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Defining Camera Phone Quality— So You Don’t Have To Just Know It When You See It

What defines picture quality in a device such as a camera phone? Is it raw numbers of pixels and processing power? Or is it more intangible issues of color saturation, lifelike representation of flesh tones, clarity or depth of field? The answer is yes to all of these… in different ways under different picture-taking circumstances. But even if ultimately beauty (or realism) is in the eye of the beholder, there’s a need for quantifiable, objective standards that can define camera quality for consumers— not just in phones but in a whole array of communication devices presently on or coming to the market.

I3A (the International Imaging Industry Association) began a project to develop such standards called CPIQ, the Camera Phone Image Quality initiative, in 2007. Now IEEE has taken over CPIQ and all of its assets to complete that work with the development of IEEE P1858™, Standard for Camera Phone Image Quality. This standard will define the fundamental attributes of image quality, and it will create a standardized suite of objective and subjective test methods for measuring camera phone image quality attributes, along with specifying tools and test methods to facilitate standards-based communication and comparison among carriers, handset manufacturers, and component vendors.

It’s not just about the megapixels,” says George John, interim chair of the IEEE P1858 working group and principal program manager with Microsoft. “Camera phones are the device of choice with consumers, but they need a more accurate and reliable way to ensure that the camera phones they purchase deliver the image quality they desire. IEEE provides the ideal environment—tremendous worldwide and technological scope, proven abilities for building consensus and a globally respected standards-development process—for building on I3A’s groundbreaking work.”

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