ImageItem displays images inside a GraphicsView, or a ViewBox, which may itself be part of a PlotItem. It is designed for rapid updates as needed for a video display. The supplied data is optionally scaled (see setLevels()) and/or colored according to a lookup table (see setLookupTable().

Data is provided as a NumPy array with an ordering of either

  • col-major, where the shape of the array represents (width, height) or

  • row-major, where the shape of the array represents (height, width).

While col-major is the default, row-major ordering typically has the best performance. In either ordering, a third dimension can be added to the array to hold individual [R,G,B] or [R,G,B,A] components.


Data ordering can be set for each ImageItem, or in the global configuration options by

pyqtgraph.setConfigOption('imageAxisOrder', 'row-major') # best performance

An image can be placed into a plot area of a given extent directly through the setRect() method or the rect keyword. This is internally realized through assigning a QtGui.QTransform. For other translation, scaling or rotations effects that persist for all later image data, the user can also directly define and assign such a transform, as shown in the example below.

ImageItem is frequently used in conjunction with ColorBarItem to provide a color map display and interactive level adjustments, or with HistogramLUTItem or HistogramLUTWidget for a full GUI to control the levels and lookup table used to display the image.

If performance is critial, the following points may be worth investigating:

  • Use row-major ordering and C-contiguous image data.

  • Manually provide level information to avoid autoLevels sampling of the image.

  • Prefer float32 to float64 for floating point data, avoid NaN values.

  • Use lookup tables with <= 256 entries for false color images.

  • Avoid individual level adjustments RGB components.

  • Use the latest version of NumPy. Notably, SIMD code added in version 1.20 significantly improved performance on Linux platforms.

  • Enable Numba with pyqtgraph.setConfigOption('useNumba', True), although the JIT compilation will only accelerate repeated image display.


tr = QtGui.QTransform()  # prepare ImageItem transformation:
tr.scale(6.0, 3.0)       # scale horizontal and vertical axes
tr.translate(-1.5, -1.5) # move 3x3 image to locate center at axis origin

img = pg.ImageItem( image=np.eye(3), levels=(0,1) ) # create example image
img.setTransform(tr) # assign transform

plot.addItem( img )  # add ImageItem to PlotItem
plot.showAxes(True)  # frame it with a full set of axes
plot.invertY(True)   # vertical axis counts top to bottom
Example of transformed image display
class pyqtgraph.ImageItem(image=None, **kargs)[source]

Bases: GraphicsObject

__init__(image=None, **kargs)[source]

See setOpts() for further keyword arguments and and setImage() for information on supported formats.


image (array) – Image data


Clears the assigned image.

getHistogram(bins='auto', step='auto', perChannel=False, targetImageSize=200, targetHistogramSize=500, **kwds)[source]

Returns x and y arrays containing the histogram values for the current image. For an explanation of the return format, see numpy.histogram().

The step argument causes pixels to be skipped when computing the histogram to save time. If step is ‘auto’, then a step is chosen such that the analyzed data has dimensions approximating targetImageSize for each axis.

The bins argument and any extra keyword arguments are passed to self.xp.histogram(). If bins is auto, a bin number is automatically chosen based on the image characteristics:

  • Integer images will have approximately targetHistogramSize bins, with each bin having an integer width.

  • All other types will have targetHistogramSize bins.

If perChannel is True, then a histogram is computed for each channel, and the output is a list of the results.


Returns the list representing the current level settings. See setLevels(). When autoLevels is active, the format is [blackLevel, whiteLevel].


Returns the scene-size of a single pixel in the image


Estimates the min/max values of the image data by subsampling. Subsampling is performed at regular strides chosen to evaluate a number of samples equal to or less than targetSize.

Returns (min, max).

save(fileName, *args)[source]

Saves this image to file. Note that this saves the visible image (after scale/color changes), not the original data.


Controls automatic downsampling for this ImageItem.

If active is True, the image is automatically downsampled to match the screen resolution. This improves performance for large images and reduces aliasing. If autoDownsample is not specified, then ImageItem will choose whether to downsample the image based on its size. False disables automatic downsampling.


Defines the border drawn around the image. Accepts all arguments supported by mkPen().


Change the composition mode of the item. This is useful when overlaying multiple items.


mode (QtGui.QPainter.CompositionMode) –

Composition of the item, often used when overlaying items. Common options include:

QPainter.CompositionMode.CompositionMode_SourceOver (Default) Image replaces the background if it is opaque. Otherwise, it uses the alpha channel to blend the image with the background.

QPainter.CompositionMode.CompositionMode_Overlay Image color is mixed with the background color to reflect the lightness or darkness of the background

QPainter.CompositionMode.CompositionMode_Plus Both the alpha and color of the image and background pixels are added together.

QPainter.CompositionMode.CompositionMode_Plus The output is the image color multiplied by the background.

See QPainter::CompositionMode in the Qt Documentation for more options and details

setImage(image=None, autoLevels=None, **kargs)[source]

Updates the image displayed by this ImageItem. For more information on how the image is processed before displaying, see makeARGB>().

For backward compatibility, image data is assumed to be in column-major order (column, row) by default. However, most data is stored in row-major order (row, column). It can either be transposed before assignment:


or the interpretation of the data can be changed locally through the axisOrder keyword or by changing the imageAxisOrder global configuration option.

All keywords supported by setOpts() are also allowed here.

  • image (array) – Image data given as NumPy array with an integer or floating point dtype of any bit depth. A 2-dimensional array describes single-valued (monochromatic) data. A 3-dimensional array is used to give individual color components. The third dimension must be of length 3 (RGB) or 4 (RGBA).

  • rect (QRectF, QRect or list_like of floats (x, y, w, h), optional) – If given, sets translation and scaling to display the image within the specified rectangle. See setRect().

  • autoLevels (bool, optional) –

    If True, ImageItem will automatically select levels based on the maximum and minimum values encountered in the data. For performance reasons, this search subsamples the images and may miss individual bright or or dark points in the data set.

    If False, the search will be omitted.

    The default is False if a levels keyword argument is given, and True otherwise.

  • levelSamples (int, default 65536) – When determining minimum and maximum values, ImageItem only inspects a subset of pixels no larger than this number. Setting this larger than the total number of pixels considers all values.

setLevels(levels, update=True)[source]

Sets image scaling levels. See makeARGB for more details on how levels are applied.

  • levels (list_like) –

    • [blackLevel, whiteLevel] sets black and white levels for monochrome data and can be used with a lookup table.

    • [[minR, maxR], [minG, maxG], [minB, maxB]] sets individual scaling for RGB values. Not compatible with lookup tables.

  • update (bool, optional) – Controls if image immediately updates to reflect the new levels.

setLookupTable(lut, update=True)[source]

Sets lookup table lut to use for false color display of a monochrome image. See makeARGB for more information on how this is used. Optionally, lut can be a callable that accepts the current image as an argument and returns the lookup table to use.

Ordinarily, this table is supplied by a HistogramLUTItem, GradientEditorItem or ColorBarItem.

Setting update to False avoids an immediate image update.

setOpts(update=True, **kargs)[source]

Sets display and processing options for this ImageItem. __init__() and setImage() support all keyword arguments listed here.

  • autoDownsample (bool) – See setAutoDownsample().

  • axisOrder (str) –

    ‘col-major’: The shape of the array represents (width, height) of the image. This is the default.
    ’row-major’: The shape of the array represents (height, width).

  • border (bool) – Sets a pen to draw to draw an image border. See setBorder().

  • compositionMode – See setCompositionMode()

  • lut (array) – Sets a color lookup table to use when displaying the image. See setLookupTable().

  • levels (list_like, usally [min, max]) – Sets minimum and maximum values to use when rescaling the image data. By default, these will be set to the estimated minimum and maximum values in the image. If the image array has dtype uint8, no rescaling is necessary. See setLevels().

  • opacity (float, 0.0-1.0) – Overall opacity for an RGB image.

  • rect (QRectF, QRect or array_like of floats (x,`y`,`w`,`h`)) – Displays the current image within the specified rectangle in plot coordinates. See setRect().

  • update (bool, optional) – Controls if image immediately updates to reflect the new options.


Sets whether the item ignores transformations and draws directly to screen pixels. If True, the item will not inherit any scale or rotation transformations from its parent items, but its position will be transformed as usual. (see GraphicsItem::ItemIgnoresTransformations in the Qt documentation)

setRect(rect) or setRect(x, y, w, h)[source]

Sets translation and scaling of this ImageItem to display the current image within the rectangle given as QtCore.QRect or QtCore.QRectF rect, or described by parameters x, y, w, h, defining starting position, width and height.

This method cannot be used before an image is assigned. See the examples for how to manually set transformations.