A Realistic Camera Model for Computer Graphics

Craig Kolb, Don Mitchell, and Pat Hanrahan

Computer Graphics (Proceedings of SIGGRAPH '95), ACM SIGGRAPH, 1995, pp. 317-324


Most recent rendering research has concentrated on two subproblems: modeling the reflection of light from materials, and calculating the direct and indirect illumination from light sources and other surfaces. Another key component of a rendering system is the camera model. Unfortunately, current camera models are not geometrically or radiometrically correct and thus are not sufficient for synthesizing images from physically-based rendering programs.

In this paper we describe a physically-based camera model for computer graphics. More precisely, a physically-based camera model accurately computes the irradiance on the film given the incoming radiance from the scene. In our model a camera is described as a lens system and film backplane. The lens system consists of a sequence of simple lens elements, stops and apertures. The camera simulation module computes the irradiance on the backplane from the scene radiances using distributed ray tracing. This is accomplished by a detailed simulation of the geometry of ray paths through the lens system, and by sampling the lens system such that the radiometry is computed accurately and efficiently. Because even the most complicated lenses have a relatively small number of elements, the simulation only increases the total rendering time slightly.

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Last update: 18 September 1995