Histogram equalization is a method in image processing of contrast adjustment using the image's histogram.
Histograms of an image before and after equalization.
1.1 Back projection
3 Histogram equalization of color images
4.1 Small image
4.2 Full-sized image
5 See also
8 External links
This method usually increases the global contrast of many images, especially when the usable data of the image is represented by close contrast values. Through this adjustment, the intensities can be better distributed on the histogram. This allows for areas of lower local contrast to gain a higher contrast. Histogram equalization accomplishes this by effectively spreading out the most frequent intensity values.
The method is useful in images with backgrounds and foregrounds that are both bright or both dark. In particular, the method can lead to better views of bone structure in x-ray images, and to better detail in photographs that are over or under-exposed. A key advantage of the method is that it is a fairly straightforward technique and an invertible operator. So in theory, if the histogram equalization function is known, then the original histogram can be recovered. The calculation is not computationally intensive. A disadvantage of the method is that it is indiscriminate. It may increase the contrast of background noise, while decreasing the usable signal.
In scientific imaging where spatial correlation is more important than intensity of signal (such as separating DNA fragments of quantized length), the small signal to noise ratio usually hampers visual detection.
Histogram equalization often produces unrealistic effects in photographs; however it is very useful for scientific images like thermal, satellite or x-ray images, often the same class of images to which one would apply false-color. Also histogram equalization can produce undesirable effects (like visible image gradient) when applied to images with low color depth. For example, if applied to 8-bit image displayed with 8-bit gray-scale palette it will further reduce color depth (number of unique shades of gray) of the image. Histogram equalization will work the best when applied to images with much higher color depth than palette size, like continuous data or 16-bit gray-scale images.
There are two ways to think about and implement histogram equalization, either as image change or as palette change. The ope