Not too long ago I was praising Topaz Labs on this blog for having reinvented themselves. I had noticed a huge improvement in their AI software and was impressed by the results. Then yesterday I received an email that there was a new major update to DeNoise AI. Excellent I thought and wondered what improvements there would be. But the shocker came when I read the email detail, telling me that I needed to buy an annual license to receive the update.
So, here’s my dilemma. I purchased my DeNoise license quite a few years ago (probably 10 years if I’m honest). At the time the Topaz website said that buying a license entitled you to free updates for life. Now I’m required to buy an annual license to get the update.
Do I upgrade or not?
Now you could argue that DeNoise AI is a new product and the old DeNoise product has been retired. But ultimately, they both do the same thing. Apparently, Topaz announced the change of licensing in the spring although this is the first that I’ve heard about it.
For some reason, I feel cheated by this even though I know that I’ve received tremendous value from the free updates in the past.
But I also have a nagging worry. Topaz Labs has/is shifting some of its other products to the annual licensing model. This includes Gigapixel, Mask AI and Sharpener AI, all of which I own. The cost of the new annual license for DeNoise AI is $49 but then what about the other products. That would present me with a sizeable bill that I don’t think I can justify.
Now let’s look at the alternative view that’s also nagging at me.
Software development requires a lot of investment, especially if we want cutting edge, excellent products. It was always beyond my comprehension how Topaz Labs could continue for so long with their old model. It required them to constantly find a new stream of customers which is very costly. They also released regular updates that were valuable (unlike some of their competitors). If we want good companies to survive and thrive, they need a recurring revenue stream.
As for the AI-based products like DeNoise and Sharpen AI, they are quite literally in a different league. I now tend to use DeNoise AI or Sharpen AI on all my images where I want a full resolution (or higher) image. I NEED THIS SOFTWARE.
So, what do I do?
Do I pay the annual license fee and get the upgrade? But then it could cost me a lot to upgrade all my products each year.
Or do I just keep using the existing software which I love? But then I could be missing out on something great.
I’ve published an update to this post with further developments.
The Friday Image
As for the image, this is one I recently captured in Blackpool where I experienced a sunset of what I can only describe to be “biblical proportions”. This image of a dogwalker on the beach was shortly after sunset when the light turned everything pink and there was a lovely soft haze.
I shot the image handheld using the Fuji X-T3 with Fuji 18-135 lens at 60mm. The exposure is 1/18” at f/7.1 and ISO400. I didn’t need to use any filters because the light was everywhere, making the scene quite well balanced.
I hope you like the image and have a great weekend. And if you have any thoughts about my upgrade dilemma, please leave a comment below.