I took a batch of images with slight camera shake.

What software is there to automatically find the sharpest image in the batch?

What I already found is Imatest's findsharp, but they write: "Find Sharp Files shoud never be used for comparing different images. Results will be misleading! [...] The images should be of the same subject with the same framing and similar lighting." So I guess, the software is not appropriate as there was shake, affecting framing. The software seems to be designed to evaluate optics of a camera, for example sharpness at different apertures.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While I suspect that any automated tool isn't going to produce as good of a result as manual review, it is a fascinating question none the less. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Jun 4, 2013 at 13:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ This must be an easy process but I have not thought about it much. Only if you have a habit of doing this, cameras can do this automatically for you. Most compact and ultra-compact Nikons have this feature and it is labelled BSS for Best Shot Selector. You have the option of keeping the sharpest or all. If you select all, then the camera puts it first in the stack of the burst. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jun 4, 2013 at 14:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Focus-stacking software like CombineZM has to find the sharp parts of each image in order to combine them. I'm not sure if there's a way to get useful measurements of the whole image out of such tools. \$\endgroup\$
    – coneslayer
    Jun 4, 2013 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ In my opinion the manual selction is the best. You can use Adobe Bridge to preview multiple photos at once (select them and press Ctrl+B, then click a photo to display magnifying glass). \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4, 2013 at 18:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you post some images to view how much is your "slight camera shake"? Did you actually try the findsharp? If the movement is not big, their algorithm could work (ranks sharpness based the standard deviation of the absolute value of the gradient of the selected region, normalized to the mean pixel level of the region.) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 4, 2013 at 19:49

3 Answers 3


This may not be a very elegant solution, it's more of a hack, but I once read a tip about searching for the sharpest picture out of a stack: look for the heavier files! I've used this method several times, and it works.

From a technical standpoint, this makes sense because the JPEG algorithm will compress your RAW files a lot more when you take blurry shots; less details means more even/flat areas, which requires less disk space to store.

Try ordering your pictures by file size, and you'll often see your blurriest shots have the lowest file size. Beware though, the shots with large out-of-focus area -bokeh- will also be smaller in size. So, you should only compare file sizes for pictures that are very similar (exact or very close composition/angle/focal length).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Very cool! I tried this on a suite of photos where I controlled the focus on the camera remotely from a computer (so identical framing and exposure) and it worked great! \$\endgroup\$ Dec 28, 2016 at 22:50

I don't know it by first hand, but I found out the following blog post. Apparently, Capture One Pro is able to find out the sharpest image in a sequence, as the following blurb points out:

If you shoot a large quantity of images in a short period of time, for example with portrait or fashion work, it can often be time consuming to select the images with the correct focus point. [...] The Focus Mask works by analyzing each individual image and determining the sharpest areas. If you are used to features like focus ‘peaking’ with video capture, then the functionality is similar.

You could try out a trial and see if it delivers what it is promising.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting, but as they say this option is similar to focus peaking, I have my doubts that it will work well with motion blur. \$\endgroup\$
    – feklee
    Jun 4, 2013 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well the algorithm will try to identify the sharpest areas: motion blurred images will have few of those if any but being automatic it could give some answer all the same. Granted, it could be not enough. .. \$\endgroup\$
    – Francesco
    Jun 4, 2013 at 18:51

You can try Kuuvik capture, it should have some interesting focus peaking function
more info here:

I too will find very useful a tool for finding the sharpest image in a sequence.
I didn't have the occasion to try Kuuvik Capture, but it looks interesting.


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