Would you say that “Zernike Phase” is describing the amount of signal in the light grey area in the upper panels (Order) or in the red part of the disk in your Wikipedia panel?
You definitely want to use the wikipedia-type model, as you’ll notice the zernikes are given with 2 metrics (ie not 1, 2, 3, but 1_1, 5_3, etc).
My understanding there is that the higher the value for any given zernike, the closer that the object matches the red/gray areas- IE a ring-like object will have a low 2_0 value (where value concentrates in the center) but a high 4_0 value (which is low in the center but high in a ring).
If I understand the CellProfiler Wiki correctly, the closer the Phase is to 1, the more polarised the cell.
For some of the Zernikes, that will be true, for others not. I really think for the most part you want to avoid assigning any “human-intuitable-values” to your Zernikes, other than “they represent subtle descriptors of shape”- they’re really most useful for either a) reconstructing shapes (like in the paper I linked) or b) just feeding into an overall unbiased feature model for doing morphological profiling.