Adobe ACR Super Resolution and Mega Pixels

Those of you who know me well, know that I espouse low noise and clean files far above mega pixel count in order of importance. In fact, mega pixels are the least important consideration when choosing a new camera in my opinion and experience. Most high quality (not all) landscape and wildlife photographs are generally taken in low light conditions when the sun is either low in the sky or light levels are otherwise very subdued. As a direct result of these low light levels it is often necessary to shoot at higher ISO’s to maintain sufficient shutter speed (especially with wildlife). Hence, the emphasis on clean, low noise files in lieu of mega pixels. Mega pixels are really the domain of the camera manufacturer sales and marketing teams who seem hell bent on the ‘more is better’ marketing mantra. And let’s be honest, consumers lap this up – after all, this one goes to 11 right?

Typically, the more mega pixels you have, the worse your high ISO performance (its just physics). This is why professional cameras on the market such as the Canon EOS 1DX MK3 are in the order of twenty mega pixels. These cameras aim to hit the sweet spot of super clean high ISO files with ‘enough pixels for most applications’. The net result is super clean high ISO files. The benefit of a super clean file is you can then uprez the file in post production if you actually need more mega pixels to make a very large print (about the only reason you ever need more than twenty mega pixels). To date, I have ben using Topaz AI Gigapixel to do the uprezzing of my files when required. On the whole it does an excellent job and has been my preferred tool for this specific application – until now.

The post production game is always changing and evolving and my good friend Eric Chan over at Adobe has just published a fascinating first look at Adobes new ACR super resolution tool. The blog post has some excellent examples of how the tool works, what sort of results can be expected and how to to use the tool in Adobe Photoshop. Of note, is that the new tool will also soon be coming to Adobe Lightroom. The full article is available HERE and is recommended reading.

Honestly, it isn’t all that often I get excited about post production software. As a photographer who preaches ‘in camera artistry’ over being a photoshop technician I prefer to spend my time out in the field, rather than in front of the computer. As a result, it takes something pretty special in the software game to actually get my attention and Adobe’s new Super Resolution tool has me excited. Not because I need more mega pixels in most of my work; but because on the odd occasion I do need to make a really large print I now have an even more powerful tool at my disposal.

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