Many cameras now include a High Res mode that combines multiple exposures to create a single high-megapixel image – thus enabling a 20-megapixel camera to capture 80-megapixel photos.
Sounds great, but do High Resolution Modes work? To find out, I grabbed my OM-1 and took some test photos. Suffice it to say; I was surprised with the result. Jump to Conclusion
Testing High Res Shot Mode with the OM-1
I am testing High-Resolution modes using the OM-1’s High Res Shot feature for two reasons. First, the 20-megapixel OM-1 allows you to capture 50-megapixel photos handheld. No tripod is required.
Second, the OM-1 constructs the 50-megapixel image in-camera, so there’s no need to use external software. As a result, the OM-1’s High Res Shot is extremely practical and an entirely reasonable alternative to single-exposure photography for capturing static scenes and objects.
Limitations High Resolution Modes
High Resolution modes work by combining a number of single exposures to create a single high-resolution composite image. As a result, each single exposure needs to look almost identical.
For this reason, High-Resolution modes are unsuitable for photographing moving subjects since each exposure will differ from the next. It’s worth noting that this may change in the future, but High Resolution Modes are best used for photographing static scenes and subjects.
High Resolution Mode Tested
I took two near-identical photos of some shells. One is a standard, single-exposure 20-megapixel image. The other is a 50-megapixel handheld high-res shot. Let’s see how they compare.
High Res Shot vs Standard
So we’ve learned that a 50-megapixel image is larger than a 20-megapixel image. However, it’s not clear whether the 50-megapixel image is any more detailed.
High Res Shot vs Enlarged Standard
I used Photoshop to do a standard bicubic enlargement of the 20-megapixel image to 50-megapixels. Now the size of each image is matched.
The enlarged standard image is as detailed as the High Res shot and even looks sharper. However, the sharpening is entirely down to image processing rather than a meaningful difference detail. Nevertheless, this is not a good advert for the OM-1’s High Resolution Mode.
High Res Shot vs Gigapixel AI
As the old saying goes, Bicubic resizing is for Dinosaurs. So how does the OM-1’s High Res Shot mode compare with Gigapixel AI, one of the best AI upscaling software applications I’ve tested? Read Gigapixel AI Review.
Gigapixel AI produces the best-looking version of this photo yet. However, the difference appears to be in processing – rather than any increase in resolution or detail. Regardless, the OM-1’s 50-megapixel High Res Shot mode has failed to differentiate itself from a digitally enlarged 20-megapixel image.
High Res Shot Tested – Noise
So far, it looks like High Res Shot Mode is Photograhy Snake Oil. But what about photo noise? After all, one of the alleged benefits of the High Res Shot modes is noise repression since eight shots gather more light than one.
But does it work? To find out, I took an ISO2000 picture of my bookcase.
High Res Shot vs Enlarged Standard Photo
The OM-1’s High Res Shot produced a far cleaner image than the enlarged 20-megapixel exposure.
High Res Shot vs Gigapixel AI
One of the reasons why Gigapixel AI is the best AI upscaler is that it also enhances detail and reduces noise. But in this case, the noise reduction has led to some posterization, also known as the oil painting look.
When I saw this result, I loaded the image into Topaz Photo AI and tried multiple combinations of upscaling, sharpening, and noise reduction. However, each image suffered from that unnatural wax-like effect that over-processing is known for. Overall, this is a win for the High Res Shot image.
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High-Resolution modes are a mixed bag. Some require a Tripod, others require external software, and some require both. As a result, many high-resolution modes are too awkward to be practical.
But cameras such as the OM-1 require neither. Simply hold your camera, turn on High Res Shot, and press the shutter release. In other words, it’s no more difficult than taking a normal photo.
But does High Res Shot mode work? Well, sort of. After repeated efforts, I’m not convinced the OM-1’s 50-megapixel images are any more detailed than an enlarged 20-megapixel image. Thus, on these terms, the OM-1’s High-Resolution mode is reduced to a convenient way to make a larger image of equivalent detail.
However, the OM-1’s High Res Shot mode effectively reduces noise. Thus, if you’re out late taking photos of static things – it’s worth turning on the High Res mode entirely for the sake of noise reduction.
Overall, the OM-1’s High Res Shot mode is more a nice-to-have than a revolution. Yet, I’ll continue to use it because it’s so well implemented. But if you’re looking for 250% more detail, you’ll be disappointed.