Photoshop introduces powerful new shake reduction tool

July 15, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Adobe recently moved from individual releases of updated Creative Suite products to a rolling update through what it calls Creative Cloud. CC products are not available as individual releases (e.g., "Adobe Photoshop CS6"), but only as a subscription-based service that is constantly updated. While you can subscribe to individual products in the suite (e.g., a Photoshop-only subscription), Adobe hopes you will pay a flat rate for access to all its products. If you only use Photoshop, this may not be such a great deal, but if you use other Adobe products, it can provide substantial savings.

The first iteration of Photoshop under the Creative Cloud subscription program includes new sharpening technology called the Shake Reduction filter. When our daughter sent us a somewhat blurred Iphone image of our grandson, I took this new filter for a test run.

I have previously used a product called Focus Magic that provides some tools for recovering pics that are either out of focus or suffering from motion blurring. I have found it to be marginally effective, depending on the conditions under which the image was shot, amount of contrast, etc. In this entry, I compare the new Photoshop tool to both modes in Focus Magic, motion blur, which I refer to as "FM Shake Reduction" in the examples to distinguish it from Photoshop's version, and out of focus blur, "FM OOF."

In keeping with my normal workflow, I opened the image in Lightroom and provided some initial adjustments in the develop module — the lens adjustment for the Iphone, lowered highlights and blacks, a slight increase in contrast, and a small sharpening adjustment. I opened the resulting image in Photoshop , created three duplicate layers, ran the Focus Magic filters on the first two of these layers, and opened Photoshop's Filter>Sharpen>Shake Reduction on the third. Photoshop shows you the area it is sampling (enlarged in this example for effect) and presents you with some options on the right of the screen.

Keeping the preview button on will redraw the screen, but it can really slow things down fora big file. I was able to leave it checked for this Iphone image. If the preview exhibits too much noise, as this did, adjust the blur trace setting. The smoothing and artifact suppression sliders help reduce artifacts and other unwanted effects. In the actual test, I increased both settings to about 37. 

The following image compares full frame versions of the original, the two Focus Magic settings, and Photoshop's Shake Reduction filter.

Even in this small sample image, it us clear that the new Photoshop filter outperforms either of the two Focus Magic settings. The differences between the original and the PS Shake Reduction filter, however, are startling. These differences become even more dramatic on this cropped image of Caeden's face.

I'm hard pressed to see much difference between the original and Focus Magic's motion blur setting ("FM Shake Reduction"), but there is some improvement when using its out of focus setting. The Photoshop Shake Reduction filter is clearly the best of the lot, however. It's not a home run. I'm not sure you can get that from the original, but since the goal of this image was to give his grandmother another acceptable 4x6 to show her friends, it gets the job done quite handily. 

This filter alone does not justify the move from a standalone Photoshop upgrade to a monthly subscription, but if it's any indication of the level of technology Adobe will be bringing us, it's worth waiting around for. 


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