Why is it that when you enlarge and print a photo that looks great onscreen, you end up with a mess? Edges become saw-toothed lines, and your image is marred by JPEG artefacts - big square blocks that make up colour in low resolution images.
The simple reason for this is that when you enlarge an image, the pixels remain the same size. Help has been at hand for a while now, with programs such as OnOne Software's Genuine Fractals. And now comes a new contender: PhotoZoom.
Both of these apps work on the basis of 'interpolation logarithms'. A user-defined filter auto-generates new pixels; by analysing existing pixels and smartly filling in the blanks, they add the information that has been lost.
PhotoZoom Pro uses BenVista's much-vaunted new logarithm, S-Spline XL - and it's a humdinger. We ran tests with tiny, mediocre images pulled off the web, and asked it to expand them to A4 - the results were pretty impressive. Of course, you're always going to have an approximate result, but the intuitive responses that PhotoZoom Pro offered were pretty exceptional.
Enlargement is a breeze - drop an image, or batches of them, onto the standalone application, or access it from within Photoshop's filters (CS2 and CS3 compatible). Choose your template size (A1, A3, A4), or define your own, and apply one of the smart presets (including Photo Detailed, Photo Soft and Graphics); then watch as PhotoZoom Pro quickly applies enlargements in real time.
Tweak the settings - edge detail, crispness and even artificial detail, applying a little noise to stop things from getting too soft - and then export your image, creating a whole new image instead of messing up your old one. Easy.