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spystyle 01-19-2009 02:19 PM

Quick software review : Polaroid dust and scratch remover (free)

Quick software review : Polaroid dust and scratch remover (a free software) by C Conway AKA SpyStyle


I was charged with the task of scanning about 1,000 35mm slides from the 1960's. Family photos that I can make digital and give copies to my family members on CD-ROM. Some of these old slides were in pretty rough shape with dust, spots, and scratches on them. Here is an example :

I own Photoshop and intend to fix most of them, but I found a software that can quickly give them a "once over" first. It's called "Polaroid dust and scratch remover" and it's a free software :)


Before you edit any photos be sure to make a complete backup of all images. Save the unaltered images as a backup. This is important in case you mess up when editing. It's also "future proof" - what if a better editing method is released in the future? I remember the earliest "red eye correction software" did not work very well and made the subject look kinda like they had marbles for eyes - these days the software is so much better, I'm glad I can try again by taking images from the backup I made.


For this example I have found a funny picture of my brother and sister from when they were little, over 40 years ago, I'm going to clean it up and show it to them so I can tease them about it :)

Like almost all the slides it is covered is small debris. I open the picture in "Polaroid Dust and Scratch Remover"

Then click : action / auto create mask

I use these settings : 8 / 10 / 4, and I do not check "adaptive filtering". This tells the program to look for very small debris, which is I what I found on the old slides.

The text in blue is from the program's help file and explains the settings on this page.

Dust Type (Dark or Light)
Specify whether the dust that appears in the image is light or dark. When scanning negative film, dust on the film will appear white in the resulting image. Otherwise, dust is dark.

Tile Size
The size of the region used to gather statistics about defects.
Tip: Start by setting this to the maximum value (64). If small dust spots in the image are not detected, reduce it.

Defect level
The amount of dust and scratches in the image. This value should be set high if the image is badly degraded, with heavy amounts of dust and scratches. For images with less dust, set the value lower.
Tip: Start with a value of 40 and generate the defect mask. If too little dust is found, increase the value. If too much, decrease it.

Mask Size
Affects the size of the mask covering individual defects.
Tip: Choose the smallest size that produces adefect mask that completely covers the defects. For high resolution images, or images with large defects increase this value.

Adaptive Filtering
When this option is selected, the luminance of the image is taken into account when searching for dust. This can prevent dark image detail from being identified as dust. It is, however, slower.

After clicking OK it highlights all the debris it intends to remove in red.

Then click : action / clean image

I choose a feathering of 3.

The text in blue is from the program's help file and explains the setting.

The number of pixels surrounding the defect that are smoothed.
Tip: If the image near the dust or scratch has little detail (example: dust in the sky), set this value to 3. If there is a high level of image detail surrounding the defect, you should experiment with lower settings.

Now this is the proposed image. You can zoom in and view the image, then click : file exit.

Which will bring you back to here. If you liked the proposed image you can click : file save.
If you did not like the proposed image you can make adjustments on this screen and try again.


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