Personal photo albums are heavily biased towards faces of people, but most state-of-the-art algorithms for image denoising and noise estimation do not exploit facial information. We propose a novel technique for jointly estimating noise levels of all face images in a photo collection. Photos in a personal album are likely to contain several faces of the same people. While some of these photos would be clean and high quality, others may be corrupted by noise. Our key idea is to estimate noise levels by comparing multiple images of the same content that differ predominantly in their noise content. Specifically, we compare geometrically and photometrically aligned face images of the same person.

Our estimation algorithm is based on a probabilistic formulation that seeks to maximize the joint probability of estimated noise levels across all images. We propose an approximate solution that decomposes this joint maximization into a two-stage optimization. The first stage determines the relative noise between pairs of images by pooling estimates from corresponding patch pairs in a probabilistic fashion. The second stage then jointly optimizes for all absolute noise parameters by conditioning them upon relative noise levels, which allows for a pairwise factorization of the probability distribution. We evaluate our noise estimation method using quantitative experiments to measure accuracy on synthetic data. Additionally, we employ the estimated noise levels for automatic denoising using “BM3D”, and evaluate the quality of denoising on real-world photos through a user study.


The work was conducted during the first author's internship in Google Research. We thank MIT Graphics and Vision group for helpful discussion. We would like to thank the volunteers who participated in the user study