Enlarge a photo and it quickly becomes blurry as extra pixels are added. What if you could enlarge photos without losing quality? What if you could recreate the original? These upscaler tools do it!
If you have ever had a small photo and tried to enlarge it, you will know how bad it can get. It looks fuzzy, pixelated, and frankly terrible. The result is not something you would like to use anywhere or show anyone.
You may have photos taken a long time ago on phones or digital cameras with low resolutions. For example, the first digital camera I had took photos that were 320 x 256 pixels. These days I wouldn’t shoot at less than 10x the width and height and about 8 million pixels more photo information.
You might not have digital photos that old, but you could have some low resolution images that you would like to print on paper, use on web pages or presentations that really don’t have enough pixels. Adding them by using a photo editor to increase the size just results in a blurry mess. Try it and see.
Image upscaler tools
There are software tools for your computer and websites that specialize in enlarging images and they use a variety of techniques to try to minimize the loss of quality. Some web-based photo enlargers are interesting, but the results are only slightly deal better than what you can achieve using a photo editor and filters.
I tried several of these websites, but the results were a long way behind AI Image Enlarger. It uses “SRCNN (Super-Resolution Convolutional Neural Network) structure, an end-to-end trainable network.” Few people will know what that is, but basically, it means it uses artificial intelligence to enhance images when they are enlarged.
However, it works, it produces some of the best quality enlarged images I have seen. The results are impressive and it manages to recreate details in the image that simply weren’t there in the original. It has to be guessing at the pixels it inserts when it enlarges images, but those guesses are usually spot on and the results are fantastic.
Many image enlarger tools or image upscaler tools appear to be the same, same tool, same results, so I will not look at every site. However, you may find minor differences in options or the number of images you can enlarge for free.
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Examples of enlarged photos
Here is a photo of a train that was originally 500 pixels wide (technically, I shrank it to 500 pixels first) and I enlarged it to 2000 pixels using GIMP. This is the best quality I could manage in GIMP:
I then enlarged the same 500 pixel wide image to 2000 pixels with AI Image Enlarger and the result below is an image that is not far off perfect. The detail that has been added to this upscaled image is impressive
Let’s take a look at another example. This time it is a photo of a laptop computer and the first image below has been enlarged using GIMP.
The same image was enlarged with AI Image Enlarger and the result can be seen below.. This image is an order of magnitude better and the result is a usable image instead of a blurry jagged mess. Compare the screen edges and keys for example.
These images are just small sections of a larger photo and have been optimised for the web, but hopefully you can still see the difference. The quality difference is even greater when comparing the originals side by side on the computer screen.
AI Image Enlarger
AI Image Enlarger is an online service that can be accessed using a web browser on any computer. However, it is also available as an app for Windows PC, Apple, Mac, Android phone or iPhone. The PC, Mac and phone apps simply upload the image and then download it after it has been enlarged, so the results are exactly the same as using it on the web.
The website lets you drag an image from the computer’s disk and drop it on the web page to upload it. You choose the size from 2x, 4x or 8x and then just click the Start button. After a brief wait while it is processed, the enlarged image can then be downloaded.
The Windows PC and Apple Mac apps are very similar and here is the Windows app. Drag and drop a photo on it, select the options you want, click Enlarge, wait, then download it.
You must register and create an account at the website to use the site or the software and a free account enables you to enlarge 8 images. There is a limit on the size of images that can be uploaded for free of 1200 x 1200 pixels. I used a free account. A Premium account is $9 a month and allows 100 images per month up to 2000 x 2000 pixels to be enlarged. A Pro account allows unlimited images a month to be enlarged for $19.99 a month.
The images I enlarged exceeded my expectations. Look at the image above – GIMP enlargement on the left and AI Image Enlarger on the right. I suggest you try it, but use your free enlargements wisely.
Enlarge images with Upscaler
Upscaler is a free web service from Stockphotos that can be used to enlarge photos using AI techniques to enhance the image. It works in the web browser and the result is an enlargement that is better than most people can achieve with a photo editor.
Only JPG, PNG, WEBP and BMP image files can be uploaded and there is a maximum size of 4 MB and 2000 pixels. There is a login button on the page but it can be ignored and all you need to do is drag an image from the computer’s disk and drop it on Upscaler in the browser window.
An image preview is displayed after processing that enables you to see before and after Upscaler has done its magic. You can drag a vertical bar left and right over the image and see it before and after enhancement. It gives you an idea of what to expect when the image is downloaded.
What makes this service stand out from others is the download options. In addition to downloading the enlarged images, you can also choose to download images optimized for Facebook (free), LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter (paid).
So how good is Upscaler and what are the results like? Here is an example, with the image on the left enlarged using GIMP on the computer and the one on the right enlarged with Upscaler. The difference is clear.
The left GIMP image is fuzzy and slightly blurred. It is not one you would want to use anywhere. The second image, from Upscaler, is much better and is sharper and has more detail. It is not perfect by any means, but it is much better than I can achieve in a photo editor.
Upscaler is good, but with my tests, I liked the results of AI Image Enlarger slightly better. Upscaler can be used for free with limitations, so try it and see for yourself. To unlock all the features, you need to buy Upscales. It costs a one-time fee of $9 for 20 image upscales with increased size limits and more download options. Considering all the ready-made social media image sizes you get, this is good value.
Image Enlarger is different to the previous two enlargers and there is a form to fill in to get started. You must click a button to select a file on disk, then select the output format from JPG or PNG. A zoom factor or dimensions must be specified, so you can choose 3.5x zoom or specify a target width or height. Images up to 4500 pixels can be created.
Click the Start button and after a short while a new page opens with several images upscaled using several different methods, like Lancos3, Triangle, Bicubic, Bspline and others. The idea is that you choose the one that looks the best to you.
There are slight differences between the images due to the method used and the results vary from poor to fair. My test image was only slightly better than I could achieve in a photo editor and clearly not as good as AI Image Upscaler. However, it is free to use for as many images as you want, whereas many other tools require payment after a few freebies.