Digital image processing

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Digital image processing is the use of computer algorithms to perform image processing on digital images. As a subfield of digital signal processing, digital image processing has many advantages over analog image processing; it allows a much wider range of algorithms to be applied to the input data, and can avoid problems such as the build-up of noise and signal distortion during processing.


Many of the techniques of digital image processing, or digital picture processing as it was often called, were developed in the 1960s at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MIT, Bell Labs, University of Maryland, and a few other places, with application to satellite imagery, wirephoto standards conversion, medical imaging, videophone, character recognition, and photo enhancement.[1] But the cost of processing was fairly high with the computing equipment of that era. In the 1970s, digital image processing proliferated, when cheaper computers and dedicated hardware became available. Images could then be processed in real time, for some dedicated problems such as television standards conversion. As general-purpose computers became faster, they started to take over the role of dedicated hardware for all but the most specialized and compute-intensive operations.

With the fast computers and signal processors available in the 2000s, digital image processing has become the most common form of image processing, and is generally used because it is not only the most versatile method, but also the cheapest.

Digital image processing technology for medical applications was inducted into the Space Foundation Space Technology Hall of Fame in 1994.


Digital image processing allows the use of much more complex algorithms for image processing, and hence can offer both more sophisticated performance at simple tasks, and the implementation of methods which would be impossible by analog means.

In particular, digital image processing is the only practical technology for:

Some techniques which are used in digital image processing include:


Digital camera images

Digital cameras generally include dedicated digital image processing chips to convert the raw data from the image sensor into a color-corrected image in a standard image file format. Images from digital cameras often receive further processing to improve their quality, a distinct advantage digital cameras have over film cameras. The digital image processing is typically done by special software programs that can manipulate the images in many ways.

Many digital cameras also enable viewing of histograms of images, as an aid for the photographer to better understand the rendered brightness range of each shot.

See also

  • Computer graphics
  • Computer vision
  • Digitizing
  • Endrov
  • ImageJ
  • FIJI (software)
  • Homomorphic filtering
  • OpenCV
  • Standard test image
  • Super-resolution


  1. Azriel Rosenfeld, Picture Processing by Computer, New York: Academic Press, 1969

External links