Digital image correlation (DIC) has received a widespread research and application in experimental mechanics. In DIC, the performance of subpixel registration algorithm (e.g., Newton–Raphson method, quasi-Newton method) relies heavily on the initial guess of deformation. In the case of small inter-frame deformation, the initial guess could be found by simple search scheme, the coarse-fine search for instance. While for large inter-frame deformation, it is difficult for simple search scheme to robustly estimate displacement parameters and deformation parameters simultaneously with low computational cost. In this paper, we proposed three improving strategies, i.e. Q-stage evolutionary strategy (T), parameter control strategy (C) and space expanding strategy (E), and then combined them into three population-based intelligent algorithms (PIAs), i.e. genetic algorithm (GA), differential evolution (DE) and particle swarm optimization (PSO), and finally derived eighteen different algorithms to calculate the initial guess for qN. The eighteen algorithms were compared in three sets of experiments including large rigid body translation, finite uniaxial strain and large rigid body rotation, and the results showed the effectiveness of proposed improving strategies. Among all compared algorithms, DE-TCE is the best which is robust, convenient and efficient for large inter-frame deformation measurement.