Super-resolution tasks oriented to images captured in ultra-dark environments is a practical yet challenging problem that has received little attention. Due to uneven illumination and low signal-to-noise ratio in dark environments, a multitude of problems such as lack of detail and color distortion may be magnified in the super-resolution process compared to normal-lighting environments. Consequently, conventional low-light enhancement or super-resolution methods, whether applied individually or in a cascaded manner for such problem, often encounter limitations in recovering luminance, color fidelity, and intricate details. To conquer these issues, this paper proposes a specialized dual-modulated learning framework that, for the first time, attempts to deeply dissect the nature of the low-light super-resolution task. Leveraging natural image color characteristics, we introduce a self-regularized luminance constraint as a prior for addressing uneven lighting. Expanding on this, we develop Illuminance-Semantic Dual Modulation (ISDM) components to enhance feature-level preservation of illumination and color details. Besides, instead of deploying naive up-sampling strategies, we design the Resolution-Sensitive Merging Up-sampler (RSMU) module that brings together different sampling modalities as substrates, effectively mitigating the presence of artifacts and halos. Comprehensive experiments showcases the applicability and generalizability of our approach to diverse and challenging ultra-low-light conditions, outperforming state-of-the-art methods with a notable improvement (i.e., $\uparrow$5\% in PSNR, and $\uparrow$43\% in LPIPS). Especially noteworthy is the 19-fold increase in the RMSE score, underscoring our method's exceptional generalization across different darkness levels. The code will be available online upon publication of the paper.
Low-light situations severely restrict the pursuit of aesthetic quality in consumer photography. Although many efforts are devoted to designing heuristics, it is generally mired in a shallow spiral of tedium, such as piling up complex network architectures and empirical strategies. How to delve into the essential physical principles of illumination compensation has been neglected. Following the way of simplifying the complexity, this paper innovatively proposes a simple and efficient Noise-Free Illumination Interpolator (NFI$_2$). According to the constraint principle of illuminance and reflectance within a limited dynamic range, as a prior knowledge in the recovery process, we construct a learnable illuminance interpolator and thereby compensating for non-uniform lighting. With the intention of adapting denoising without annotated data, we design a self-calibrated denoiser with the intrinsic image properties to acquire noise-free low-light images. Starting from the properties of natural image manifolds, a self-regularized recovery loss is introduced as a way to encourage more natural and realistic reflectance map. The model architecture and training losses, guided by prior knowledge, complement and benefit each other, forming a powerful unsupervised leaning framework. Comprehensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed algorithm produces competitive qualitative and quantitative results while maintaining favorable generalization capability in unknown real-world scenarios.