Evaluating Digital Cameras

Electronic Imaging Conferenece 2006 - D. Wüller


The quality of digital cameras has undergone a magnificent development during the last 10 years. So have the methods to evaluate the quality of these cameras. At the time the first consumer digital cameras were released in 1996, the first ISO standards on test procedures were already on their way. At that time the quality was mainly evaluated using a visual analysis of images taken of test charts as well as natural scenes.

The ISO standards lead the way to a couple of more objective and reproducible methods to measure characteristics such as dynamic ranges, speed, resolution and noise. This paper presents an overview of the camera characteristics, the existing evaluation methods and their development during the last years.

It summarizes the basic requirements for reliable test methods, and answers the question of whether it is possible to test cameras without taking pictures of natural scenes under specific lighting conditions. In addition to the evaluation methods, this paper mentions the problems of digital cameras in the past concerning power consumption, shutter lag, etc.

It also states existing deficits which need to be solved in the future such as optimized exposure and gamma control, increasing sensitivity without increasing noise, and the further reduction of shutter lag etc.

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