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Stephen Sebastian, Johannes Burge, Wilson S. Geisler; Defocus blur discrimination in natural images with natural optics. Journal of Vision 2015;15(5):16. doi: 10.1167/15.5.16.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The lens system in the human eye is able to best focus light from only one distance at a time.Therefore, many objects in the natural environment are not imaged sharply on the retina. Furthermore, light from objects in the environment is subject to the particular aberrations of the observer's lens system (e.g., astigmatism and chromatic aberration). We refer to blur created by the observer's optics as “natural” or “defocus” blur as opposed to “on-screen” blur created by software on a display screen. Although blur discrimination has been studied extensively, human ability to discriminate defocus blur in images of natural scenes has not been systematically investigated. Here, we measured discrimination of defocus blur for a collection of natural image patches, sampled from well-focused photographs. We constructed a rig capable of presenting stimuli at three physical distances simultaneously. In Experiment 1, subjects viewed monocularly two simultaneously presented natural image patches through a 4-mm artificial pupil at ±1° eccentricity. The task was to identify the sharper patch. Discrimination thresholds varied substantially between stimuli but were correlated between subjects. The lowest thresholds were at or below the lowest thresholds ever reported. In a second experiment, we paralyzed accommodation and retested a subset of conditions from Experiment 1. A third experiment showed that removing contrast as a cue to defocus blur had only a modest effect on thresholds. Finally, we describe a simple masking model and evaluate how well it can explain our experimental results and the results from previous blur discrimination experiments.
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