If you're in the market for a consumer-friendly DSLR, it's a good idea to budget in some money for extra lenses, as you'll see a marked improvement in image quality compared to your camera's kit lens. Or, just buy the cheapest, crappiest glass you can find and wait until this wonderful software from researchers at the University of British Columbia is available. It promises the same results with just a couple of clicks.
The reason high-end lenses can be so expensive is that they're filled with many optical elements that correct and counteract geometric and color distortions produced as light is passing through. But researchers at the UBC believe they can accomplish all of that on the cheap using custom software during post-production.
The software is calibrated by analyzing an image of a specific test pattern taken through a low-quality lens. This allows the code to determine the point spread functions—or PSFs—of the lens; which is a fancy way of saying it figures out exactly how a given point would be distorted. And knowing this, the software can reverse the damage, in a manner of speaking, producing sharp undistorted images that were previously a mess.
The technique isn't perfect, though. In its current state the subject has to be a very specific distance from the lens, and it all tends to fall apart with images taken at apertures higher than f/2. But the results so far are very promising, especially when you consider the tests were conducted with a lens the experimenters made by hand. That's a worst case scenario if we've ever heard one. [University of British Columbia via PetaPixel via Reddit]