Resize Magic is a solution for all your resizing needs.  It comes in two flavors. A stand alone version and a Photoshop plug-in.

 

Tom Tweetom tweedel del is a good friend with significant experience in China and has self-published several interesting volumes of his travels in China complete with many great images and informative narrative.  Last year he visited Thailand for the first time and I had a great time showing him around the area.  Somehow he found time to put together a like 364 page book of his travels around Thailand!

When Tom agreed to become part of our small select product review team I was both excited and grateful.  I hope you enjoy this and future reviews by Tom.  For those whose plans include extended travel in Thailand and China I’d recommend contacting Tom and inquiring into obtaining copies of his books.  Tom Tweedel is an Austin, TX based photographer and can be reached at: tomsds@austin.rr.com

 

Introduction

Resize Magic is a solution for all your resizing needs.  It comes in two flavors. A stand alone version and a Photoshop plug-in.

I spent some time checking out the stand alone product and made a few observations:

The user interface (UI) of the stand alone product is a little mixed.  It seems to have some features aimed at less sophisticated users and others aimed at power users.  Unfortunately it lacks functionality in both.

 

Overview

The UI (user interface) seems to be set up to do batch processing of a large number of images.  First select your source folder and a list of supported images in that folder is displayed.  Drag and drop functionality is strangely absent requiring step by step browsing through folder structures.  Finally, you then select your output folder (with quick shortcuts to make the output folder the same).

Select the target images by checking them off on the list.  There is room for improvement.  A “Select  All” would appeal to the power user while getting a thumbnail view of the image you selected last would be useful for people doing smaller batches.  Often you don’t want to do all the images in the folder, only a few.  Or maybe you’re doing different images at different resolutions.  A visual representation in addition to the file name would be extremely useful.

Select the type of resizing you want.  The options are adequate.  Longest side,  shortest side, and percent.  This provides the flexibility to handle a variety of images and orientations in the same batch which is a plus.  Also absent is the ability to size by inches (for prints) and resolution.  You can always calculate that (10 Inches @ 300 DPI = 3000 pixels) but for beginners this would be a nice feature.

You can fine tune the output by selecting smoother, normal or sharper.  The differences are subtle.

After selecting your settings you click on process and the program will resize all the images in a batch mode.  Processing time varies with size and hardware but going from a 2200 pixel image to a 4200 pixel image took mere seconds on a 2.2Ghz Dell Latitude laptop.

One nag is that you cannot rename the output file.  The resized file name is the same as the original.  Without a “Do You Want To Overwrite File” warning you can easily make a mistake and overwrite files of the same name.  This leaves you open to overwriting all your original full sized files with the smaller resized files.

 

Upsizing Quality Comparisons

For this review I worked on a couple of images.  The first image had a lot of complexity and detail from the Grand Palace in Bangkok.  The other was a typical portrait.  I did a comparison of the output quality of Resize Magic vs. two other methods of resizing images.

One was a standard one step resize using a free image editing program (IrFanview32), the other a stair stepped interpolation in Photoshop using multiple steps.

The image was the complex Grand Palace:

 

Resize Magic review

100% crop from the original image – Unresized. Resolution

 

Resize Magic Review

100% crop from Resize Magic resized from 2700 pixels to 4200 pixels

 

Resize Magic, Bangkok Images

100% crop from Irfanview32 on step resizing from 2700 pixels to 4200 pixels

 

Resize Magic, Bangkok Thailand

100% crop from Stair Step interpolation in Photoshop from 2700 pixels to 4200 pixels

 

I then repeated the same test with the portrait image:

 

Resize Magic, review example 1

100% crop from the original image - Unresized

 

Resize Magic, review example 2

100% crop from Resize Magic resized from 3000 pixels to 4200 pixels

 

Resize Magic, review example 3

100% crop from Irfanview32 on step resizing from 3000 pixels to 4200 pixels

 

Resize Magic, review example 4

100% crop from Stair Step interpolation in Photoshop from 3000 pixels to 4200 pixels

 

Findings:

For most pictures I don’t think your going to see a significant difference in end quality between the different methods.  If you are super critical of images you might say that one offers a little more sharpness or contrast or fewer artifacts than the other.  But to the casual observer or anyone who just enjoys the pictures there isn’t going to be a noticeable difference. This is especially true if you are dealing with a print which tends to blend things together a bit.  The initial quality of your capture/conversion is going to have a bigger impact on quality than the specific upsizing method.

 

Downsizing Quality Comparisons

For downsizing I tested things a bit differently.  I downsized using Resize Magic, Irfanview32 and Photoshop with 1 step sharper interpolation.

I used the same images to test the downsizing to both Email and Web resolution settings.

 

Email Resolution

 

Review, Resize Magic

100% crop of image resized to 1024 with Resize Magic

                                                                                                                         

Review, Resize Magic

100% crop of image resized to 1024 with Irfanview

 

Review, Resize Magic plugin

100% crop of image resized to 1024 with Photoshop, sharper interpolation.

 

Web Resolution

 

Resize Magic, Bangkok Images

Image resized to 800 with Resize Magic

 

Resize Magic, Bangkok Images Thailand

Image resized to 800 with Irfanview

 

Thailand.  Bangkok Images

Image resized to 800 with Photoshop, sharper interpolation.

 

Findings:

Resize magic appeared to have a slight quality edge on the downsizing compared to the other two. But unless your comparing it side by side you probably wouldn’t notice.

 

Different Settings

What about the different settings?  Resize Magic allows you to fine tune your output into smoother, normal or sharper. The differences are subtle.  In the picture from the Grand Palace the differences are not noticeable given the complexity of the image.  Using the portraits there was a small bit of difference.

 

These crops were taken from the 4200 DPI output:

 

Resize Magic, closeup

100% crop from 4200 pixel – Normal

 

Resize Magic, close up examination

100% crop from 4200 pixel – Smoother

 

Resize Magic, Bangkok Images

100% crop from 4200 pixel – Sharper

 

Findings:

There were very small differences. I suspect some types of pictures may get optimal benefits from the different methods, but again the difference is not likely to be noticed by anyone but the most critical observers.

 

Different types of Images

The results from these tests were not as dramatic as one might have expected.  I tried to select images that would be “typical.”  A detailed photo of an exotic place and a standard portrait.  On the Resize Magic website they showcase of couple of images that can prove problematic; those with finely detailed repeating pattern.  I tried one of my images which suffered from the same problem, a subject with a patterned shirt.  I resized it to web resolution using Resize Magic and Photoshop.

 

Example, resize Magic

800 pixel image -  Normal from Resize Magic

 

Example, resize magic

800 pixel image -  From Photoshop

 

Conclusion

This is one area where Resize Magic did a better job without question or reservation.  The moiré pattern on the shirt is common problem faced with digital images and Resize Magic makes it a thing of the past.

So in summary Resize Magic seems to be a nice tool to have in your arsenal.  Considering the stand alone version is free and handles batch processing, it’s a handy thing to have around. For upsizing photos most mortals take you can use it and be confident that your getting as good or better results than Photoshop.  For downsizing it can handle things others can’t.

 

Steve's Comments:

Introduction:

When I learned we had a chance to review a resizing tool I immediately knew this product was ideal for a great deal of our readership.  And when I learned the stand-alone version was free I knew it was perfect!

Most every photo editor I know of includes the ability to resize images.  So why would a software developer go to all the work and trouble to develop a stand-alone resizing tool?  There are a few reasons, one being image quality and the other convenience.

If you can improve image quality and make the tool easier to use at the same time you'll have a winner.  Resize Magic is very close to being both.

 

Discussion:

There is more to resizing images than you'd initially consider.  Image professionals have long developed their own Photoshop Actions and techniques using their own 'secret recipe' and blend of functions so they could achieve a small edge in image quality or processing speed for a specific type of resizing.

Many stand-alone products have emerged over the years and there are two I consider a necessity for my personal workflow.  Fred Miranda's excellent Photoshop Action for resizing Canon 1ds Mark II images (he makes them for specific camera models), and Genuine Fractals from OneonOne Software and has long been the standard to compare against.

Genuine Fractals professional edition is now $299, and Fred Miranda's actions $19.90.  ReSize Magic's stand-alone version is free!  Their Photoshop Plug-in is $25.  These are all in USD's.

 

Technical:

When you resize in a standard image editor you do so in one step.  For instance, you take the image from 5000 pixels to 800 pixels suitable for an email image, in one heavy handed swipe.  Image professionals learned a long time ago to "stair step" in 5-10% increments and to use different methods of interpolation for the best results.  Fred Miranda's actions, Resize Magic, and Genuine Fractals all use their "secret recipe" towards the same result.

 

Installation and Use:

The installation of the stand-alone version couldn't be more straightforward and easy.  This is why I was surprised that the Photoshop Plug-in, the version you pay for, didn't have it's own installer and instead had to be manually placed in the appropriate Adobe Photoshop folders.  I hope future plug-in products will include an installer.

Over the course of 5-7 weeks I'd back to back test images from Fred Miranda's action, Photoshop, and Resize Magic.  Frankly I found the image quality and even the convenience of Fred Miranda's action and Resize Magic pretty much equal.  This is significant because FM's action has long been my most used resizing tool.  Both held a very slight but real edge in image quality over Photoshop IF used in a one step process.  I have some of my own custom actions which use Photoshop that actually do better.

Genuine Fractals is the standard and I'm going to hold off on comment except to say I hope to review this product in the near future and it should come as no surprise that not only does it have image quality advantages, but the functional advantages that comes with a mature and respected product.

Note:  I forwarded the link to the stand-alone version of Resize Magic to several readers I knew to be having a hard time understanding how to resize images.  All of them soon emailed me back very happy with the ease and quality of this product.

 

Summary:

Tom already mentioned the areas I'd like to see improved and the areas we enjoyed.  Really, this is a fine product.  More, I'd like to see those of you without such a tool using this one!  My mailbox is often full from images readers have sent in for Readers Submissions and the like which are 20-30x larger than they need to be.  With Resize Magic you can easily and quickly generate perfectly sized images for email, prints, web publishing, or most any use you'll encounter.

For those of you who already use Adobe's Photoshop CS3 and CS4, you'll find their plug-in very useful.  Unfortunately Resize Magic only supports the x32 versions and doesn't  yet support x64 versions.  I asked them about this and at the moment they're geared up to support Mac's and Mac's aren't yet supported by a x64 version of Photoshop.  Perhaps in the near future.  Linux is also supported!

Go to this link and download the stand-alone version of Resize Magic and you'll be generating resized images in under five minutes.  It's that easy!  I think you'll really enjoy this great tool.