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PhotoAcute Studio

PhotoAcute Studio introduces a new way to enhance image resolution By Robert Jensen

Most of you have heard of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, where you shoot several shots of the same scene, each at a different exposure, then combine them in software to produce an image with extended dynamic range that brings out details in both the highlights and shadows. If you are a hobbyist astronomer you know that in recent years image stacking has become a popular way to greatly enhance astrophotography using digital cameras and CCD's. Stacking images like this can decrease the signal-to-noise ratio. (Lower the noise in an image)

PhotoAcute Studio has come up with a new twist where you also take multiple images of a scene, but the twist is you take each frame with slight variances in camera position. It doesn't take much movement for this to work, in fact the minor body movement that goes on while shooting hand-held is a plus. PhotoAcute Studio then combines these images into a photo that is noticeably sharper and looks like you used a much more expensive camera and lens on the shot. PhotoAcute calls this 'superresolution processing.' The results can be quite amazing, especially when shooting with a compact camera.

Superresolution can turn the output from your simple point-n-shoot camera into looking like you used a pro camera. It can improve images from pro-level cameras and bring them to an even higher level. Again, each shot needs to be taken from a very slightly different point, not a problem when you're hand-holding a camera since your body will move enough between shots to do the job. Superresolution works even with tripod mounted cameras because there is some micro movement going on between frames.

As pitch men often say in their TV commercials, "But wait, there's more!" PhotoAcute can also produce HDR images! Do you know what else? It can combine images with different focus points to produce a shot with depth-of-field from a few inches to infinity! PhotoAcute Studio even reduces noise in your photos! Got chromatic aberrations or lens geometry distortions? PhotoAcute Studio can get rid of them! But I hear some of you asking, "Does it get rid of unwanted carpet stains?". Unfortunately it doesn't ... but you can use the program to get rid of unwanted pedestrians or other moving distractions in your photos! Just take two or more shots (four preferably) from the same position, taking no heed of pedestrians walking through the scene, cars zooming by in front of you, or birds flying around. Just combine the images in PhotoAcute Studio and the unwanted distractions magically disappear!

My first series of shots to test PhotoAcute Studio's Superressolution were taken using my Canon A720 compact camera, which is one of the supported camera models. When I saw that first shot after PhotoAcute had done its magic I became a true believer folks. It works like magic, Merlin himself couldn't do better.

Click for full view. My first time using PhotoAcute Studio resulted in this image. Impressive! Look at the improvement in edge detail, the almost total lack of noise, as well as the smooth gradients. Those white spots are dust on the battery not noise. (cropped at 100%)

Working with PhotoAcute Studio
If you're going to be sending any of your RAW files to the Professional version of PhotoAcute Studio then the first thing you'll have to do is go download and install Adobe's free DNG Converter for your Mac  or your PC . This is a pretty smart move on PhotoAcute's part in keeping things simple for themselves. When users buy that new camera, Adobe usually isn't far behind in updating its DNG converter to support it. Otherwise PhotoAcute would be constantly having to go in and change the software's code.

This chart lays out which version of PhotoAcute does what.

Next, install PhotoAcute Studio - There are two versions, Standard, which is geared towards the compact camera and prosumer camera owner, and Professional, which supports RAW files and is geared towards the prosumer and DSLR photographers shooting RAW.  The Standard version sells for a reasonable $49 and the Professional version goes for a still affordable $119.

You can upgrade from the Standard version to the Professional version for $70. You don't need to do another download to upgrade. All that's needed is for you to install the second software key. (If you buy the Professional version you'll need to install the Standard version key first, restart the program, then input the Professional version key and restart again.

Caption: The PhotoAcute Studio interface is simple in its design.

Processing window

The first step, after shooting, is to import your images into PhotoAcute Studio. You can use the Open dialog or simply drag and drop the files into PhotoAcute.

Working with RAW files took longer than with JPEG's due partially to the need for Adobe's DNG Converter to do the conversion. You can figure the larger the images you're working, or the more images you import, the longer the processing time will take. The company recommends you start with a minimum of five images. Most processing chores I subjected PhotoAcute Studio to took from 5 to 7 minutes.  

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Related Keywords:digital imaging, image editing, digital camera, photoacute, High Dynamic Range photography

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  • PhotoAcute Studio by DMN Editorial at Nov. 03, 2009 9:28 pm gmt

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