How to Resize an Image Without Losing Quality
There are many reasons why you’d want to resize images without losing quality as a photographer.
Perhaps you need to increase your image size in order to print a canvas for your wall or make a double-page spread in an album.
Or maybe you just want to increase the resolution of a photo taken on your smartphone so you can view it larger on your computer monitor, without losing quality.
Despite some modern digital cameras producing 50+ megapixel RAW files, these remain expensive and inaccessible for the majority of photographers here in 2021.
Being able to increase the image size of a 10MB image to over 50MB without losing quality may seem like magic, but fortunately, it’s possible with the right image editing software.
While it’s possible to enlarge a photo without losing quality using Photoshop, there’s actually an even better way to do it, which yields much clearer, sharper results.
Today I’ll show you how to resize an image without losing quality by using a selection of popular photo editing tools.
6 Best Apps for Resizing Images Without Losing Quality
There are a number of image enlargement programs available here in 2021. Obviously, the paid tools will get you the best results, but there are also some excellent free options.
Here are our favourites, both commercial and freeware, along with steps on how to use them to resize an image without losing quality.
1. Topaz Gigapixel AI
Gigapixel AI is image editing software by Topaz Labs which can batch resize your images by up to 6x.
It’s the first standalone application that uses artificial intelligence (AI) for photo enlargement. The results are amazing, with sharper and clearer upscaled images than ever before.
- How to resize an image using Gigapixel AI
To use Gigapixel AI, first click the Open button and select your images. You can also drag-and-drop your selected images onto the Gigapixel interface.
If you’re enlarging multiple images to the same settings, keep the Select All box checked. If you want some of your images to have different settings, specify the images you’d like to apply specific settings to.
Now, under the preview image, decide which way you’d like to resize your images. Rescale allows you to multiply the scale of your image by percentage. You can also resize by width or height. If your images have people in them, make sure to use the face refinement feature.
From there, if you’d like Gigapixel to do the work for you, leave the Select Mode section in Auto. If you’d like to make some manual adjustments, however, set the mode to Manual and do your fine-tuning.
Next, if you’re enlarging more than one photo at a time, select the Batch Processing option to open the batch processing output window. Choose the settings you want, hit the Process button and presto, you’ll now have some of the cleanest, clearest, upscaled photos possible.
See our full review of Topaz Gigapizel AI here.
2. ON1 Resize
ON1 Resize (formerly Perfect Resize) is still one of the industry standards for photo enlargement.
As an image resizer, it’s not quite as amazing as Topaz Gigapixel AI. That said, it is much faster and has a wonderful gallery wrap feature for prints on canvas.
With ON1 Resize, you can upscale a photo to up to 1,000% of the original size. There’s also soft proofing and batch processing available.
ON1 Resize works both as a standalone program and as a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom. It’s also included in the ON1 Photo RAW 2021 photo editor, so if you’re looking to move away from Adobe products this is definitely a great option.
- How to resize an image using ON1 Resize
Depending on which program you’re using, Select or Open your photo. If you’re using Photoshop, select the ON1 Resize filter from the filter menu.
Type in your desired dimensions in the right-hand document size panel. There, you can also select one of the many preset sizes that ON1 includes.
For fine-tuning, you can adjust the sharpness, add film grain or tiling, or do a gallery wrap. If you’re wanting to crop or use one of the many other presets, you’ll find those on the left-hand panel.
If you’re not wanting to make any specialized adjustments, hit the Done button and that’s it.
3. Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop also provides an excellent photo enlargement option… no filter needed. While it’s not quite as phenomenal as Gigapixel AI or ON1 Resize, it works great for most applications.
- How to resize an image using Adobe Photoshop
First, open your image and then choose Image Size from the Image pull down menu. You’ll then see the Image Size dialogue box.
Next, enter the new dimensions.
Click on the resample drop-down menu if you want to customize the image for enlargement. If you choose Preserve Details, Photoshop will give you a noise reduction slider you can adjust.
Conversely, if you want a smoother image, try setting it to the Bicubic Smoother.
Hit OK and you’re done.
4. PhotoZoom Pro 8
PhotoZoom Pro has long been used for image resizing in the medical, aerospace, security, and publishing industries. It uses its own proprietary interpolation algorithms (S-Spline, S-Spline XL and S-Spline Max) to preserve detail and particularly excels when you need to emphasize a particular fragment or detail.
PhotoZoom Pro works as both a stand-alone application and as a plugin for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Corel PaintShop Pro, and Photo-Paint.
At just under $180 for the Pro version, this app is pretty expensive. Make sure you try the free trial before buying!
- How to resize an image using PhotoZoom Pro 8
Open your photo in the standalone program or activate the plugin from within Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Corel PaintShop Pro, or Photo-Paint.
Enter the new image dimensions in the New Size section on the right.
If needed, zoom out in the preview so you can see the entire photo. If you like, click on the split screen icon in the top toolbar to compare the original image with the enlarged version.
In the Resize Method section, keep S-Spline Max selected, as this option generally yields the best results. From there you can leave the preset at generic or use one of the many excellent presets from the drop down list.
Make any further adjustments using the fine-tuning section.
If you want to compare two different sets of adjustments, choose the dynamic split preview icon from the top toolbar.
Once you’ve found the settings that work best for the image(s), click Ok.
If you’re a fan of open-source software, GIMP is the closest approximation to Photoshop you can find.
It does just about everything Photoshop does, including image enlargement. It’s not quite as good resizing images without losing quality as the paid options above, but if you don’t need astronomical quality it works just fine.
GIMP works on Mac, Windows, and Linux.
- How to resize an image using GIMP
Here’s how to resize your image using GIMP:
Open the image and choose Scale Image from the Image drop-down menu.
Enter the new image dimensions. Under Quality, make sure Sinc (Lanczos3) is set as your interpolation method.
You’re done. Also, you can check out the most popular GIMP plugins here.
IrfanView is a free Lightroom alternative that combines advanced RAW image editing with excellent cataloging features. It doesn’t have the most modern user interface, but you get a ton of features and quite functional image enlargement options, all for free.
If you’re a Windows user, and especially if you’re looking for a free alternative to Lightroom, IrfanView is definitely worth a try. (Sorry Mac users, this one is Windows only.)
- How to resize images using IrfanView
Here’s how to use IrfanView to resize images without losing too much quality:
Choose your image from the Irfanview image catalog.
From the Image pull down menu, choose Resize/Resample.
When the image resize window pops up set the new image dimensions, then select the size method as Resample.
For best results, use Lanczos (slowest) as a filter and check “Apply sharpen after resample.”
Another free Windows-only photo enlargement app, Reshade claims to yield much better results than Photoshop. Of course, you’ll have to try it and see for yourself, but since it’s free, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Resizing images with this app is pretty easy and, like the others, it allows you to enlarge photos without losing much quality.
- How to resize images using Reshade
Open an image in Reshade or drag-and-drop from Windows Explorer or an internet browser.
Type in your new image dimensions.
Fine-tune using the remaining sliders or the Advanced Options window.
When you’re done, click on the Save button.
Images Resizer Tools FAQ
- Is It Really Possible to Resize Your Image Without Losing Quality?
Short answer: yes! Once you know how to resize an image without losing quality, it’s actually quite easy. That said, you will need the right software in order to get the best results when resizing images, and also have an initial image of an adequate file size.
- Why do images lose quality when enlarged?
Most digital images are created in a Bitmap format, which means they’re made up of thousands of pixels all arranged or “mapped” into fixed locations within the image. When you resize an image, you’re resizing each of the individual pixels, increasing its overall file size.
That means that when you enlarge an image, you’re enlarging the pixels. This makes them more visible to the naked eye.
If you see blurriness or distortion in the image, that means you’ve enlarged the image to the point where the pixels have become particularly obvious and the image is “pixelated.”
You don’t see discernable quality loss when shrinking an image because shrinking the pixels makes them less visible.
- What’s the solution for image resizing without losing quality?
While there are a few different ways to enlarge images, the most effective to date is fractal interpolation (also known as fractals).
The fractal method uses an enhancement layer to preserve detail during the enlargement process. This allows each pixel to better match the properties of its neighbors, allowing edges to stay sharp and flat areas to remain smooth.
As you can see, there are plenty of photo enlargement programs available. The commercial programs tend to have the best results, with Gigapixel AI generally blowing the rest out of the water.
In the end, though, it will all depend on what your image enlargement needs are. For example, if you’re looking to print your photos – especially on canvas – then something like ON1 Resize might be best for you.
If you frequently enlarge from subpar images, Gigapixel AI or PhotoZoom Pro will be your best options.
If you just need to occasionally resize an image and already use Photoshop, there’s no reason not to stick with that.
And if you’re looking for an alternative to Lightroom that has image enlargement included, ON1 Photo Raw 2021 or IrfanView will be your best bets. For a free Photoshop replacement, try GIMP.
What do you think? Do you regularly enlarge photos? If so, what’s your favorite program?
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.
Usnea Lebendig is a travel and landscape photographer who loves trekking in the wilderness, exploring other cultures, and using photography for social activism.