We consider wavelet and Gabor transforms for detection of candidate regions of interest in a 2-D scene. We generate wavelet and Gabor coefficients for each spatial region of a scene using new linear combination optical filters to reduce the output dimensionality and to simplify postprocessing. We use two sets of wavelet coefficients as indicators of edge activity to suppress background clutter. The Gabor coefficients are found to be excellent for object detection and robust to object distortions and contrast differences. We provide insight into the selection of the Gabor parameters.