Genuine Fractals 6 Professional Edition is an image-resizing plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, and Apple Aperture. It uses unique, proprietary fractal algorithms to resize images with almost no loss of image quality. Unlike Photoshop’s resizing algorithms, which examine adjacent pixels individually, Genuine Fractals looks for repeating patterns and samples blocks of pixels of various sizes, patching them together to produce a larger version of the original. This retains edge sharpness and fine detail, and eliminates edge halos. Genuine Fractals is even effective at odd degrees of enlargement, say, 443% rather than the standard multiples of 100%, 200%, 400%, etc.
Another great benefit of the software is that it includes an excellent archiving format, STN. STN reduces file size by half via lossless compression, so you can store all your images in STN format and then open any of them to any desired size—no need to save and keep track of high-res versions at all needed sizes.
When version 6 came out, a number of magazine editors were given an opportunity to upsize one of their own images to 16×20 or 20×24 inches with Genuine Fractals 6 Professional Edition, and have it printed as a gallery wrap by Mpix.com, to demonstrate the image quality attainable and the ease of getting it.
Unlike Photoshop’s resizing algorithms, which examine adjacent pixels individually, Genuine Fractals looks for repeating patterns and samples blocks of pixels of various sizes, patching them together to produce a larger version of the original.
I figured I’d give the software a real test. I selected an image containing a lot of fine detail that I had made a few years ago with a handheld 8.2-megapixel D-SLR and a 300mm lens. The exposure was 1?250 sec. at ƒ/5.6 at ISO 800 in early-morning, overcast lighting. The original image is a JPEG measuring 3504×2336 pixels (8.19 MP). I cropped it to concentrate on the finely detailed main subjects, resulting in an image measuring 2136×1656 pixels, or 3.5 megapixels. I would now enlarge this to 16×20 inches at 250 dpi (the recommended resolution for the gallery wraps).
I soon discovered that not only is Genuine Fractals 6 Professional Edition powerful and versatile, but it’s also easy to use. I opened the image in Photoshop, went to the onOne Software menu and opened Genuine Fractals, typed in the desired size and resolution, and clicked Apply. In a few moments, my resized image was done. You can adjust texture, sharpening and film grain effects, if desired, but the default settings work very well. The software also contains a number of presets, so you can just select the desired paper size rather than typing in a size. When you do this, a crop mask appears over the image, showing the crop in that format—you can crop and resize in one step, which is very helpful.
Mpix Gallery Wrap To produce a gallery wrap, where the print edges wrap around a 3-D frame, just click the gallery-wrap button, and the software automatically extends the edges to wrap without losing any of the live image area. (It’s equally easy to tile an image to make a huge poster using a small-format printer. Just click on the tiling option and select the printer’s largest paper size and a tile overlap—0.25 inches is a good general setting.)
I uploaded my gallery-wrap image to the Mpix website and followed the instructions for formatting the image, and the resulting gallery-wrap print looked sensational. Fine detail with straight and curving lines isn’t easy for a digital system to reproduce, but the Genuine Fractals rendering was excellent—and this from a 3.5-megapixel, ISO 800, handheld, telephoto JPEG “original”!
Genuine Fractals 6 Professional Edition supports CMYK, RGB, LAB and grayscale images, as well as multi-layer .PSD files, including text and masks (with no need to flatten the image). It also has powerful batch-processing capabilities, allowing you to resize an entire folder of images with complete control of sizes, resolutions and file formats. It’s compatible with Windows XP SP2 or Vista, and Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher.