Image Resolution

Consider that we are interested in building an optical sensor. This sensor contains a number of pixels, which is dependent on the size of the sensor. The sensor has two dimensions, horizontal and vertical. Knowing the size of the pixels, we will be able to find the total number of pixels on this sensor.

The horizontal field of view, HFOV is the total angle of view normal from the sensor. The effective focal length, EFL of the sensor is then:

Effective Focal Length: EFL = V / (tan(HFOV/2)),

where V is the vertical sensor size in (in meters, not in number of pixels) and HFOV is the horizontal field of view. Horizontal field of view as an angled is halved to account that HFOV extends to both sizes of the normal of the sensor.

The system resolution using the Kell Factor: R = 1000 * KellFactor * (1 / (PixelSize)),

where the Pixel size is typically given and the Kell factor, less than 1 will approximate a best real case result and accounts for aberrations and other potential issues.

Angular resolution: AR = R * EFL / 1000,

where R is the resolution using the Kell factor and EFL is the effective focal length. It is possible to compute the angular resolution using either pixels per millimeter or cycles per millimeter, however one would need to be consistent with units.

Minimum field of view: Δl = 1.22 * f * λ / D,

which was used previously for the calculation of the spatial resolution of a microscope. The minimum field of view is exactly a different wording for the minimum spatial resolution, or minimum size resolvable.

Below is a MATLAB program that computed these parameters, while sweeping the diameter of the lens aperture. The wavelength admittedly may not be appropriate for a microscope, but let’s say that you are looking for something in the infrared spectrum. Maybe you are trying to view some tiny laser beams that will be used in the telecom industry at 1550 nanometer.

Pixel size: 3 um. HFOV: 4 degrees. Sensor size: 8.9mm x 11.84mm.

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