Visual communication, in the form of telephotography and television, for example, can be regarded as efficient only if the amount of information that it conveys about the scene to the observer approaches the maximum possible and the associated cost approaches
the minimum possible. Elsewhere we have addressed the problem of assessing the end-to-end performance of visual communication systems in terms of their efficiency in this sense by integrating the critical limiting factors that constrain image gathering into classical communication theory. We use this approach to assess the electro-optical design of image-gathering devices as a function of the I number and apodization of the objective lens and the aperture size and sampling geometry of the photodetection mechanism. Results show that an image-gathering device that is designed to optimize information capacity performs similarly to the human eye. For both, the performance approaches the maximum possible, in terms of the efficiency with which the acquired information can be transmitted as decorrelated data, and the fidelity, sharpness, and clarity with which fine detail can be restored.