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Monday, December 05, 2005

FixerLabs for Christmas

On the heels of its successful introduction of its popular SizeFixer application, FixerLabs has opened a Christmas Store offering deals on all of its image-processing software. I've used FixerBundle for some time now. It contains four separate plug-ins, which are also available separately: FocusFixer, ShadowFixer, NoiseFixer, and TrueBlur. I've reverted to Neat Image for noise and I habitually use the Shadow/Highlight control in Photoshop for lightening shadows (although I've never done a strict comparison of Shadow/Highlight with ShadowFixer), but the amazing FocusFixer is something I've never found duplicated elsewhere. Within obvious limits, the program uses complex algorithms from a blurred image to decipher what the sharp objects that created them must have been. In practice, it does seem to "add focus" to areas of pictures that are just that little annoying bit soft. I've used it both for sharpening on its own, or as preparation for other sharpening routines. Worth the price of admission.

So what is "SizeFixer"? Well, I'm sure most photographers are aware by now that a digital camera's pixel count is a measure of image size, not necessarily of quality. And even the big-dog DSLRs are fairly limited in terms of what size you can print if you use optimum printer settings. For instance, if you have determined that 300dpi creates the best print, and your image size is 2100 x 3000 pixels, then your optimum print size is 7 x 10 inches. From the early days of digital, there have been a number of what Michael Reichmann dubbed "uprezzing" programs, such as Genuine Fractals, and a similar function is now incorporated into Photoshop. These programs allow you to "enlarge" the native size of your image file while suffering the least possible visual degradation. SizeFixer uses FixerLabs' mathematics-intensive algorithms to perform this function. The program makes a guess at the up-sized image, then blurs and down-sizes it again and compares it to the original. Any deviation is used to improve the next guess. According to FixerLabs' President, the program will perform up to a hundred loops to arrive at the best result. The upshot is that it does a noticeably better job of uprezzing than Photoshop, and has collected a string of glowing reviews in print and on the 'net. It's normally a pretty expensive app (I don't own it myself), but, especially if you make "oversized" (i.e., larger than native) prints only occasionally, it may just be that SizeFixer would be a whole lot more cost-effective than that mega-megapixel camera you're always pining for.



Blogger Fotosia said...

So what I need to pine for at the moment is a faster computer. New solutions create new demands - am I right?

Damn! Why is no one commenting this blog? Mike, you must be too great and people are simply scared to utter a word ;-)

Greetings from Poland,
Gosia (totally amateur but very enthusiastic)

9:08 AM  
Blogger David Emerick said...

First thing I would add Mike is that I would suggest using Curves rather than Shadow/Highlight to improve contrast. Also the optimum resolution in printing with injet printers is 360 dpi as this is the native driver resolution. You might also want to check out some good scripts created by Glenn Mitchell for photoshop image improvement.


10:30 AM  

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