Although High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging has been the subject of significant research over the past fifteen years, the goal of acquiring cinema-quality HDR images of fast-moving scenes using available components has not yet been achieved. High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging and video cameras provide extremely high quality of imaging and video. Contrast Optical Design & Engineering, Inc. is a high-tech company founded in New Mexico U.S.A., whose mission is designing and producing cutting-edge optical systems, is working on the design and development of High Dynamic Range (HDR) video cameras using AMP HDR camera technology.

High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI) is a technique that photographers can use to extend the range of light intensity, or dynamic range, that can be captured in a single photograph. The camera is placed on a tripod, and a series of photographs (typically three of them) are snapped in quick succession. Each photograph is taken using a different exposure setting on the camera, providing a dark, medium, and bright picture of the scene. These three images are then combined in software to produce a single HDRI photograph.

One key problem exists with the current state-of-the-art in HDR images: nothing in the scene can move. Since the photos are taken sequentially, any movement causes the combined HDR image to be blurry. Contrast Optical’s AMP camera technology solves this key problem by capturing truly simultaneous, pixel-forpixel identical images. AMP is the first camera to use commercially-viable technology to deliver real-time, high dynamic range, high-definition imaging.

Contrast’s in-house developed AMP HDR video camera technology uses specialized optics to split the light from a single camera lens onto three camera sensors simultaneously. Image-splitting is performed optically, at the speed of light, guaranteeing perfect motion registration between images. A new image-combining algorithm was developed specifically for this AMP camera system to transform the data from the three camera sensors into a true HDR video stream in real time.

Now, with the AMP camera, the HDR photographer is no longer constrained to taking sequential images of a static scene, using a camera on a tripod in an attempt to reduce motion blur between successive images. And the cinematographer can capture breathtaking scenes with moving subjects and sweeping camera shots even in harsh direct sunlight: the “Magic Hour” of outdoor cinematography is now available at any time of day. Providing such a rich depth of HDR video information gives a tremendous amount of flexibility to the creative artists involved in movie and video making, from the director, to the cinematographer, to the lighting crew, to the editors in post-production.

This breakthrough in HDR imaging technology is poised to upend the digital imaging markets, including not just Photography and Cinematography, but also Electronic News Gathering (ENG), Sports, Mobile, Medical and Military imaging. Watch for the AMP camera technology to revolutionize the way films and digital images are created.