Price: 81 . 35 . 151 . 35
Company: onOne Software
Pros: Excellent-quality output. Great fine-tuning controls. Support for layers.
Cons: Difficult images prove a challenge. £90 extra for CMYK support is poor value.
Here at Digital Arts we often have to work with images that just aren’t high-res enough, which is where tools such as Genuine Fractals are invaluable. They let you ‘blow up’ images to usable sizes without ending up with the blurry, noisy mess you get with Photoshop’s own Image Size dialog.
Our tool of choice for this is Alien Skin Blow Up, which adds detail to images while keeping edges crisp. Genuine Fractals 5 goes one better, adding a new scaling algorithm, more controls, layers and paths support, and improved performance. It also gains support for Photoshop CS3, including on Intel Macs.
Genuine Fractals 5 is available in two versions: a standard release that supports RGB images (and now Lab and Grayscale) and the Print Pro edition, which adds support for CMYK. The Print Pro edition is £90 more expensive, which may deter some.
Overall output is excellent. We could enlarge photographs by 300-500 per cent with few issues, and even these could be fixed with the built-in tools for texturing and sharpening. Version 5 adds the ability to apply faux film grain to mask flaws with bigger enlargements, a function already found in Blow Up. On more difficult images, however, we found that Blow Up coped better with hard edges and semi-transparent areas.
Genuine Fractals 5 does, however, have the unique feature of scaling selections and paths. It can also scale layered images while showing the whole layered composition. It ships with excellent video tutorials too.
While version 5 offers better controls than its main rival, it’s still bettered by Blow Up for certain types of images.