In the wild corrupted photos and their fixes

By | November 14, 2019

There’s a couple of data recovery and photo related forums I visit on a regular basis. And being part of those communities, being entertained, learning a thing or two, I sometimes give back by repairing a few corrupted photos. Note: I do not own the copyright to these images!

All these photos were repaired using JPEG-Repair only or JPEG-Repair to edit RAW bitstream data and a photo editor (Paint.net) for post processing. This basically means anyone can repair images corrupted in similar ways! Doing this yourself can save you a lot of money compared to have my JPEG repair Service repair them for you because what you pay for in a large part is my time. Many of below examples are category 3 repairs:

Category 1. If only header damage, repair cost would be $5.95 per file (one jpeg repair unit) Category 2. If JPEG data is interrupted by local bit corruption repair cost would be $5.95 – $17.85 per file (2 -3 jpeg repair units) Category 3. Severely corrupted JPEG data, repair starts at 3 x JPEG repair unit = $17.85 per file (starts at 3 jpeg repair units)
JPEG with damaged or corrupt header Bit corruption in JPEG data Severe bit corruption, multiple bit corruption in JPEG data

As an example, this photo I recently repaired for a customer at the cost of $17,85:

Corrupt JPEG repair in 3 steps.

Easy repairs of corrupted photos (JFIF/JPEG)

For these I used nothing but JPEG-repair, no additional post processing with a photo editor was required.

Source: DP Review forums (photography forums).  These photos had the tiniest amount of bit corruption in the JPEG bitstream which I removed and stuffed with zero bytes to re-align image data.

A few corrupt bytes in JPEG bitstream
A few corrupt bytes in JPEG bitstream

Source: DP Review forums. These JPEGs had groups of corrupted bytes in the bitstream. Due to the fact it’s a JPEG with restart markers effect on the photo was very ‘local’. Normally this type of corruption propagates through the rest if the image (distorted color from point of corruption until end of photo). JPEG restart markers contain this type of corruption to a limited group of MCUs (MCU is a small group of pixels that are encoded as a unit. Often 8 x 8 pixels, 8 x 16 pixels or 16 x 16 pixels).

Invalid JPEG markers in JPEG with restart markers. Repair: easy.

More complex repair of  corrupted JPEGs

Source: Reddit r/estoration.

For these I used JPEG-Repair to remove byte corruption and Paint.net for clone stamping parts I had to cut. You can see colors distort and image data shifts in two blocks. Using JPEG-Repair I removed those 2 corrupted areas and stuffed zero bytes to make up for lost bytes. I used Paint.net for filling in missing parts using the clone-stamp tool and to correct colors.

Corrupt photo due to 2 areas of damaged bytes in encoded and compressed data stream

Source: Reddit r/techsupport. Again 2 corrupted areas which were cut using the JPEG-Repair bitstream editor. Paint.net’s clone-stamp tool was used to fill in missing data and to correct color.

3 areas with corrupt bytes. Repair using JPEG-Repair and photo editor

Source: Reddit r/estoration. Two corrupt areas were removed from the RAW data using JPEG-Repair. Paint.net was used to clone stamp missing data and to correct colors (still slightly off I see now).

2 corrupted areas. Corrupt byes removed and stuffed with zero bytes. Post processing using Paint.net.

Source: DP Review forums. One large corrupted area affecting several lines of MCUs. The JPEG-Repair bitstream editor was used to cut the corrupt data, missing data was filled with zero bytes. Using a photo editor I then filled in missing data using clone-stamping and to correct colors.

One huge corrupted area in JPEG data.

What I mean to demonstrate with these examples is that this type of corruption in photos can be repaired despite a common answer appears to be the contrary. It is true that these are close to impossible to repair using PhotoShop like editors because it’s the underlying data that is corrupt. It means standard photo restoration techniques fall short as they work with the data that is available. JPEG-Repair is a tool designed to remove the corrupt data.

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