Topaz Denoise AI new software review
Review: Topaz Denoise AI
Image noise reduction software
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DeNoise AI is a new software application from Topaz aimed at reducing noise, but not at the cost of removing image detail. It can run as a standalone application, or, as tested here, a Photoshop plugin.
You can get a 30 day free demo of the software from Topaz
Use our 15% discount code ‘Northlight’ for a price reduction on full price offers
See update info below
Update Jan 2020
Topaz have released a new version of DeNoise AI, which offers improved noise reduction with more control over settings. It also gains a batch processing option for more efficient processing of larger collections of photos. 30 day free demo of the software from Topaz
From Jan 24th 2020 to Feb 7th it’s also on sale at reduced price [Code BATCH15]
The DeNoise AI software replaces several earlier Topaz noise reduction software packages.
- All existing users of both Topaz DeNoise and AI Clear will receive DeNoise AI for free.
- Remove Noise pro adjustment owners can upgrade to DeNoise AI for an additional $20 off
- Customers will no longer be able to purchase Topaz DeNoise, AI Clear, or Remove Noise
For more info about noise reduction, see also my review of Topaz AI Clear. The new software replaces this and is somewhat simpler to use.
Running the software
The software is installed using an online installer, where it will automatically install the latest version of the software.
Here, I’m just looking at running it as a Photoshop plugin, which, as the startup screen shows, has relatively few options.
If you’re using it in Photoshop, there is a welcome warning message if you’re not using it on a new layer.
One of the strengths of this sort of use is that you can then mask that layer, so as to only apply the noise reduction where you really want it, or reduce it where it’s a bit too obvious in parts of your image.
There’s not a lot to adjust. This example (ISO 10,000, EOS RP) shows the adjustment window and original image behind it. (click to enlarge)
The default settings usually work fine, but you can try a few adjustments to see if there’s any significant improvement.
The software uses your graphics card for the complex calculations it needs – this can easily slow down updates if you want to try more multiple adjustments or just move the preview location a bit. Fortunately you can turn off live updates, so you can change the settings/zoomed view without having to wait a few seconds for the preview to update.
One other feature worth noting is the auto brightening. This temporarily lightens the image preview, making it much easier to see noise in shadows. Note that this doesn’t get applied to the image, it’s just a visualisation aid.
A split view option can help make the noise reduction clearer. It’s important to remember the scale that the image will be viewed, since what looks like far too much smoothing may look fine when not zoomed in. [click to enlarge for 100% view]
Here’s the full image showing the iO in use (from one of my paper reviews)
At an even higher ISO setting (12,800 on an EOS RP) there’s not a lot of noise to start with, but it’s visible in flat areas.
The processed image is more than good enough for many commercial shots I’ve taken [click to enlarge]
The examples I’ve shown all come from RAW camera files where there has been some noise reduction already applied (Adobe ACR in this case).
How much noise reduction should you apply -before- processing with DeNoise AI?
Well it will depend on your camera and processing software, but with the EOS RP I found that light luminance and colour noise reduction at the RAW processing stage produced the best results at high ISO settings.
This photo (EOS RP, ISO 12800 1/60 f/1.4] has a lot of soft out of focus areas, which are handled very well.
Areas to look at in an image like this are the lettering on the sign.
This is the DeNoise AI result, where noise is much reduced, but likely needs a bit of localised contrast enhancement for the sign.
Then again, as with any noise reduction, what do you want to use the image for? This photo was only taken when I first got the EOS RP [Review] and went out to test it at night.
The upshot of this is that for any particular camera, image processing software and camera settings, you’ll need to do a bit of experimentation to find the optimal mix of settings.
A tough image
This shot was taken, testing the Ricoh GX100 at 1600 ISO – it’s from a raw DNG image, since the camera’s JPEG noise reduction at 1600 ISO is extreme, and not pleasant… A lovely little camera [GX100 review] but challenged at higher ISO settings.
[Click to enlarge]
The processed image
The software does make demands of graphic card performance. You can tweak just how much graphics memory it will grab or even set it to use your CPU instead, but be warned this will significantly slow things down, and you’ll be glad of that auto-update switch in the main settings.
A fairly quick look at what is new software. My experience with Topaz’s other recent ‘AI’ software packages tells me that there will be continuous improvements (AI Model updates) and as with most Topaz software, they won’t usually be chargeable.
Another nice thing is that you can get a 30 day free demo of the software, to try with your images…
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