Low-Light Enhancement Method Based on a Retinex Model for Structure Preservation

Mingliang ZHOU, Xingtai WU, Xuekai WEI, Tao XIANG, Bin FANG, Sam KWONG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Enhancing low-light image visibility is a critical task in computer vision since it helps to improve input for high-level algorithms. High-quality images typically have clear structural information. In previous studies, due to the lack of proper structural guidance, restored images had some problems, such as unclear structural areas and overexposed or underexposed local areas. To address the above problems, in this paper, we introduce a coefficient of variation (COV) with excellent performance in maintaining structural information, and then we propose a low-light image enhancement method that utilizes the COV to extract structural information from images. First, we apply a traditional retinex model to estimate both reflectance and illumination. Second, we use the COV to indicate the degree of dispersion of the input sample, which enables us to obtain a robust structure-distinguishing weight map for low-light images. The weight map is adaptively divided to obtain a structural weight map, which is then used to enhance the gradient image. This process is applied before the reflectance layer of the retinex model. Finally, the result is obtained by using the block coordinate descent method. According to extensive experiments, outstanding results can be achieved by our proposed method in terms of both subjective and objective evaluation metrics in comparison with other state-of-the-art methods. The source code is available at our website https://github.com/bbxavi/spcv22© IEEE 2023
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Multimedia
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


  • coefficient of variation
  • Dispersion
  • Histograms
  • Image enhancement
  • Lighting
  • Reflectivity
  • retinex model
  • Sensitivity
  • Standards
  • structure-preserving


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