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A digital camera is a complex system including a lens, a sensor (physics and circuits), and a digital image processor, where each component is a sophisticated system on its own. Since prototyping a digital camera is very expensive, it is highly desirable to have the capability to explore the system design tradeoffs and preview the system output ahead of time. An empirical digital imaging system simulation that aims to achieve such a goal is presented. It traces the photons reflected by the objects in a scene through the optics and color filter array, converts photons into electrons with consideration of noise introduced by the system, quantizes the accumulated voltage to digital counts by an analog-to-digital converter, and generates a Bayer raw image just as a real camera does. The simulated images are validated against real system outputs and show a close resemblance to the images captured under similar condition at all illumination levels.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2009