How Pixels Work: The Science and Art of Digital Imaging
The pixels array contains the values for all the pixels in the display window. These values are of the color datatype. This array is defined by the size of the display window. For example, if the window is 100 x 100 pixels, there will be 10,000 values and if the window is 200 x 300 pixels, there will be 60,000 values. When the pixel density is set to higher than 1 with the pixelDensity() function, these values will change. See the reference for pixelWidth or pixelHeight for more information. Before accessing this array, the data must be loaded with the loadPixels() function. Failure to do so may result in a NullPointerException. Subsequent changes to the display window will not be reflected in pixels until loadPixels() is called again. After pixels has been modified, the updatePixels() function must be run to update the content of the display window.
Pixels are the smallest unit in a digital display. Up to millions of pixels make up an image or video on a device's screen. Each pixel comprises a subpixel that emits a red, green and blue (RGB) color, which displays at different intensities. The RGB color components make up the gamut of different colors that appear on a display or computer monitor.
The number of pixels determines the resolution of a computer monitor or TV screen, and generally the more pixels, the clearer and sharper the image. The resolution of the newest 8K full ultra-high-definition TVs on the market is approximately 33 million pixels -- or 7680 x 4320.
The number of pixels is calculated by multiplying the horizontal and vertical pixel measurements. For example, HD has 1,920 horizontal pixels and 1,080 vertical pixels, which totals 2,073,600. It's normally shown as 1920 x 1080 or just as 1080p. The p stands for progressive scan. A 4K video resolution, for example, has four times more pixels than full high definition (HD), and 8K has 16 times more pixels than 1080p.
Pixels are also either backlit by an additional panel or are individually lit. An LCD TV screen illuminates all pixels using an LED backlight. If the display is mostly black on an LCD screen, but only a single pixel needs to be lit, the whole back panel still must be lit. This leads to light leakage in the display. This is more noticeable during the credits of a movie, for example, where there's a slight glow around the white letters against the black background.
OLED displays, by contrast, don't need a backlight, as each individual pixel illuminates itself. This means when one pixel needs to be lit, no light is leaked to the surrounding pixels. In the movie credits example, this means an OLED display won't have the same light glow around each of the credits as it would in an LCD screen. OLEDs typically have better contrast, black levels and viewing angles than LCD screens but also suffer from burn-in. OLED screens can also be folded or bent, which is a feature in many modern smartphones.
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A megapixel (MP) is a million pixels. The term megapixel comes up most often in photography; however, screen resolutions can be measured in megapixels. For example, 4K is approximately 12 MP and 1080p is 2.1 MP.