The present invention is directed to an imaging apparatus for examining an object having smooth surfaces to determine shape deformations in the surface of object. The imaging apparatus includes an imaging device for obtaining a scanned image of the object to be examined. A reference image of the object is stored in a memory. An image register is coupled to the imaging device and to the memory containing the reference image of the object. The image register stores patch information corresponding to both the reference image and the scanned image. A transformation estimator is coupled to the image register, and provides a transform for registering the scanned image to the reference image. A deformation estimator is coupled to the transformation estimator and to the image register. The deformation estimator is configured to utilize the transform and the patch information to determine shape deformations of the object.
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