Working with Digital Photographs in Zoner Photo Studio

Resizing Photos

Sooner or later even the most casual photographer needs to resize a picture. Maybe to reduce the size before e-mailing, maybe before uploading it as a profile picture on, say, Facebook. Zoner Photo Studio offers two tools for this job. In this article, we’ll examine them both.

Resizing photos

Most web galleries, photo albums, forums, etc. offer automatic resizing during picture upload, but that still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t resize on your own. Automatic resizing gives you no control over the process,
and the results may be very poor. When manually shrinking photos, you have full control over the whole process, so you won’t encounter any unpleasant surprises. What kind of surprises? Well, shrinking a digital picture blurs it. The online automatic picture shrinkers unfortunately pay little attention to this fact, so they leave pictures blurry. Also, there is no way to set how much compression is used when saving the picture.
Too much compression can lead to jagged edges.

Easy Resizing

Zoner Photo Studio 13 offers two resizing tools. Both are in the Edit menu. Both of them let you change
the picture’s pixel count. However, they have different approaches. Use Resize to e.g. resize for your choice of size in inches at a certain DPI. Use Advanced Resize to e.g. crop or distort a picture. Shrinking is useful often and stretching only rarely. Meanwhile, stretching has some complications worth a separate article.
Thus we’ll only cover shrinking here. Use Edit | Resize… (Ctrl+E) to show the Resize window. At the top of this window is a preview of the edited picture before and after resizing. Use them to check the picture’s pre-resizing quality, to avoid later mistaking existing problems for resizing problems. Like all editing windows, this window offers a previewless mode via the Change Preview Mode button (beside the autopreview lock). However, for the reason above, this mode is a bad idea when resizing. Leave Resample image active during resizing to actually resize the picture! Turning it off turns this window into just a print size/DPI calculator.
To effortlessly avoid distorting the picture (see illustration), activate Keep proportions. For optimal shrinking, leave the Method at supersampling and do not use Sharpen. (You’ll sharpen in a later step.)

Basic picture resizing window
Unkept proportions gone horribly wrong.

Advanced Resizing

Use Advanced Resize to easily resize or crop to a certain size or ratio of sides. The window offers three basic modes. Use Custom size mode to resize to an exact size in pixels. Use the dropdown here to set how to reach that size. Keep proportions forces one side to grow or shrink so the other can reach the size you set without distorting the picture. Stretch forces the picture to the target size by distorting it, like the turtle above—so it’s usually useless. The exception is very mild, hard-to-see distortion. Add borders adds borders in one dimension to fill it in without distorting the picture.

Cropping to Exact Ratio or Exact Size
The window starts out set up well for most needs. Where your needs differ, change settings once and they stay for the next use of the window.

Use the window’s second mode, Resize and crop, to force original proportions by cropping the picture in one dimension. Use Percent mode to resize the picture to a percent of the original size. Here again, keep the default supersampling method when shrinking pictures. Do not forget that editing the original of a picture and resizing it in the Browser, or doing it in the Editor and clicking Save destroys the original. So once again: always work with copies of pictures, not the originals.

Advanced Resize window
Set the “Add Borders” border color via palette or suck in a color from the picture via eyedropper.

To Look Sharp, Sharpen

As mentioned above, shrinking pictures blurs them. It is a very good idea to sharpen them at least a little afterwards. To sharpen quickly, use Adjust | Sharpen… (Ctrl+5). Then use the Sharpen window’s Overall sharpening mode, with an effect strength of 80% or less, a radius from 0.6 to 0.9, and minimal or no noise suppression. To see why we recommended the values above, experiment with some wilder ones for a bit.

Detail of Sharpening
Original left, sharpening preview right.

After resizing a picture in the Editor, save it. To keep control over compression level during saving,
use Save As… (Ctrl+Shift+S). To maximize quality, use the highest compression number
(the largest file size) you can “afford.” Use the range from 80-95 for a good size/quality compromise.

Compression level
Use Settings | Preferences… | General | Default JPEG compression to set your preferred level once
and not have to think about it again.