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Tuesday, 04 March 2008


Thanks Ctein for the review! Even if there is not a Part IV I walk away satisfied. ;o)

As many other faithful readers are doing, I've done a few tests myself. My primary interest was and is a comparison between Photoshop and Qimage. An interesting feature of Qimage is that one can select the method for up-rezzing. Although my tests are not nearly as comprehensive as Ctein's and I have nowhere near the experience or credentials, it seems to me that Qimage "hybrid" is preferable.

The other thing that I realized from my testing -- meaning looking at prints -- is that the differences in uprezzing variations are usually very slight. When I ask others, meaning non-enthusiasts, to select the "best" of several variations, they usually say that the prints are all the same. Then they look at me in a sort of strange way ...

Great software enlarging write ups Ctein. I have been wondering for a long time what would be best.

Curious what made you just pick these three pieces of software? The reason why is that I have been wondering about the program Size Fixer over Genuine Fractals (had never heard of blow up until you wrote about it). Do you think you would try some other programs? If not, I still appreciate what you have done already.

Keep on writing and I will keep on reading,


I used to print with QImage. For upsampling I used Hybrid and for sharpening, Smart Sharpening, toned down from the default 5 to a more realistic 3.

Now I tend to prefer to use bicubic smoother in PS (if I need to uprez) and sharpen that with Photokit Sharpener from PixelGenius. I think that Bruce Fraser did a superb work distilling his well-written sharpening techniques in that plugin. It just looks natural and photographic. I think that print sharpening is more important than just up-reszing. It has to be sharpened right to look realistic. At least for me.

Soon I'l revisit QImage and compare, yet again.

Ctein, as I've already done quite a bit of work on the split upsampling methods, I'll be preparing a write-up ove the next couple of weeks. There is almost as much to test under this banner as for the individual methods.
I'll report back when I'm done.

I found this very interesting - not least because I conducted some similar (though not as comprehensive) tests myself some time back. My conclusions were not dissimilar - ie. bicubic does a pretty good job a lot of the time, though there may be better tools for a specific task or type of image.

One other form of interpolation available to those of us who shoot RAW is to enlarge at the point of conversion. I think this produces slightly cleaner images, particularly from high ISO shots - and of course you have the option of converting & enlarging using the largest possible colour space which I think helps in preserving smooth tonality.



I think that Ive tested almost all upsizing plug ins for Mac, so far my preferred tool is this from Jack Flesher:


At the end of the essay there is a link to download a free automated plug in.Try it and see for yourself.



Dear Aaron,

The history was this. I've used (and reviewed) several Alien Skin products. I like their software. Equally important, I like the people. They're pleasant, even fun to deal with. They understand my job as reviewer, too. They never give me any grief for pointing out a problem in a product of theirs (assuming I've got it right, of course). I think they're just all around good guys.

So when I heard about BlowUp, I knew I'd have to give a look. And the price of the product made it pretty clear that they were competing with the Grand Old Man of the field, Genuine Fractals. So along with seeing if BlowUp was better than Bicubic, it made sense to see how it stood up to Genuine Fractals.

Originally I planned this to be review for a PHOTO Techniques, but Scott had already assigned a review of this product to someone else. So I was stuck with a yen to run tests and no venue for them. Which is why you guys lucked out. If you look at the number of words I wrote and consider that I left out all the stuff that would normally be in a printed review, like system requirements, technical specs, and any instructions on how to actually use the controls and settings in the programs, you'll see that what you got was a full-length magazine article.

Which is also why I only covered these three approaches. More is the enemy of good. For a finite amount of space and time, the more products you compare, the less you can say about each one. I can't afford to write more complex reviews than this; I don't have a market that will pay for them. Nor one that will publish them if they were proportionately longer.

Find me a venue that will let me run 5000 word articles and pay me $2,000 for them and I'll be happy to provide much more extensive comparisons.

But until that happens ... or I get that MacArthur fellowship I so richly deserve [grin]... I have to keep the scope of my reviews within what I can get published and what I can get paid for.

pax / Ctein
[[ Please excuse any word-salad. ViaVoice in training! ]]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

I think it takes a GREAT deal of active imagination to see any meaningful difference in these comparisons. This is sub-pixel-peeping!

Dear Andrew,

Once again...

The point of illustrations is to illustrate a point, not to prove it. If you can't see any difference in the illos, then believe the text. If you don't believe the text, then why are you bothering to read the review at all?

Also, as explained in the previous parts of the article, you're not getting illos at 1:1 scale, but at 25% scale, to better approximate the printed versions.

pax / Ctein

Ctein, can you recommend a printer under $500 that will produce wonderful black and white prints? I want to supplement my darkroom output with some black and white film negative scans and print them from my computer. Thanks.

Dear TBM,

I think your best bet under $500 is the HP Photosmart 8750 Professional Photo Printer. Just squeaks in at $499.99

pax / Ctein

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