What is the best way to increase file size while retaining maximum quality?

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January 16, 2015 at 10:30 am  •  Posted in Q&A, Tips & Techniques by  •  0 Comments

My wife got a fabulous photo during our visit to India with her older 8-megapixel point-and-shoot camera, and I want to make a 13 x 19″ print with my Epson Stylus Photo R1900. But the image file is too small for a print that large at 300 dpi. What is the best way to increase the file size while retaining maximum quality?
—Rakesh K.

An 8-MP photo provides a file size with roughly 3600 x 2400 pixels, Rakesh, while a 13 x 19″ print at 300 dpi should have roughly 5700 x 3800 pixels. You can certainly add pixels with just about any image-editing software using a re-size tool, but very few programs can retain excellent image quality during the process. The best solution is Adobe Photoshop since the Image > Size command provides two very sophisticated, high-tech options for enlarging images: Preserve Details and Bicubic Smoother. I find the latter to be the best solution, but the upsized image will be soft; Photoshop’s Smart Sharpen utility can easily solve that problem.

While a full 5700 x 3800 pixels are necessary for making a 13 x 19" print at 300 dpi, the Epson R1900 will produce a very nice print even at 240 dpi. Hence, upsizing your small JPEG to 4680 x 3120 pixels should be adequate; this is an important consideration if you do not use software with sophisticated upsizing algorithms. © 2010 Peter K. Burian

While a full 5700 x 3800 pixels are necessary for making a 13 x 19″ print at 300 dpi, the Epson R1900 will produce a very nice print even at 240 dpi. Hence, upsizing your small JPEG to 4680 x 3120 pixels should be adequate; this is an important consideration if you do not use software with sophisticated upsizing algorithms. © 2010 Peter K. Burian

However, if you do not have access to Photoshop, there’s another alternative. Perfect Resize 9 from onOne Software (US $80), using their proprietary Genuine Fractals technology, does an excellent job of upsizing images. They offer a 30-day free-trial download of their Suite 9 which includes the Resize program. Check out the REVIEW: onOne Software Perfect Resize 7.5 or the Perfect Resize YouTube tutorial, both covering an earlier (but very similar) version of the program.

Designed for the upsizing and sharpening of small images that will be printed in large sizes, OnOne Software's Perfect Resize program may be the most sophisticated of its type. Since numerous user-selectable options are provided, it's well worth viewing a video tutorial to minimize the learning curve. Photo Courtesy of OnOne Software

Designed for the upsizing and sharpening of small images that will be printed in large sizes, OnOne Software’s Perfect Resize program may be the most sophisticated of its type. Since numerous user-selectable options are provided, it’s well worth viewing a video tutorial to minimize the learning curve. Photo Courtesy of OnOne Software

If you insist on using your own image-editing software for upsizing and will then need a high-tech sharpening utility, I strongly recommend the Output Sharpener tool in Nik’s Sharpener Pro from Google. There’s a free 15-day trial of the Nik Suite, which sells for CAD $169 (including Sharpener Pro) on their website. For a tutorial on how to use it, check out the YouTube video Sharpener Pro 3 – Getting the most out of Output Sharpener. However, here’s one piece of advice from my personal experience: for the most natural-looking effect, use less than the default amount of sharpening. While experimenting, try the 60% option.

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