Adobe Image Deblurring Done on Capa’s Famous D-Day Photo

Update: We’ve removed this image to avoid fringing on the copyright held by Magnum Photos. Click the image below to see the original side-by-side comparison.


Still think Adobe’s Image Deblurring technology is fake? Check out this before-and-after comparison showing what the feature does to one of the most famous camera-shake photos in history: Robert Capa’s D-Day photograph of an American soldier landing on Omaha Beach.

This is the “blur kernel”, which shows the camera movement that caused the blur:

Chief Scientist Jue Wang (the guy who did the demo at Adobe Max) writes,

To me the system does a reasonable job. It recovers some details that you won’t be able to see easily in the original. Of course the noise gets boosted somehow, we applied a small amount of noise removal on the output, but maybe a decent denoising algorithm can help here. The most interesting thing is the estimated blur kernel, or in other words, how Robert Capa moved his camera when he shot this one. The kernel shown above not only depicts the camera trajectory, but also shows how long the camera stays at each spatial location (white means longer, black means shorter). It seems Robert kept the camera steady for a while, then suddenly moved to the left before the shutter closed completely. Of course all these happened in the fraction of time when his shutter was open. [#]

Wang also has a couple more before-and-after examples on his personal website. Lets hope this feature makes it into Photoshop soon!

Deblur Famous/Interesting Photos (via ProDesignTools)

  • Pete Boyd

    Maybe Capa was dodging a bullet. Should have shielded it with his Leica.

  • Darren Carlin

    Looks worse tbh

  • Thomas

    Is the image better now? Not really!

  • Ian Greenbergs

    it’s strange as this photo myth had been before of bad development of film
    not of camera blur
    adobe is rewriting history?
    or just some smart ass marketing talk?

  • Blabber Moth

    Wait, so, Adobe invented the Sharpen Filter again?

  • Fenil

    Yes, this one is motion blurred, but not all pictures were blurred, they were burned.
    Maybe adobe is rewriting history, but not with this shot.

  • ron b

    I don’t think they ended up with the proper kernel – if you look at the objects in the background you can see that you ended up with duplicated objects that shouldn’t be there.  

  • Matt

    I think it shows some promise, but will really need the ability to mask some areas and then help on those halos some how.  I like elements of the ‘fixed’ photo, but some elements detract from it. 

  • Dominic Arkwright

    Looks like their software’s idea of maximum camera shake is less than what happened here. Capa was probably keeping the shutter open for half a second or something, and it just looks too much like 2 examples of everything to the algorithm. Send it into battle. It’ll learn.

  • Dnguyen

    About the so-called ‘blur’ (via Robert Capa Wikipedia entry): A staff member at Life in London made a mistake in the darkroom; he set the dryer too high and melted the emulsion in the negatives in three complete rolls and over half of a fourth roll. Only eight frames in total were recovered.

  • Steve

    So Adobe have come up with a melted emulsion fix, how useful:)

  • Nicolas HARTER

    I think what tricked the algorithm is the fact that the soldier is quite close compared to the background elements. The camera could have been rotated around some axis and not simply moved laterally… 

  • Ellen

    I heard the emulsion melt took place in the film dryers at Magnum’s office in Paris after Capa got the rolls to a bicycle rider who drove them to Paris. At least this is the story I heard decades ago from a Magnum staffer in France standing in the Magnum office who was there when it happened so he said.

  • Dave

    Paris?  The Photos appeared in Life June 19, 1944, two months before Paris was liberated.  I somehow doubt the Germans invited him to Paris to develop his film

  • Semi


    Two things: 

    1. Paris was still occupied by the Germans on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  There is no way the film was developed in Paris.  It was sent back to London for development.

    2. Magnum Photo wasn’t founded until after the war…1947 to be exact.

  • Stephen Godfrey

    nice, but I like the blurred one better from an artistic stand point.

  • Willlspiers

    Capa sed he did not know if it was a photographic setting mistake or he was just so nervise he could not stop shaking. nothing to do with the developing.
    8 frames from 4 roles and this was the best thay had.

    Yes me no not too good at spell

  • Jacobo Pérez-Bouzada

    Capa takes this pic with a Contax Zeiss Ikon, not a Leica ;)

  • Anonymous

    the fact that he was even on the beach in this hell speaks volumes of the photographer.

  • Jason

    As far as I was aware regarding this image the blur wasn’t caused by camera motion, but rather by an all-too-enthusiastic darkroom intern who in his rush to have the pictures developed heated them up too quickly or for too long which caused the film to warp which gave the pic it’s now famous effect?


    I don’t think that the point is whether or not the photo is “fixed” or better. It just shows that the tech works, and in one instances, may prove useful.

    What I found interesting is that apparently photoshop doesn’t ship with a “decent denoising algorithm”.

  • stephan

    I guess in this case the system would work even better if the background was deblurred separately from the foreground.

    By the way, Capa apparently moved the camera to the /right/, not left. Funny that their chief scientist makes a little mistake like that..