Topaz Labs AI Software – Sharpen, Denoise, Gigapixel, PhotoAI

Topaz labs have made a range of specialist image processing software over the years. Their focus has become AI (“artificial intelligence”) based tools. There are lots of detailed reviews on the web, so I will just do a quick overview of my thoughts on these.

Topaz makes the programs free to download to try out, so give them a go if you think they might be useful to you.

These tools all use a lot of computing power. If you have a computer with small memory and a low powered graphics processor, they can be slow. I recently upgraded my computer to 32 GB RAM and a nVidia 3080 graphics card, and now the programs run quite fast (though far from instantaneous… the programs to a lot of computing).

Topaz Sharpen can do a remarkable job, particularly with things that were in the training AI models. Faces and feathers are good examples. It has separate models that are trained for focus/lens blur and motion blur. If all you have is a tiny bit of unsharpness, it can do an excellent job of sharpening without obvious halos etc. It won’t work well for everything, and sometimes it generates some undesirable artifacts, but, overall, it is a very useful tool to have. The program can automatically detect a subject and sharpen just that, and there are manual controls to assist in subject selection.

Below is an example of a photo of a swan that I grabbed as it flew overhead (resized image in the left panel). The camera was set at 1/400 sec, so there is quite a bit of motion blur that is visible in the crop in the middle panel. After work using Topaz Sharpen, and some adjustments to the lighting in Photoshop, shown in the crop on the right, the image is dramatically improved. Click the individual images to see the original 100% crops – WordPress will likely have resized the images for your screen and interpolated the pixels in the resize.

Topaz Denoise also does a good job. It also has a number of different models to handle different levels/types of noise Here is an example, a crop of a Gang Gang Cockatoo that I took at 12,800 ISO (600mm, f6,3,1/1000sec). Click the individual images to see the original 100% crop.

Topaz Gigapixel can be useful to rescue those images where you simply couldn’t get close enough to fill the viewfinder with the subject, or if you need to make a HUGE print. Or maybe you need something for a composite and your only image is too small. Here is an example of some bathers a long long way away on a beach – the left image shows the enlarged (pixelated) original and the right is after gigapixel enlarged it 4x (original crop, no lighting adjustments, was 206 x 119 px, After gigapixel it was 824 x 476 px; below is an image compare, slide the middle divider left or right).

Note that because Gigapixel AI resizes images it does not show up as a Filter in Photoshop, whilst sharpen, denoise and photoAI do.

Topaz Photo AI combines all 3 of these into a single package with an AI autopilot mode so you can just add your photo and let it do all of the “thinking”. It seems to be quicker than the individual stand-alone tools, but I suspect it may use a cut-down subset of the AI models to speed the processing (or maybe they rewrote the code to make it faster). One reviewer who reported on a direct comparison found the stand alone apps could produce better results but these packages are continuouly being updated, so it may be test for you to download a free trial and see how they work for you.

Topaz Labs also make several other applications including for video processing

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