Fixing Blurry Photos with Blurity

It’s very frustrating to take what you think is a great photo only to find it’s blurry when viewed later. Blur can result from poor focus, focusing on an object other than the one intended, or motion. In poor light the camera shutter often must stay open longer to allow in more light and it’s easy to move your hand resulting in a blurred image. Normally after seeing a blurry photo you’d have no alternative but to trash the photo.

On TV shows, there always seems to be a magic “fix photo” button that is used whenever a character needs fix a blurry image that magically restore it to perfect clarity. In real life, there is no magic button. But, there are some programs that can restore some clarity to images, and Blurity is one of the best. It will take a blurry image and in a few clicks produce a photo with recovered detail and far less blur. Let’s see how well it works.

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Getting Blurity

Blurity has been available for Windows for a while, but was just recently released for the Mac. The program is regularly prices at $49, but currently is on sale for $39. There is a demo version available from the publisher’s web site at http://www.blurity.com/download. The demo is fully functional, but adds a watermark reading unregistered to each deblurred image. The demo lets you try the software on a photo you wish to rescue and pay only if the results are worth the cost. If you decide to buy, can be purchased by credit card or using Paypal.

Using Blurity

The Blurity Interface

You select a sample area shown by the red box to use to attempt to remove the blur from your photo.

When you first run Blurity, you’ll be presented with a tutorial to introduce you to the program. This process begins by opening the original blurry image, selecting a sample area of the image that represents the blur in the image, and then clicking Process. Blurity will then attempt to fix the blur. That’s the exact process you’ll need to go through to take the blur away from your own images, so the trial will get your ready to get started.

You begin by loading the original blurred image. You set the sample area by clicking on the original photo placing a red box around a sample area. This area should enclose a portion of the image that clearly shows the blur. The size of this box can be adjusted depending on the size of the area you wish to select and the blurriness of the image. A good sample area will contain a simple shape that completely show the blur and is enclosed by the red box. Areas with no shape or that won’t show blur such as a solid colored floor or background will not work well. Photos with no clear shape also do not work well.

Once you are happy with your selected area, you process the image by clicking the Process button. Blurity will then process the image and attempt to remove the blur. If you’re not happy with the results you can move the adjustment point and try again until the blur is removed and you’re happy with the results. When you are happy with the deblurred image, you can save it to disk.

Results

Before/After Deblurring

Before and after images using Blurity (albeit with a watermark)

The results can be impressive when Blurity works well. I tried on several blurry photos, all the result of either the camera or subject moving while taking the photo. For one photo of a squirrel on a log, the results were pretty impressive. For other photos the results were less impressive, but in almost every case the resulting photo looked sharper and clearer than the original image. Often I found it took a number of different source locations to find one that gave the best results. Some source points in fact led to results worse than the original image. Some experimenting will definitely pay off in a better final image.

Poor Result

Not every photo can be fixed. I was never able to get a good quality deblurred photo from this image.

In all cases the resulting image might be clearer, but also usually looked more noisy. That tradeoff is unavoidable in the algorithm that processes the image and removes the blur. The results are less noisy than any other similar tool I’ve tried, though. For many images, the results were clearly better as the focus improved greatly with only a small increase in noise in the photo. For other images the resulting noise overwhelmed the image. In most cases adjusting the source point could balance the reduction in blur and the additional noise and produce a usable image.

Conclusion

Overall, Blurity does work quite well. The ability to take a single blurry image and often produce something acceptable and occasionally very nice is impressive. The program consistently was able to take my test blurry photos and produce a better image. The resulting final images weren’t as sharp and clear as a well focused original would have been, but in almost all cases were an improvement on the original photo and usually good enough for family shots.

Sometimes it required tweaking and moving the source point for the photo to get the best result. This often felt like trial and error, but over time it became clear that selecting a clearly distinct object with a simple shape resulted in the best results. On my Mac the software runs quickly enough that trying a few different points to get different results didn’t take long.

Blurity is a very specialized app that only does one thing: removing blurs from pictures. It also will never produce a result as good as if the blur wasn’t present in the original photo. The cost is also a bit expensive for a single purpose app, since it’s closer to the cost of many mid-range image editors. But if you have a precious memory or important text trapped behind a blurry photo, Blurity might be able to salvage it for you, and that might easily make it worth it to you. With a fully functional demo, you can try it yourself and see if you find it worth the cost.


Summary

Software to remove blur from photos. It's very impressive in the ability to remove the blur and produce a decent photo of an otherwise ruined shot, but is a bit too expensive for casual users and anyone without a photo they really would like to rescue.

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  • Andrea Di Marco

    Would be nice to see it compared to both Photosity and Back In Focus as pricing, in this category of apps, looks a bit random…

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