My auto-update for my Adobe CC subscription just downloaded the lates RAW conversion software, version 13.2 which included a note about an update on the inclusion of a new feature called Super Resolution. Having just updated to the RAW 13.1 last December, I did not think this update needed to be investigated. But turns out I was wrong. So while I was under the weather from the second vaccine shot, I decided that this might be a good time to investigate this new feature and I am very happy that I did. For making larger prints than the native image size (created by the camera sensor), it is really a good practice to up-resolution the image to the larger intended print size. The Adobe engineers have included a short cut to accomplish the up-resolution of the digital image in RAW 13.2; it’s fast, easy and the results are short of amazing.
When opening an image in the RAW 13.2, you right click (Mac) the image and you obtain a dialog box and at the bottom of the list is Enhance, which you can open and it provides a new option: Super Resolution. Check that and the program will then tell you how long for the conversion (seems to be less than 10 seconds) and a new .dng file opens. The results: a 4x up-resolution in file size and it is hard to tell the Super Resolution image from the original. Wow. The short answer as to how the Adobe engineers accomplish this is AI (Artificial Intelligence) that they have been developing for the past couple of years. Go engineers & programers!
Essentially in a few strokes, an older 22Mp DSLR has become a 88Mp camera platform; sort of like the old dog getting some vitamins and acting like a puppy again. This is the magic of software for the latest photographic advance. I think that this new RAW feature is also starting to get a lot of buzzzz on the internet in the various photographic discussions.
In my case, I had some much older digital images that I made with a Canon G2 in 2006 while I was just sorting out my Roadside Remembrance project, which had a very small sensor that created 4Mp files. As this project progressed, I quickly updated my gear to a Canon EOS XTi (10.1 Mp with the APS-C Sensor), the Canon EOS 5-D (12.8Mp full frame) and now the Canon EOS 5DMark3 (22.3Mp). Nevertheless, the 2006 4Mp images were ones that I could not replicate, but printing these small files at anything larger than 11 x 14″ did not look so great, even using my High Pass Filter up-resolution method.
Using the Super Resolution RAW conversion on the smaller G2 files has given these images new life; the native print size was approximately 5.7 x 7.5″ at 300dpi and after one Super pass provided a 11.4 x 15.2″ at 300dpi printable file and on my monitor looked fine. Cool! So after thinking about this, I saved this file as a high resolution JPEG and then repeated the Super Resolution process a second time: the file size became a 22.7 x 30.3″ printable image. Yes! Which provided a really, really nice 15.5 x 20.5″ test print on a 17x 22″ sheet. After checking out the details of the print I do not see any issues with going full size of 22.7 x 30″ on a 24 x 34″ sheet. One caveat; the small native file does have some issues with digital artifacts that are not eliminated as the file is enlarged, but at a proper viewing distance, the pixelation is not readily evident. Works for me. And this means that I can consider including these earlier images in this project. That is so cool!
When performing this Super Resolution on my 5DMk3 files (going from a 12.8 x 19.2″ print at 300dpi to 25.6 x 38.4″ at 300dpi) it provides an idea up-res that I need to print on my Canon R2100 24″ wide printer. First, this essentially eliminates my prolonged process of implementing my High Pass Filter up-res method for each image, which takes 9 steps after opening the RAW image into Photoshop. A bit of a pain, but when up-res’ing images for larger prints, it was really a much needed process. I will really not need to use this old up-res method any longer, which is nice.
Second; do I need to upgrade my camera gear to the newest and latest if I am chasing pixels for making larger prints? A really big Canon pain for me would be the upgrade to the R5 system, but that camera is not compatible with all of my EOS lens I have purchased over the years. So not only would I need to purchase the new camera body but new lens as well; that would get expensive. Granted there are some other bells and whistles with the new R5 system, but for what and how I photograph, do I need those features?
The Super Resolution combination with my 5DMk3 can create larger files (87Mp) than with the Canon R5 (46Mp). Oh, yeah, with Super Resolution the Canon R5 would then become a 184Mp monster, a point that is not entirely lost on me. And the other what-if banging around in my head is the larger sensor for Medium Format digital; perhaps a 50Mp system (or back for my Hasselblad) that can then create 200Mb Super Resolution files is very, very tantalizing.
At the moment, I am very excited to have the RAW 13.2 Super Resolution available for my old digital files and be able to use these images in this project. Very cool! Perhaps an upgrade you may want to consider as well.
Exhibition: Ending this week-end, March 20th 2021; Photographs’s Eye gallery, Escondido, CA, a solo exhibition of my Memory Pods series (lens-based photography). Exhibition reception February 20th, 3-7pm.