A quasi-quick post about Topaz Labs GigaPixel AI

Warning: this post contains a few large files that might load slowly on a slow internet connection.

To reiterate, I receive zero compensation for mentioning any of the programs I use. The reason I mention something is to either trash it or praise it.

In the case of Topaz Labs programs and plugins, it’s usually praise.

Take a look at this photo . . .

That’s a crop of a larger photo. It’s smaller than the width of the post because it’s cropped tight. It’s roughly a 490 x 500 pixels photo. I could crop tighter, but all it would do is make the picture smaller. 

Meaning . . .

There is a limit to how much you can crop a photo. At some point, you reach the 1:1 ratio and additional cropping won’t get you any additional information.

I discussed cropping versus zoom in THIS POST. <<<This is a Link (For them not interested in the background, skip down to the next photo.)

To reiterate, when you crop a photo, you’re essentially doing the equivalent of a “digital zoom”. Meaning, you’re zooming and enlarging your subject. On a 20MB photo (what the D7500 shoots, you can crop and “zoom in” quite a bit (as long as the subject has enough detail, meaning the photo is clean and sharp).

For the above, the bird occupies roughly a 500×500 area of the original photo. There’s no reason to crop tighter.

BUT . . . what if you want to enlarge it? What if I want to quadruple the size of the photo?

In the olden days, there used to be a trick . . . using Photoshop or an equivalent program, you would “stretch” the original in small increments, no more than 10% at a time.

Simply put (and leaving out a lot of background stuff), you would separate the distance between two pixels such that you have space for another pixel in between them . . . but what color would you assign to the new area? Well, the program would interpolate between the original pixels. If it were numbers — say 2 and 3 — and you made room between them, you might get a new number in between, likely 2.5. It did a similar thing with colors.

Using that method, if you keep expanding small amounts at a time, the interpolation would be pretty good . . . to a point. After a number of interpolations, you’d be interpolating on the interpolation and you’d start losing both color fidelity and details.

Back in the day, there was a program that made a name for itself by automating the process and being smart about the interpolation (it used fractals). That increased the percentage you could enlarge a photo before it deteriorated. Even so, it was limited and the results were seldom stellar.

Skip ahead to a few years ago and Topaz Lab introduced GigaPixels (I wrote about it HERE <<<This is a Link). OK, let’s get back to the above photo.

Topaz has made huge improvements in the program and if I use the above photo and enlarge it 4X (400%), I get the following (click on the photo for the full size 1952 x 2000 pixels, 5.4 MB photo, then click again to zoom in and out):

Click on the photo for the full size 1952 x 2000 pixels, 5.4 MB photo, then click again to zoom in and out

It doesn’t look too bad here but if you click on it to enlarge it to full size, it doesn’t look very good.

. . . it’s larger, and it would probably look good if viewed as a large print as long as you were away from it. Looking at it up close, you’d see all the problems with it, like loss of details and fringing.

Does it mean GigaPixels AI sucks?

Nope . . . the process sucked. Specifically, I started with a photo that had already been processed, sharpened, and saved multiple times as a JPG with an 80% quality (20% compression). Meaning, data was lost; I started with a limited amount of data.

But, let’s take the same crop of the original . . .

576 x 598 pixels crop from the original RAW file saved as a JPG.

And run it through GigaPixel AI (click on the photo for the full size 2304 x 2392 pixels, 727 KB — 0.7 MB — photo, then click again to zoom in and out):

So, a few things to note. I started from a cropped photos saved as a JPG (and probably lost a bit of quality, but not much) before I did any manipulations or processing. Note that GigaPixels AI both enlarged it and cleaned up the noise and it looks pretty good despite being saved as a JPG.

Side Note: I think Topaz Gigapixel AI, Sharpen AI, and DeNoise AI use similar core programs when it comes to noise abatement. Meaning, they all have similar levels of performance when cleaning up noise in addition to whatever else they’re doing. In fact, it’s hard for me to distinguish between programs when looking just at the noise.

I can now take this photo and process it like I normally do. in fact, I can process both the small original and the 4x version and show them for comparison:

576 x 598 pixels

Click on the 4X photo for the full size 2304 x 2392 pixels photo, then click again to zoom in and out

Much better results . . . and remember that this was not a great photo to begin with because of the difficulties of shooting.

Let’s look at this photo . . .

. . . and a tight crop . . .

942 x 816 pixels crop — click for larger version

That’s essentially a digital zoom close to a 1:1 ratio. Note that it’s larger than the other bird because the subject (the hummingbird) occupies a larger portion of the original full-size photo (I was much closer).

Here’s the 4X (400%) GigaPixelss AI enlargement of it . . .

Warning: 8.5 MB file, 3768 x 3264 pixels — click on the photo for the full size then click again to zoom in and out.

And here are the processing for both original and enlarged version . . .

942 x 816 pixels 0.2 MB — click for larger version

Warning: 3.0 MB file, 3768 x 3264 pixels — click on the photo for the full size then click again to zoom in and out.

Is there a limit to GigaPixels AI? Well, this next photo is a 6X enlargement (not much processing; just a few adjustments in Lightroom) . . .

Warning: 4.0 MB file, 5652 x 4896 pixels — click on the photo for the full size then click again to zoom in and out.

That’s almost too big to look at even on a 30″ desktop screen (definitively if looking on a pad or phone) but you could print this pretty large and have it look good. I think you could enlarge files to the point you could do a wall-size photo or larger and — depending on the quality of the original — have it look amazing.

Remember: at these levels of magnification you’re not really interested in pixel-peeping; it is really meant for presenting stuff on large screens or large prints.

If you click on the above, and then click again to zoom in, and then step back five or six feet from the screen, you’ll see what I mean (especially if using the full screen).

Again, I’m sharing this because the results are — to my eyes — pretty durn good. Way ahead of what I could do a few years ago.

Of course, I don’t print in large format anymore, so there’s that. The usefulness to me now is being able to share a large version of a small subject without losing much in detail or quality.

Again, I must stress that the quality of the original photo plays a big part when it comes to the quality of the end result. Start with something crappy, and you’ll just end up with is larger crap.

Same for stuff that is very small and lacking in detail; if you snap a photo of a plane in the sky that’s flying at 30,000 feet and it looks like a speck on your photo, when you enlarge it, you won’t see a beautiful picture of a plane; you’ll just see a larger speck because the program can’t “invent” details it doesn’t have.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it’s copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intentions, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

Note 2: it’s perfectly OK to share a link that points back here.

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Photo Post-processing, Photography Stuff and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A quasi-quick post about Topaz Labs GigaPixel AI

  1. oneowner says:

    I was given a copy of a fractal program which I use only once. It did an OK job of a file I wanted to print but it would only save files in TIFF format and the files were huge. I’ve found the TIFF files difficult to edit (at least with the older version of PS and my older PC but I learned to complete the edits on the RAW file first a long time ago. I don’t know if I will ever have a use for this plugin but it looks like the technology has come a long way. Nice to know there is something out there that works fairly well.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      It was probably the same program I mention (whose name escapes me) which was later purchased by the company that currently calls itself ON1 (I think we both liked their Perfect B&W module of version 9). Their full suite (ON1 Photo 2020; the last one I have is the 2018 version) still has an “enlarge” module which I think used to be called Perfect Resize.

      I was never satisfied with the results (meaning, they were usable but not great).

      This program is approaching the claims ON1 still makes (and, for all I know, their product has also improved, but I did a comparison when GigaPixel came out in 2018, and they didn’t fare well).

      And, yes, this has limited uses . . . unless I want to enlarge a macro file so I can print a 5 feet by 10 feet photo of a jumping spider for my wall.

      OR . . . I can take this file (1 MB — 4928 x 3264 — should be clickable, then click again to zoom to full size)

      enlarge 6X (making a 1.3 GB file) and then crop areas like this:
      (4 MB — 5661 x 5025 — should be clickable, then click again to zoom to full size)

      . . . and this:
      (1 MB — 2982 x 2639 — should be clickable, then click again to zoom to full size)

      Of course, if I had the car, I could probably take macros that close, but it would be difficult.

      Like

  2. AnnMarie says:

    Wow, I tell ya, all these photo improvements are like . . . magic . . . from that magic-making box of yours!

    Like

    • disperser says:

      By the way, if you click to open and then click on it, the zoom jumps to 100%.

      You can hold the CNTL key down and use the +/- keys or the mouse wheel to adjust magnification.

      Also, as I mention, set the window to full screen, get the magnification you want, and then step back from the computer 5 or 6 feet (or more) and look at the picture. That’s how large files are meant to be viewed. If you are next to the screen, you’re seeing every little imperfection from the enlargement process.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mvschulze says:

    OK. I Say …OK: Referring to the “Like Button.” Now, I have not yet enjoyed reading (devouring,) the content of this particular post YET. But, assume for now that I indeed will, shortly, and will like it (becasue I am such a great fan (?) and co-incidently, interested in Photography and good Disperser stuff, including Topaz.) But FIRST …I hit the “like” button in the “notification E-Mail” as per your suggestion, and Voila! it worked. THANK YOU. (Now I just need to see what happens next week with the new Block Editor .) M :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • mvschulze says:

      The results you show are impressive, generously pulling out desirable details well beyond the original, and certainly at very reasonable cost with these AL post processing options. Thanks as always for the reviews. Your time and work is much appreciated. M :-)

      Like

    • disperser says:

      Thank you, mvschulze. It helps me, and if it helps others, that’s just a bonus.

      Liked by 1 person

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