The closest I've found so far are a couple from Topaz Labs. They're not quite the same though.

Retinex is awesome. Especially if the environments in which you shoot lead to lots of underexposures.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried the exposure and fill light tools in ACR? I've pulled 8 stops of recovery using those tools alone and, I think, the result is better than the linked sample. I'll admit that I wasn't especially impressed by it, the outcome was quite noisy, but the GIMP is also only 8 bit images, so that probably doesn't help. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Feb 24, 2011 at 22:16
  • 11
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this question would benefit from a short explanation of what the filter does and how it differs from normal shadow recovery. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Feb 24, 2011 at 23:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The sample image given in the linked page is pretty bad, and probably does not show off the possibilities of this filter very well. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 25, 2011 at 4:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ If your French is ok, or you have a google translation plugin, this page by the plugin author has some better details on the actual math behind the plugin. www-prima.inrialpes.fr/pelisson/MSRCR.php \$\endgroup\$
    – cabbey
    Feb 25, 2011 at 5:07

2 Answers 2


I just made a retinex filter for Photoshop and similar:


It is a little different from the Gimp/ImageJ plugins. I tried to make it easier to understand, and included offset as well as gain. The “Level” control seems to be aimed at extracting detail from CT scans and so forth, not general photography, so I simplified it as well.

There are more filters there as well if you are interested . . . .


  • \$\begingroup\$ On Windows, at load time the filter looks for .dll files and strings in them (MSVCP90.dll and PIZGetINdString in PLUGIN.dll) which are absent (and therefore the filter won't work). I tried swapping in .dlls of the same name from various other locations (including other Photoshop folders); no fix. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2019 at 0:29

tl;dr: Sorry, there is currently no exact Photoshop equivalent to GIMPs Retinex filter, though there are a few Photoshop plugins that claim to produce similar results.

For those who may not know what Retinex is, or how it's different from other processing algorithms (I didn't), you can find a full treatise on the technology and it's applications from the technology's inventors here: Processing Digital Imagery To Enhance Perceptions of Realism

To briefly summarize what is admittedly a rather dense white paper, Retinex, or more correctly Multi-Scale Retinex with Color Restoration (MSRCR) is an algorithm that automatically "improves the perception of visual realism and the quantity and quality of perceived information in a digitized image." (whew) In layman's terms, The algorithm at the heart of Retinex is able to take an improperly exposed photograph and enhance shadow and highlight detail in a natural-looking way and in a largely automatic fashion. The inventors of the algorithm claim that they are able to achieve consistently superior results- in terms of both quality and speed of processing- to other image manipulation algorithms on the market.

The algorithm was developed with a grant from NASA, and is a patented technology which was marketed by the TruView Imaging Company under the product name 'PhotoFlair,' both as a standalone tool, a Photoshop plugin, and an Adobe Premiere plugin. I say 'was,' because for reasons I couldn't dig up in my searching the company abruptly ceased operation, distribution and technical support of its product line sometime in 2003. There is no indication, however, that TruView Imaging Company has released the patent on the algorithm, which leads me to surmise that the Gimp Retinex plugin is an approximation of the MSRCR algorithm, not the 'real thing.' Additionally, I can find no indication that anyone has made port of the GIMP plugin for use in Photoshop, thus the simple answer is that there is no exact Photoshop equivalent to the GIMP Retinex plugin.

There are, however, a few different Photoshop plugins who claim to have surpassed the enhancement capabilities of Retinex, most notably is the 'Retina' Photoshop plugin by Xtra Sens Software. As I have not used the product you would want to download their 30-day trial for further comparisons between the products.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Since there aren't software patents in Europe (or at least, not in the same way there are in the US; at least, not yet), it's actually quite possible that it's just a straightforward implementation of the algorithm. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Feb 28, 2011 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ More exactly, while the European Patent Office issues patents on software, their validity is up in the air, and particularly so in France: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Feb 28, 2011 at 2:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could be. I really got the feeling (though it's nothing I could pin down enough to give a citation) that the Retinex algorithm was 'state of the art' circa 2003, but it has since been surpassed by better methods of image processing... Which potentially would explain why there aren't a bunch of Retinex clones to be found... \$\endgroup\$ Feb 28, 2011 at 6:46

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