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Topaz JPEG to RAW AI review

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Topaz JPEG to RAW AI image conversion software

Improve JPEG file quality and editing capability


Topaz JPEG to RAW AI image conversion software takes image files in JPEG format and processes them into files with a deeper bit depth and wider gamut colour space.

As with some other recent Topaz products, such as GigaPixel AI, the processing is driven via a machine learning process involving the processing of many thousands of sample images.

Time to print some of those old phone photos?

Keith has had a look at a pre-release version of the software, and has some review notes about its functionality.

Software info at Topaz

The software is normally $99.99 but has an initial discount to $79.99

topaz-jp2raw

There is a free 30 day demo of Topaz JPEG to RAW available

Use our 15% discount code ‘Northlight’ for a specially reduced price if you buy (not valid with some other discounts).

JPEG to RAW

Topaz have just announced a new software package that is aimed at making improving the quality of JPEG files.

Key features are listed as:

  • Recover shadow / highlight detail and expand dynamic range
  • Expand bit depth from 8-bit to 16-bit, color space from sRGB to ProPhoto
  • Remove JPEG compression artifacts
  • Fix some common issues caused by small sensors or low camera quality, like noise / chromatic aberration
  • Convert the actual file format to DNG (or TIFF)

Full details are available on the Topaz web site

A quick look

The installer loads the relevant files and leaves a stand-alone application.

installer

Remember that I’m testing a beta version here, so the final version will differ in some details.

The software takes a simple load/settings/output workflow – you can just drop files on the window if you like.

Click on images to enlarge

Output formats are either DNG or TIFF

set-output

Apart from setting where you want the image output sent to, the only setting to adjust is the normal/high noise/blur setting.

This is something you’ll have to experiment with to get a feel for how your images are handled. Fortunately there’s a fully functional 30 day demo of the software available from Topaz

Using the software

A large file can take several minutes to process, depending on the speed of your computer and graphics card.

By default the software will use the graphics card (if supported) but will fall back to CPU operation if need be.

This JPEG file was taken in 2003 with a 1,3MP Olympus C1400XL – this is the file from the camera (click to see it at its majestic 1280 x 1024 full res…)

Room picture

After a few minutes (on my old MacBook, so no GPU), this 738k sRGB file is available as a 7.9MB TIFF file.

Here’s a screen shot of both files open (in Photoshop) at 100%

processed file

The DNG files produced can be opened in many RAW file converters.

This photo was originally taken in 1999 on the C1400XL – after processing, I’ve opened it in Adobe camera RAW in Photoshop CS6 – you may find adjustments easier and quicker to make, in processing the DNG files (with Lightroom for example).

open-dng-file

Another example

This image was taken with a Sony S500 camera, whilst flying back from San Francisco in 2007. The lake in the distance is Mono Lake.

mountain view from above

The image is small enough that I can post the full resolution version JPEG, although the processed version (as a TIFF) is 37MB.

I’ve converted it back to sRGB and JPEG for display here. The processed version is distinctly sharper and has lost the slight chromatic aberration of the original. As a 16 bit image it was easy to correct for some of the sky haze, but the version here is simply the TIFF converted for display.

mountain view from above - processed

Thoughts…

This is beta software, so I’ll reserve final thoughts on image quality, but it works well nonetheless.

I don’t actually have many JPEG files I need to work on, since I’ve only really shot RAW format since taking photography up seriously in 2003 and rarely carry a mobile phone with me.  Of course, you may have files from phones in JPEG format that you’d like to work on and print.

One thing to remember is that converting from 8 bit sRGB to 16 bit Prophoto doesn’t of itself give you any extra colour or detail in the image. However, once you try and edit the file, the deeper bit depth and larger colour space can give smoother edits. Given the software also addresses noise and compression artefacts, your new file may be much more amenable to adjustment.

Many years ago I realised that when converting colour JPEG files to B&W it helped first converting them to 16 bit [8/16 bit B&W conversion]. You only need to apply an adjustment curve to an 8 bit image to see the effect on the histogram. One slight adjustment probably won’t cause problems, but try two or three and you run the risk

8 bit originalAfter a simple adjustment, such as a curve,  the differences in the histogram for an 8 bit image can be quite obvious.

This could easily show up as posterisation, especially in the shadows, where gamma encoding of image data means there is less data to start with.

16 bit originalThe 16 bit image, with more levels to  work with, will still show problems with extreme edits, but usually handles things better.

A useful tool?

JPEG to RAW AI could be a really useful tool for getting prints from some of those important phone pics you’ve kept sitting around.

It’s an interesting piece of software that gives a feel for how image processing is advancing.

If you have pictures only as jpegs and wish they could be more easily edited, give JPEG to RAW a go with the free 30 Day version from Topaz

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2 Comments
  • DrJon | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    For old images I tend to start in Neat Image 8 if there’s any noise, save as a 16-bit TIF and move to Franzis’ Sharpen Projects Pro, which has some amazingly handy things it can do to images as well as being a great deconvolution sharpener (possibly the only really good deconvolution sharpener, although it does need the defaults when you hit Auto turned down, especially sharpening and haze reduction). Then into Photoshop and maybe a Colour Lookup layer or two… :-)
    BTW if you plan to give SPP a try yell and I’ll point out a few things.

  • Tom Frerichs | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    This utility isn’t just for phone pictures.
    As a bit of fun, I’ve been using the Panasonic 12.5mm f/12 3d lens to take stills for later printing as Holmes (stereopticon) slides. I’ve enjoyed playing around with a very old viewing process, and later this year I am planning on trying to match some of the WH Jackson stereopticon slides that have come down in the family.
    When the lens is attached to my Panasonic GX7, the camera immediately goes into “3d mode” and saves the images as an .MPO file.* While I can unpack that into JPEGs, everything, such as white balance and sharpening, is baked in.
    I tried this Topaz utility midway in my work flow: convert *.mpo into stereo jpeg, run JPEG to RAW AI, process resulting file in ACR, then return it to the 3d application for printing. I must say that the results have been very good, certainly compared to trying to adjust the JPEG directly.
    Tom Frerichs
    * I am aware that there are work-arounds for this lens, such as covering the contacts with tape. I’d rather not.

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