Creative Mac Windows

How to Focus and Sharpen Blurry Photos and Movies

Dan Price 28-04-2017

Out-of-focus photos are becoming increasingly popular for some reason, but putting those tacky Instagram filters The Best Photo Filters to Get More Likes and Shares, According to Science Most phones today have great cameras, but not all of us are great photographers. Thankfully, there are some filters that can breathe life into otherwise dull photos in a matter of seconds. Read More aside, blurry photos and videos are usually an annoyance. You’ve gone through the trouble to shoot a once-in-a-lifetime family video, only to discover it’s all blurry and shaky. You’ve taken a set of pictures you really want to use, but alas, they’re all slightly out of focus.


It turns out there’s are dedicated programs that aim to fix just this annoyance. While in most cases a blurry photo or video will never be restored to match a sharp, beautiful shoot, these tools can be used to salvage important details, and get things back into focus just enough to make the media presentable.

Naturally, you shouldn’t expect to take a series of badly out-of-focus photos and then fix them to look like magazine shots, but you can definitely play CSI with these tools, and with some luck, get some surprising results.

Focus Magic

Available on: Windows, Mac

Focus Magic is more than your simple blur fixer The Easiest Way to Fix Blurry Fonts in Windows 10 Some users have reported issues with blurry fonts in Windows 10. If that's happening to you, then here's a quick fix! Read More . According to its website, the program uses “advanced forensic strength deconvolution technology to literally ‘undo’ blur“. On paper, it can repair out-of-focus images as well as motion blur, and recover lost details from images. But does it really work?

sharpen blurry photos


Focus Magic is far from being an automatic tool. And that’s a huge catch since the free version only allows you to perform 10 edits. After that, you need to buy a full license, which costs $45.

Upon loading an image, you first have to decide if you want to focus, fix motion blur, defocus or despeckle. Now starts a lengthy process of looking at a single small area of your image and adjusting the settings so it looks just right.

Since you can only see the preview in a small area, it takes a lot of trial and error to get a good effect for the entire photo. Our of the 10 attempts I got, this was probably the best one.

sharpen blurry image



As you can see, I managed to bring the photo into focus quite a bit, and I bet I could have done a better job had I not been limited to only 10 tries.

Pros: Seems like a professional tool that can really deliver good results.

Cons: Requires lots of trial and error, but you only get 10 with the free version. Also, there’s no zoom option, which is very inconvenient.


Does it really work? It can bring your images back to focus if you have the patience and money to invest in it.


Available on: Windows

SmartDeblur is completely free to use as many times as you want, and in many aspects, is much friendlier than Focus Magic. On the other hand, it’s not as stable (the program crashed several times when I was trying it out, especially when loading images that are too large for it), and the results you can get with it vary.

sharpen blurry image


Several useful things about SmartDeblur – there’s a zoom option as well as Fit to Window, you can compare your results to the original with a single click on Show Original, and the preview is for the entire image, not just a tiny thumbnail. SmartDeblur comes with an example image where you can learn how to deblur an image to read hidden text.

Upon trying it with my own images, I found that it doesn’t work quite as well on photos such as the cat I deblurred with Focus Magic, but I was able to get some good results with a text image.

sharpen blurry image


Pros: Portable, completely free, user-friendly, very useful for reading blurry text in photos.

Cons: Not very stable, doesn’t work so well with actual photos (but give it a try to find out).

Does it really work? When trying to reveal blurry details, you feel almost like on CSI, but don’t expect anything spectacular.


Available on: Windows

Blurity has several things going for it: it comes with a very thorough tutorial, and it’s much more self-sufficient than its counterparts.

When I say self-sufficient, I mean that Blurity is smart enough to do the hard work for you, if you want it to. If you know what you’re doing, you can also access some advanced settings, but you don’t have to look at these unless you choose to.

harpen blurry picture

After completing the mandatory tutorial, you can start deblurring your own images. In order to do this, you need to place the red square on an area that represents the blurriness well and hit the Process button. Most times, that’s it.

If you don’t like the results, you can move the square to a different area and try again. The program does a pretty decent job and manages to actually turn some blurry photos into presentable ones.


harpen blurry picture

The catch, as you can already see, is the watermarking which is present on any photo you process using the free version. If you really like the program and want to get rid of the watermarks, a single license will cost you $39.

Pros: Very easy to use, can yield good results and reveal hidden details on photos, not so much on text.

Cons: Watermarks all your images, a full license costs $39.

Does it really work? It mostly does, but you need to search for the best spot upon which to base your processing.


Available on: Windows

DeblurMyImage has been updated since 2014, but don’t that put you off. The most recent version still works well and is more than capable of fixing your photos.

It has two deblurring modes: Out of Focus and Motion Correction. As you’d expect, the Motion Correction tool is great for fixing images of moving traffic 4 Easy Steps to Create a Cinemagraph in Photoshop Don't let cinemagraph's complexity fool you. You can easily create them on your own computer using Photoshop. Here's our simple Read More and people playing sport, while the Out of Focus tool remedies blurred still images.

You can see the power of the tool in the image below. The left side is out of focus, the right side has been given the DeblurMyImage treatment.

How to Focus and Sharpen Blurry Photos and Movies deblur example

Finally, there is both a free and pro version of the app. The free version has exactly the same features as the pro version, but it will not let you save your images. Of course, there’s a workaround: just take a screenshot The Ultimate Guide on How to Take a Screenshot Most people would think taking a screenshot was a simple and straightforward process, and that it would be much the same on every platform they encounter. Well, they'd be wrong. The process of taking screenshots... Read More and save the image separately!

Which is the Best Tool?

Believe it or not, I spent about half a day just researching this post. After trying to deblur a series of bad photos and videos, there’s one thing I know for sure: you’re much better off taking good photos 10 Mistakes You Must Avoid If You Want to Take Amazing Photos Here are the most common and ruinous mistakes that will prevent you from taking photos that you can feel proud about. Read More and videos.

If for some reason “Plan A” didn’t work, the tools above can help you get something out of your media, but it really depends on what you’re looking to get out of it. Your best bet is to choose the tool that fits your requirements and give it a spin.

Do you know of other ways to sharpen blurry photos and videos? Do you use Photoshop or GIMP for this? Do they yield better results?

Image Credit: hallojuliet via

Related topics: Image Editor, Photography.

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  1. Esat
    April 28, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Used SmartDeblur. Helped a tiny bit, but not much. But it can handle low blur photos i reckon

  2. devon
    September 9, 2016 at 4:48 am

    i have a dash cam video that I need to be fixed so I can make out the license plate of a truck that did a hit and run on me. but it was dark and his headlights make a glare. I need help

  3. Josue Aguilar
    January 18, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I use Irfanview it is free and have a lot of tools

  4. Hesham Zeid
    January 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    In my opinion "SmartDeblur " is better than others,
    thanks very much ....

  5. Elizabeth Sebastian
    January 13, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Great post. The photo of the glasses made me think, though --

    If only they'd release a set of Google goggles that look like David Caruso's shades. Now that, my friend, would be well worth... a Googol.

    "YEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! We don't get fooled again...!"

  6. Sheri Blanchette Burgess
    January 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    I really appreciate you trying out these photo editing programs. I'm new at it and reading your posts really helps me decide which programs to try.. This one sounds way beyond my speed tho.. Thank you for all the time you put into what you do.. :)

  7. Jp Dean Adams
    January 7, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    It's a very nice collection of software but I think Photoshop and Aperture are already doing an amazing job. I wonder how they compare to the software you listed.

    • Yaara Lancet
      January 8, 2013 at 9:56 am

      I don't own a copy of Photoshop, so I can't really tell you how it compares. In general, I believe big suites like Photoshop can probably do a better job than most of these programs, but not everyone can or want to afford them.

      For those who are looking for free or less expensive options, these are great ones to try.

  8. Sri Vastav Reddy
    January 6, 2013 at 4:00 am


  9. Anonymous
    January 5, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Great, now for hours of endless fun fixing my lousy snaps.

  10. Malcul
    January 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Despite having Corel's Paintshop Pro X4, Paint.Net and Zoner Photo Studio 15 x64, I still find Faststone's Image Viewer (Free) the best for sharpening up photos in a controlled way. It will even deal with .raw images, something not usually available in free offerings!

    • Yaara Lancet
      January 6, 2013 at 7:35 am

      Interesting, I use FastStone Capture for screenshots daily and love it. I didn't know their viewer is any good for these tasks. I know it has a sharpen feature, but I never tried it on real photos (I use FastStone only for screenshots).

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  11. Anonymous
    January 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Need an iphone/ipad app to do this.

  12. Dick
    January 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Do any of these have an "Undo" feature?

    • Yaara Lancet
      January 6, 2013 at 7:34 am

      No undo feature per se, but each one tackles it in a different way. Focus Magic is the most problematic one, with no way to revert, no way to view original, nothing.

      With Blurity, you can still see your original next to the edited photo, and continue playing with it until you get it right.

  13. kossi Noameshie
    January 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I guess I need to stop deleting my blurry pictures!

  14. Nikhil Chandak
    January 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Cools softwares !!
    like them . gonna try them out !

  15. Ashutosh
    January 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Nice post!! I will give Blurity! a try!!

  16. salim benhouhou
    January 4, 2013 at 9:14 am

    i used vReveal once and i love it .

  17. Ashwin Ramesh
    January 4, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Amazing tools. Should give them a try!

  18. KeithFromCanada
    January 4, 2013 at 5:42 am

    FWIW, Microsoft has come up with a hardware-aided motion deblur technique:

    • Malcul
      January 4, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      It demonstrates a grand idea but no software to try it out with! I await with eager interest ...

    • Yaara Lancet
      January 6, 2013 at 7:32 am

      That's awesome, but as Malcul points out, it's just a research project right now. We can't use it or try it out. But it looks amazing, thanks!

  19. Dave Jackson
    January 4, 2013 at 3:52 am

    You write, "Believe it or not, I spent about half a day just researching this post." I don't believe it. esrarch 20 minutes and writing half a day, maybe.

  20. Roehl Curioso
    January 4, 2013 at 3:07 am

    Cool stuff!!

  21. John Lamerand
    January 4, 2013 at 2:57 am

    Fabulous post. Geologists use deconvolution to deblur seismic images but there are a lot of parameters to set to get a good result. The alternative is something called "blind deconvolution" which is what I suspect some of the programs listed above are using. I use VReveal Pro and recommend it to anyone who wants to extract clean images from video. It should be noted that the techniques listed above are very different from sharpening. If you want to sharpen an image in Photoshop I recommend the high-pass soft light technique. I've posted a quick tute here: