We present an information-based analysis of three candidate imagers: a conventional lens system, a cubic phase mask system, and a random phase mask system. For source volumes comprising relatively few equal-intensity point sources we compare both the axial and lateral information content of detector intensity measurements. We include the effect of additive white Gaussian noise. Single and distributed aperture imaging is studied. A single detector in each of two apertures using conventional lenses can yield 36% of the available scene information when the source volume contains only single point source. The addition of cubic phase masks yields nearly 74% of the scene information. An identical configuration using random phase masks offers the best performance with 89% scene information available in the detector intensity measurements.
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