By Karl Hodge Macworld UK | on November 09, 2010
Price When Reviewed: £145.99 (Pro) £68.24 (Classic
Pros: Fast, accurate photo enlargement.
Cons: Includes some methods that are effectively redundant.
PhotoZoom Pro 3. It's always nice to look at software that does exactly what it says - and PhotoZoom does it very well. We looked at both versions currently on the market, the fully featured Pro version and the cut down Classic version. Both performed brilliantly in our tests.
In photography it's always desirable to have the best possible source material at the highest resolution for print. That's not always possible though, which is where PhotoZoom comes in. It uses the developer's own advanced S-Spline interpolation to recreate your image at larger sizes. PhotoZoom Pro's results using the software's S-Spline Max setting were fast and impressive. It was easily able to double the size of our test JPEGs with very little evidence of artefacts or resizing. At larger sizes, some painterly effects started to appear - but no pixellation.
Though you can get good enlargements using the default settings, the software's strength is in the fine tuning. You can tweak results with Unsharp Masking and add Film Grain. In the standalone version, this is particularly welcome - and much faster than Photoshop. Alongside the S-Spline Max setting, there are other common photo enlargement algorithms. In most cases though, these seem redundant given the quality of results available from S-Spline Max. You needn't worry too much about format compatibility either. The software handles most common imaging formats, can read ICC colour profiles and can load and save 32 bit HDR images.
In PhotoZoom Classic, the S-Spline XL is the best choice. It was a less convincing than the Max algorithm, but still produced pleasing results - reducing JPEG noise in our source images. The Classic version lacks Film Grain and S-Spline Max, but is otherwise a powerful tool. Sharing rotate and crop features with its high end sibling, it's a great choice for hobbyists.
Professionals will want to pick the PhotoZoom Pro 3, though. It has multi-processor support, keeps Photoshop layers intact and supports batch processing. The real decider is Photoshop support. The Pro version comes with Automation and Export plugins for Adobe's imaging workhorse, enabling you to process enlargements with a high level of finish.