The Science of Imaging: 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Science of Imaging

2nd Edition

By Graham Saxby

CRC Press

352 pages | 30 Color Illus. | 305 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781439812860
pub: 2010-11-19
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780429131912
pub: 2016-04-19
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Edited and expanded to keep pace with the digital revolution, the new edition of this highly popular and critically acclaimed work provides a comprehensive exploration of imaging science. Brilliantly written and extensively illustrated, The Science of Imaging: An Introduction, Second Edition covers the fundamental laws of physics as well as the cutting-edge techniques defining current and future directions in the field.

Improvements to this Edition Include:

  • A new chapter on astronomical imaging
  • A larger format with a wealth of illustrations
  • Major revisions in the areas of digital imaging and modern technology
  • Updated references with links to a wealth of online resources—including teaching material and expanded information

This accessible introduction to the subject takes students on a grand tour of imaging. Starting with the fundamentals of light and basic cameras, the author journeys through television and holography to advanced scientific and medical imaging. He highlights essential formulas, while keeping the complex mathematics to a minimum. Copiously illustrated with a wealth of examples and a 16-page color insert, the text covers optics, imaging systems, materials, and image interpretation and creation in a manner that makes it easy to understand.

Praise for the critically acclaimed First Edition:

It's the best book I have read on the subject at this level.

—Ron Graham, RPS Journal

… every student should read it, every photographer should own it, and every lecturer and journalist should know its contents inside out.

—Jon Tarrant, British Journal of Photography


In summary, the book has many useful formulas for a variety of designs. It is well organized, so users can easily find the section relevant to their needs. And the plethora of worked examples is very helpful. … I see it as a useful introduction to the clinical researcher and as a reference for the statistician interested in sample size formulae for specific designs.

—The International Biometric Society, 2012

Graham Saxby proves to us in his brilliantly written and well-structured book that many essential topics of such a broad and comprehensive field can be squeezed into 352 pages. In my opinion, anyone having an interest on current imaging technologies should read it to extend their knowledge or to develop a broad vision on the field. … it is definitely suitable as a complementary textbook for undergraduate courses on imaging and optical technologies. It can as well be used as a reference book for any interested reader to learn the specific terminology in the field. … The explanations are extremely informative and easy to follow. In addition, the text is backed up with many excellent illustrations and intriguing real life examples that I think many lecturers would want to make use of them in their lectures.

—Doga Gürsoy, Contemporary Physics, 2011

I recommend this book for its clear and readable style of a wide-ranging subject. … buy this book for an easy-to read holistic account of scientific imaging …

—Jeremy Sanderson, Blo-Imaging Facility, MRC, Harwell, UK, INFOCUS, 2011

Praise for the First Edition:

… a truly valuable book, magnificently bringing together such diverse technologies, yet keeping a practical eye on who is likely to be reading it. It's the best book I have read on the subject at this level.

—Ron Graham, RPS Journal

… well written … lots of helpful marginal notes …if your research depends on obtaining and analysing top-quality images, this book should prove to be an invaluable practical guide and reference source.

—Matin Durrani, Physics World

… every student should read it, every photographer should own it, and every lecturer and journalist should know its contents inside out.

—Jon Tarrant, British Journal of Photography, December 2002

… rather impressed … surveys a broad, complex, and rapidly changing subject succinctly, yet at a useful and appropriate level.

—Gordon Ridley, Glasgow College of Building and Printing

Given the wide range of potential audience, the author has on the whole made a very fair attempt to judge an appropriate level both of assumed prior knowledge and of scientific competence and understanding, and the further reading suggestions will accommodate the inevitable variances in these … Overall, this reviewer is delighted that the author had the courage to attempt the very daunting task of presenting his illuminating account of what must be in effect a lifetime's interest in such a wide range of exciting phenomena and technical achievements.

—Philip Bradfield, Physical Sciences Educational Reviews, Vol. 3, Issue 2

A useful book … fills a gap in the range of publications on this topic. … full of useful, accurate information and diagrams at a very affordable price in a well-produced volume.

—Sidney Ray, author of Applied Photographic Optics

Table of Contents

The Nature of Light

Models for the Behavior of Light

Box: Maxwell and Electromagnetism

Electromagnetic Radiation

The Electromagnetic Spectrum




Box: The Grating Condition

The Airy Diffraction Pattern

Reflection and Refraction

Box: Snell’s Law

Total Internal Reflection (TIR)


The Pinhole Camera

Development of a Lens

Box: Anomalous Refraction

Digging Deeper

Photometry, Lighting, and Light Filters

Photometric Units

Luminous Intensity

Luminous Flux

Box: Planck’s Equation and Retinal Sensitivity


Inverse Square Law



Luminous Energy

Luminous Efficacy

Spectral Energy Distribution

Color Temperature

The Mirek Scale

Types of Light Sources

Photographic Light Filters

Polarizing Filters

Box: Applications of Polarizing Filters

Digging Deeper

Visual Perception

The Eye and Evolution

Optics of the Eye

Short and Long Sight

The Retina

Rods and Cones

Sensitivity Range

Box: The Weber-Fechner Law

Visual Pathways

Box: Neural Processing of the Visual Signal

Visual Fields and Binocular Vision

Color Perception

Seeing a Range of Colors


Visual Illusions

Perception and Imaging

Digging Deeper

Lens Principles

A Model for the Geometry of Camera Lenses

The Simple Lens

The Lens Laws

Real and Virtual Images

Depth of Field

Box: Hyperfocal Distance

Depth of Focus

Gaussian Optics

Telephoto Lenses

Retrofocus Lenses

Varifocal and Zoom Lenses

Angle of Field

Lens Aberrations

Aspheric Surfaces


Box: Lens Coating


Box: The Scheimpflug Rule

Digging Deeper

Types of Lenses

Process Lenses

Macro Lenses

Catadioptric (Mirror Lens) Systems

Telecentric Lens Systems

Ultrawide-Angle Lenses

Fisheye Lenses

Box: Why "Fisheye"?

Panoramic Lenses

360° Lenses

Lenses for Aerial and Satellite Photography

Afocal Lens Systems

Lens Systems for Underwater Photography

GRIN Lenses

Diffractive Optical Elements (DOEs)

Pinhole Photography

Box: Making a Pinhole

Digging Deeper

Resolution in Optical Systems

Testing for Resolving Power

Diffraction Limitation

The Rayleigh Criterion

The Inadequacy of Resolving Power


The Modern Approach to Image Quality

Box: Analysis of a Square Wave


The Optical Transfer Function

The MTF of an "Ideal" Lens

Box: OTF and PSF Related

Cascading of Transfer Functions

Granularity and Pixel Size

Digging Deeper

Images in Color

Early Attempts

Lippmann Photography

Box: Lippmann’s Desaturated Colors

The Young-Helmholtz Theory of Visual


Additive Color Synthesis

Quantifying Color: The CIE Chromaticity Diagram

Box: Measurement Systems for Color

Other Scales of Color Measurement

Subtractive Color Synthesis

Color Separation Negatives

Color Prints from Separation Negatives

Tripack Color Transparencies

Prints from Transparencies

Polaroid Color

Color Negative-Positive Systems

Box: Color Masking


Digging Deeper

Still Cameras

Early Cameras


Types of Camera

Specialized Cameras


Rangefinders and Focus Finders

Automatic Focus Control

Automatic Exposure Control

Flash Synchronization

Box: Guide Numbers

Camera Shake and Stabilization Mechanisms

Image Motion Compensation

Digging Deeper

Motion and High-Speed Photography

Persistence of Vision

Early Experiments

The Modern Cine Camera

Slow Motion and Time Lapse

High-Speed Cine

Mirror and Drum Photography

Smear and Streak Photography

Lighting for High-Speed Photography


Digging Deeper

The Silver Halide Process

The Uniqueness of Silver

Color Sensitivity of Emulsions


Box: Oxidation and Reduction

Fixing, Washing, and Drying


Color Emulsions

Processing of Color Emulsions


Practical Units of Measurement

The Characteristic Curve

Inherent Contrast

What the Characteristic Curve Tells Us

Effect of Varying the Development Time

Reciprocity Failure

Print Materials

The Density Range of a Paper

Color Print Papers

Image Modification

Digging Deeper

Digital Recording of Images

The Digital Principle

Box: The Nyquist Criterion

Digital Recording of Luminance

Box: Bits, Bytes, and Binary Arithmetic

Extending the Sensitivity

Principles of Electronic Information Storage

Getting the Image Out of the Camera

Color in a Digital Camera


The Future for Digital Cameras

Scanners and Scanning methods

Digging Deeper

Halftone, Electrostatic, and Digital Printing

Continuous Tones with Printer’s Ink

The Halftone Principle

Printing in Color

Color Masking

Electrostatic Copying (Xerography)


Digging Deeper



The Television Camera

Data Storage Methods

Transmission and Reception of a TV Signal

The Signal

Transmitting Antennas

Receiving Antennas

Box: Impedance

Microwave Relay Transmission

Satellite Transmission

Cable Transmissions

The TV Receiver

Projection Systems

Digital Television: The Advantages

Aspect Ratio

High-Definition Television


Digging Deeper

Video Recording and Replay Systems

Magnetic Tape Recording

Analogue Sound Recording

Box: Ferromagnetism, Hysteresis, and a.c. Bias

Tape Recording Mechanisms

Box: Noise Reduction Systems

Videotape Recording Techniques

Digital Recording

Digital Videotape

Hard Disc Recorders

Magneto-optical Discs


CDs and DVDs

Box: Before the CD

The Blu-ray System

Burning a CD

Digging Deeper

Three-Dimensional Imaging

How We See Depth

The Limits of Stereo Pairs of Images

Early Stereoscopic Images

Stereoscopic Camera Formats

Stereophotography in Aerial Survey

Effect of Incorrect Lens Separation

Hypostereoscopy in Microscopy

Viewing Methods for Stereo Pairs

Viewing Without Optical Aids

Coincident Image Stereograms

Autostereoscopic Systems

Stereoscopic Cinema and Television

Further Developments in Stereo Projection

Simulated Stereopsis

Integral Photography

Digging Deeper



Denisyuk’s Hologram

Box: Gabor’s Hologram

Off-Axis Holograms

Leith’s Hologram

Processing a Hologram

Other Types of Sensitive Material

Dichromated Gelatin (DCG)

The Real Image

Transfer Holograms

Contact Copies

Astronomical Imaging

Early History

The Schmidt Configuration


Atmospheric Effects

Box: Telescopes in Space

Types of Detector

Solar Telescopes

Infrared and Terahertz Astronomy

Radio Telescopes



How to Measure the Diameter of a Star


Digging Deeper

Macrography, Micrography, and Microimaging


Box: Resolution Criterion


Microscope Optics

Illumination Systems

Confocal Microscopy

Electron Microscopy


Digging Deeper

Focused-Image Holograms

Rainbow Holograms

Pulse Laser Holograms

Embossed Holograms

Holographic Stereograms

Holograms in Natural Colors

Holographic Interferometry

Holographic Optical Elements

Computer-Generated Holograms

Box: Zone Plates

Dot Matrix Images

Digital Holography

Digging Deeper

Imaging the Invisible

Radio Images

Terahertz Imaging

Infrared Imaging

Thermal Imaging

Image Conversion and Intensification

Ultraviolet and Fluorescence Imaging



Tomography and Scanning Systems

Analysis of Scanning Outputs

Ultrasonic Imaging

Schlieren Photography

Digging Deeper

Appendix 1: Logarithms: What They Are, What They Do

Logarithmic Scales

Logs Base 2

Logs to Other Bases

Appendix 2: How a Hologram Works

Standing Waves

Appendix 3: The Fourier Model for Image Formation

Appendix 4: The Meaning of pH

About the Author

Graham Saxby served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) for 27 years, the first 19 in the trade of photographer, where he undertook almost every possible form of assignment. After being commissioned into the Education Branch, he was Officer Commanding Photographic Science Flight at the RAF School of Photography at Cosford for seven years. On leaving the RAF he joined the staff of what is now the University of Wolverhampton as Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology, later moving to the Department of Applied Sciences to teach modern optics. His research into display holographic techniques has earned him an international reputation, and his books have won several prestigious awards. Currently, he works as a freelance editor and reviewer of technical books and as a consultant in optical and photographic matters. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Computer Graphics
SCIENCE / Physics