[UPDATE (April 2013) – Confirmed: Image Deblurring is coming soon in Photoshop!]
Here is the latest news on Photoshop Image Deblurring: In response to some of your questions here at ProDesignTools, we contacted Adobe and requested they help “bring into focus” the new Deblur feature that could be in a future Photoshop. We got in touch with Dr. Jue Wang, Adobe senior research scientist, and as a direct result his team has provided more examples of the technology using notable photographs. Most of these are well-known from history or come from independent sources, and thus began with natural camera blur.
For those just joining us on the story, here’s a quick review: Earlier this month we ran a feature article on this “sneak peek” of an amazing new capability revealed at Adobe MAX. Several blurry photographs were processed through a new Photoshop plug-in to give before-and-after results that wowed the crowd, even more than the other popular sneak demos at the show. [See the full video in HD]
Why did controversy later arise? For the last brief image of his demonstration, intending to be entertaining and relevant to the audience, Dr. Wang used a photo of Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch that had been synthetically blurred. Creation of synthetic inputs is common practice across the research in this field, but out of simplicity, Dr. Wang did not go into those origins at the time.
The original sharp version was found online, and even though the other images came from real-world blur due to camera shake, this opened the door for some to raise questions about the efficacy of the developing technology. After we contacted them, Adobe added an update to their Photoshop.com blog post explaining why synthetic blurring was used for that example, but some skepticism remained.
So we got in touch with Dr. Wang again and have been working with him over the weekend. In response, his team put together a group of independent photographs that began with natural camera blur and included the results from Photoshop’s Image Deblurring algorithm. Here is what he wrote to us yesterday:
This is still early-stage research and as it develops we will definitely be reaching out to the community for testing examples. But at the moment our researchers are still refining the technologies. In the meantime, we have put some real-world examples on our fun Deblur Famous Photos webpage, and there will be more. On the page you can also find a way to contribute to our research.
We hope you find these as helpful and interesting as we do. Just roll over each photo with your mouse (or tap) for the before and after results. And if you have an image of your own or a good-case historical photo, please see the invitation on how to propose it for deblurring at the end of this article.
Robert Capa’s D-Day Photo
This is perhaps the most famous blurry photograph in American history. It was taken by Robert Capa on June 6, 1944, during World War II. The picture captured an American soldier landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day in Normandy, France. As you can see, the technical quality of the original is challenging – there is an enormous degree of blur, noise, and artifacts. It’s an extreme test of the Photoshop deblurring algorithm, but check out the noteworthy result – particularly in the foreground, and the new detail revealed in the G.I.’s face.
Microsoft’s Sculpture Test
Here is an authentic photograph Microsoft used as a test for their own picture deblurring solution, which involved having hardware gyro sensors built into a special camera and then using the sensor data recorded at the time of image capture to automatically deblur each photo taken on it. As a challenge, the Adobe team fed the same original Microsoft image blurred from camera shake into the Photoshop prototype, which of course did not have the benefit of the recorded data to work backwards from. Yet the Photoshop output compares favorably with Microsoft’s result that had required the special apparatus.
One last example we’ll cover is from the Hwanho Sunrise Park in Pohang, Korea. This photograph was an inspiration to the Korean team that originally created the Photoshop unblur technology, in that the image convolution was so bad that it seemed impossible to save. But the researchers didn’t give up working on their algorithms – and then finally late one night, it worked. Notice in particular the water, the trees, and the bench at the lower right.
Of course, the developing algorithm does not always work so well (which the researchers freely admit) – and you can see an example of that, plus more details and estimated blur kernels for all images at the Deblur Famous/Interesting Photos page, where visitor submissions of additional photos are also invited.
[UPDATE (October 2012) – Don’t miss Adobe’s latest news on the Photo Deblurring feature!]
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