Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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Is there an easy tool to combine low quality pics taken from a mobile phone, all of the same thing but taken within a few seconds interval from one another, mostly suffering from slight out of focus issues? How can I combine them into higher quality?

EDIT: Apparently the concept is stacking: "focus stacking is taking several images of the same object(s) which are partially in focus and combining them in such a way as to keep the sharp parts and get rid of the blurry ones"

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What do you mean? Like stitching them together? Or are all of them of the same thing? –  J. Walker Mar 30 '12 at 12:34
    
doesnt make any sense! if you have the higher quality photo then why would you want to merge a low quality photo with that? –  Hasin Hayder Mar 30 '12 at 12:36
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Not quite a duplicate, but the question CSI image resolution enhance: How real is it? touches on the same topic. –  Håkon K. Olafsen Mar 30 '12 at 13:10
    
@J.Walker the way I read it is that there are several low quality images of the same scene and the result should be a higher quality image. –  ChrisF Mar 30 '12 at 13:29

2 Answers 2

Astrophotographers have been combining similar images for years. This is called "stacking" and there is special purpose software for it. You have great reductions in both noise and in some cases, clarity, than could ever be achieved with a single exposure.

However, there is a big but to this. The prime purpose of stacking is to eliminate noise from really dim objects. It is common for have exposures that are 1-2 minutes long and to combine dozens of these. This doesn't sound like what you want.

I did mention clarity, that sounds like what you are looking for but you will also be disappointed. The best lunar photography today is done with webcams. Yeah, webcams. The trick there is that you have thousands of exposure, most of which are crap since the atmosphere jiggles. But, with a movie made from a web cam, you can discard most of them, looking for those few clear shots. You then take those clear shots and stack them.

Then point at a different place on the moon and do it all over again.

Then again, this isn't what you want, but it is cool.

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It is possible to improve low res images with superstacking, however there will always be a limit to how far you can take that. I would say its a FAR CRY to state that "the best" lunar photography today is done with webcams. A lot of good lunar photography today is done with webcams, but telescopes can be used in the same way...take a lot of photos of one area of the moon, stack, change position, repeat (stacked mosaicing), and the results are far superior to anything a web cam could even come remotely close to producing. There is no substitute for raw spatial resolution: –  jrista Mar 30 '12 at 17:11
    
    
Yup, that's the guy, Noel Carboni. Beautiful work. –  Paul Cezanne Mar 30 '12 at 17:17
    
Noel doesn't use webcams? You know, I could be out of date with my tech then. Back when I considered doing it the DSLR could not do video. Now that they can, I guess the game changes again! –  Paul Cezanne Mar 30 '12 at 17:18
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I don't believe that photo I linked was created with a web cam, video camera, or even a DSLR. As far as I understand, it was created with an 8mp CCD "still" camera (not a video camera) designed specifically for astrophotography. –  jrista Mar 30 '12 at 18:35
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I found a piece of software in Linux that does stacking of images: ale

ale IMAG0626.jpg IMAG0627.jpg IMAG0628.jpg output.jpg
Output file will be 'output.jpg'.                                                                                                                                        
Original Frame:                                                                                                                                                          
 'IMAG0626.jpg'.                                                                                                                                                         
Supplemental Frames:                                                                                                                                                     
 'IMAG0627.jpg'*** okay (92.930228% match).                                                                                                                              
 'IMAG0628.jpg'*** okay (94.896616% match).                                                                                                                              
Re-filtering incremental results.                                                                                                                                        
Iterating Irani-Peleg.                                                                                                                                                   
Average match: 93.913422%                                                                       
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Original site is dead, but source is still downloadable from web.archive.org/web/20111227060740/http://auricle.dyndns.org/… –  winSharp93 May 18 at 15:34

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