Enlarging JPG files

by Fred Showker
Akvis MagnifierYou need a digital camera shot to print out and fill an entire wall ... what do you do? It's been some time since we ran a comparison piece on the leading "enlargement" utilities for blowing up JPG files. Now, there's a new kid on the block doing an excellent job while keeping quality and saving time.

As we've all been taught, you can always reduce a digital image with excellent results -- but never enlarge a digital photo because the quality will be less than desirable. However, in my previous article about Alien Skin's Blow-Up, we learned you can indeed enlarge with little or no degradation. But then we were going from 72ppi to 300ppi, but not larger than 12 x 10.

Then, we had an even greater challenge. This time, another project for the Children's Museum required us to enlarge from a few inches to over 4-feet. For that, we were testing (at the time) a product called Genuine Fractals from OnOne Software. After a lot of slow lock-ups and system crashes, we successfully enlarged building graphics for vinyl output at our local Signs USA. OnOne has changed the name of their Genuine Fractals 7 to "Perfect Resize".

New challenge, new software

This year we had another difficult chore. We needed to enlarge a digital photo to life size - nearly 9 feet tall! So, we returned and tested all of the previous products -- with less than desirable results. By coincidence a company called AKVIS had sent me a pitch sheet for a new product of theirs called Magnifier. We've written about Akvis before, so we know they make a good product.

enlarging to life-size

If you've ever dealt with the problem of a small source picture before, you know just how much trouble it can be. Whether you simply want to capture a piece of an existing shot or you're trying to resize an image that was too small to begin with, you're looking at a lot of work to make that resize happen. Here, we needed this photo, taken by Christa Gitchell, to be larger than life size. In this exhibit for the Children's Museum, we wanted it to look like you were walking through the exhit, into the poultry house.

Akvis interface The new AKVIS Magnifier promises to enlarge your images without visible quality loss thanks to advanced algorithms, such as a new sharpness parameter to increase image clarity. You can scale an existing photo up to 30,000 by 30,000, giving you the ability to create a 100 inch by 100 inch poster at 300dpi quality. (Interface at right, click for enlargement.)

What we like about Magnifier is the standalone program version. Yes, there's a plug-in for Photoshop, but in our experience with the other programs, the plug-ins just take on a huge amount of baggage from Photoshop they don't need. The standalone program is clean, quick, and works with JPEG, RAW, PNG, BMP, TIFF formats, supports color modes RGB, Grayscale, CMYK, Lab 8/16/32 bits per channel. The program also allows printing large images at a high resolution.

The plug-in version of Magnifier is compatible with Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. The plugin works with any (one-layered) images. You can find out more, download a demo or buy the new program directly from AKVIS.

AKVIS Magnifier

Just remember my standing rule for digital photography : Always shoot at the highest resolution possible for the camera you're using. You can always reduce an image, but you cannot always enlarge -- unless you've got a product like AKVIS Magnifier!

If you get into similar situations, write it up and pass it along so we can share with all DTG readers. The completed mural, printed directly onto PVC sheet by Tradeshow Direct, is pictured below.

thanks for reading

Fred Showker

the finished mural in place at Explore More Discovery Museum

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