PhotoZoom Pro 5 Review
PhotoZoom Pro 5 is an image enlargement software program for use with Adobe Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro. New to the fifth generation model is revised GPU acceleration, profile creation, precision colour previewing and speedy cropping of pictures. Priced at £144.99, PhotoZoom Pro 5 is available as a download from the Avanquest website or as a hard CD.
Installation and Use
The amount of times we've come home from a day shooting and found that we didn't quite get close enough to the subject, or we didn't frame it precisely enough. Cropping usually means getting rid of a lot of pixels, which then makes the pictures smaller and therefore, more difficult to enlarge. In this review, we're going to test PhotoZoom Pro 5, a program that enlarges pictures. We'll also compare it against the Bicubic Smoother in Adobe Photoshop CS4.
We installed PhotoZoom Pro 5 from a CD which is an easy affair. Our only gripe is that Avanquest seem to want to put a toolbar and browser on your computer as well as change the default page. It's annoying enough when freeware does this, but we didn't expect it from a paid program.
Still, installation takes around 5 minutes in total. We were already registered, so missed that out, but if you need to do it, you'll be prompted at the end of installation.
Launching PhotoZoom Pro 5
PhotoZoom Pro 5 is a stand-alone program, so you don't have to open any pictures in Photoshop or PSP (Paint Shop Pro) if you use it this way. You can use it as a plug-in if you wish, though.
Launching PhotoZoom Pro 5 opens the main page. All options are set to the left with a large display pane to the right. An example image is pre-loaded in to let you play with and get the hang of it. Being male, though, we got stuck straight in and opened an image. In all seriousness, it's important to know how easy a program is to use straight out of the box without reading any guides or tutorials.
The main options are listed in big icons, so they're easy to find. You can still access them via the traditional means at the top. Load an image in and it pops up in the main window as well as a smaller preview image to the left. Below the large icons, the options are split into cascade tabs. There are three sections: Original image, New size and Resize method. The preview image is found under Original image and the rest of the section simply tells you details of the picture, such as image size, file size, printable size in inches and a ppi (pixels per inch) value.
Increasing the Resolution
Arguably, the coolest part comes next. You have to decide how big you want to take the picture to. If you want to take a methodical approach, you can adjust the dimensions pixel by pixel if you want. The more haphazard ones out there will prefer the slider. Now, the cool bit is once you've moved the slider or input the dimension sizes. A black line slides down the image and updates it with the additional pixels. It does it very quickly and we're impressed. Bicubic smoother also does it quickly, but it doesn't have a dramatic sliding bar, like PhotoZoom Pro 5 does.
There are several resizing methods available in PhotoZoom Pro 5 which you should really do before you mess around with the slider above. Avanquest are particularly proud of the S-Spline system. According to the website, it enlarges images while reducing the chances of JPEG artefacts and noise. You can enlarge up to 1million x 1million pixels and supports batch processing. The alternative resizing methods have been included for use, but Avanquest only intend you to compare the “poor” quality with their “superior” S-Spline resizing. They recommend always trying the S-Spline Max setting first, but to use the alternative S-Spline options if Max isn't up to scratch. The differences in them are how the program handles artificial grain, sharpness and edge detail to give the picture a more realistic look.