Topaz Reinvented Themselves Whilst I wasn’t Looking

Formby Beach
Formby Beach, Fuji X-T3 with Fuji 55-200 lens at 55mm. Tripod mounted exposure of 1/4″ at f/13 and ISO160.

I started using Topaz a long time ago; probably around 2008 but my memory seems to be fading. At the time I was impressed and over the intervening years I purchased quite a few other Topaz plug-ins. I found Black and White Effects, Detail, DeNoise and Clarity particularly good and I loved the lifetime license model. Every time they launched a new version of a plugin, I had a free upgrade.

Then Topaz launched Topaz Studio and there was a shift in focus to AI or artificial intelligence. I found the plug-ins I loved replaced by new AI versions or consigned to the “legacy” bin. I tried the free (at the time) version of Studio but it seemed like a way of selling add on filters and most weren’t as good as the now legacy plug-ins. But it was trying the new AI versions of some plug-ins that finally made up my mind. AI was a marketing gimmick.

My negative view of AI was reinforced when I tested Gigapixel AI around 12 months ago and found it almost unusable. Despite this I continued to hear good things, and then Topaz released Gigapixel AI 4. I downloaded a trial version of the software and was blown away by my results. Here’s the article with some of my tests.

Then recently a good friend shared some of his work, telling me he used Topaz Studio for the editing and saying how much he liked it. Given my Gigapixel experience, I decided to take a fresh look at Topaz Studio. Whilst I’m still learning the software, I found myself liking it a lot. It was Topaz Studio that I used to edit the image above and I’ve completely changed my view of Topaz. You can read my latest thoughts about Topaz Studio on Lenscraft.

Ultimately, I’ve ended up purchasing all the latest Topaz plug-ins (except for Video Enhance AI). Fortunately, I had a free upgrade to a few of these because of the old lifetime license promise (it’s nice to see them continuing with this).

I had thought that I was quite open-minded when it came to photo editing software, but this story probably shows otherwise. I’ve decided I need to investigate more and judge less in the future. And Dave, sorry for not listening to you.

As for the image, this is Formby Beach shortly after sunrise. It was January, bitterly cold and incredibly windy. Despite the conditions I managed a few shots I like but this looked like a failure. It’s only now that I’ve managed to bring out the pink hue in the sky that I find it growing on me.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

2 thoughts on “Topaz Reinvented Themselves Whilst I wasn’t Looking

  1. The more I use Topaz Denoise AI (with optional Clear Mode) and Sharpen AI (modes: Sharpen, Stabilize and Focus) and also Topaz Adjust AI, the more impressed I am with these products. Some will complain that they get artifacts, and this is sometimes true. But this also depends upon the image. For instance, on one image, Sharpen AI may have artifacts using Stabilize Mode, but none using Sharpen or Focus Modes. Another image may favor another mode. If there is much noise, Denoise AI is best. With less noise, Denoise AI using Clear Mode may be best and this mode also leaves an image a little sharper.

    Or if an image mostly needs sharpening, Sharpen AI – Sharpen Mode may be best. If you need to improve the focus, or slightly widen the DOF, then Sharpen AI – Focus Mode is best. Or if some camera shake is present, Sharpen AI – Stabilize Mode is best. Things that can be overcome is you might open a lens too wide and find the image too soft. This can be corrected. Or the edges may be too soft, and this can be improved too.

    When you pick the correct product for your particular need, the results are absolutely incredible.

    And Adjust AI can also really improve an image. Comes with a number of presets, and of course you only need the preset as a starting point. Like other software with presets, I tend to pick only a few that I like, and ignore the rest.

    One tip: If you are starting with Lightroom, I find setting the default sharpening to ‘0’ is best and to allow Topaz to do all the sharpening when you call Topaz as an external editor. You can also use Topaz products on Photoshop Layers, which is the way I like to use it. I tend to favor only using Denoise or Sharpening one time on an image and not going back after Denoising and then doing Sharpening. Some people differ on this, but I tend to like just one application best.

    1. Thanks for adding the information Jim. There are some great ideas and advice here. I haven’t explored a lot of the tools I bought yet so I’m looking forward to that. I did some initial tests earlier with JPEG to RAW using some images I shot on my phone. The initial results are looking very promising. I even ran one of the shots through Gigapixel to produce an image that I could print at 30″. All I can say is wow!

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