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The contourlet transform was proposed as a directional multiresolution image representation that can efficiently capture and represent singularities along smooth object boundaries in natural images. Its efficient filter bank construction as well as low redundancy make it an attractive computational framework for various image processing applications. However, a major drawback of the original contourlet construction is that its basis images are not localized in the frequency domain. In this paper, we analyze the cause of this problem, and propose a new contourlet construction as a solution. Instead of using the Laplacian pyramid, we employ a new multiscale decomposition defined in the frequency domain. The resulting basis images are sharply localized in the frequency domain and exhibit smoothness along their main ridges in the spatial domain. Numerical experiments on image denoising show that the proposed new contourlet transform can significantly outperform the original transform both in terms of PSNR (by several dB 's) and in visual quality, while with similar computational complexity.