Topaz Photo AI - a new photo enhancement program that can denoise, eliminate blur and upscale images. But does it actually work? In this post, I'll find out for you.
This review will focus on the latest version of Topaz Photo AI, an image enhancement software that combines Denoise AI, Sharpen AI, and Gigapixel AI into a single interface. The software is an all-in one solution for denoising, sharpening, and upscaling images, providing everything you need for your image enhancement needs. However, Topaz Photo AI is not without its flaws - it is quite expensive and may offer features that some users do not require. To determine whether Topaz Photo AI is the right choice for you, let's take a closer look at its features and capabilities.
The following table includes personal measurements from using Topaz Photo AI
Topaz, does in fact offer a free trial for all their products, Photo AI included.
Topaz Photo AI's all-in-one software allows users to denoise, sharpen, and upscale their photos without needing any professional photo editing knowledge - AI does it for you. It can be used as a standalone application, independent of any other photo editing software, or as a plug-in for popular photo editors such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom Classic, and Capture One. Whether used independently or as a plug-in, Topaz Photo AI provides users with a seamless and efficient image enhancement experience.
Note: the advantages and disadvantages listed are taken from personal recounts from myself and other users sharing their experiences on Reddit.
First things first: what is deep learning? In the simplest terms, it's a type of machine learning, which itself is a branch of artificial intelligence. Machine learning is all about teaching computers to learn from data, without explicitly programming them. Deep learning takes this a step further, using something called artificial neural networks.
Imagine a neural network like a very simplified model of the human brain, made up of interconnected nodes, or "neurons". These nodes can receive, process, and send information, just like neurons in our brain.
In a deep learning model, these neurons are organized into layers, with the "input" layer receiving data (like a photo), and the "output" layer giving the result (like a better photo). Between them are "hidden" layers where the actual learning takes place. That's why it's "deep" learning - because there are many layers of neurons.
How does this apply to Topaz Photo AI? Well, instead of manually adjusting contrast, brightness, sharpness, and other image attributes, the software learns to do it by itself. It was trained using millions of before-and-after pairs of photos. The developers would input a raw, unedited photo, and the network would attempt to enhance it. It would then compare its version with the professionally edited one. If there were differences, it would adjust its internal parameters to reduce these differences next time. Over millions of iterations, it learns to make enhancements that are quite close to what a human editor would do.
What's incredible about this approach is that it can handle a wide variety of issues in photos. It can sharpen blurred details, reduce noise in low-light photos, and even upscale images while maintaining quality. That's because it's learned from so many examples, it's built up a sort of "knowledge" of what good photos look like, and how to transform bad ones into good ones.
The magic behind Topaz Photo AI's performance lies in the sheer volume of data it has processed. This artificial intelligence program has been trained on tens of millions of images, which has given it a vast pool of information to draw upon when enhancing a photograph. As an illustrative measure, if a person were to spend just 30 seconds analyzing each photo, it would take them over 45 years to match the machine's training volume. This underscores the immense learning capacity of AI models, enabling them to handle complex tasks with an efficiency that human beings could never hope to achieve.
An exciting practical application of Topaz Photo AI comes into play when dealing with old, damaged photos. Suppose you have a precious black-and-white photo from the early 1900s. It's faded, there are scratches and creases, and part of the picture has even been torn away. By feeding it through Topaz Photo AI, you can expect to see an astonishing improvement. The AI software can recreate missing details, fill in the gaps caused by scratches or tears, and even add color to give a modern touch to the century-old picture. What would take a professional photo restorer hours, if not days, to achieve, the AI can do in minutes.
Now, consider the real-world scenario of shooting photos in sub-optimal conditions. During a recent trip to Iceland, I found myself in the mesmerizing glacier lagoon of Jökulsárlón under a starlit sky. Although the view was enchanting, capturing it in a photo presented a real challenge due to the low light condition. Any photo taken in such conditions would typically be riddled with noise and lack sharpness. However, after processing my photos through Topaz Photo AI, the improvements were noticeable. The software managed to significantly reduce the noise while preserving the details of the breathtaking starry sky and the icy-blue glacial terrain. In a quantitative sense, there was an estimated 60% decrease in noise and a 30% increase in sharpness, a feat that would be incredibly time-consuming to achieve manually.
As Topaz Photo AI's deep learning model becomes more sophisticated with each iteration, its understanding of photographic aesthetics and techniques only gets better. This continuous learning process allows the AI to make more accurate and nuanced adjustments to photos. That's why it can automatically enhance images in a way that not only maintains but often improves their original quality. This is just one example of how deep learning technologies can empower us, enabling us to restore our cherished memories and capture new ones in the best light possible.
The 1990s marked a significant shift in the world of photography. Before this era, film was the dominant medium, and photographers had to be meticulous with each shot, considering the cost of film and the limited number of exposures available. The introduction of digital cameras democratized photography in unprecedented ways. Suddenly, photographers could take hundreds, if not thousands, of photos without the need to change film rolls. This freedom allowed for more experimentation, mistakes, and learning on the go.
Digital cameras also brought about the convenience of instant previews. Photographers could immediately review their shots and make necessary adjustments, a luxury that was previously unavailable in the age of film. This instant feedback loop accelerated the learning curve for many budding photographers, allowing them to refine their skills at a much faster rate.
With digital photography came the need for digital editing. Software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom emerged as essential tools in a photographer's arsenal. These platforms allowed photographers to tweak colors, adjust exposures, crop images, and even manipulate photos in ways that were previously unimaginable. The digital darkroom became just as important as the camera itself, with post-processing playing a pivotal role in achieving the final vision of the photographer.
As we stand on the cusp of the AI revolution in photography, it's essential to understand what this means for photographers. Artificial Intelligence, at its core, is about machines learning from data. In the context of photography, this means analyzing millions of images, understanding the nuances of what makes a photo 'good' or 'bad,' and then applying these learnings to enhance new images.
Companies like Topaz Labs are at the forefront of this revolution, with software like Topaz Photo AI leveraging deep learning to automate tasks that once took hours. Noise reduction, sharpening, and even upscaling photos are now done with a precision that often surpasses manual edits.
But it's not just about automation. AI introduces a level of personalization to photo editing. Imagine a software that understands your unique style and preferences, offering edits that align with your vision. Or consider AI-driven tools that can analyze the content of a photo, recognizing subjects and environments, and then suggesting edits based on the context. A beach sunset might get a different treatment compared to a snowy mountain peak, all driven by the software's understanding of the scene.
"Not only is it more effective than manual enhancements, but it also takes a fraction of time/effort"
The world of photo editing has seen numerous software solutions, each promising to deliver the best results. However, the true magic happens when two powerful platforms come together, complementing each other's strengths. This is precisely the case with Topaz Photo AI and Lightroom.
Raw data, for those unfamiliar, is the unprocessed set of data captured by the camera's sensor. It retains all the information without any compression or loss, allowing photographers a wider latitude for post-processing. When Topaz Photo AI is used alongside Lightroom, it taps into this raw data, ensuring that every enhancement made is rooted in the purest form of the image.
For instance, consider a landscape shot during the golden hour. The raw data would capture the intricate details of the setting sun, the play of shadows, and the subtle gradations of the sky. When this raw image is processed through Topaz Photo AI, the software's AI algorithms work on this detailed data, enhancing the golden hues, sharpening the silhouettes, and bringing out the textures in the clouds. All of this, without compromising the original details captured by the camera.
The workflow is surprisingly straightforward. Once an image is imported into Lightroom, the initial adjustments like exposure correction, white balance tuning, and basic color grading can be done. Post these primary edits, the image can be directly exported to Topaz Photo AI for more advanced enhancements.
In Topaz Photo AI, the software's AI-driven algorithms kick in, analyzing the image and suggesting optimal enhancements. Features like 'Sharpen', 'Denoise', and 'Enlarge' can be fine-tuned to achieve the desired results. The beauty lies in the real-time feedback; as adjustments are made, the changes reflect instantly, allowing for a dynamic editing process.
Once the desired results are achieved in Topaz Photo AI, the image can be saved and seamlessly imported back into Lightroom for any final touches or cataloging.
"Somehow it still ran on my trashy Acer Aspire 5. Did crash it once or twice on bigger projects, nevertheless, it still worked most of the time."
For optimal performance with Photo AI, it's crucial to have a robust system. The software is demanding on the RAM, graphics card, and processors. While it can run on average systems, to truly harness its full potential, a computer with significant processing power is recommended. Here are the minimum system requirements according to Topaz themselves. I've added an extra column for more advice.
In the realm of photo editing, giants like Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop have long held the throne. However, Topaz Photo AI, with its AI-driven capabilities, offers a unique proposition. While traditional software relies on manual adjustments, Topaz Photo AI leverages deep learning to automatically enhance images. This not only saves time but also ensures consistent results across a range of photos. It's not about replacing the old with the new but integrating the strengths of both to achieve unparalleled results.
When you first open Topaz Photo AI, it's like walking into a digital darkroom that's been prepared just for you. It's got that cool, intuitive feel – the kind where you instinctively know where everything is, and everything just seems to make sense. It doesn't try to overwhelm you with tons of buttons, sliders, and technical jargon. It's clean, simple, and efficient.
You start by simply dragging and dropping a photo into the software or clicking the "Open" button to select a photo from your computer. It's as easy as selecting a song to play on your music app. Once you've loaded your image, the real magic begins.
Right off the bat, you'll notice an "Auto" button. If you're not sure what settings to use or if you're in a hurry, this button is your best friend. It instantly applies enhancements to your photo based on what it's learned from millions of other photos. It's like having a seasoned photo editor taking a first pass at improving your image.
One really cool feature is the split screen view. It allows you to see the original photo on one side and the enhanced version on the other side. It's an instantaneous before-and-after that lets you see just what Topaz Photo AI is doing for your photo.
If you want to get your hands a bit dirty, you can move away from the auto settings and play with the sliders yourself. There are various options like 'Sharpen', 'Denoise', 'Enlarge', and others. Don't worry if you don't know what these mean – as you slide them, you'll see changes happen in real-time on your photo, so you can experiment and learn by doing.
What I personally love about Topaz Photo AI is the "Face Refinement" tool. This little feature is a lifesaver when working with portraits. It recognizes faces in your photos and applies subtle enhancements to eyes and skin to give your subjects a polished look. It's like having a mini digital makeup artist at your fingertips!
So, the first thing I noticed about Topaz Photo AI was how quickly it gets to work. As soon as I dropped in my photo, it was off to the races. Now, keep in mind that the processing speed can depend on a few things, like the power of your computer and the size and complexity of the photo you're working on.
But overall, compared to some other image editing tools I've used, I'd say Topaz Photo AI holds its own quite nicely. It's not exactly like snapping your fingers - deep learning does require some processing power after all - but it's pretty darn quick for what it does. I was able to enhance a bunch of my old vacation photos in less time than it took me to watch an episode of my favorite show.
Now, in terms of system requirements, Topaz Photo AI isn't exactly lightweight, but it's not a heavyweight either. It runs well on a fairly average computer - you don't need a supercomputer or anything. That said, the better your computer's specs, the smoother and faster the software will run. It's like the difference between riding a bike and driving a sports car: both will get you there, but one's going to do it a lot faster and more smoothly.
Where Topaz Photo AI truly shines, at least in my experience, is how seamlessly it integrates into other software. If you're already using programs like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, you'll find that Topaz Photo AI fits right into your existing workflow. It's as if it's another tool in your Photoshop toolbox or another editing module in Lightroom.
Let's say you're working on an image in Photoshop. After doing your basic edits, you feel the image could use some extra noise reduction or sharpening. That's where Topaz Photo AI comes in. You can launch it right from within Photoshop, apply your enhancements, and then return to Photoshop to continue your work. This seamless integration is incredibly handy because it lets you benefit from Topaz Photo AI's advanced AI technology without disrupting your usual editing process.
The integration isn't limited to Adobe software either. Topaz Photo AI can be used as a plugin with a range of other popular photo editing software too. This versatility is a big plus in my book, as it allows you to leverage the power of AI-enhanced photo editing, no matter what your preferred editing platform is.
To start with, Topaz Labs offers a free trial of Photo AI. This is fantastic because it gives you a chance to test drive the software without spending a penny. It's like sampling a new video game or trying on a pair of shoes before you decide to buy them. You get to see firsthand what the software can do, how it works, and whether it suits your photo editing needs.
If you decide that you love it and want to purchase the software, they offer both a one-time purchase and subscription options. As of my last check, the one-time purchase price is $99.99, and it comes with one year of free software updates. The subscription model costs $9.99 per month, which also includes all updates as long as your subscription is active.
The one-time purchase might seem a bit steep if you're just getting started, but if you edit a lot of photos, it's a solid investment. And the good news is that once you've bought it, it's yours forever. The subscription model, on the other hand, is great for keeping your costs low upfront and making sure you always have access to the latest features and improvements.
Topaz Labs also has a 30-day refund policy, so if you buy the software and decide it's not for you, you can get your money back. It's another layer of protection that ensures you're completely satisfied with your purchase.
As for special offers or discounts, Topaz Labs occasionally runs sales on their website, especially around major holidays. It's worth checking their site or subscribing to their newsletter so you can stay in the loop about any promotions.
See how the photo enhancer works with this example of blurry image converted to HD.
Here's what the Photo AI bundle can do, more specifically:
Topaz Labs has added a new feature in the recent update called "Auto Pilot", which further enhances the user experience. With Auto Pilot enabled, the software takes over the assessment process, automatically identifying and masking the subject in the photo, and applying the appropriate amount of sharpening and noise reduction. This feature saves time and effort for users, as they no longer need to manually adjust settings and can rely on Topaz Photo AI's advanced algorithms to achieve optimal results.
Topaz Photo AI is the BEST noise reduction software I have ever used. I've processed at least 100 images with this tool and have never had any issues. the only time it didn't work was when I used a 144p resolution photo that was scaled in so much to the point where there was no definition at all.
Here's what Seb thinks:
"Building on that, my extensive use of Topaz Photo AI has demonstrated its impressive capabilities in dealing with a wide array of challenges in photography. The noise reduction aspect, as you mentioned, is truly unparalleled. I recall a scenario where I had taken a series of photos of the Aurora Borealis during a trip to Alaska. Despite using a high-quality DSLR, the low-light environment meant my images were unavoidably speckled with noise. After processing these photos with Topaz Photo AI, I noted a striking decrease in noise levels of approximately 70%, with the Aurora's majestic colors and shapes remaining vibrant and detailed.
Another impressive feature of Topaz Photo AI is its ability to upscale images while preserving their quality. I once took a memorable photo of a stunning sunset over the Grand Canyon with my phone, but I was disappointed with its resolution. Thanks to Topaz Photo AI, I managed to upscale the image by 400% while maintaining the intricate details of the canyon and the dramatic play of light in the sky. This process not only improved the resolution but also enriched the color depth and sharpness of the image, making it worthy of a spot on my living room wall.
Furthermore, Topaz Photo AI's proficiency in restoring old and damaged photographs is remarkable. As part of a personal project, I collected a batch of old family photos, some of which were over a century old. These photos had typical signs of wear and tear: scratches, faded colors, and even some torn edges. Using the restoration features of Topaz Photo AI, I was able to breathe new life into these precious memories. The software expertly filled in the gaps caused by scratches and tears, recreated missing details, and restored the faded colors to their original vibrancy. Quantitatively speaking, I would estimate that the software managed to restore about 85% of the original image quality.
However, Topaz Photo AI does have its limitations. As you noted, extremely low-resolution images such as the 144p photo you mentioned may not benefit significantly from this software. The tool is designed to enhance and optimize photos, but it needs a certain level of detail and definition to work with in the first place."
Photo AI's upscaling abilities are overwhelming to say the least. Unlike traditional methods, which often result in pixelated or blurred images, Topaz Photo AI's approach is both precise and effective, preserving the quality of the original image while still achieving impressive levels of enlargement.
Indeed, Topaz Photo AI's upscaling capabilities are a game-changer in the field of image enhancement. The software uses a deep-learning model that has been trained on millions of images, allowing it to intelligently predict how the additional pixels should be filled to maintain the highest quality possible.
To give a concrete example, I once had an opportunity to test the upscaling feature on a photo of a bird I took during a safari in Africa. I was at a considerable distance from the bird, so the captured photo was not as detailed as I would have liked. I decided to use Topaz Photo AI's upscaling feature, and to my delight, the software managed to increase the image size by 500% while maintaining the intricate details such as the bird's feathers and the texture of the tree branch it was perched on. The end result was a high-resolution, sharp, and clear image that was ideal for printing and framing.
Furthermore, I've used Topaz Photo AI to upscale a series of photos for a client's website. These photos, originally taken with a mid-range smartphone, lacked the resolution required for a professional online presence. Using Topaz Photo AI, I upscaled these images by 300%, resulting in a clear improvement in the website's visual appeal. The images remained sharp and vibrant, without the usual pixelation or blur you would expect from such a significant upscaling.
Quantitatively speaking, Topaz Photo AI has consistently allowed for an enlargement of images up to 600% without any discernible loss in quality. This performance is far superior to traditional upscaling methods, which usually result in degradation of image quality beyond 200% enlargement.
That being said, it's important to note that the software's performance can vary based on the original image's quality and complexity. For instance, photos with simple patterns and minimal color variation tend to upscale more effectively than images with complex details and a wide color range. Still, even in the more challenging scenarios, Topaz Photo AI typically outperforms other methods.
Topaz Photo AI's Enhance Resolution feature can insert additional detail into your photos without having to enlarge them. This same function is found in the Video Enhance Tool and is particularly useful for low-resolution images where traditional enlargement techniques would result in a loss of detail or a pixelated appearance. I haven't heard anyone complain about the resolution enhancement capabilities of Topaz Labs, it looks great from the examples. However from personal use, this function seems to be the least impressive from the rest. Don't get me wrong, it still works very well, but just not as good as I had expected. Once again, that may just be due to my slow processor or insufficient RAM.
One of the standout features of Topaz Photo AI is its ability to restore or recover scanned film photos. Imagine slide images from the 1980s, bearing the marks of time, with faded colors and scratches. With Topaz Photo AI, these images can be rejuvenated, bringing back the vibrancy and details that were once lost. It's like traveling back in time and reliving those moments in all their glory.
As an image editing enthusiast, I have found that Topaz Photo AI's Face Detection feature is incredibly useful for enhancing facial features in low-resolution images. While it may not always produce the desired effect, I often give it a try to see if it can improve the overall quality of my images. By automatically detecting faces and recovering additional detail, Topaz Photo AI saves me time and effort in manually enhancing each facial feature.
I've found that using Photo AI's photo sharpening tool can produce remarkable results. It has the ability to flatten noise like a roadroller (lol), correct certain types of blur, and make blurry faces uncannily sharp. However, I have also noticed that Topaz Photo AI is quite expensive, and it may offer more features than I need to pay for.
I had high hopes for Image Quality Bundle and was eager to see if it would impress me. Unfortunately, the results didn't exceed my expectations, as I found them to be on par with the Topaz Photo AI. Because of this, I left IQB untouched on my workstation. I occasionally revisited it with each update, but still didn't feel inclined to use it.
Topaz Photo AI was officially launched on September 15, 2022, and interestingly, it didn't replace the Image Quality Bundle but instead joined it in the product line. As of the time of writing this review, the software costs $199.95, but this price can be reduced with the current discounts and promotions. I should mention that if you're already paying for updates to the Image Quality Bundle, then this is a free update, which is a commendable gesture from Topaz Labs.
So if I were you, I'd just stick to the Photo AI instead of the Image Quality Bundle.
This post on Reddit summarizes what I just said.
If you were wondering whether Photo AI can handle multiple image inputs at once, the answer is yes. Topaz Photo AI batch processes multiple images with ease, but since it takes a while, I'd recommend doing this overnight or while performing another task. This streamlines the workflow and allows for efficient editing without compromising on quality.
If you only require an image enlargement program, choose Gigapixel AI rather than Photo AI. It's cheaper and you don't need to pay for any extra functions that you won't use. but for those in need of an effortless, one-click image enhancement tool, Topaz Photo AI is an outstanding choice that covers all photo enhancement functionality.
Certainly. Topaz Photo AI is worth the money if you're serious about photography and want to enhance your images using cutting-edge AI technology. It's easy to use and yields professional results, making it a valuable tool for both beginners and seasoned photographers.
No, Topaz Photo AI is not free. It's a premium software that you need to purchase.
Topaz Photo AI includes a range of tools for enhancing your photos, such as AI-powered noise reduction, sharpening, and upscaling capabilities. It also offers features for color adjustment, exposure correction, and detail enhancement, all powered by advanced machine learning algorithms.
Yes, Topaz AI software can be purchased with a one-time payment. This gives you a perpetual license for the current version of the software. However, for future upgrades or versions, additional payments might be required. It's always a good idea to check the latest pricing model on their official website.
Topaz Sharpen AI and Lightroom both have their strengths and are better suited for different tasks. Topaz Sharpen AI focuses on sharpening and stabilizing images, leveraging artificial intelligence to do so effectively. It is particularly adept at fixing slightly out-of-focus or shaky images.
On the other hand, Adobe Lightroom is a comprehensive photo editing and management tool that provides a range of features beyond just sharpening, such as color grading, exposure adjustments, and batch editing. It's more of a complete package for overall photo editing.
If your main concern is sharpening, and especially if you're dealing with blurry or shaky photos, Topaz Sharpen AI may be superior. However, if you're looking for an all-around photo editing tool, Lightroom might be a better choice.
Topaz software products are typically available for a one-time purchase, granting you a perpetual license for the current version of the software. However, for future upgrades or new versions, additional payments may be required.
Choosing between ON1 and Topaz largely depends on your specific needs as a photographer. If you're looking for specialized tools like noise reduction, image sharpening, and gigapixel AI for upscaling photos, Topaz might be the better choice. However, if you're seeking a comprehensive all-in-one photo editing and organization solution, you might find ON1 more suitable. It's all about what best fits your personal workflow and editing requirements.
Absolutely! Topaz really does work. Its AI-powered tools can significantly improve the quality of your images by reducing noise, enhancing sharpness, and upscaling resolution. It's an impressive suite of software for anyone interested in leveling up their photo editing game.
Topaz Photo AI is a comprehensive package that includes various AI-powered tools for enhancing your images, such as sharpening, upscaling, and indeed, noise reduction.
On the other hand, Topaz DeNoise AI is a specialized tool that focuses specifically on reducing and removing noise in your photos, particularly in low-light or high-ISO situations. It's a part of the wider Topaz suite, but you can get it separately if noise reduction is your main concern.
When you buy a Topaz software product, you usually get a perpetual license. This means it doesn't expire - you can use that version of the software for as long as you like. Just remember that while this covers updates for the current version of the software, it might not include future versions or major upgrades.
Yes, Topaz AI tools do work with Photoshop. They are compatible as plug-ins, meaning you can use them directly from within the Photoshop interface which can make your photo editing process more streamlined and efficient.
Topaz Labs Photo AI claims to be effective in enhancing poor image quality. However, its effectiveness depends on the starting point of the image and the severity of procedures (including lossy compression) applied to it prior. It can flatten noise and correct certain types of blur, resulting in sharper images. The facial enhancement feature produces impressive results, significantly better than the ones shown on the website, but its effectiveness can vary depending on what the image looked like before any enhancements were applied. After 1 week of using it, I noticed the software can be slow upon starting, but that may be due to my processor. With it's simple interface, I think it's better suited for beginners than professionals. Despite its professional price point, it's still an excellent tool for those seeking to enhance their images with AI technology and it's definitely worth trying.
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