Which tone-mapping operator is the best? A comparative study of perceptual quality

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16 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018 Optical Society of America. Tone-mapping operators (TMOs) are designed to generate perceptually similar low-dynamic-range images from high-dynamic-range ones. We studied the performance of 15 TMOs in two psychophysical experiments where observers compared the digitally generated tone-mapped images to their corresponding physical scenes. All experiments were performed in a controlled environment, and the setups were designed to emphasize different image properties: in the first experiment we evaluated the local relationships among intensity levels, and in the second one we evaluated global visual appearance among physical scenes and tone-mapped images, which were presented side by side. We ranked the TMOs according to how well they reproduced the results obtained in the physical scene. Our results show that ranking position clearly depends on the adopted evaluation criteria, which implies that, in general, these tone-mapping algorithms consider either local or global image attributes but rarely both. Regarding the question of which TMO is the best, KimKautz [“Consistent tone reproduction,” in Proceedings of Computer Graphics and Imaging (2008)] and Krawczyk [“Lightness perception in tone reproduction for high dynamic range images,” in Proceedings of Eurographics (2005), p. 3] obtained the better results across the different experiments. We conclude that more thorough and standardized evaluation criteria are needed to study all the characteristics of TMOs, as there is ample room for improvement in future developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-638
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

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