Digital Focus: Straighten Your Crooked Pictures

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Q&A: Improve Frames Grabbed From Video

I have some analog video that I captured with Pinnacle's Studio Version 9. I have tried making stills with the "frame grabber" feature, but they always come out too fuzzy. What is the best way to enhance this type of photo?

--Mike Wilsoner, Saluda, North Carolina

I have some bad news for you, Mike. Analog video--the stuff of VHS and 8mm camcorders--is of inherently low quality. The resolution of such video is a little more than 600 by 240 pixels, and the high-fidelity equivalent (like S-VHS and Hi8) is just 600 by 480 pixels.

That isn't the whole story: Analog video has very poor color fidelity, with colors bleeding into others in a very haphazard way, which makes the apparent resolution seem even lower.

So when you grab a still frame from video and turn it into a digital photo, you've got an image that's about the same overall quality as something you'd get from a camera phone. I'm not aware of any filters or software designed specifically to improve analog video images, but you might try running your pictures through software designed to tweak camera phone pictures, like this week's Favorite, VicMan Mobile Photo Enhancer.

But the bottom line is that the quality is so poor to begin with, I wouldn't expect much of an improvement.

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