for camcorders in the CEA-639 standard.
The ISO technical committee 42 (photography) is currently also thinking about a potential standard on this topic for still picture cameras. This paper is part of the preparation work for this standardization activity and addresses the differences compared to camcorders and also potential additional problems with noise reduction that have occurred over the past few years.
The result of this paper is a proposed test procedure with a few open questions that have to be answered in future work.