Customer Spotlights

Imatest Customer Profile: K. Tina Agnes Ruth

Mia

What do you do for work?


Tina

I am an Imaging engineer at E-con Systems. At E-con Systems we design and develop embedded cameras for several markets like industrial, retail, and medical domains. My role is to tune the Image Quality parameters and validate it against the standards available for specific target applications.

Mia

How long have you been using Imatest?


Tina

Our association with Imatest dates way back to 2008 where we had purchased our first Imatest Master license. We started using it for some of our customer projects back then. We then took it mainstream to validate all our camera products and it would be fitting to say that we have seen Imatest through its full evolution to what it is today.

Mia

What feature in the software do you find yourself using the most, or is your favorite?


Tina

We use Color accuracy, eSFR ISO, Uniformity and Stepchart modules quite frequently since they form the basis of our products’ IQ reports. One favorite feature that stands out is the multi-image mode which helps us to average the performance across multiple hardware’s of the same Image sensor.

Mia

Are you able to give a brief description of what you use it for?


Tina

Imatest has become an integral part of our product development process. As I mentioned, our products carter a wide variety of applications which require flexibility in terms of the parameters we tune and validate the IQ for. The latest eSFR ISO charts and the modular test stand has helped reduce the hassle of maintaining multiple charts and equipment. With shorter turnaround times for this IQ validation, at each step in our design process we can see the impact in IQ performance. The reports we generate are widely accepted across all the markets and act as true value add for our products.

Mia

Do you have any tips for new Imatest users?

Tina

The interactive models in Imatest i.e., color/tone interactive and Rescharts are great for beginners. These help the user build a better understanding of different possible outcomes and visualize the results better.

 

Thank you to Tina for participating!

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Imatest Customer Profile: Pawel Achtel, ACS

This month, we have a very special customer profile. We had the chance to chat with Pawel Achtel, a cinematographer for the Avatar movies. Check out what he has to say and how he uses Imatest:

Mia

What do you do for work?

Pawel

That’s a tough question because I do a lot for my work. I’m a cinematographer, but also I’m a scientist and inventor. Within cinematography, I not only film images, but I also edit images that I produce. So it’s very difficult to pigeonhole me.

Mia

Is it just you doing everything?

Pawel

Not everything. We’ve got a few teams actually doing different things with the development of cameras. It was just too much for me to do everything and just not possible to do it in such short period of time. It’s definitely a team effort.

Mia

Very cool. How long have you been using Imatest?

Pawel

probably about 20 years. I still have a version that I run on Windows XP virtual machine–so it’s more than since Windows XP.

Mia

Wow, I don’t hear that a lot. You’ve been using it since the beginning, because we’ve been around for about 20 years now.

Pawel

Yes!

Mia

What feature do you find yourself using the most? Perhaps one that you gravitate towards for your work, or one that you found works really well for what you’re doing?

Pawel

So with the work that I do, I’m a little bit obsessed about image sharpness. I’ve been using the MTF and SFR sort of workflow. That’s 90% of what I use Imatest for.

Mia

That one’s definitely good for sharpness. Do you have an example or a use case?

Pawel

There are several use cases, but I do a lot of filming underwater. A limiting factor to image quality is the glass, or the optics. Not many people know that we’re only getting about standard definition quality through just a flat piece of glass simply because of the chromatic aberrations, distortions, astigmatism, and all sorts of other problems associated with it. With the new digital cameras, there’s obviously a big disparity between what glass can produce and what the camera can record. For almost a decade, I’ve been trying to get that optical sharpness up. The only way to do it is to compare it, and in order to compare it, you need to quantify it. I’ve collected a large number of underwater submersible lenses, which are lenses that are designed to produce sharp pictures underwater, but they don’t produce sharp pictures on land. I have inventory of well above 100 lenses. For every lens, I shoot several SFR charts and measure sharpness in the center, mid-frame, edge and corners. This is to be able to cherry pick the lenses.

Pawel

I do a lot of modifications to adapt the lenses for digital sensors, and again, the best way to make those modifications is to be able to test whether you’re actually improving or whether you’re making things worse. All those lenses have MTF charts for many points in a frame, and I can pick up the lens that I think performs best in particular circumstances. So I’ve been using those workflows a lot more recently. I have a test lens that’s extremely sharp–a Sigma 135mm lens. I use that lens as a baseline to compare different digital services and measure the MTF of the actual sensor. That’s only in the center of the frame because the sensor is uniform and the lens performs best in the center of the frame. Those are two main areas that I’ve been using it for.

Mia

Yeah, well, that’s really cool to hear. Cool to hear you are using Sigma lenses too, at least for your baseline test. Those are my favorite.

Pawel

It’s a lens that I actually have. I also have been using a lot of ARRI signature price recently, but they are expensive lenses; they also could be used as a baseline. I just don’t have access to them every day.

Mia

Awesome. How did you get started in imaging science or imaging in general? I know that you said you’re a cinematographer, but you’re also a scientist, engineer, and inventor. What sparked your interest?

Pawel

I’ve been lucky. I had very good general education and I studied, actually, civil engineering, but with a very solid background in physics that allows me to pretty much do anything. With the interest more like a hobby, photographing and filming things sort of turned into a profession that was very much based in science.

Mia

Yeah, I definitely agree. I started out just photography as a hobby, and now here I am. I delved into the scientific aspect of it. It’s really awesome.

Pawel

It’s much easier to turn scientists into very good photographers or cinematographer than teach cinematography with all the math and physics behind it.

Mia

I think especially if you already have that scientific background, it might be easy to translate or throw the artistic aspect into it.

Mia

How did you find Imatest?

Pawel

As I said, I always wanted to improve things. It’s a sort of driver that keeps me going. As I said, if you want to improve something, you need to be able to compare it–you can’t compare it unless you can quantify it. I was on a lookout for ways of analyzing images and at the time there was not much else other than Imatest. Now there are some other packages that claim to do a lot of things that Imatest does, but they’re just not as robust. I think having that history and ability to improve things over time makes it a clearer choice.

Mia

For sure. Maybe I’m biased because I work here and I use it, but yeah, Norman and Henry Koren are so smart and they know so much about image quality. I can understand why it is pretty robust and we’re always looking for ways to improve.

Mia

Are there any other challenges that you faced with image quality testing related to your work?

Pawel

Well, recently with the development of this new camera, we found that we can produce really high resolution images. What I mean by that is we can produce 260 megapixel motion picture, which is 18.7K by 14K resolution. To be able to analyze those quickly and efficiently is certainly a challenge. In the past, I needed to crop to smaller size and analyze bit by bit because it’s quite large.

Mia

Wow, that’s huge!

Mia

That’s all the questions that I have. I know you worked on the new Avatar movie, which is so spectacular.

Pawel

Actually, I had to analyze more than 40 lenses. Every single lens was put on an underwater optical bench with an SFR chart on it. I would shoot several tests and bring them into Imatest to analyze. Those lenses were not just cherry picked for their sharpness, but also for uniformity across the frame. Also, because Avatar was actually shot in 3D underwater, I needed to match those lenses. The two lenses that I actually matched have very similar characteristics, but mirrored because the lenses go on a beam splitter. One lens shoots through a half mirror and one lens bounces off a half mirror, creating two separate images. In order to match those lenses, you’re actually looking for mirrored characteristics in those lenses, but no lens is perfectly symmetrical. I’ve got the lenses in a special box labelled Avatar in case they want to shoot more in the water.

Mia

like I said, it’s really spectacular. I remember seeing the first movie and thinking, “oh, my gosh, this is so beautiful,” and now there’s another coming out. I can imagine it’s going to be very cool.

Pawel

There’s never been a film shot in such way before. The team used, which was my invention, a submersible beam splitter. Prior to this, people were using beam splitters that were housed in underwater enclosure. This is completely different. This beam splitter is completely flooded, and the reason is because it avoids any glass in between. So, there is no limit in resolution. There’s also absolutely no distortions through it, so what you’ll see is images that are completely different. When we first saw those images on set we were like, “Is that underwater? Is that on land?” It just looks unreal. It was underwater, but there’s no distortion. And the peripheral vision is so sharp, crisp, and vivid that is so immersive and just creates this very unique experience.

Mia

I’m very excited to see it, and everybody at Imatest is also excited. We’re happy to be able to work with you and to be able to help with anything. Thank you so much for meeting with me. It’s been a pleasure!

Pawel

Thanks, Mia. Nice talking to you.

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Imatest Customer Profile: Naveen Koul

Mia: The first question is what do you do for work?

Naveen: I’m an image quality engineer. I work mainly on tuning and image quality verification and validation. At present, I’m associated with Nuro.

Mia: How long have you been using Imatest?

Naveen: I have been using Imatest since around 2008.

Mia: Wow, awesome. What feature in the software do you find yourself using the most, or one that you usually gravitate towards?

Naveen: I have mostly used all the features across Imatest. But some features I use are the high dynamic range and noise ones, which are very interesting features Imatest has. Apart from all image quality features, Imatest provides a lot of data in the CSV files and the JSON files, which is quite useful.

Mia: For sure. Do you have any tips for people who are just beginning to use Imatest?

Naveen: Yeah, there’s a lot of very good documentation Imatest provides. Also, I’ve seen a lot of video lectures on YouTube for a beginner to start with and understand the tool well. I will advise, there is a lot of stuff in the CSV and the JSON files which does not get displayed on the images. That is really great data to look at that gives a lot of information about the image quality other than what the output saved images is.

Mia: Yeah, that’s a great bit of information. I make the videos for Imatest that you see on YouTube or on our website, so it’s good to hear they’re helpful. That’s a great idea for a video; showing people how to interpret the JSON files. Thank you so much for doing this!

Naveen: Sure. Thank you.

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Imatest Customer Profile – Dr. Brian Deegan

Imatest is happy to introduce customer profiles! Each month, we will interview one of our Imatest users to share why they use the software and create a sense of community among our users. Interested in being featured? Reach out to mia@imatest.com.

 

The first customer profile is Dr. Brian Deegan. Based in Ireland, Brian is a long-time user who has utilized the Imatest software across multiple disciplines. Read more about our interview with Brian:

 

Mia: How long have you been using Imatest?

Brian: It must be ten years now at this stage. I started at Valeo in 2011 and have used it throughout my entire career there. I started in university this year and I’m still using it.

Mia: Awesome. And you’re still using it now that you’re at the university?

Brian: Yeah, not as much and not as much directly, but one of the PhD students here is using it as part of this project.

Mia: That’s very cool. Segueing into the next question, what do you do for work?

Brian: I used to work for Valeo vision systems and that’s how Norman [Koren], Henry [Koren], and the team would know me. I was working in automotive image quality, so everything from simple backup cameras to surround view cameras, mirror replacement cameras, cameras for autonomous driving; everything to do with that. In my career I was primarily responsible for, I suppose, image quality, assessment tuning and optimization. So, everything from measuring the sharpness and noise performance of the cameras to trying to get the best image quality for reviewing, machine vision, and performance; that kind of thing.

Mia: What feature in the software do you find yourself using the most or kind of what’s been your favorite feature, if that’s the avenue you want to take it in?

Brian: Yeah, sure. The most common ones that I’ve used would have been the SFR test for measuring the sharpness of the cameras. I’ve used that quite a bit. The step chart tools for measuring color accuracy with the color checker charts as well. I’ve also used the uniformity measurement quite a bit for measuring the color and shading uniformity of lenses. So, those that have been the ones that I’ve used most commonly. There are other ones I’ve used as well for measuring aliasing using the wedge targets, and I use some of the newer ones for the ISO-16505 standard. I do use some of the dynamic range measurements and some of the CPIQ measurements–less often, but I do use those too.

Mia: Well that’s very cool. It seems like you got to cover a lot of the software.

Brian: Yeah. I know that you mentioned features that that I liked: I like the chart order feature. So obviously yours is everywhere, Imatest manufacturers test targets. But every now and again it’s nice to just print off a chart, quick and dirty, for doing quick tests. The chart order function has proved very useful over the years. Another one that’s nice—it’s basically an image quality simulator where you can simulate different MTF curves for illustration and demonstration purposes.

Mia: Cool, thank you. Being that you’re in the image quality industry directly, is there any direction you’d kind of like to see Imatest go?

Brian: Not particularly as such. In terms of image quality assessment, there’s only a handful of companies that are involved, and Imatest is one of the leaders in the area. I’ve given feedback over the years as time has gone by. But you know, a team like Norman and Henry, and even Paul Romanczyk, they go to the standards meetings and are heavily involved. Whatever is going on in the industry, Imatest has had people that are either at the conferences or involved with the standards. So I think in terms of the developments that are going on in the industry, it’s safe to say Imatest has a reasonable, good finger on the pulse from that point of view. In terms of features and stuff like that, I suppose a couple of years ago I would have said that Imatest weren’t as good as some of the competitors in terms of some of the hardware, Imatest was more refined for targets and software. However, that gap has closed in the last few years.

 

Thank you to Brian for his valuable feedback and participation!

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