Does Adobe’s Super Resolution eliminate the need for high resolution cameras?

Apr 7, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Does Adobe’s Super Resolution eliminate the need for high resolution cameras?

Apr 7, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Adobe’s new Super Resolution feature is certainly rather good. It allows you to breathe new life into those lower resolution images from older DSLRs as well as smartphone images to an impressive level of quality. But does it really eliminate the need for today’s high-resolution cameras like the Canon EOS R5, Nikon Z7 II and Sony A7R IV?

Well, photographer Dan Watson seems to think so, as he demonstrates in this video where he puts the 12MP Sony A7S III and 20MP Canon EOS R6 + Super Resolution up against the 60.2MP Sony A7R IV and 45MP Canon EOS R5 for stills to see just how well they stand up to the task.

I’m not entirely convinced, personally. It’s definitely very impressive and it will allow you to do a lot more with the images you shoot, but a 12/20 megapixel camera replacing a 45-60 megapixel camera? Even the comparisons shown in the video, while pretty good, weren’t really all that close. The scaled-up images using Super Resolution were definitely not as sharp as those shot with the cameras containing the higher resolution sensors, no matter what Dan might want us to believe.

We’ve also seen that Super Resolution isn’t as good as Topaz Gigapixel in certain situations, either. It’s certainly faster, but Topaz Gigapixel shows clear improvements over Adobe’s initial offering in some shots, particularly architecture. So, if such upscaling (regardless of the technique being used) were going to do away with high-resolution cameras, then surely we’d have all just bought Topaz Gigapixel and keep shooting our old lower resolution cameras by now, right?

As I said, Super Resolution is impressive, but this is only Adobe’s first iteration of the feature. I’m sure it will improve over time, but even when it does, I’m not sure it’ll ever really take the place of just shooting higher resolution if the gear is available.

For right now, though, I’m not convinced. What do you think?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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5 responses to “Does Adobe’s Super Resolution eliminate the need for high resolution cameras?”

  1. Michael Estwik Avatar
    Michael Estwik

    Definitely not, due to issues with the Raw Information enhance functionality, it creates artifacts in the image. I tested it and wrote an article about it on my blog.

    If you understands Swedish, then read this:
    https://www.estwikphoto.se/2021/03/abodes-ai-uppskalningsverktyg-super-resolution/

  2. Meng Tian Avatar
    Meng Tian

    Adobe is one of the companies leading us in a soulless, fake & ai generated porn like monoculture world, where everything is cheaply adjusted to our animal brain.

    Don’t give them a cent.

  3. technor Avatar
    technor

    I believe there are a number of use cases for the Super Resolution feature especially in the advertising and print market, but to conclude that these could eliminate high resolution cameras is meritless in my view. The feature requires near perfect image or else any artifacts or other issues just get amplified. My trials produced some nice images, but then when the image had complex backgrounds, the outcome wasn’t that great – that something was amiss in the picture could be easily understood. Photography is vast and Super Resolution feature may work in some areas, but whether it works in all areas needs to be seen. I for one, would love the High Resolution cameras and would like one in the field.

  4. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    I think of it as just another tool. Use it as you feel the need. Next.

  5. Trino Pam Avatar
    Trino Pam

    ???