Last week I offered advice and tricks of the trade to help transform the tiny image files from cell phone cameras into acceptable prints.
I shudda stood in bed, as my grandmother, the late Florence Brennan, used to say when things got dicey.
First of all, I estimated the quality of the best cell images on most new 640 by 480-pixel phones to be 1.2 megapixels when I shudda said 307,300 pixels. Then I opened my e-mail and found that the debate overprinting digital images, particularly very small ones, is hotter than a Pentium computer with a broken fan.
So I dug deeper and decided to take a second look at this amazing trend of cell phone cameras and how to make them deliver acceptable printouts.
Aptly enough, the photo-finishing industry’s trade group was meeting down in sunny Orlando as I weathered a drizzly Chicago February with a barrage of e-mail from experts and gadflies alike on the best way to get cell phone snapshots into frames and up on the wall.
I’d like to share some of the great new software for fixing up cell phone images that I found while checking out advice from those whose e-mails didn’t use words like stupid, dummy and idiot.
The big issue arises when one tries to make sense out of the difference between the dots per inch in a digital image file and the dots per inch on a printer. Monitor screens can only display somewhere between 72 and 96 dots (called pixels, of course) per inch. By contrast, even my most vehement critics agree that you need at least 300 dots per inch to produce a usable print.
There are limited resolution enhancements in such standards as Photoshop, Ulead PhotoImpact 10 and Paint Shop Pro 9, but there are much more powerful programs to do this.
Bicubic targets pixels
I downloaded a $29.95 gem called Imagener Enhanced from Kneson Software, at Kneson.com.
The company explains that most commercial programs use a technique called bicubic interpolation to figure out how to add pixels that will increase the resolution. Bicubic compares the pixels immediately adjacent to the one being enlarged and, after a 200 percent to 400 percent enlargement, it starts showing those blocky squares as pixels.
Kneson’s Progressive technique, says the company, analyzes pixels well removed from each targeted pixel and then estimates things like how the colors might change based on elements like overall patterns in the image. This fills out the white areas that bicubic leaves with pixels of the color and contrast the pattern indicates.
The results really are impressive on phone images, and they blow one’s socks off when applied to a proper image with 3, 4 and 5 million pixels.