The term pixel (plural: pixels) is used in digital imaging. It describes an individual point of illumination in a digital image, screen or projector. Each pixel, together with the many other pixels around them, form the image. Pixels are the smallest component of a digital image.
Pixels are too small to see at their normal size. When all the pixels in an image are put together they form a continuous image. The pixels appear to run together as one shape when seen by the eye because they are so small.
When a digital image is zoomed right in, the image editor will show the individual pixels. This happens once the image is enlarged to greater than 100% in size.
When a digital camera takes an exposure the digital image sensor collects data about the light coming through the photographic lens. The light intensity and colour of illuminated pixels on a screen represent those factors sensed when the scene was recorded in a camera. Each pixel on-screen has a corresponding “photosite” on the digital image sensor. Each pixel represents the specific state of the photosite on the sensor when the image was recorded.
The word pixel (or pixels) originated from around 1963. The term ‘pix’ had been in use since before the war to describe pictures. Pixel was formed from ‘picture’ (as pix) and ‘element’ = ‘pixel’.
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Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has also run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
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