The difference between computer vision and image processing

The difference between computer vision and image processing

Fri Mar 10 2023

Image processing and computer vision are closely related fields that involve analyzing, manipulating, and understanding images and video data using mathematical and computational techniques. Image processing focuses on enhancing and extracting useful information from digital images, while computer vision deals with interpreting and understanding the content of those images. Both fields have critical applications in various industries, including healthcare, transportation, entertainment, and security. Some critical techniques in image processing and computer vision include image filtering, feature extraction, object detection, and machine learning. With the continued development of computer hardware and software, the capabilities of these fields are expanding rapidly and creating new possibilities for research and development. This article will examine the main differences between image processing and computer vision.  

What is computer vision?

computer vision

Computer vision studies focus on developing digital systems that can process, examine, and comprehend visual input (such as pictures or videos) like how humans process it. Computer vision is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that enables computers and systems to extract useful information from digital photos, videos, and other visual inputs down to the pixel level and to execute actions or make recommendations based on that information. Technically, machines try to collect, interpret, and analyze visual data using specialized software algorithms.

Read more: Deep Learning in Computer Vision Applications | A Comprehensive Review

How does computer vision work?

how computer vision work

Many algorithms for computer vision that we use today are based on pattern recognition. Computers are trained on massive amounts of visual data; they analyze photos, identify their elements, and look for patterns in those objects. For instance, if we send a million photographs of flowers, the computer will examine them, identify patterns that are shared by all flowers, and then produce a model "flower" as a result of its analysis. As a result, each time we submit a photo, the computer will be able to recognize a specific image as a flower with a specific accuracy.

What is image processing?

What is image processing

Image processing is a discipline in that both the input and the output of a process are images. Converting an image using an image processing method may result in applying a specific action simpler or extracting some valuable information.

Some of the adjustments in image processing are made automatically. These adjustments involve sharpening, filtering, edge recognition, and contrast enhancement. No one of these procedures requires any human interaction. A visual alone is enough to begin a particular activity. The kinds of adjustments that fall under the "manual work" heading include resizing, stretching, enhancing, and adding new texts or layers.

Read more: What is image processing?

What Is the Difference Between Computer Vision and Image Processing?

How do computer vision and image processing differ from one another? These two fields deal with images; that is the only thing they have in common. Image processing and computer vision are two very separate tools with various uses. This article will examine each of these in greater detail to see whether machine learning may be useful.


The applications for which computer vision and image processing are also different. Object detection, facial recognition, and medical diagnosis are a few examples of applications where computer vision is commonly used. On the other hand, applications including picture enhancement, image segmentation, and image restoration frequently involve image processing. Moreover, computer vision algorithms are frequently employed in robots and self-driving cars, while image processing techniques are used in many fields, including satellite photography and medical imaging.


The performance of image processing and computer vision can be evaluated using different metrics, depending on the specific task and application.

In image processing, performance is often evaluated based on objective metrics such as signal-to-noise ratio, peak signal-to-noise ratio, structural similarity index, and mean square error. These metrics assess the quality of the processed image, such as how much noise or distortion has been removed and how much detail has been preserved.

In computer vision, performance is often evaluated based on subjective and objective metrics, depending on the task. For example, in object detection, the precision and recall of the detection algorithm are often used to evaluate performance. The algorithm's accuracy is typically used to evaluate performance in image classification. In general, the performance of computer vision algorithms is often evaluated based on their ability to correctly identify and recognize objects, track objects, and perform other high-level tasks.


The kinds of algorithms employed by computer vision and image processing also vary. Deep learning methods, like convolutional neural networks and recurrent neural networks, are frequently used by computer vision algorithms to evaluate and comprehend images. Contrarily, image processing algorithms frequently employ fewer complex methods, including filtering, edge recognition, and morphology. In addition, since algorithms used in computer vision must be able to learn from experience and adjust to changing circumstances to interpret digital images correctly, they are frequently more complicated than image processing algorithms.

Time Requirements

Time is a critical factor in image processing, as many tasks are performed in real-time applications such as video processing and surveillance systems. For example, in a surveillance system, images from multiple cameras are processed in real-time to detect any suspicious activity. The processing time must be fast enough to keep up with the rate at which images are being captured. In computer vision, time is also essential, but it may only sometimes be a critical factor. With no real-time constraint, many computer vision tasks are performed on static images or pre-recorded video. For example, object recognition algorithms can be applied to a large dataset of images offline, and the processing time can be relatively long. However, many computer vision applications, such as autonomous vehicles or robotics, require real-time processing.


The accuracy rates between computer vision and image processing also vary. As they can learn from experience and adjust to changing circumstances, computer vision algorithms are often more accurate than image processing algorithms. In addition, since computer vision algorithms can analyze larger datasets and access more data, they might yield more accurate conclusions.


Cost differences also exist between computer vision and image processing. Because computer vision algorithms usually require more expensive hardware and software and larger datasets, associated costs may be higher. Nevertheless, algorithmic methods for image processing often require smaller datasets and may be performed on standard hardware, which might result in a lower price.


Moreover, the kinds of hardware needed for computer vision and image processing are different. In order to function effectively, computer vision algorithms frequently need specialized hardware, such as GPUs. On the other hand, regular processors can commonly be used to conduct image processing methods. Besides, whereas image processing algorithms can typically be taught with fewer datasets, computer vision algorithms frequently need larger datasets.


Image processing mainly focuses on the technical elements of working with pictures, such as signal processing and image analysis techniques. Image processing expertise may include understanding digital signal processing, linear algebra, and statistical analysis.In contrast, computer vision necessitates a more in-depth grasp of machine learning algorithms and computer vision methodologies. Computer vision expertise may include understanding neural networks, deep learning, and computer vision techniques.

Overarching goals

Computer vision and image processing are two closely related yet distinct fields within the realm of visual data analysis. While both share the common goal of extracting valuable information from images, they differ in their overarching objectives and methodologies.

The main goals of image processing are to enhance and modify images to increase their quality, extract meaningful information, or make additional analysis easier. Applying different methods, like enhancement, segmentation, and filtering, to alter or extract particular features from images is its main objective. Digital photography, satellite imaging analysis, and medical diagnostics are just a few of the many uses for these processed images. Essentially, image processing involves transforming and manipulating unprocessed visual data to improve its quality or extract relevant information.

However, by attempting to mimic human vision and comprehension of the visual environment, computer vision advances image processing. Computer vision analyzes and comprehends the content of images at a higher degree of abstraction than image processing, which works at a lower level of abstraction by concentrating on pixel-level features and manipulation. Its main objective is to give machines human-like abilities to receive, comprehend, and interpret visual data. This calls for skills including tracking, object identification, detection, and scene comprehension.

The primary difference between computer vision and image processing is in the final goals and abstraction levels of each. Image processing focuses on altering and improving images, whereas computer vision tries to give robots the capacity to understand and interpret visual information on their own. To put it simply, image processing is a fundamental collection of tools used to preprocess visual input prior to more advanced analysis in computer vision applications.

Overarching goals

In conclusion, while the extraction of useful information from images is a shared goal between computer vision and image processing, their methods and ultimate goals are different. Automated recognition and interpretation of visual data is the goal of computer vision, whereas image processing concentrates on picture enhancement and manipulation. Comprehending this differentiation is imperative to appreciate the wider terrain of visual data analysis and its utilization in diverse fields.

Datasets for Computer Vision and Image Processing

The development and evaluation of computer vision and image processing algorithms heavily rely on the availability of high-quality datasets and well-defined benchmarks. These resources play a crucial role in training and testing models, enabling researchers and developers to measure progress, compare different approaches, and identify areas for improvement.

Datasets in the context of computer vision vs image processing can vary greatly in terms of size, complexity, and domain specificity. Some widely used datasets for computer vision tasks include ImageNet for object recognition, COCO for object detection and segmentation, and CityScapes for autonomous driving applications. These datasets typically consist of large collections of annotated images or videos, with detailed labels and ground truth information.

In the field of image processing, datasets are often tailored to specific tasks, such as denoising, super-resolution, or compression. Examples include the BSD500 dataset for image denoising, the DIV2K dataset for super-resolution, and the Kodak dataset for image compression evaluation.

While some datasets are publicly available and widely adopted, others may be proprietary or domain-specific, reflecting the diverse range of applications in computer vision and image processing. For instance, medical imaging datasets are often closely guarded due to privacy concerns, while datasets for industrial inspection or surveillance may be proprietary and specific to a particular company or industry.

Benchmarks for Computer Vision and Image Processing

Benchmarks, on the other hand, provide standardized evaluation protocols and metrics for assessing the performance of computer vision and image processing algorithms. These benchmarks typically define specific tasks, evaluation criteria, and performance measures, enabling fair and consistent comparisons across different approaches.

Popular benchmarks in computer vision include the ImageNet challenge for object recognition, the COCO challenge for object detection and segmentation, and the Cityscapes benchmark for semantic understanding of urban street scenes. In image processing, benchmarks such as LIVE for image quality assessment, BSDS500 for image segmentation, and JPEG-XR for image compression evaluation are widely used.

The future of computer vision and image processing

A few decades ago, the use of modern computer vision seemed unrealistic. From our point of view, the potential and future of computer vision technology appear to have no bounds. The capabilities of computer vision technology will expand as more research and development is done on it. To detect more images than it can present, the technology will be simpler to train. Computer vision will also be coupled with other technologies or fields of AI to provide more adaptable applications. For instance, by utilizing a mix of image captioning software and natural language synthesis, the surroundings can be understood by persons who are visually impaired (NLG).

Image processing in the future will involve searching the cosmos for extraterrestrial intelligent life. The development of image processing technologies will also result in the emergence of new intelligent, digital species totally developed by research experts worldwide. In a few decades, billions of robots will exist thanks to developments in image processing and associated technologies, completely changing how the world is run. Speaking commands, anticipating government information needs, translating languages, recognizing and tracking people and things, diagnosing medical conditions, performing surgery, reprogramming human DNA flaws, and automatic driving of all types of transportation are all possible thanks to advances in image processing and artificial intelligence.

Final Takeaway

Today there has been significant growth and advancement in computer vision and image processing. Despite sharing specific objectives, there are also significant variations between the two. While image processing focuses on changing digital images, computer vision focuses on extracting information that can be exploited. Also, whereas image processing algorithms frequently employ more basic techniques, computer vision algorithms frequently include deep learning techniques. While image processing is often used for tasks like image enhancement, computer vision is typically used for object recognition tasks. Moreover, computer vision algorithms cost more in terms of hardware and software but are often more accurate than image processing methods.

Follow us for the latest updates
No comments yet!

saiwa is an online platform which provides privacy preserving artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) services

© 2024 saiwa. All Rights Reserved.