Adobe has been adding machine-learning and AI-powered features to Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom. In March 2021, Adobe added “Super Resolution“—a way to enhance missing details in lower resolution files. Here’s how to use it.
What Does Super Resolution Do?
Super Resolution uses Adobe’s AI platform, Adobe Sensei, to double the horizontal and vertical resolution of an image. It quadruples the number of pixels so, in effect, it takes a 12-megapixel photo and turns it into a 48-megapixel photo.
In other words, Super Resolution makes the file big—and, if you’re using RAW files, Enhance Details makes sure it looks good. It still, however, works on other file types like JPEG, PNG, and TIFF.
Whatever file type you use, Super Resolution will convert it into a .DNG RAW file.
How to Use Adobe’s Super Resolution
Super Resolution isn’t a Photoshop feature: it’s an Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) feature.
Now, ACR is built into Photoshop and it’s what does all the image processing under the hood in Lightroom, but it’s technically separate which is why finding Super Resolution can be slightly tricky.
How to Open a Photo in Camera RAW
To use Super Resolution, you need to open the image in an ACR-powered editor. There are a few ways to do this:
- If you use Lightroom, just open any image in your library in the Develop module.
- If you use Photoshop and want to edit a RAW file, open the file as normal. ACR will open before the regular Photoshop editor.
- If you use Photoshop and want to edit a non-RAW file, open Adobe Bridge and navigate to the file. Right-click and select “Open in Camera RAW”
Note: As of the time of publication, Lightroom hasn’t y.et been updated to support Super Resolution, however, Adobe says it’s coming very shortly and it is available for Photoshop.
How to Apply Super Resolution
First, open the image you want to edit in an ACR editor.
Right-click anywhere on the image and select “Enhance”.
Check “Super Resolution” and you can see the effect in the “Preview” box.
If you like it, click “Enhance” and let ACR do its thing. It’ll take a few moments.
Once it’s done, you will have a duplicate file called something like “FileName-Enhanced.dng (2 of 2)” open as well. It will have twice the vertical and horizontal resolution of the original. (Up to 500-megapixels.)
What Is Super Resolution Good For?
Super Resolution uses machine learning to quadruple the resolution of your images better than existing algorithms. You can see some more comparisons on Adobe’s blog post announcing the feature.
However, there are still only a limited number of situations where this is useful. If you’re just uploading images to Instagram and Facebook, for example, it’s unlikely to have any effect. Where Super Resolution shows the most promise is:
- Up-sizing older images and tightly cropped photos so you can make better prints.
- Enhancing details in images you need to crop really tightly.
Otherwise, Super Resolution is a cool and interesting application of machine learning—but it’s not something you need to do for every photo you take.