Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Review: Photoshop CC Shake Reduction tool

before after

There was a lot of talk about shake reduction technology in Photoshop prior to release of Adobe Photoshop CC. As it was just released a few days ago and I'm its lucky user I would like to share a few words with you about this interesting technology.

Before we start, take a look at the photo above. Before shows the photo as I took it (+ some minor cropping and contrast tweaking in Lightroom). You can notice a bit of blurriness especially in the wings, legs and abdomen. The After shows the image after applying Shake Reduction filter to it. The image is crisp and almost razor sharp (compare leaf or the wings).

Now back to the filter itself :)

First of all, this isn't the first ever implementation of shake reduction technology although you might think so thanks to Adobe marketing campaign. The algorithms dealing with reducing blurriness (especially caused by camera movement) have existed for a few years now and some companies have introduced their products much earlier than Adobe did, eg. Topaz have their InFocus plugin which I quite like (especially to remove some very minor blurring).

However, I must say that Photoshop Shake Reduction is quite impressive and probably I will use it more frequently than any other shake reduction filter. It's fast, very easy to use and in my tests it generally performed rather good. But the most important for me is that unlike many other methods I tried it doesn't introduce many artifacts (and blur reduction is very prone to introduce artifacts in general).

I mentioned that the filter is easy to use. Really - you simply choose part of your image by drawing rectangular selection and based on your selection algorithm will try to guess blur characteristics and based on them will try to "unshake" the image (formally it will do deconvolution). If one selection doesn't work, try selecting another.

For the above image it worked fantastic. But will it work equally well for other images? Well, the best answer I can give is - it depends. From my tests it seems that the filter performs best when:
  • blur isn't big (just a bit of hand shaked caused blur or small out-of-focus issues),
  • there is enough contrast and texture in the photo - photos without them perform much worse.
Summing up I find the Shake Reduction filter quite impressive. Although it isn't ideal, it's one of the best implementations of blur reduction I've seen so far. And given how much interest and research goes into blur reduction these days I think that the technology will improve in next few years.

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