ON1 Resize AI 2022 verdict
ON1 Resize AI 2022 is extremely impressive, both as an image size upscale for large prints and as a tool for making lower-resolution images from older cameras usable again. Its ability to reconstruct textures is extraordinary and uses the power of AI to work out what it’s looking at and what it should look like when enlarged. The results are noticeably better with higher-quality, large-sensor originals to work from, however, and $99.99 does seem expensive. Then again, ON1 Photo RAW 2022 users will get this AI resizing in free update, and ON1 Resize AI 2022 will also be free to those who bought the (non-AI) ON1 Resize 2022 product.
+ Incredible detail rendition
+ Works on JPEGs – doesn’t need RAWs
+ Easy presets for different print sizes and aspect ratios
+ Optional output sharpening, cropping, ‘gallery wrap’ feature
+ Resize by pixel dimensions, percentage, megapixels, print size
-Less effective on small-sensor images or compressed JPEGs
ON1 Resize AI 2022 is a tool for upsizing your photos so that they can be viewed or printed larger. It adds more pixels to make a larger, more detailed photo than you had before.
These programs traditionally boast more than they actually deliver, promising perfect enlargements with enhanced detail without any convincing science behind them – but ON1 Resize AI 2022 is different.
It uses AI processing not to ‘magically’ restore hidden detail, but to work out what fine textures and details would look like when enlarged.
Why would need this?
Upsizing apps have been around for a long time. They promise the minor miracle of creating big, sharp-looking images from smaller, lower resolution originals.
That sounds great if you only have a small web image to start from, or if you have an older, lower-resolution camera and you want to make a big wall print. What if you have a photo with a very small detail you can’t quite make out? Will an upsizing tool make it visible?
All sorts of publishers have made all sorts of upsizing software promises in the past, many of them clearly just hype. So does this one actually work?
How does it work?
ON1 Software bought out Genuine Fractals years back, one of the best known upsizers on the market. This had some science behind it. It couldn’t restore image detail not captured by the camera in the first place – no software can do that. But it did use fractal maths to work out where there were sharp edges and details and preserve that sharpness as the image was enlarged.
This is what good upsizing software CAN achieve. Normally, when you upsize an image in a photo editor it has to guess at the extra pixels from those around them. This means that edges that were sharp get blurred. Resizing software can fix that, at least.
But ON1 Resize AI 2022 goes further. Again, it can’t restore detail that the camera didn’t capture, but what it can do is use the deep learning power of AI to analyze the image, its tones and its textures to work out what that detail might look like.
It’s not the first AI resizer on the market – there’s also Topaz Labs Gigapixel AI which works on similar principles.
Let’s say you have an image with grass or textured stonework that you want to resize. The AI can identify grass, stone and lots of other objects and textures and it knows how to recreate those textures at a higher resolution. (That’s just my interpretation of what’s going on.)
Interface and usability
ON1 Resize AI 2022 is very straightforward to use. It works both as a standalone program and a plug-in and the interface is pretty much the same.
Once your image is opened, you can choose your upsizing settings in the right sidebar. You can specify a percentage increase, specific pixel dimensions, print sizes and resolutions and long edge/short edge sizes. You’re not restricted to a fixed set of enlargement ratios.
ON1 is pitching this as a serious workflow tool, not some kind of magic gimmick, and very specifically at photographers who want to make large prints.
To this end, in the left sidebar is a series of presets for different paper types and specific print sizes – it also offer crop marquees to help you allow for different print size aspect ratios. There are also presets for different photo lab sizes, social media, video formats and generic web and email use.
On top of that, you can apply output sharpening to suit different print sizes and media, film grain, tiling (for ultra-large images) and a ‘gallery wrap’ feature that extends the image around the ‘wings’ of canvas prints, for example, without cropping into the image itself.
ON1 Resize AI 2022 could not be any easier to use. ON1 has made a technical subject very straigtforward.
What are the results like?
I found that when ON1 Resize AI 2022 was good, it was spectacularly good. A lot seems to depend on the quality of the original image. It worked wonders with ‘clean’, sharp images from larger-sensor cameras like DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, but I found it less effective with cheaper cameras or smaller sensors, where the sharpness and textures are less well rendered and there are more artefacts.
I don’t think ON1 is pitching this software at that end of the market, though. Resize AI is more for serious photographers using good quality equipment who need to make big prints.
I found it especially effective on my older images from 6MP or 8MP DSLRs, for example. It could create 2x enlargements (so 24Mp from 6MP) that looked much sharper and more detailed than the original and would produce a great-looking print where simply blowing up the original by normal means would not.
Is it magic? Not really. ON1 Resize AI is using AI to work out what it thinks it sees in the original and rendering a higher resolution version. It can’t see things that aren’t there. It recreates textures brilliantly and sharpens soft edges but, if you’ve got text in the scene that’s not quite legible, ON1 Resize AI won’t help you read it. It can only see what you can see.
It’s a lot like Gigapixel AI in that respect, and I see that Topaz Labs has toned down the hype a little since I first looked at it, and explains its AI enhancements in a more believable fashion.
Adobe’s Super Resolution tool in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom is worth a mention too. This produces equally spectacular outcomes but has. three major limitations. First, it only works on RAW files (it demosaics RAW data in a special way to get the size increase); second, you don’t get any scaling choices – it’s 2x or nothing; third, the DNG files it creates are absolutely HUGE.
ON1 Resize AI 2022 verdict
ON1 Resize AI 2022 works extremely well on good-quality originals and could be a great asset for photographers who need to produce large prints or have a back-catalog of older and lower-resolution DSLR images.
But at $99 for the standalone/plug-in version it’s expensive (more expensive than the pre-launch pricing I received, too). At this price I would consider it a professional purchase, not an impulse buy.
The good news is that ON1 Resize AI 2022 will be integrated into ON1 Photo RAW 2022 via a free future update. So if you already have ON1 Photo RAW 2022, the price for ON1 Resize AI 2022 is immaterial because you’re going to get it for nothing.
Also, if you previously bought ON1 Resize 2022 (the older, non-AI version) as a standalone product, you too will get ON1 Resize AI 2022 as a free update.
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