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In the absence of noise they can both work the same (assuming you know the exact amount of defocusing, and you over-sample the Airy disk) In the presence of realistic noise, you are better off focusing the object due to the details of the noise. For intensity images, you are (likely) dealing with Riciean distributed data, and you are better off using a ...


If the Airy disk is smaller than a pixel (rather common), then you want to defocus. Star trackers on satellites do this in order to get sub-pixel pointing accuracy. If the Airy disk is much larger than a pixel, then you probably don't want to defocus. In the latter case the situation is complicated by aberrations and the problem of modeling the shape of ...

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