We propose image processing algorithms for measuring two-dimensional distributions of linear birefringence using a pair of variable retarders. Several algorithms that use between two and five recorded frames allow us to optimize measurements for speed, sensitivity, and accuracy. We show images of asters, which consist of radial arrays of microtubule polymers recorded with a polarized light microscope equipped with a universal compensator. Our experimental results confirm our theoretical expectations. The lowest noise level of 0.036 nm was obtained when we used the five-frame technique and four-frame algorithm without extinction setting. The two-frame technique allows us to increase the speed of measurement with acceptable image quality.