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Restoring Extremely Dark Images in Real Time
A practical low-light enhancement solution must be computationally fast, memory-efficient, and achieve a visually appealing restoration. Most of the existing methods target restoration quality and thus compromise on speed and memory requirements, raising concerns about their real-world deployability. We propose a new deep learning architecture for extreme low-light single image restoration, which is exceptionally lightweight, remarkably fast, and produces a restoration that is perceptually at par with state-of-the-art computationally intense models. To achieve this, we do most of the processing in the higher scale-spaces, skipping the intermediate-scales wherever possible. Also unique to our model is the potential to process all the scale-spaces concurrently, offering an additional 30% speedup without compromising the restoration quality. Pre-amplification of the dark raw-image is an important step in extreme low-light image enhancement. Most of the existing state-of-the-art methods need GT exposure value to estimate the pre-amplification factor, which is not practically feasible. Thus, we propose an amplifier module that estimates the amplification factor using only the input raw image and can be used "off-the-shelf"" with pre-trained models without any fine-tuning. We show that our model can restore an ultra-high-definition 4K resolution image in just 1sec on a CPU and at 32fps on a GPU and yet maintain a competitive restoration quality. We also show that our proposed model, without any fine-tuning, generalizes well to cameras not seen during training and to subsequent tasks such as object detection.