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Getting Started Tutorial

To help you get the full benefit of Focus Magic, we recommend that you read this tutorial (you may want to print it out for reference). The tutorial is broken down into five steps. Let's begin with Step 1.

Step 1. Download & Install Focus Magic

If you have not already done so, then download and install Focus Magic. It can either be used as a:-

  1. Photoshop Plug-In (Preferred)
    The Focus Magic plug-in runs as a component in a photo editing program (such as Photoshop) for both Windows and the Mac. There are more options available when it is used as part of a photo editing program.
  2. Stand-Alone Program
    If you don't have a photo editing program, and you are using Windows, then it runs as a self standing program.

To check if your preferred image editing software is supported, see the Supported Programs page.

After installing Focus Magic, it automatically appears as a plug-in in the appropriate programs menu bar.

Step 2. Determine the Type of Blur

Nearly all blurred images have either:-

  • A) Out-of-Focus Blur; or...
  • B) Motion Blur (commonly Camera Shake)

These two types of blur each have a different effect on the image. The most obvious difference is that for motion blur, the blur is only in one direction. So the first thing to look for is small shiny objects which become either a circle of light (indicating out-of-focus blur) or a streak (indicating motion blur). You may wish to zoom into the image to see the pixels more clearly. Here is an example of each:-

In this photo you can see how the glint in the woman's eyes and earrings have become circles of light, and that the blur is the same in all directions.

 

In this old photo of a bicycle in front of a car, you can see many point sources (as indicated by arrows) which have become blurred at about 45 degrees.

Step 3. Select a Part of the Image to Focus (Optional)

In most cases, you would sharpen the entire image by the same amount. If however you want to only sharpen part of the image, and you are using the plug-in, then you can make a selection of the area which you want Focus Magic to sharpen (example).

Now, depending on the type of blur, you go either to step 4A or step 4B.

Step 4a - Determine the Parameters for Out-of-Focus Blur

For out of focus blur, you select the "Fix Out-of-Focus Blur" filter from your photo editing programs menu and then select the appropriate "Image Source" (or if you are using the stand-alone program just select "Focus").

The "Blur Width" is the most important parameter to get right. You can get the "Blur Width" using one of the following methods:-

  1. Auto-Detect
    When you select the "Fix Out-of-focus Blur" filter in your image editing program (or "Focus" in the Windows stand-alone program), Focus Magic will auto-detect the Blur Width. When detecting the Blur Width, a greater weighting is placed on the center half of the image than on the outer half. This is because an image can have a varying Blur Width (depth of field) and the subject which is to be in focus is usually in the center. The auto-detected value is usually correct to 1 pixel. If the image is grainy or has a varying Blur Width, then Focus Magic may not auto detect correctly. Even though the Blur Width is auto-detected, you need to satisfy yourself that the Blur Width is correct. For the plug-in, you can also click on an area of interest, and click "Detect" to auto-detect the Blur Width for that part of the image.
  2. Point Sources
    You can look for point sources of light which have become circles of light, and measure the diameter of the circle which then becomes the Blur Width. For examples on how to do this see Point Sources.
  3. Trial and Error
    You can simply select an area of the image, and starting from zero, slowly increase the Blur Width. This is a little bit like turning the focusing ring on a camera until the image is sharp. The difference is however that, when you go past the optimum Blur Width, the image starts distorting rather than blurring again.

Step 4b - Determine the Parameters for Motion Blur

For motion blur, you select the "Fix Motion Blur" filter from your photo editing programs menu and then select the appropriate "Image Source" (or if you are using the stand-alone program just select "Fix Motion Blur").

There are two important parameters which are the direction of the motion blur, and the distance that the pixels have blurred. Unlike out-of-focus blur, there is not any auto-detect when the image is opened.

  • Blur Direction
    First you need to determine the direction by lining up the line displayed next to the Blur Direction control with the direction of the motion blur in the image. You can test several parts of the image until you are happy that you have got the motion Blur Direction correct.
  • Blur Distance
    You can either measure the blur distance by counting the number of pixels that one pixel has spread out to, or else you can just increase the blur distance until you get the optimum setting.

Step 5 - Adjust Parameters for Noise (Optional)

For most images, you do not need to adjust any other parameters. If however, you have an image with more noise (or grain) than normal (and you are using the Photoshop plug-in), then you will need to make some more adjustments.

Focus Magic runs a noise removal procedure before sharpening the image. For instructions on how to adjust the noise removal, please click on the help button next to the Remove Noise control.

The Image Source setting is used to determine how aggressively or conservatively Focus Magic sharpens a photo. If you have a grainy image, please also see the instructions for Image Source.

The amount settings is normally set to 100. If you want to adjust it, please read the help for that control.

When you are happy with the parameters you have selected and have tested the parameters on several parts of the image, you can press the "OK" button (or the green traffic light for the stand-alone program) to sharpen the whole image.

"Wow, I just registered Focus Magic. The reason why is because it brought out the eye of a bird in flight that wasn't there at all before. With my image stabilized lens and your program, my handheld pictures went from 10% to about 80% usable. Great job!" - D. Wagner