Better Low Light Images Thanks to Dung Beetles?

Started Jan 21, 2010 | Discussions thread
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MartinJB Forum Member • Posts: 66
Better Low Light Images Thanks to Dung Beetles?

I just read a fascinating article in New Scientist about work being done to improve image processing using techniques learned from dung beetles (who'd have thunk it?). Here's the link, though it might be behind their password wall:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527422.200-dung-beetles-secret-superpower-ultimate-night-sight.html

The gist is somewhat reminiscent of the latest Fuji cameras, but it goes rather further. Basically, it seems the beetles use two strategies to improve their acuity in low light situations. Both of these mechanisms are well known: increasing exposure time and increasing the size of the pixel, if I may translate their biological mechanisms into digital photo speak.

What is novel, I believe, is that they use both methods at the same time for different parts of the image. For parts of their field of view in which there's a lot of motion, they increase the pixel size, since extending exposure time would be probelmatic. For areas with less motion and more need for detail, they increase exposure time.

The researchers profiled in the article have been developing ways to use this in video imaging, specifically for low-light imaging for cars.

I was wondering if anyone knows of any effort to do something like this for still digital imaging. A lot of the pieces are exist. The new Fuji sensor will group pixels. Focusing and exposure systems track motion. Imagine photo system that varies the exposure time for different parts of the image (is this how d-lighting works?) and compounds pixels in other parts of the image to maximize performance in low light.

I'd love to get the thoughts of those who know a lot more about imaging than I do!

Cheers,

Martin

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