BenVista PhotoZoom Pro 5 review

Increasing the size of photos is easy, but maintaining the quality of the resulting image is much harder. It’s a problem that programs such as Photoshop have struggled with for years, and if your work regularly involves scaling up photos then it might be worth investing in a specialized tool such as BenVista’s PhotoZoom Pro 5.

Photoshop generally uses a technique known as bicubic resampling when attempting to increase the size of a photo, but BenVista has patented its own technique known as ‘S-Spline Max’ that claims to produce sharper, more detailed images.

When you open a photo in PhotoZoom Pro it starts by displaying basic information about that image, such as the file size, resolution, and whether the file is in RGB or CMYK formats. You can then enter a new size or resolution for the photo and then leave PhotoZoom Pro to automatically resize the image for you. A scan line passes over the image as this takes place, travelling from top to bottom so that you can watch its progress – and you can visibly see jagged edges and blurred pixels becoming smoother and sharper as that scan line passes over the image.

We resized a number of test photos, using Photoshop CS 5, PhotoZoom Pro 5 and Apple’s own Preview for comparison purposes. Not surprisingly, Photoshop did a better job of enlarging our photos than Preview, but PhotoZoom Pro also outdid Photoshop. Not only did it preserve more detail in the enlarged photos, but it also did a better job of preserving textures such as skin tones. Portrait photos that were enlarged in Photoshop tended to have a smooth, airbrushed look on areas such as the forehead or cheeks, but PhotoZoom Pro managed to maintain a more natural and realistic skin texture.

PhotoZoom Pro does a good job of increasing the size of digital photos.

For many designers and photographers, that little extra quality will justify PhotoZoom Pro’s £139.00 price tag. There’s also a more basic ‘Classic’ version of the program available for £59.00, as well as trial versions that you can experiment with to see if you’re happy with the results.

PhotoZoom Pro does have a few rough edges, though. This latest version includes support for multiprocessor Macs, and can also use your Mac’s graphics card to improve performance when resizing images. Even so, it’s still noticeably slower than Photoshop when resizing images, and takes a while to export the final image once you’ve achieved the desired results – about 45 seconds when resizing an image from 800x1200 to three times its original size.

The program also needs to redraw the image on screen every time you make any changes to it, which slows things down a bit. A few more keyboard shortcuts would help to speed up tool selection, and the lack of a Before/After comparison seems like a fairly glaring omission.

OUR VERDICT

PhotoZoom Pro 5 is a specialized tool, and is quite expensive given that it essentially performs just one single function. However, it performs that particular function better than standard programs such as Photoshop and will earn its keep if you regularly need to scale photos up in size.

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