• Country/Region
  • cart   
Imaging Fundamentals
Edmund Optics Inc.

Imaging Fundamentals

This is Section 1.2 of the Imaging Resource Guide.

Illustration of the fundamental parameters of an imaging system.
Figure 1: Illustration of the fundamental parameters of an imaging system.

The following terms explain the most basic concepts of imaging and will be referenced throughout the remainder of this guide.

  • Field of View $ \small{ \left( \text{FOV} \right)} $: The viewable area of the object under inspection. This is the portion of the object that fills the camera’s sensor. This area is commonly reduced to the horizontal $ \small{ \left( \text{HFOV} \right)}  $ or vertical $ \small{ \left( \text{VFOV} \right)}  $  dimension for ease of calculation.
  • Working Distance $ \small{ \left( \text{WD} \right)} $: The distance from the front or first surface of the lens to the object under inspection.
  • Resolution $ \bf{ \small{  \left( \xi_{\small{\text{Object Space}}} \right) }} $: The minimum feature size of the object that can be distinguished by the imaging system typically specified as a spatial frequency in units of line pairs per millimeter $ \left[ \tfrac{\text{lp}}{\text{mm}} \right] $. Learn more in Resolution.
  • Depth of Field $ \small{ \left( \text{DOF} \right) } $: The maximum object depth that can be maintained entirely in acceptable focus. DOF is also the amount of object movement (in and out of best focus) allowable while maintaining focus. This is not to be confused with depth of focus, which refers to the location at which an image can be in focus on a sensor. Learn more in Depth of Field and Depth of Focus.
  • Sensor Size $ \small{ \left( H \right) } $: The size of a camera sensor’s active area, typically specified in the horizontal or vertical dimension. This parameter is important in determining the proper lens magnification required to obtain the desired FOV.
  • Pixel Size $ \small{ \left( s \right) } $: Typically square in shape, pixels make up the sensor grid and have a dimension in the order of micrometers or microns [μm].
  • Magnification $ \small{ \left( m \right) } $: The magnification of a lens sometimes referred to as PMAG (Primary Magnification) is defined as the ratio between the sensor size and the FOV, see Equation 1.
(1)$$ m = \frac{H}{\text{FOV}} $$
$$ m = \frac{H}{\text{FOV}} $$
Diagram of a fixed focal lens.
Figure 2: Diagram of a fixed focal lens.
Was this content useful to you?

With over 800 Imaging Lenses and 40 pages of in depth Technical Content, make Edmund Optics Your Partner in Imaging Optics.

Telecentric, fixed focal length, micro-video, fixed magnification, variable magnification, or zoom lenses available. High resolution or large format designs to cover your sensor.

Free training videos with imaging and illumination tips and tricks.

Edmund Optics can not only help you learn how to specify the right imaging optics, but can also provide you with multiple resources and products to surpass your imaging needs.

Need help finding the right product? Have questions on your application? Contact us to discuss your technical questions with our expert engineering staff.

Need a Quote? Add a stock number to begin our two-step quote process.

Edmund Optics Facebook Edmund Optics Twitter Edmund Optics YouTube Edmund Optics LinkedIn Edmund Optics Instagram Edmund Optics Tick Tock


Spectaris Optence Photonics21 Epic EMVA EOS Photonics FranceCLP