The best AI upscaler for Photography is Gigapixel AI. Gigapixel AI is the most reliable upscaler when it comes to enlarging complex scenes and produces the most natural-looking upscaled portraits.
But if you can afford it, Gigapixel AI’s stablemate, Topaz Photo AI, is equally as good but includes top-draw noise reduction and image sharpening. Therefore, Topaz Photo AI is broadly more practical and better able to upscale poor-quality photos.
Finally, there’s ON1 Resize AI – the fastest AI upscaler I have tested and packed with print-friendly features. Moreover, it’s very good but falls slightly behind Gigapixel AI and Topaz Photo AI when upscaling complex details. Jump to the conclusion.
The Best AI Upscalers for Photography in 2024
What is AI Upscaling
Unlike traditional upscaling, which blindly turns one pixel into many, the best AI upscalers anticipate and insert additional detail as they enlarge your image.
As a result, and as the sample below demonstrates, an AI-upscaled image often looks superior to the smaller original photo from which it was derived.
However, AI upscaling isn’t perfect, and the results vary depending on the quality and complexity of the base image. Furthermore, not all AI image upscalers are made equal – particularly regarding upscaling delicate and non-repetitive detail.
How I test AI upscaling software
I begin by taking a copy of a reference image and then shrink the copy four-fold to 25% of its original size. Then, I use an AI upscaler to enlarge the photo by 400%, thus restoring the smaller one-quarter-sized copy to its original size.
Finally, I compare the 400% upscaled image with the original full-sized reference image to see how accurate the upscale really is. As you might expect, the best AI upscaling software application is the one that gets closest to the reference image.
Why you can trust this list
As a photography enthusiast and former IT professional – I have been reviewing and testing all kinds of software for decades. Furthermore, I am affiliated with every vendor on this list, so I may receive a commission regardless of which upscaler you purchase. More than anything – I want you to get the best value for your money.
Best AI Upscaler for Photography
1. Gigapixel AI
Gigapixel AI is the best AI upscaler you can buy today. Gigapixel AI is a standalone application for PC and Mac and can be used independently of your favorite photo editor or as a plug-in for Lightroom Classic.
But critically, Gigapixel AI gives me the best results of any AI upscaling application I’ve ever tested, producing upscaled results that look superior to the original reference image.
Furthermore, Gigapixel AI offers multiple AI models optimized for image type and quality level. For instance, Gigapixel has an AI model for ‘ Very Compressed’ images and another for ‘Low Resolution’ photos.
And with the recently added Face Recovery feature, Gigapixel AI produces some of the most natural-looking upscaled portraits I’ve seen yet.
Gigapixel AI’s only weakness is its speed. Each time you make an adjustment, Gigapixel AI will pause a few seconds to re-render your image, which can grow tiresome – particularly if you’re trying out and comparing the results of multiple AI models.
Nevertheless, the wait is always worth it. Thus, if you’re looking for the best AI image upscaler outright, you’re looking for Gigapixel AI.
Read my Gigapixel AI Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.
2. Topaz Photo AI
Topaz Photo AI is much more than one of the best AI upscaling applications. Specifically, Topaz Photo AI is one of the best noise reduction software applications and can correct poorly focused and motion-blurred images.
But critically, Topaz Photo AI is just as good at upscaling images as Gigapixel AI, which isn’t surprising given both upscalers were made by Topaz Labs.
Therefore, you can expect the same reliable upscaling of complex details and delicate touch when preserving a portrait’s natural tones and features.
But, thanks to its expanded feature set, Topaz Photo AI does more than Gigapixel AI and, thus, may be more beneficial to you more often. Moreover, you can combine Topaz Photo AI’s three core features – upscaling, noise reduction, and sharpening – to produce results beyond the reach of Gigapixel AI or any other dedicated upscaler.
To demonstrate, I took my noise-ridden photo of a bird and upscaled it – first with Gigapixel AI, then with a fully enabled Topaz Photo AI. As you can see, Topaz Photo AI’s expanded feature set pays off in a big way.
Thus, Topaz Photo AI is second on this list because it costs twice as much as Gigapixel AI. Therefore, if your intent is limited to upscaling good-quality images, you might as well save some money and buy Gigapixel AI.
Read my Topaz Photo AI Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.
3. ON1 Resize AI 2023.5
ON1 Resize AI is the best AI upscaler for speed. Available as a standalone application or as part of ON1 Photo Raw 2024, there’s much to like about ON1 Resize AI.
Specifically, as you can see from the comparison below, ON1 Resize AI created upscaled versions of my images that looked superior to the original reference images.
Plus, ON1 Resize AI enjoys a few considerate peripheral features, such as a wide selection of presets, a Canvas wrap tool, and a tiling feature. Thus, it’s easy to consider ON1 Resize AI a printer’s best friend.
However, when it comes to AI image upscaling, ON1 Resize AI can’t quite keep up with Gigapixel AI. Despite the recent inclusion of a Face Recovery feature in version 2023.5, upscaled portraits don’t look as natural as those produced by Gigapixel AI and look somewhat overprocessed.
Therefore, Gigapixel AI is a more attractive option if you’re looking for a standalone AI image upscaler. However, Resize AI is an absolute bargain if you acquire it as part of ON1 Photo Raw 2024.
Read my ON1 Resize AI 2023 Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.
4. Upscale AI
Upscale AI is exclusive to Luminar Neo – perhaps the best photo editing software application for beginners and experts in a rush. As a result, Upscale AI is appreciably cheaper than standalone upscalers such as Gigapixel AI and, of course, better integrated into the Luminar Neo workflow.
Furthermore, as the sample below demonstrates, Upscale AI is excellent. While the overall result looks less refined than some of the best AI upscalers on this list, it is faithful to the original reference image.
If I were to be critical, and I suppose I should, Upscale AI does exhibit a little posterization for a very mild oil painting-like effect. However, I’m not sure you’d notice at reasonable viewing distances.
However, Upscale AI’s lighter touch does an excellent job of upscaling portraits. Despite minor posterization, the image looks rather natural and suffers none of the over-processing seen elsewhere on this list.
Overall, Upscale AI is a decent, if not remarkable, AI image upscaler that falls a little short of the best. Yet, if you are a Luminar Neo user, you might consider trading a little performance for outright convenience.
After all, bouncing your images between two separate applications is hardly optimal. But if you want the best upscaling, convenience be damned, check further up this list.
Read my Upscale AI Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.
5. Lightroom Super Resolution
As part of your Lightroom Subscription, Lightroom Super Resolution, notionally speaking, is effectively free. Furthermore, Lightroom Super Resolution is a very good upscaler. However, Super Resolution suffers from an unusual problem.
Namely, Lightroom Super Resolution is limited to 200% upscales. Thus, to upscale my test images to 400%, I had to upscale by 200%, export the upscaled image, re-import it, and then repeat the 200% upscale. While none of this was complicated, it is a process I’d not like to repeat often.
Unfortunately, the extra effort does not yield extra results. Specifically, Lightroom Super Resolution produces a result that looks good but falls short of the other upscalers on this list.
Likewise, Lightroom Super Resolution produced a good, rather than excellent, result enlarging this portrait. While Lightroom Super Resolution has done well to preserve the subject’s natural features, the image does suffer some pixelation and some minor posterization (color blotches).
Still, Super Resolution is a bargain if you already have a Lightroom subscription. But, if you upscale images often and require the best result possible, you can do better.
Read my Lightroom Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.
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Overall, if you want to buy the best AI upscaler – you have two options – Gigapixel AI and Topaz Photo AI.
Gigapixel AI is a joy to use, is reliably excellent when it comes to upscaling complex details and applies a suitably light touch when it comes to enlarging portraits. As a result, Gigapixel AI will typically produce the nicest-looking upscaled images.
Yet, Topaz Photo AI is just as good but includes some of the best noise reduction and sharpening I’ve tested. Therefore, Topaz Photo AI’s value transcends upscaling, which is good since Topaz Photo AI costs twice as much as Gigapixel AI.
However, because Topaz Photo AI is a denoiser, sharpener, and upscaler, it can produce results beyond the reach of Gigapixel AI or any other dedicated upscaler. Thus, if you want to upscale a noisy or slightly blurred image, Topaz Photo AI is in a league of its own.
ON1 Resize AI 2023.5 is the best of the rest and is an outstanding upscaler that suffers the misfortune of existing with Gigapixel AI. However, if you were to buy ON1 Photo Raw 2024, you would get ON1 Resize AI built-in, and it’s good enough not to need anything else.
The same cannot be said about Upscale AI and Lightroom Super Resolution. While these are conveniently built into Luminar Neo and Lightroom, respectively, they are good rather than excellent. Thus, if you need the best results, you may still feel compelled to buy Gigapixel AI or Topaz Photo AI.
I’ll be testing more AI upscalers in the weeks to come. Which upscaler would you like me to try next? Write a Comment.