Review: onOne Software Genuine Fractals
By Cheryl Pearson
Photographers today are always looking for products that will provide them with a quicker, more efficient way of streamlining certain tasks. I recently tried out onOne Software’s Genuine Fractals 6 plug-in, which is designed to resize and enlarge images up to 1,000 percent without losing sharpness or detail.
A lot of photographers use Adobe Photoshop’s Bicubic Interpolation method in the Image Size dialogue box to resize images, but there can be a noticeable loss of fine detail or sharpness. Some use an incremental upsizing process that is reported to produce a better result than enlarging with a single step. You can create an action that will enlarge the image in 5-percent increments until the desired size is achieved. Although this approach may work, I’d prefer a tool that does it for me, to any size I need, and produces a great result. Genuine Fractals does that by enlarging and optimizing images for high resolution output, and has a few additional tools that make it worth looking into.
I re-scaled a 5x7 image to 25x35 using Image Size dialogue in Photoshop, set to Bicubic Smoother. I engarged the same 5x7 image using Genuine Fractals. I viewed both at 100 percent and focused in on one aspect of the image. While the difference is more difficult to see in this screenshot, the image on the right was re-scaled in Photoshop and the image on the left was upsized in Genuine Fractals. Photoshop’s Bicubic Interpolation method produced acceptable results, but I felt the image resized in Genuine Fractals was slightly sharper with more crisp detail and less noise. (Click image for large view.)
Genuine Fractals can be accessed in Photoshop in two ways: from Photoshop via File > Automate or from the onOne drop-down, next to Help, in Photoshop’s menu bar. With Photoshop CS5 you can have the onOne plug-ins in a floating menu palette that can be docked in with the other Photoshop palettes.
When you select Genuine Fractals from the OnOne menu, you have three options: the full plug-in which has a separate interface within Photoshop, the batch processing option for working with multiple images, and the express version, which opens as a floating palette that looks like Photoshop’s Image Size dialogue box. The express option is best for quick resizing.
Perform all tonal adjustments and retouching before bringing the photograph into Genuine Fractals. Final sharpening can be performed in Genuine Fractals after the image is resized. Once in the interface, the palettes and navigation are simple to use. Your image is displayed in the center window. There are eight collapsible panels on the right-hand side. The Navigation window is at the top, with panes below for Pixel Dimension adjustments, Document Size adjustments, Texture Control, Sharpening, Film Grain, Tiling, and Gallery Wrap. You will also see hand, crop and zoom tools at the bottom of the interface.
One of the most important features is the document size presets. You can select from a list of the most common photo print sizes, or even video display sizes, and an adjustable crop box that represents the aspect ratio of that output selection shows up over your original image. It makes selecting the crop for different output sizes a breeze. You can make custom presets as well.
One of my favorite features in Genuine Fractals is the Gallery Wrap panel. This tool adds extended margins by either stretching or reflecting information from your image near the edge, while still maintaining the original photograph. Gallery wraps use 1-2 inches for the sides around the canvas, and you don’t want to lose that much from your original composition. Genuine Fractals offers an easy solution. Resize your image first before selecting the gallery wrap options. Set the depth of the wrap you’re creating then select your choice of appearance from the Method drop-down menu: reflect, reflect soft, stretch, or stretch soft.
Reflecting will re-create the edge of the image and flip it (above left). Stretching it will take the outer edge and extend it. In the image in the left of the screenshot, while stretched soft adds blurring to the extended margin (above right). Choose whichever works best for the image. Once you apply this change, the image will be flattened and opened in Photoshop. The margin extension is on its own separate layer. Space on the corners of the image is where the canvas folds are wrapped.
Genuine Fractal also offers a Tiling panel for creating large murals easily.
While Photoshop can handle most of these tasks, Genuine Fractals puts it all in an interface that makes the process quick and easy, with great results. Genuine Fractals 6 is sold individually for $159, or as part of the onOne Software Plug-in Suite 5 for $499.94; upgrade for $199.95. onOne offers a free 30-day trial, and tutorials on each plug-in are available in the University section at ononesoftware.com.
The software is now 64-bit compatible and usable in Photoshop CS5. Free compatibility upgrades for Photoshop CS5 are available for all current users.
PPA is currently offering a member discount of 15% on all OnOne products.