The race for higher dynamic range
The human eye is able to adapt to light conditions over a dynamic range of approximately 10,000,000,000:1. At any given moment in time, human eyes can perceive a dynamic range on the order of 100,000:1. Unfortunately, the majority of existing cameras and display devices support only a range of 100:1 to 1,000:1.
Fortunately, lots of work is being done to reduce this gap between what we can see and what our electronic devices can capture and display. Throughout the image capture chain, hardware and software are being adjusted to capture higher-dynamic-range images. Image sensors for automotive applications and high-end cameras often already output 10 or 12 bits per pixel.
Advanced image signal processors combine multiple 8-bit images into higher-dynamic-range images. JPEG has been extended in JPEG-HDR (Dolby) and JPEG XR (Microsoft). H.264 added support for higher dynamic range in its High 10, High 4:2:2, and High 4:4:4 predictive profiles. During the latest H.265/HEVC standardization committee meeting, new profiles for range extensions were added to the standard draft. These new profiles include Main 12, Main 4:2:2 10, Main 4:2:2 12, Main 4:4:4 10, and Main 4:4:4 12. Expect this draft to be approved some time in the first quarter of 2014. Since videantis’ video IP includes a firmware-upgradeable multicore video processor, we are ready to support these range extensions, allowing our customers to start building systems today that will capture and process video that matches the quality of our eyes.