What is Pixel-bin­ning?

HWM (Singapore) - - Trends -

Nokia’s Lu­mia 808 and 1020 PureView smart­phones come with a 41MP cam­era with 38 ef­fec­tive me­gapix­els. Nokia has also wisely in­creased the sen­sor size so that it’s larger than most other com­pact cam­era’s.

Nokia says that the se­cret to great im­age qual­ity with the PureView’s im­age sen­sor is over­sam­pling. What the cam­era does is it cap­tures data at 38MP (when shoot­ing at the 4:3 as­pect ra­tio), but then down­sam­ples or pixel-bins the im­age to a de­fault out­put of 5MP.

It does this by com­bin­ing the in­for­ma­tion from sev­eral pix­els to create a sin­gle pixel, in the case of 38MP to 5MP; seven pix­els are com­bined into one. Nokia claims that by do­ing this, the PureView’s cam­era man­ages to re­tain im­age de­tail but re­duce im­age noise.

Have you ever no­ticed that an im­age can look ter­ri­ble when you look at it on a large mon­i­tor, but when it’s scaled down to the size of your smart­phone it looks a lot bet­ter? That’s be­cause the im­age’s im­per­fec­tions have been re­duced along with its size – as well as de­tail. This is one of the ben­e­fits you can get from down-sam­pling an im­age. If an im­age looks noisy at 38MP, it will look bet­ter at 5MP.

One of the ben­e­fits of down-sam­pling is that the ap­pear­ance of im­age noise is re­duced. When viewed at its orig­i­nal res­o­lu­tion, you can see an abun­dance of noise in the photo (the speck­les in the im­age). But when its res­o­lu­tion is re­duced, the noise can hardly be seen.

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