Modulation Transfer Function (MTF)

Authored by: Arnold Daniels

Encyclopedia of Optical and Photonic Engineering

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  September  2015

Print ISBN: 9781439850978
eBook ISBN: 9781351247184
Adobe ISBN:


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The modulation transfer function (MTF) is the parameter that best describes both the spatial resolution and image quality of an imaging system in terms of spatial frequency response. Modulation transfer function is a direct application of the Fourier transform theory, in which a two-dimensional variation of intensity over the object plan is analyzed into a two-dimensional spectrum of spatial frequencies. The MTF describes how each of these Fourier components is attenuated as it appears in the image. This entry explains why the MTF is the primary figure of merit used for system design analysis and system specifications.

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