Your Eye's 'megapixel' Resolution

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The average human retina has five million cone receptors on it. Since the cones are responsible for colour vision, you might suppose that this equates to a five megapixel equivilant for the human eye.

But there are also a hundred million rods that detect monochrome contrast, which plays an important role in the sharpness of the image you see. And even this 105MP is an underestimate because the eye is not a still camera.

You have two eyes (no kidding!) and they continually flick around to cover a much larger area than your field of view and the composite image is assembled in the brain - not unlike stitching together a panoramic photo. In good light, you can distinguish two fine lines if they are seperate by at least 0.6 arc-minutes (0.01.Degrees).

This gives an equivilant pixel size of 0.3 arc-minutes. If you take a conservative 120 degrees as your horizontal field of view and 60 degrees in the vertical plane, this translates to ...

576 megapixels of available image data.

Curiously - as a counterpoint to this - most people cannot distinguish the difference in quality between a 300dpi and a 150dpi photo when printed at 6x4", when viewed at normal viewing distances.

So: although the human eye and brain when combined can resolve massive amounts of data, for imaging purposes, 150dpi output is more than enough to provide adequate data for us to accept the result as photographic quality.

But don't forget that women have more cones and men have more rods - I kid you not.Therefore the ladies see colours brighter than gents but can't see as well when it gets dark.

Looking Forward by katsarloki
EyeFlower by RoieG

Found this somewhere in the net.
Hope you like it :]
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NudeCreationsDotCom's avatar
Mom & Dad can't agree on blue and green. The final paragraph may explain why. Thanks.
love the concise look at the eye, great work!

Anna-Sophia22's avatar
AWESOME!!! I agree, I cannot stand low lights at night.. This is so cool! Thanks so much for sharing it :D
Tecior's avatar
I knew I wasn't crazy! Colours do look different for women :-O
keamata's avatar
Very cool, very interesting, very useful for the print matter..very thank you :)
Imaginendless's avatar
I think the 576 is totally wrong. I came across the same article. Just imagine the data rate the optic nerve would need to carry.

The resolution of the human eye is between 5 and 15 megapixels. The 100 million cones aren't used for core vision. It's the fovea which gives us our high resolution, colour field of view.

I've written a short blog post linking to the paper where I found the 15 megapixel figure.

Totally agree with you. I mean, this journal seems interesting and it's prudent to say that human vision resolution cannot be measured as easily as a camera; but 576 megapixels is nuts! Rods don't play a role making color dots in your brain, cones do, and rod cells are not active at most of the time.

I read a bit further, and the wikipedia's article on the retina says that the fovea region has a bit rate of 600,000 bits per second, about 585 kbits/s, and it also states that 10% of the ocular axioms are within the fovea, giving a total of 5.7 Mb/s per eye. (We must consider the outer regions of vision differing in both eyes, which are not part of the stereoscopic vision). So now imagine those juicy 576 Mpx equals 603,979,776 pixels, and assuming that our eyes are believed to distinguish 10 million different colours, hence a 24 bit colour depth would be enough to make every possible real color (that's why 24-bit colour is called truecolor). Then making calculations we have that

603,979,776 pixels x 24 bits/pixel = 14,495,514,624 bits. Then,

14,495,514,624 bits / 11 images per second = 1.2 Gb/s!!! that's a lot more than the 5.7 Mb/s according to wikipedia, and just for ¿an image? I don't think so.
xAXISx's avatar
What he's talking about is the angular resolving power of your eye, which is typically given by θ_min = arcsin(1.22 λ / D) where λ is the wavelength of light, and D is the diameter of the lens (in this case, the eye). What's interesting is the dependence on the wavelength of light, meaning physically, humans have a higher resolution of light near the violet end of the spectrum.

Using his numbers roughly, with D = 1 cm,

For red:

λ= 750nm, θ_min = 9.150×10^-5 => 22890×11445 pixels = 262 megapixels.

For violet:

λ = 390nm, θ_min = 4.758×10^-5 => 44018×22009 pixels = 969 megapixels.

This is the maximum physical resolution of what the eye can "theoretically" see, not necessarily what the eye's receptors are picking up.
modmadmike's avatar
We have a camera capable of 16 Gigapixels nowadays! that's 16,384 megapixels! Too bad our eyes aren't this good!
DrGM's avatar
16 giga !! , actually , couple of days ago Canon announced their top new sensor which is going to be able to capture 120 MP at once , where and how did you found that 16 giga thing ?

*16 gigapixel photo doesn't mean it have been taken by 16 GP camera*
modmadmike's avatar
oh but i forgot to mention that it fails in accuracy compared to our eyes because the pixels seem to scatter when doing photography.
Amarpr's avatar
Awesome post :)
Jeez thats a lot of megapixels! Is it possible to make a camera with that many?

Well thanks for answering my question...I've been wondering random stuff like that for ages! XD
JosephTheVIIth's avatar
AudioXceL's avatar
Nice!, i didnt know all of this....
akukojiro's avatar
thats badass i see why you like death note you speak just like L OR NEAR
emmejay-fwz's avatar
wicked!!! thank god i'm a w0man
akukojiro's avatar
yes but can you see in the darkXD
penaf's avatar
really nice article! for ages this issue fascinated me. finnally I got to know how the eyes work from a MegaPixel point of view.

by the way ... as you seem to be interested in this issues, i thought you might like to see a 9.9 GIGAPixel photo ;) read also this article: [link]
austing's avatar
interesting o0
X-Anime-Fan-X's avatar
Nice article:

"Therefore the ladies see colours brighter than gents but can't see as well when it gets dark."

Thats why men are ninja's :p.

I wish I could see more colors...
modmadmike's avatar
/agree the night vision does not help me with what I do lol
PasEncore's avatar
nice pics.
and very informative =D
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