The image plane is the planar surface on which the image is generated in an image formation process or a model thereof.
In most cameras, the photosensitive elements are arranged on a planar support. In image formation models, the image plane is the (mathematical) plane where the image is formed and within which pixels or film are supposed to be located.
There exist cameras where the photosensitive area is not flat. For instance, in most early panoramic image acquisition systems that proceeded by scanning a scene with a rotating slit camera, the film was wrapped onto the inside of a cylindrical surface [1, 2]. In that case, one may still devise an equivalent theoretical image formation model that has a planar image support surface.
- 1.McBride B (2011) A timeline of panoramic cameras. http://www.panoramicphoto.com/timeline.htm Accessed 3 August 2011