Today’s Question: With newer AI software [for enlarging photos], such as Topaz Gigapixel or the Enhancement feature in Photoshop, do these allow for a larger image to be printed without pixelation?
Tim’s Quick Answer: These latest tools do help to some extent, but they won’t dramatically improve the potential output size of an image. Rather, I see these tools as ways to produce enlargements with greater quality but not necessarily much larger than would otherwise be possible.
More Detail: Enlarging a digital image involves increasing the total number of pixels in the image, which means that new pixels need to be created and given specific color and tonal values.
As I’ve said before, with an image of good quality you can generally enlarge to a size that is twice as tall and wide (four times the image area) with very good results. As long as the viewer won’t get too close to the image, you can print significantly larger.
Some newer software such as Gigapixel AI from Topaz Labs and the Raw Details and Super Resolution features of Camera Raw from Adobe improve upon the previous technology for image enlargement, in part through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
These technologies certainly offer an improvement over earlier tools, but they don’t suddenly provide a magical way to dramatically enlarge a photo. Rather, I see these tools as helping to improve the quality of a reasonable enlargement rather than enabling much more significant enlargement than is possible with other software.
Ultimately, the best output quality results from a high-quality image with adequate resolution for the intended output size. Some enlargement can be done without seriously degrading image quality, but there are limits to how large an image can be enlarged while still looking good from a relatively close distance.