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How To Enlarge a Photo and Maintain Quality

Posted by Arch on January 4, 2019

There are many reasons why you may need to enlarge a photo. Maybe you need a larger photo for your calendar or your T-shirt. Sometimes you may need a larger version of a standard photo in order to analyze specific details which aren’t visible at the default resolution.

Whichever the case may be, almost any image viewing application allows you to resize photos. However, whether or not you can also maintain the image quality depends on a few factors. The resizing algorithm matters a lot, and it generally differs from one app to another.

Here are two popular resizing options that professional photographers as well as regular individuals use on a daily basis.

How Pixel Mapping Works

Each photo is made up of thousands of pixels, depending on the resolution. When changes are made to the image, whether it’s enlarged or shrunk, the pixels are essentially resized. How does this affect the picture quality?

When the picture is resized into a smaller image, the pixels become less visible because they become smaller. Therefore, there’s no visual quality loss.

Now, enlarging an image also means enlarging the pixels. The quality loss becomes quite evident after a certain level of zooming. This effect generally translates into a blurry or pixelated photo.

However, this doesn’t mean that there’s no way to enlarge a photo without losing quality. The solution involves compensating for all enlarged pixels in order for them to match the properties of neighboring pixels.

This is known as fractal interpolation and it’s the method used by many image editing programs.

Adobe Photoshop and Perfect Resize

Perfect Resize is standalone software which can be used as a plug-in in Adobe Photoshop. It’s not the cheapest solution on the market, but it does premium-quality work. You may not find a better alternative if you have to resize photos often and not just as a hobby.

Perfect Resize uses fractal interpolation to its maximum potential, which is why the software is the go-to choice for most freelance photo editors as well as various high-end studios.

Once the software is installed, you can add it to your Photoshop list of plug-ins. After that, Perfect Resize appears as an option in Photoshop. You can click on the File button on the top toolbar, scroll down to Automate, and then you’ll be able to pick Perfect Resize from the list.

Doing this will open the picture in the Perfect Resize app. On the left side, you’ll find the preset menu, which allows you to pick a pre-configured selection. You can also enter the size on your own from the Document Size option.

Once you’re finished adjusting your settings, you can go to File and then click on Apply to save the changes. After that, you can export the file to any location you want. Perfect Resize will take care of all the calculations by using fractal interpolation and will render you an enlarged photo with little to no blur.

Gimp

Another good piece of software used for resizing photos is Gimp. While the quality it offers doesn’t quite match Perfect Resize, Gimp is totally free, rather easy to use, and it also doesn’t need Adobe Photoshop installed. It is perhaps the best simple app designed for resizing.

To resize a photo, first you’ll have to open it in Gimp. Then go to the Image menu on the top toolbar and select the Scale Image option. This will open up a basic dimensions menu. Type in the new dimensions and also select the preferred Interpolation algorithm found under the Quality section.

Click on Scale to apply the changes. Keep in mind that the primary method used in Gimp is Sinc (Lanczos3), which isn’t really on par with what Perfect Resize can do. After you scale the image, you can export it for the web.

The quality is pretty much on par with that of standard Adobe Photoshop resizing. That’s because Photoshop uses bicubic resampling, which is not a very advanced resizing protocol and certainly not superior to the Sinc interpolation employed by Gimp. From a financial standpoint, if all you need is picture resizing and not advanced editing, Gimp is a better choice than Adobe Photoshop.

Final Thought

Although there is no way to maintain photo quality if your photo wasn’t taken with a decent camera in the first place, there are ways to go about this. However, don’t expect to get amazing results if you don’t want to spend a few bucks on good software.

Also, you can’t expect to see the same level of quality as some popular, tech-savvy characters in movies and TV shows manage to achieve. Although that may become possible in the future, nothing on the market today is that advanced.

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