Abstract

Some high-performance imaging systems generate a curved focal surface and so are incompatible with focal plane arrays fabricated by conventional silicon processing. One example is a monocentric lens, which forms a wide field-of-view high-resolution spherical image with a radius equal to the focal length. Optical fiber bundles have been used to couple between this focal surface and planar image sensors. However, such fiber-coupled imaging systems suffer from artifacts due to image sampling and incoherent light transfer by the fiber bundle as well as resampling by the focal plane, resulting in a fixed obscuration pattern. Here, we describe digital image processing techniques to improve image quality in a compact 126° field-of-view, 30 megapixel panoramic imager, where a 12 mm focal length F/1.35 lens made of concentric glass surfaces forms a spherical image surface, which is fiber-coupled to six discrete CMOS focal planes. We characterize the locally space-variant system impulse response at various stages: monocentric lens image formation onto the 2.5 μm pitch fiber bundle, image transfer by the fiber bundle, and sensing by a 1.75 μm pitch backside illuminated color focal plane. We demonstrate methods to mitigate moiré artifacts and local obscuration, correct for sphere to plane mapping distortion and vignetting, and stitch together the image data from discrete sensors into a single panorama. We compare processed images from the prototype to those taken with a 10× larger commercial camera with comparable field-of-view and light collection.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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