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Topaz Sharpen AI V3 review

  |   Articles and reviews, Image Editing, Printing, Review, Software update, Tilt / Shift, Topaz   |   2 Comments

Topaz Sharpen AI update review

V3 Updates basic AI processing



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Topaz Sharpen AI uses machine learning (AI) techniques to remove or reduce image blur and shake.

Depending on the type of blur/shake it’s been one of Keith’s go-to tools for image processing.

The localised fixing of blur is extremely useful for fixing the complex aberrations of shifted lenses, where problems only tend to show in strongly shifted parts of images. Oh, and it’s handling of camera shake is useful, given Keith’s liking of hand held photography.

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Topaz Sharpen AI

Up to April 9th 2021, there is an offer on Sharpen AI. Use Code ‘SHARPEN15’ for a discount.

Also available “Image Quality Bundle”. It includes Sharpen, Gigapixel, DeNoise, and JPEGtoRAW. The retail price is $359.96, but it’s on sale for $199.99. (More than $150 in savings).

Sharpen AI V3

See the changelog for Sharpen AI below for precise changes.

I use it almost entirely from within Photoshop (still CS6), as a plugin. It will work standalone and with other applications.

This is tool that fits in well with liking for hand-held photography. Every so often I’ll get a bit of shake I don’t want – it happens, especially with higher MP sensors.

Even for my architectural photography, a tripod can’t stop some of the distortions I see with with strongly shifted lenses. Topaz AI has meant that my old Mamiya M645 lenses are something to include in my camera bag.

For more about how and why such processing/sharpening is important see the reviews at:

See also these two articles about the importance of sharpening in any workflow

It proved very useful when testing the Laowa 15mm shift lens at full diagonal shift, when the only significant blur was concentrated in one corner of the image.

Sharpen AI V3

The new version defaults to auto updating the preview sample. This only takes a few seconds, even on my oldish Mac, but was easily changed back in the preferences.

preferences

One useful feature of the software for myself is that there are auto settings buttons that give you suggested starting points for slider settings. When working from Photoshop I’m very aware that I have the ability (via masking) to turn down sharpening in areas it might be a little strong.

The software handles soft out of focus areas very well, but if you only need part of an image sharpening, it’s worth looking at the masking feature. In Photoshop I duplicate a layer, sharpen that and then mask back in what parts I need. This is particularly useful when making large prints, where smoothness and sharpness can work together to give a much better impression of detail. With older images the sharpening can pick up sensor defects in flat areas – these I don’t want any sharpening applied to.

A couple of examples show uses of Sharpen AI

This first one was taken on a shoot at a factory making fairground ride cars and the like. The guy at work was hand finishing a prototype before making moulds for production.  The light was quite low, I was using my EF24-70 2.8L lens on a Canon 5Ds (50MP). At wider apertures the lens has a bit of softness, but the subject was also moving.

Click images to enlarge

moving-hand

This view (100% crop from a 50MP image) shows more general sharpening on the clothing, but extra motion removal on the hand.

A look at the face shows sharpening and the noise removal in the flat areas.

face

Once the image is processed (3-4 minutes on my 2010 Mac) the improvement is very noticeable.

originalsharpened

The whole image.

sanding

Lens shift

This photo was taken at extreme diagonal shift, meaning the camera was pointing down the walkway.

strong-shift

The vignetting I can deal with in Photoshop, but the far corner is showing distinct softness. Stopping down to ~f/11 has helped, but much further and the excellent sharpness in the rest of the image will be reduced.

This view (at 200%) shows the sharpening preview.

corner-shift

The software works really well in dealing with lens softness, and if like me, you like re-using old lenses it can be superb for when their deficiencies decide to get in the way, rather than ‘add to their charm’.

–ooOoo–

The update is a free one for registered users.

Sharpen AI Changelog:

    Major Changes:

    • Completely new AI engine
    • New Very Blurry specialty added
      • Extra noise suppression specialty renamed to “Very Noisy”
    • Changed CPU/GPU options in preferences
    • Windows Full Installers come with a “Legacy” version
      – This is for people running Windows 8.1 or lower
      – Windows 10 will continue with the normal installers
      – Online installer will download components based on the OS it’s run on
    • Changed how trial flow works
      – Trials are now gone, you can now use the app without being logged in
      – While not logged in, or if your license is expired, your image will save with a watermark
      – Users who own the product should be able to use it offline without a watermark given they’ve logged in once and don’t log out
    • Updated the preview panel experience
      – Previews no longer block panning, zooming, or switching images
      – Auto update preview is now on by default and moved to the preferences panel
      – Updating preview while auto update is turned off moved to top bar “Preview” button
      – Adds scroll to zoom
    • Updated image and RAW libraries to their latest versions
      – Biggest update is the additional/fixed CR3 support in libraw (change log 26)

    Fixes:

    • Fixed first install not setting the opening directory correctly
    • Fixed masking button being pushed over to the left
    • Fixed masking button disappearing when cancelling a save
    • Fixed login dialog allowing spaces in email and password
    • Fixed some visual issues with saving in batch
    • Fixed non-ASCII characters in path breaking RAW file loading
    • Fixed blank Save Options section showing in preferences while in plugin/external mode
    • Fixed Lightroom saving back as the wrong color profile

    Changes:

    • Comparison view will now process all unprocessed previews when in manual update mode
    • Changed “Switch Users” option to Login and Logout depending on if you’re logged in or not
    • Changed image importing so that new images get selected instead of just being added to the file list
    • Changed minimum window size to 1080×580
    • Changed combo box design
      – (Drop down GPU/CPU selector in Preferences is an example)
    • Added watermark warning dialog if saving an image that would have a watermark applied
    • Added License Info dialog under Account menu
    • Added right panel from Gigapixel when saving
    • Added cleanup methods to the installer
      – Should clean out the TGRC folder on Mac and Windows
      – Additionally should remove some large unused dll files on Windows (CUDA, ~750MB)
    • Removed some unused libraries to save space
    • Removed product tour as it no longer aligned with the application

    Any questions? – please email or use the comments below…

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    2 Comments
    • Keith | Mar 25, 2021 at 4:02 pm

      Thanks for correcting that

    • Stewart Logie | Mar 25, 2021 at 3:36 pm

      The update isn’t free for all registered users. Topaz charges $80 per year for updates, though you can still use your old version if you don’t pay their annual fee.

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