3 Photo Enlargement Tools Compared

Adobe Photoshop vs TopazLabs Gigapixel AI vs Alien Skin Blow Up 3. Which image enlarger comes out on top in 2020? Find out as I resize tiny webcam photos of a tiny kitten.
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I edited tiny webcam photos with three photo enlargement tools to compare the difference. The three contenders are Adobe Photoshop, Alien Skin Blow Up and TopazLabs Gigapixel AI.

The photos are old webcam pictures of my cat, Buscemi. I had Buscemi for 15 years until he passed away from cancer last year. I found him when he was only a few days old. His mother and 6 littermates were strays I found in an abandoned camper on my family’s farm. It was cold and snowy spring weather, and I brought all of them into my house where it was warm and safe.
 
 
I took this photo the day I found him. I know it’s Buscemi because he was the runt of the litter and I was showing off him to an online friend. Here are a few more photos of him hanging out with his littermates:

As you can see these photos are tiny. The image dimensions are only 320 by 240. These are the only photos I have of Buscemi at this stage in his life and they’re still an important part of his story no matter how bad they are.
 

The Comparisons

For Photoshop I set the resolution to 300, and scaled up six times the original size (1920×1440 pixels). I set my resample mode to Preserve Details (enlargement) and reduced the noise by 35%.

 
For Alien Skin Blow Up 3 I set the resolution to 300 and the dimensions to 1920×1440 pixels. My enlargement tuning settings were 60 for sharpen edges and 15 for add grain.
 
For Gigapixel AI, I selected 6x scale, and set both suppress noise and remove blur to 50. Face refinement was left on, but I couldn’t tell that it made any difference in this case.
 
Here are the results (use the dots below the image to navigate to the next comparison):
webcam_134-1-Photoshop webcam_134-3-Gigapixel
webcam_134-1-Photoshop webcam_134-2-BlowUp
webcam_134-2-BlowUp webcam_134-3-Gigapixel

Below is my final image with color corrections applied and artifacts cloned out. It still isn’t a perfect photo, but considering the source, I’m quite happy with the result.

Conclusion

Photoshop was the overall weakest of the three. Gigapixel did an excellent job filling in details, creating smooth but sharp edges, and removing jpeg artifacts and noise. It still didn’t get all the details perfect, such as the kitten’s face and paws. There are also weird artifacts around the bottom of the image. I still think it’s a much improved base image that I’ll be able to fix up further in Photoshop.
 
Both Photoshop and Gigapixel still have a lot of color fringing that is especially noticeable around my hand and the kitten’s face. Only Alien Skin Blow Up 3 removed this. I think the Blow Up results are better than Photoshop, but not as good as Gigapixel except for removing chromatic aberration.
 
I’ll still need to adjust the colors further before I print this, but I’m impressed with the results of the new technology so far. I wouldn’t have been able to get results this good a few years ago.