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Old Oct 16, 2004, 11:32 AM   #1
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If using a lower res (3 MP and below) I have experimented with larger print sizes, borderless 8 1/2 by 11, and here are some of my own observations regarding interpolation and making larger print sizes (adding pixels to increase density) with my FZ-1, a lower resolution camera.

1. The FZ-1v2 makes excellet larger prints, in general, without messing around with anything... at 150 to 160 ppi.
2. When you print 8X10 portraits with a lower MP camera - at least mine, you may find in some areas with a little grainy-ness in the contrasty areas, where skin tone is interupted by a dark area:
A. Around the eyes, eyelashes
B. Contrast/Shadowy areas - like shadow under the neck.
C. Some areas might have a very slight watercolor-y look.

3. Number 2 - a, b, and c above DO NOT detract from the image. They are minor imperfections, and something you may notice - "perhaps", when the print comes off the printer and you inspect it at close range, at a viewing distance of a 6X4. You have look for it.

4. These imperfections disappear, literally, when viewed at a normal "larger print size" viewing distance. From 1 1/2 feet away or more, they are COMPLETELY INVISIBLE.

5. These slight imperfections disappeared completely on a print where I set my printer to the highest resolution setting (I use an Epson R200, which goes up to 5700X1400 dpi, normally I use the 1400X1200 setting, which uses less ink and produces identical results to "Best Quality") and boosted input resolution from 160ish ppi to 260 ppi using interpolation (Genuine Fractals). Boosting resolution and increasing output dpi produced "the perfect 8 1/2 X 11 borderless print" - sharp and completely free of grain or watercolor effect from a viewing distance of a 6X4.

6. The "perfect print" and the other prints with minor imperfections look exactly the same, framed and viewed from the normal viewing distance of larger prints, at arms length rather than book length.

7. At least as far as my set-up is concerned, large prints look much, much better on glossy (I use premium) than on matte paper...

8. As an aside, I use Abacus ink (found on eBay) with my Epson dye-based printer, and see absolutely no difference to the OEM. I can't speak to permanence but after 3 months or so, no fading or color shifting. I also use Hammermill paper 8 1/2 X 11 premium glossy, since I can get it in packs of 15 instead of 50 sheet packs Epson wants to sell you. No problemo what-so-ever. Cost per sheet is about the same.

In conclusion, it's hard to say if imperfections are caused by printing larger prints at a lower dpi setting on the printer or by increasing the pixel density using interpolation or both. I would say if you have an FZ1,2, or 3 and you have that rare print you want to enlarge, if you want "perfection" boost the resolution in your photoeditor using either staired interpolation (get the Fred Miranda action for $15, which uses PS excellent interpolation algorythms but resamples in 4% increments, or you can do this yourself...) or use Genuine Fractals, and set your printer to its highest resolution setting. Or - just print it at its latent ppi, around 160, and whatever imperfections, if any, you may have will literally and completely disappear when viewed from a normal viewing distance, arm's length or greater.

The following PS plug-ins I consider "must haves" for enlargements and otherwise:

1. Genuine Fractals, Q-Image, or Fred Miranda's Staired Interpolation action - good for boosting res up to 100%.

2. Nic Sharpener Pro. Excellent. Sharpens based on output - web vs print, picture resolution, and printer resolution. Pro is pricey, home ed should be fine. Makes a big difference.

3. Neat Image... very good for reducing noise, use profiles for the FZ, downloadable from the web.

GF and NS pro editions are pricey. GF has a very generous "100 uses" trial. I also like its proprietary lossless and virtually lossless "stn" file format. NI is quite reasonable. Staired Interpolation is $15. All are PS plug-ins.

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Old Oct 16, 2004, 1:42 PM   #2
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Whats up NickTrop. Thanks for the advice. Because of your post I learned about Nik Sharpener Pro.

I saw somewhere on a the net (I am looking for the link)
That Genuine Fractals really doesn't accomplish anything different the already high quality Bicubicle resizing capabilities of Photoshop. They had a comparison of two resized images enlarged and zoomed closely at distinct object. No was absolutely no difference.

I would like to know what you think for and I must agree with you, Neat Image is incredible, actually FZ21 will have it in their firmware to reduce the noise the small CCD is creating.:whack: just kidding, I know bobc gets mad when someone mentions noise and the FZ20
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Old Oct 16, 2004, 1:46 PM   #3
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Damn I reallly neeed to previewe my posts to fixy my englishy. Promise I spell checky everything firsdsfst.

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Old Oct 16, 2004, 11:02 PM   #4
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Rezajune wrote:
Quote:
CCD is creating.:whack: just kidding, I know bobc gets mad when someone mentions noise and the FZ20
I don't get mad (well not to much). I know the FZ20 is a little grainier, but the images are great. And thats what really counts. Noise can be eliminated if need be.

And Nick... Really good research...

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Old Oct 17, 2004, 10:43 AM   #5
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Rezajune -

Please, no apologies on your English! I WISH I could speak and write in a second language. I understand you perfectly. Don't worry about using a spell-checker, I'm sure I've made plenty in this post, myself. Spelling was never a forte of mine.

I'm glad you learned about NS Pro through the post. If there's one thing that improves image quality, it's "adjust auto levels" and NS Pro.

As far a GF goes, I have been pleased with the results. I don't do many test since I'm not a lab, ink is expensive, and those larger prints use up a lot. I can actually watch the ink meters drop on my printer while an 8X10 prints...yikes! But GF is somewhat controversial. Some swear by it, others say BI is just as good. Here is what I gather. Bicubic interpolation (BI) is fine but you get better results if it's "stepped" in 4% increments. That's tedious to do manually and why Fred Miranda's PS action ($15) is a worthwhile investment for PS users. For smaller size input a 1 meg jpg, say, GF and stepped (or "staired") interpolation gives about the same results - a smidgen better/clearer than just resampling the image straight-up in PS. Where GF supposedly excels at is taking a larger file - say a 15 meg tiff from the FZ-20 or larger image file from a scan, and making a HUGE print out of it. The more in terms of size you give GF, the more it has to work with, and the better results you get on large poster-sized prints. All I know from personal user esperience is that I got a damned perfect borderless 8 1/2 X 11 print by using GF to boost the input resolution density to 300 ppi, from a 1 meg FZ-1 jpg (boosting pixel density 100%, from 150ppi to 300ppi)) and printing it at the highest dpi setting. No graininess what-so-ever in contrasty areas. It looked as good as a 6X4 at a book viewing distance. Again, however, these subtle imperfections are invisible between a res'd up pic printed at highest output res and a non-wonked-around-with enlargement when both are compared at an arm's length viewing distance. Of course, your mileage may vary. What I really like the stn proprietary file format of GF. It's small, lossless (or virtually lossless...) and PS likes it. It's replacing tiff for me as the lossless format of choice.

This is why I'm not "moved" if you will by the number of megapixels touted by camera manufacturers, and like the FZ1v2. I have/will rarely made big printed enlargements. Most that I have made have been out of curiosity to see how they would look and to play. I am satisfied - no, make that "amazed" with the results from the FZ-1 on an 8X10. I have no fear of res'n up a photo by BI resampling or using GF but I'm not sure if that's even necessary. On a standard sized print - a 6X4 say, I would defy anyone to tell the difference between a 6X4 print taken with an FZ-1 or a 6X4 taken with a 3, 10, 15, or 20. Additionally, since the CCD size to pixel ratio is more balanced in the FZ-1 - and not overcrowded, the image is less noisey. As far as PC viewing, you throw pixels away on a 2 megpixel camera...

So, the fz-1 with a firmware upgrade costs 1/2 the price with just about the same image quality, same lens, about the same processor. With the dough I saved on pointless, unnecessary megapixels, I am purchasing a supermaco lens, an infrared filter for IR photography, a TCON to extend its zoom capabilities, and perhaps a wide angle - for around the same price of just purchasing a Z-20.



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Old Oct 17, 2004, 10:44 AM   #6
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Thanks, bobc! What up?
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