On the face of it, making a sizeable enlargement to a digital photo is no big deal. You can resize it in Photoshop, although the quality is generally poor. There are also a number of Photoshop plug-ins, such as pxl SmartScale and Genuine Fractals Printpro, that enlarge images and post-process them to enhance sharpness and edge contrast. The results are good but still not marvellous when printed out from a high-quality large-format inkjet printer. Can SizeFixer do a better job?
SizeFixer comes in two versions: SLR and XL. SLR has an enlargement limit of A1 size (891 x 891 mm); XL has no limit. Aside from this, the products are identical. SizeFixer uses Lens File Information Technology (LensFIT) to model a camera’s optics and sensor by extracting the relevant information from a photo’s EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) data. This ‘super resolution’ technology is at the core of SizeFixer’s impressive results.
The software is easy to use and navigation is via four tabbed panels. First, output size is set either automatically, via the preset output sizes (A1, A2, A3or A4), or manually, in terms of pixels or document size. A custom size can be saved as a preset. Next is the super-resolution panel where camera data is accessed from the photo. As long as EXIF data has been saved with the image, the make and model of camera can be selected. Four quality modes are offered, from draft, for fast previewing, up to very good. Two other parameters, radius and threshold, are used to fine-tune the result. The third and fourth panels offer control over unsharp mask and edges but more realistic results are obtained with them turned off.
In our test, shots from a Sony DSC-F828 8-megapixel camera were blown up to A3 and printed on an Epson Stylus Photo 1280, along with similar enlargements using other methods. SizeFixer’s results were amazing with an incredible level of detail. Even more impressive were the cropped results, effectively enlarging to A2 and even A1. However, there was a price to pay: speed. The A3 enlargement on a 1.25GHz G4 took almost40 minutes; even a dual 2.8GHz G5 took 13 minutes.
SizeFixer is the first product to target the large-format printing of digital photos. Without a doubt, it succeeds in this aim. While the slow speed and lack of a batch facility (to be able to leave multiple images processing overnight) are drawbacks, the results are stunning. Vic Lennard Fixerlabs is offering Macworld readers the chance to have their favourite images upsized using SizeFixer. The first 250 readers to send in an image will not be charged the $50 fee. After this, readers can get a 50 per cent discount. Visit www.macworld.co.uk/win for details.