Multi-exposure image fusion (MEF) is considered an effective quality enhancement technique widely adopted in consumer electronics, but little work has been dedicated to the perceptual quality assessment of multi-exposure fused images. In this paper, we first build an MEF database and carry out a subjective user study to evaluate the quality of images generated by different MEF algorithms. There are several useful findings. First, considerable agreement has been observed among human subjects on the quality of MEF images. Second, no single state-of-the-art MEF algorithm produces the best quality for all test images.
Third, the existing objective quality models for general image fusion are very limited in predicting perceived quality of MEF images. Motivated by the lack of appropriate objective models, we propose a novel objective image quality assessment (IQA) algorithm for MEFimages based on the principle of the structural similarity approach and a novel measure of patch structural consistency. Our experimental results on the subjective database show that the proposed model well correlates with subjective judgments and significantly outperforms the existing IQA models for general image fusion. Finally, we demonstrate the potential application of the proposed model by automatically tuning the parameters of MEF algorithms.