Dust Removal: Free Plugin vs. My Method

A reader wrote in last week after I posted my method of removing dust and spots from scanned images. He wanted me to try the free Polaroid Dust and Scratch Removal Utility. So I checked it out on the same image I used in my tutorial and wasn't all that impressed.

In my image, it removed more detail than my method and introduced some unwanted white lines and artifacts in several places, including the most important part of the photo--the child's face.

The lines, by the way, did not show up in the Polaroid filter preview. When used as a plugin, the Polaroid tool doesn't give you a large preview in the document window, so you're confined to panning around in a small dialog box to judge the effects of the filter. All in all, I found the native Photoshop Dust & Scratches filter to be easier to control and faster to process.

Whether you use the Polaroid Tool or the native Photoshop filter, you definitely want to do a correction like this on a duplicate layer, as described in my tutorial. That way you can always erase the filtered layer to bring back detail from the original where you might have lost it, or set the layer blending mode to lighten or darken to avoid extreme loss of detail.

The Polaroid Dust and Scratch Removal Utility is a free download for Windows 98/Me/2000/XP or Macintosh OS 8.6 - 9.2.x or 10.1 - 10.x. It works as a standalone application as well as a plug-in, so if you don't have Photoshop, or you're not happy with your current dust and scratch removal methods, by all means, give it a try.

It will install as a plugin if it finds Photoshop 5.0 or higher installed on your computer. If you want to use the plugin in other programs (including Photoshop Elements), you will need to copy the PolaDSR.8bf file to your program's plug-ins folder.

Here's a screen shot of the Polaroid filter's dialog box when used as a plug-in:

If you've tried both methods, post a note in the forum to let us know which one you prefer. If you've got an even better dust removal method, we'd love to hear about that too!

Also see:
• Remove Dust and Spots in Photoshop or Elements
• Free Photo Enhancement Tools