Almalence Super Resolution vs SONY Clear Image Zoom (single-frame super resolution)

From time to time we are being asked to compare Almalence Super Resolution with other super resolution technologies available on the market, most of them single-frame super resolution. Our previous test was Panasonic Intelligent Zoom.

Today we will test SONY Clear Zoom Image technology, which is used in some SONY cameras for better quality of digital zoom.

We use SONY RX100 camera with Clear Zoom function.

First of all, let’s compare zoomed images taken with Clear Zoom disabled and enabled:

Top: standard zoom, bottom: Clear Image Zoom (SONY RX100)

Top: standard zoom, bottom: Clear Image Zoom (SONY RX100)

We see that Clear Image Zoom produces somewhat sharper image, and somewhere it adds a bit more details (for example, see the second hieroglyph in the center).

Now let’s compare to Almalence Super Resolution. We’ve taken a series of RAW images at the same zoom level and processed with PhotoAcute:

SONY Clear Image Zoom vs Almalence Super Resolution

SONY Clear Image Zoom vs Almalence Super Resolution

It’s easy to see that Almalence Super Resolution adds more details and is far superior to Clear Image Zoom. This is an expected result when comparing a single-frame resolution enhancement technology to a multi-frame super resolution.

More examples:

The web address and phone number unreadable in a Clear Image Zoom photo become readable in Super Resolution image:

Letters in the center of the image and “3F” at the bottom-right corner become readable:

Original images and a copy of the application used for processing are available upon request.

Test of Panasonic LX7 Intelligent Zoom

Panasonic features so-called Intelligent Zoom mode in Panasonic Lumix LX7 camera, claiming that with their “Intelligent Resolution” technology 3.8x optical zoom virtually extends to a 7.5x equivalent.
It sounds as single-frame super resolution, so we decided to take some test images to see how good is it.

Below: 3.8x versus 7.5x zoom

Panasonic Lumix LX7: 3.8x zoom and 7.5x (intelligent) zoom

Panasonic Lumix LX7: 3.8x zoom and 7.5x (intelligent) zoom

100% Crops. Top: 3.8x zoom, bottom: 7.5x zoom (with Intelligent Resolution)

Comparison of 3.8x zoom with 7.5x Intelligent Zoom (Panasonic Lumix LX7)

Top: 3.8x zoom, bottom: 7.5x Intelligent Zoom

As we can see, Intelligent Resolution does not add more details (so the resolution is not increased). The same result can be achieved with extra sharpening. See below a comparison between “Intelligent” zoom and bicubic upsize + unsharp mask filter in Photoshop:

Left: Panasonic Intelligent Resolution, right: generic zoom + bicubic upsize + unsharp mask

Left: Panasonic Intelligent Resolution, right: generic zoom + bicubic upsize + unsharp mask

Conclusion: Panasonic Intelligent Zoom (or Intelligent Resolution) delivers sharper images but does not provide higher resolution and in no way can compete with optical zoom.

Full original images available upon request