Soft Computing

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 1399–1420 | Cite as

Retinex-based image enhancement framework by using region covariance filter

  • Fuyu Tao
  • Xiaomin YangEmail author
  • Wei Wu
  • Kai Liu
  • Zhili Zhou
  • Yiguang Liu


Clear images are critical in understanding real scenarios. However, the quality of images may be severely declined due to terrible conditions. Images exposed to such conditions are usually of low contrast, contain much noise, and suffer from weak details. And these drawbacks tend to negatively influence the subsequent processing tasks. Many existing image enhancement methods only solve a certain aspect of aforementioned drawbacks. This paper proposes a Retinex-based image enhancement framework that can increase contrast, eliminate noise, and enhance details at the same time. First, we utilize a region covariance filter to estimate the illumination accurately at multiple scales. The corresponding reflectance can be predicted by dividing the original image by its illumination. Second, we utilize contrast-limited adaptive histogram equalization to enhance the global contrast of original images because the illumination contains the low-frequency component. Third, since the reflectance contains the details of the original image and noise, we adopt a non-local means filter to eliminate noise and use a guided filter to enhance the details in the reflectance. Fourth, we synthesize the final enhanced image by fusing the enhanced illumination and reflectance at each scale. Experiments have proved the improvement of the proposed framework in terms of both visual perception and quantitative comparisons with other compared methods.


Retinex Image enhancement Multiple scales Illumination estimation 



The study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 61711540303), Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD) Fund, and Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center on Atmospheric Environment and Equipment Technology (CICAEET) Fund.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fuyu Tao
    • 1
  • Xiaomin Yang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wei Wu
    • 1
  • Kai Liu
    • 2
  • Zhili Zhou
    • 3
  • Yiguang Liu
    • 4
  1. 1.Sichuan UniversityCollege of Electronics and Information EngineeringChengduChina
  2. 2.Sichuan UniversitySchool of Electrical Engineering and InformationChengduChina
  3. 3.Jiangsu Engineering Center of Network Monitoring and School of Computer and SoftwareNanjing University of Information Science and TechnologyNanjingChina
  4. 4.Sichuan UniversitySchool of Computer ScienceChengduChina

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