How To Resize Images Without Losing Quality For Printing

So you’ve taken that perfect photo in the perfect moment.  A photo that would be impossible to duplicate.  The problem is you want to print it large, but for whatever reason, the resolution just isn’t there to produce a quality print.  Perhaps the photo was taken using an old camera, or the photographer sent a low resolution photo and has disappeared or won’t provide the high resolution image (it happens!).  Maybe the photo was taken using a phone camera and/or edited using an app which can greatly diminish resolution.  We also see customers that have uploaded their photos to Facebook or Instagram and have lost the original.  The problem is that these services restrict the size of the image and resize it before posting it to their site.   This is a real problem for those that want to print their photos large.   Whatever the reason, it’s tough to tell a customer who has captured a cherished moment in their life that they can’t produce a quality print at the size they want (or in some cases, any size at all).

All is not lost!  There are times when a solution can be found.  We’ve been using software programs for years that attempt to resize a photo without losing quality and frankly most aren’t good.   There are several online services that promise to upsize your photo without losing quality, but none of them are good enough in our opinion.  You can resize in Photoshop, but the native resize function there is inferior as well.  The next step up are dedicated software programs that act as plugins in Photoshop or standalone software for Mac and Windows that can resize your photo with good results and in some cases great results.   The two that we like the best are Perfect Resize and Alien Skin Blowup.  These two can provide superior results over the native Photoshop resize function and the free online services that are out there.

The next generation of photo resizing uses machine learning (aka AI) and neural networks to continually improve the resizing algorithm to more intelligently add pixels to make photos sharper at larger sizes.  Google has made the news in the past year or two with its RAISR technology to produce sharper images at smaller sizes in order to decrease disk space and networks strains.  The billions of images sent across the internet and uploaded to online services consume a massive amount of resources.  Here at Bumblejax, we’ve been experimenting with photo resizing using machine learning as well and the initial results are terrific.  With our expertise in photo editing for optimal prints combined with AI photo resizing, we can often times produce great looking large prints where it was never possible before.

If you have a digital photo from a social service like Facebook or Instagram, an old camera, etc and you need to print large we’re here to help!  Please note though that while you don’t need to make a purchase with us to see the result, we can’t provide you the high res file for producing the print somewhere else.   We can provide a low res version or screenshot to show you the difference before making your decision and after you place the order can provide the enhanced file.

NOTE: Results can vary greatly.  Some photos resize better than others and print size improvement typically varies from 25% to 50% over standard resizing methods and often times 100% improvement over no resizing method (in other words, being able to produce a print at twice the size).  It just depends on the camera used, the exposure, how it was edited etc.  We can let you know how large we can print after enhancing and reviewing the photo for you.  Again, there is no charge for this we’d just ask that you be interested in purchasing a print from us.

Here is one example using a low resolution photo.  The screenshots show a portion of the image at actual print size in Photoshop at 20×12.25″.   It’s a little bit more difficult to decipher the differences with smaller screenshots, but you can see the original has a fair amount of pixelation and the max we could print the original would be about 15×9″.  You can see in the images below that our photo resizing using AI is quite a bit better than the software programs currently available.  First is the original, followed by Alien Skin Blowup, followed by Perfect Resize (Genuine Fractals), followed by the more intelligent AI method.  For this particular photo we’d be comfortable printing up to  about 25×15″ using the AI method which is about a 20% improvement over other resizing methods and about a 65% improvement over no resizing method.  The Alien Skin Blowup software has been a bit better than Perfect Resize in our experience if you want to go that route.

Original image – no resizing.

Alien Skin Blowup @ 20×12.25″

Perfect Resize @ 20×12.25

Bumblejax AI Method @ 20×12.25

How do I know if my photo is a good candidate for resizing?

This can be a tough question to answer, but generally speaking, any image produced with a phone camera, a cheaper point and shoot or pulled off a social sharing site can be a good candidate for resizing depending on what size print you need.  Sometimes images captured with high-end DSLR cameras can be resized to produce very large prints, but this isn’t as common from our experience.  The only surefire way to tell is to view the photo at actual print size in Photoshop using our method here.  If there is pixelation at the desired print size, resizing can be done.  Please note that resizing can’t produce any size print you want.  You’re never going to be able to resize an iPhone photo and get a 72″ print, but I will say that I’ve pushed a few of my iPhone photos to 50″ with a bit of AI Bumblejax magic with good results.  The other part of the equation is completely subjective of course.  What may be acceptable print quality to one may not be acceptable to another.  We have seen many customers that are Ok with sub par image resolution (we always send a digital proof before printing borderline photos) because it’s a photo they cherish and know they can’t reproduce again.  On the other end, photographers reselling their work will almost never accept this kind of quality for obvious reasons.

Don’t have Photoshop?  Not sure about resizing?  Want us to work our magic for you?

Here is a quick way to find out if resizing might be necessary.  Upload your photo to our order configuration page here (opens in new tab) and if the max print size (we auto calculate this for you -see screenshot below) is less than 40×30″ your photo may be a good candidate for resizing.  If that is the case please contact us with “photo resize” in the subject line and let us know the print size you desire the product you’d like and the filename (see screenshot below to see filename in our system).  Please only contact us if you have an intention of ordering from us.  It’s time consuming for us and we have to focus on paying or potentially paying customers.

If our automated system says your Max Print Size is below 40×30″ it might be a good candidate for resizing.

If you’re not sure of the filename of your photo, you will see it in our system after you upload in Your Photos tab. Below each photo is the first part of the filename which you can provide us. If you have created an account with us before uploading we can find it for you.

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Comment (1)

  • DesertSooner

    This is a great help in knowing the size of print available from any file. Thanks for posting.

    August 29, 2018 at 1:46 pm

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