AKVIS Magnifier is a Photoshop plug-in or a standalone app to blow up your images without quality loss. I reviewed the plug-in and compared it with Alien Skin’s Blow Up 3. The differences were stunning.
The first thing that I noticed when installing the plug-in were the three licenses you have to choose between: there are two licenses that allow you to use the plug-in for personal use, and one (the most expensive) that also allows for commercial usage — undoubtedly meaning that you are only then entitled to blow up your images for prints that you sell.
The AKVIS Magnifier plug-in has good speed, but nothing to brag about. Performance of resizing algorithms always depends on the original’s size and your computer’s processing power (both CPU and GPU), and as all algorithms are more or less equal there aren’t big speed differences between these apps.
I compared with Alien Skin’s Blow Up 3 and performance was comparable indeed. Results, however, were a whole different matter. The Blow Up 3 plug-in showed a typical upscaling: not too many artefacts, some quality loss but not dramatically so. The AKVIS Magnifier plug-in returned the same results, but with streaks all over the image, as if someone had cut the image apart and tried to stick it back together using scotch tape.
The results were in two words, useless and unusable. After calling support, and half a day emailing back and forth, the reason for this strange behaviour was discovered to be the GPU acceleration (on an iMac i5/3.1GHZ with standard graphics card).
Turning off GPU acceleration fixed the problem. The plug-in didn’t loose much speed, so that’s a good thing. Another good thing was that results were no good up to 400% up-sizing. Beyond that, I reckon you could use it for posters viewed from a distance, but as with any up-sizing algorithm, you can’t create more resolution that simply isn’t there, so results are acceptable at best.