I have an extensive collection of legacy images, some taken with a 6MP DSLR. They’re pleasant images, but the low resolution limits what I can do with them.
I recently sold a large print of one of these photos, requiring a significant enlargement to it. A few years ago I wouldn’t have attempted it. Now, it’s no problem. Why?
Topaz Gigapixel AI and Sharpen AI – The Dream Team
Most photo editing tools can enlarge an image using a high-quality method, such as BiCubic. None come close to what Topaz Gigapixel AI can achieve. When I first tested it, it amazed me. The quality results it gave were incredible.
Since then, Topaz have continued to improve it and add additional features. The same is true of Sharpen AI – it is the best image sharpener I have ever used, with unrivalled abilities to fix blurry and out-of-focus images.
The Sample Image
I took this image in 2009 in the UK Lake District, using a 6MP DSLR and a ‘kit’ zoom lens. When hiking I prefer lightweight equipment, where possible, and that was the combination of camera and lens I used back then.
Here is the image magnified to 100% – you can see how detailed and sharp it is – DXO and Topaz Sharpen did a great job with the initial processing.However, its low resolution limits its usefulness. Currently, it is only good for a 10 inch print. For this post, I am going to enlarge it to 7,200 pixels wide, which is suitable for a 24 inch print.
Topaz Gigapixel AI
The first thing I need to do with this image is enlarge it using Gigapixel AI:
Look at the right-hand panel. Gigapixel AI offers several enlargement options:
- Standard – Used for images without special needs
- Lines – Best for architectural and other images containing text or many straight lines
- ART & CG – If your image is not a photo but is art or a computer drawing, this option works well
- Low Resolution – As its name suggests, use this on low resolution images
- Very Compressed – for images with many JPEG artefacts
I tried a few of these on this image and concluded that Low Resolution mode worked best:
Comparison: Gigapixel AI Standard mode vs Gigapixel AI Low Resolution mode vs Bicubic
I used Affinity Photo to produce a Bicubic enlargement of this image. Here are some image comparisons in Digital Photo Guardian’s Comparison tool. The photos in the left-hand column are from Gigapixel’s Low Resolution mode, the centre column contains its Standard mode results, and the right-hand column shows standard bicubic enlargements.
The results show that Gigapixel AI’s Low Resolution mode produces the best enlargements. They are better in terms of detail and sharpness. Zooming into the picture some more reveals the extent of the extra details:
This is, of course, extreme pixel-peeping (870%). It confirms that Gigapixel AI produces the best result.
Finishing Touches – Topaz Sharpen AI
I sharpen images 3 times:
- During RAW development. If I’m using DXO Photo Lab, I let it do its magic using its unique Camera + Lens profile.
- After post processing – using Sharpen AI
- After resizing
If I’m downsizing to post on social media I let Digital Photo Guardian do the downsize and the final sharpening using its Export module. But for enlargements for prints I always use Sharpen AI:
As usual, the right-hand panel contains the options. For this image, I’m using the ‘normal’ Too Soft option. The Motion Blur and Out of Focus settings perform wonders on images that need them, as a future post will show.
Here are some comparison shots of the results. The sharpened photo is on the right:
Topaz Gigapixel Ai and Sharpen AI. Truly the dream team!
Prior to using these tools, I would not consider trying to make large prints of my old images. Standard enlargement methods, such as bicubic, are too limited to produce an acceptable image. True, an image taken on a modern, high resolution camera will be better still. But the same techniques I use here work on these images too, so you can produce ever larger prints or crop more aggressively and still get an excellent result.
It really is simple: if you enlarge any image for any reason, Gigapixel AI is the way to go.
If you sharpen your images, and you should, then nothing beats Sharpen AI.
Combine Gigapixel AI and Sharpen AI for the best quality image enlargements you will ever see.
I own and use both products. I consider them essential.
Try them out
Here are links to the products mentioned in this article: