Persons who want to understand when their eyes may be misleading them
A readable, yet rigorous discussion of the relationship between signal, contrast, and noise
Contrast and noise. (A) The graph depict the signal intensity and noise of the line through the inset grey squares and demonstrates the problem with background in the context of contrast. Contrast in an image is the perceived ability to distinguish between the background and the signal of interest. If both were noiseless, this would not be too difficult even if the signal was nearly identical to the background. However, camera noise and photon shot noise create an overlap in the signal and background regions with similar intensity, making it difficult to separate signal from background.
(B) Because of Fn the noise in imagestaken with an EM-CCD is greater than those from an ORCA-Flash4.0. Thus, when background is high, separation of signal from background in an EM-CCD image will be more difficult.
CNR also describes how we perceive the quality of the image. A good rule of thumb is that a pixel with a CNR of 2 can be detected by eye. On the low side, a pixel with a CNR of 1 can be just barely detected. However, this is a CNR for a single pixel of signal relative to background. Images with a CNR < 1 can show structures at reduced spatial or temporal resolution. When pixels of much lower CNR are grouped together, there is an effect called spatial pixel averaging.
When we look at images our brain performs complex functions including integrating large areas of similar signal, looking for patterns, symmetries and edges. For this reason, if we have a collection of adjacent pixels even with a very poor CNR (< 1), we may still be able to detect them visually.
Mathematically, visibility is improved by the square root of the number of pixels averaged.2 In a quantitative imaging experiment, measurements are made by well-defined algorithms, not by eye. But we can only view images in any publication or presentation with our eyes and therefore we must be aware of the spatial averaging or integration that is happening automatically in our brain.
Along with this automatic visual processing, images that are displayed are subject to many variables intrinsic to the display format (e.g., quality of the monitor, intensity scaling of the image data, printing technique, etc.) that can affect the perceived contrast. For these reasons, determinations of the quality of an image from a given camera should never be assessed exclusively by eye or on image files that have been subject to lossy compression, such as jpeg.
It looks like you're in the . If this is not your location, please select the correct region and country below.
You're headed to Hamamatsu Photonics website for JP (English). If you want to view an other country's site, the optimized information will be provided by selecting options below.
For modern websites to work according to visitor’s expectations, they need to collect certain basic information about visitors. To do this, a site will create small text files which are placed on visitor’s devices (computer or mobile) - these files are known as cookies when you access a website. Cookies are used in order to make websites function and work efficiently. Cookies are uniquely assigned to each visitor and can only be read by a web server in the domain that issued the cookie to the visitor. Cookies cannot be used to run programs or deliver viruses to a visitor’s device.
Cookies do various jobs which make the visitor’s experience of the internet much smoother and more interactive. For instance, cookies are used to remember the visitor’s preferences on sites they visit often, to remember language preference and to help navigate between pages more efficiently. Much, though not all, of the data collected is anonymous, though some of it is designed to detect browsing patterns and approximate geographical location to improve the visitor experience.
Certain type of cookies may require the data subject’s consent before storing them on the computer.
This website uses two types of cookies:
There are two ways to manage cookie preferences.
If you wish to restrict or block web browser cookies which are set on your device then you can do this through your browser settings; the Help function within your browser should tell you how. Alternatively, you may wish to visit www.aboutcookies.org, which contains comprehensive information on how to do this on a wide variety of desktop browsers.
Occasionally, we may use internet tags (also known as action tags, single-pixel GIFs, clear GIFs, invisible GIFs and 1-by-1 GIFs) at this site and may deploy these tags/cookies through a third-party advertising partner or a web analytical service partner which may be located and store the respective information (including your IP-address) in a foreign country. These tags/cookies are placed on both online advertisements that bring users to this site and on different pages of this site. We use this technology to measure the visitors' responses to our sites and the effectiveness of our advertising campaigns (including how many times a page is opened and which information is consulted) as well as to evaluate your use of this website. The third-party partner or the web analytical service partner may be able to collect data about visitors to our and other sites because of these internet tags/cookies, may compose reports regarding the website’s activity for us and may provide further services which are related to the use of the website and the internet. They may provide such information to other parties if there is a legal requirement that they do so, or if they hire the other parties to process information on their behalf.
If you would like more information about web tags and cookies associated with on-line advertising or to opt-out of third-party collection of this information, please visit the Network Advertising Initiative website http://www.networkadvertising.org.
We use third-party cookies (such as Google Analytics) to track visitors on our website, to get reports about how visitors use the website and to inform, optimize and serve ads based on someone's past visits to our website.
You may opt-out of Google Analytics cookies by the websites provided by Google:
We inform you that in such case you will not be able to wholly use all functions of our website.