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Discrete orthogonal polynomials are useful tools in digital image processing to extract visual object contours in different application contexts. This paper proposes an alternative method that extends beyond classic first-order differential operators, by using the properties of Krawtchouk orthogonal polynomials to achieve a first order differential operator. Therefore, smoothing of the image with a 2-D Gaussian filter is not necessary to regularize the ill-posed nature of differentiation. Experimentally, we provide simulation results which show that the proposed method achieves good performance in comparison with commonly used algorithms.