Review: SmartDeblur restores blurred images, indulges CSI fantasies

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder SmartDeblur

    PCWorld Rating

    If you have a blurred image, you're normally inclined to delete the photo and move on. But if that photo contains important information that you absolutely need SmartDeblur can help.

Cellphone cameras make amateur photographers out of all of us. We can relate to making blurred photos, which we normally then delete and forget about. But sometimes those blurry photos contain important information that we must retrieve. In these instances, it might be worth firing up the free SmartDeblur to see if it can work its magic on the picture.

When you open up the app, load the blurred image, and then use the sliders along the top to adjust the picture. Changes are applied almost instantly.

SmartDeblur is a small portable app available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It enables you to work your magic on photos by tweaking a couple of sliders back and forth which changes the colors and contrasts to make the picture slightly clearer.  In the end, it won't produce a perfect high-definition picture worthy of your photo album, but if you're looking to make some information a lot clearer, then this app can probably make some headway.

I'm not going to go into the technical hows and whats of the app, as frankly it's confusing (how many people can claim to know about the "Wiener, Tikhonov, and Total Variation deconvolution methods"?). The developer has written a few tutorials on his website for anyone interested in reading up on the technical side of the app.

The great thing about this app is that if you don't understand the technical side of things, or you don't want to know, you're still covered. The intuitive user interface makes using SmartDeblur absurdly easy. Simply download the portable app, unzip everything into a new folder (making sure you preserve the folder structure), and start up the app.  You are provided with an example image if you want to practice before trying the app on your own pictures.

When you have the picture loaded, simply move the two center sliders, "Radius" and "Smooth," from left to right. Almost immediately, you will see the image start to alter, based on the sliders' positions.  Eventually, you will get the best new version of your photo that you are likely to get, and you can then save the new image to your hard drive.

With a bit of tweaking, the image should become clearer. It will still be blurred, but may now be clear enough to see the information contained in the image.

As I said, it won't make it totally clear, but it may be just clear enough to read that car license plate so you can arrest the bad guys, just like in CSI Miami.  And since it's portable, you can keep it on your USB stick or in your Dropbox folder, to be used on whatever computer you happen to be working on.

All you need now is David Caruso's sunglasses.

Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    If you have a blurred image, you're normally inclined to delete the photo and move on. But if that photo contains important information that you absolutely need SmartDeblur can help.

    Pros

    • Portable app
    • Works extremely fast
    • Intuitive interface

    Cons

    • App does not make blurred image perfect
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