Topaz Labs Products

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JeremyB2 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Topaz Labs Products

I have trialled and then bought Topaz Labs DeNoise AI which in certain circumstances does an excellent job. I'm currently trialling Sharpen AI and I'm a little less impressed so far. The improvements in image quality that I'm seeing can often be achieved almost as well with DeNoise AI / AI Clear and the files take ages to save. Maybe I need to experiment more? I am upgrading my PC shortly (from W7 to W10) with better CPU / GPU and more RAM so processing should be faster. Gigapixel also looks interesting but I have yet to try it.

I'll be very interested to hear comment from anyone who is using Topaz Labs products regarding which programs you reckon offer good value. Also, do you use the Topaz products before or after working with editing programs such as PS, Capture One, and Lightroom? J.

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hwvlover
hwvlover Senior Member • Posts: 4,480
Re: Topaz Labs Products

I have Topaz Denoise AI which I use first before any other editing including cropping. This is as Topaz advise. I shoot jpegs and I edit them in PSE 14, opening the jpeg in camera raw.

I also have Gigapixel which I use as the last stage for any image I want to upscale, for whatever reason. A lot of my photographs are of birds so have typically been cropped.
IMHO both these Topaz products are good.
So from this

to this

I am nowhere near as competent at editing as some who frequent this forum but to say I am pleased with this would be a considerable understatement.
Regards,
David
***************************************
Growing old is inevitable; growing up, however, is optional.
And I have opted out.

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Digital Nigel Forum Pro • Posts: 10,484
Re: Topaz Labs Products

JeremyB2 wrote:

I have trialled and then bought Topaz Labs DeNoise AI which in certain circumstances does an excellent job. I'm currently trialling Sharpen AI and I'm a little less impressed so far. The improvements in image quality that I'm seeing can often be achieved almost as well with DeNoise AI / AI Clear and the files take ages to save. Maybe I need to experiment more? I am upgrading my PC shortly (from W7 to W10) with better CPU / GPU and more RAM so processing should be faster. Gigapixel also looks interesting but I have yet to try it.

I'll be very interested to hear comment from anyone who is using Topaz Labs products regarding which programs you reckon offer good value. Also, do you use the Topaz products before or after working with editing programs such as PS, Capture One, and Lightroom? J.

Sharpen AI has three modes of operation; the one that produces the most amazing effects in Stabilize. The other two modes are less useful.

I always use the Topaz products after first processing in DxO PhotoLab. DeNoise AI is particularly useful if used after PRIME NR on very noisy images.

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OP JeremyB2 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: Topaz Labs Products

Thank you David & Nigel. Interesting to see that you each have a slightly different approach to the sequence in which you use DeNoise AI relative to other editing software although I'm sure the results are equally good. I have just been experimenting a little bit with Sharpen AI in Stabilise mood. It can certainly produce some worthwhile improvement.

As an aside I find it slightly frustrating that I first of all have to select a setting for Remove Blur and wait while that is processed, before I can then select Suppress Noise and wait again while it does it's thing. Once one becomes familiar with the settings likely to be useful, it would be really handy to be able to set them both first, but I guess the software just can't handle this.

I'm reasonably confident that an improved CPU, GPU and more RAM will speed things up quite a bit, because at the moment it can be a lengthy process!  J.

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Digital Nigel Forum Pro • Posts: 10,484
Re: Topaz Labs Products

JeremyB2 wrote:

Thank you David & Nigel. Interesting to see that you each have a slightly different approach to the sequence in which you use DeNoise AI relative to other editing software although I'm sure the results are equally good.

No, I've experimented, and found that DeNoise works much better if applied after another NR method. Topaz's advice is plain wrong.

If DeNoise is applied directly to a RAW image, it does an awful job. It also loses too much detail if working on really noisy images. It does much better at 'polishing' images that have already had much of the noise removed. That gives you detailed, clean images that are better than either NR method alone could manage.

See my test results in

https://www.flickr.com/photos/recliner/albums/72157708128725115

I have just been experimenting a little bit with Sharpen AI in Stabilise mood. It can certainly produce some worthwhile improvement.

As an aside I find it slightly frustrating that I first of all have to select a setting for Remove Blur and wait while that is processed, before I can then select Suppress Noise and wait again while it does it's thing.

I'm not at my PC at the moment, but thought you could turn off auto-refreshing if your PC is slow?

Once one becomes familiar with the settings likely to be useful, it would be really handy to be able to set them both first, but I guess the software just can't handle this.

One good thing about Topaz is that it regularly updates its products. So there's a good chance that things you don't like will be changed.

I'm reasonably confident that an improved CPU, GPU and more RAM will speed things up quite a bit, because at the moment it can be a lengthy process! J.

It's the GPU that really matters with the Topaz AI products.

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OP JeremyB2 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: Topaz Labs Products

Thanks Nigel. I take your point about the best sequence for using DeNoise, and thanks for the test results at flickr. Having said that I have been impressed with David's bird photos in the past. All three of us live in the UK and one of my great pleasures is when a flock of Long-tailed Tits descend mob-handed onto the bird feeder. They are delightful, slightly 'scruffy' little birds.

Thanks for the pointer regarding 'auto-refreshing'. I sometimes forget to RTFM or even look at the tabs available! I have noted Topaz Labs' recommendations regarding RAM and VRAM and my new PC will be spec'd accordingly J.

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Horacecoker Veteran Member • Posts: 3,017
Re: Topaz Labs Products
3

hwvlover wrote:

I have Topaz Denoise AI which I use first before any other editing including cropping. This is as Topaz advise. I shoot jpegs and I edit them in PSE 14, opening the jpeg in camera raw.

I also have Gigapixel which I use as the last stage for any image I want to upscale, for whatever reason. A lot of my photographs are of birds so have typically been cropped.
IMHO both these Topaz products are good.
So from this

to this

I am nowhere near as competent at editing as some who frequent this forum but to say I am pleased with this would be a considerable understatement.

Regards,
David

I can't understand why you have gone to such an extreme when upscaling this cropped image, David. You started with a 20MP image, cropped it to approximately 2MP then upscaled it to a whopping 24MP? That's not how to get good results from  Topaz Gigapixel. Why go to such an extreme? The resultant image when viewed at 100% is pretty grim image quality-wise. Look at this 100% crop.

That's not a very good example to show somebody who is thinking of purchasing the software. Why do you need 24MP?

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OP JeremyB2 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: Topaz Labs Products

Yet again this is all grist for the mill that is my ageing mind

Horacecoker - I'm interested to know how you obtained the information about the steps that David took in upscaling his photo. Is there some piece of software that can extract this information from his images?

Also, what would you have suggested to be the best method of using Gigapixel when upscaling David's photo? Starting off with a 20 MP image what levels might you have cropped it to and then upscaled for best viewing at a reasonable size? Any hints and tips much appreciated. I think that Gigapixel will be the next Topaz product I will trial.

Nigel - any recommendations for a specific GPU without going totally silly? I note that Topaz optimally recommends 6 GB+ of VRAM. I'm still at the stage when I'm considering which GPU to use for my new PC.   J.

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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 15,567
Re: Topaz Labs Products

JeremyB2 wrote:

... any recommendations for a specific GPU without going totally silly? I note that Topaz optimally recommends 6 GB+ of VRAM. I'm still at the stage when I'm considering which GPU to use for my new PC.

You might find this discussion informative.

As an aside, the published minimum system requirements are a bit misleading. I have Sharpen AI running on an old and modest 8GB system and a GPU with just 1GB of VRAM. It can also run without the GPU at all.

Horacecoker Veteran Member • Posts: 3,017
Re: Topaz Labs Products

JeremyB2 wrote:

Yet again this is all grist for the mill that is my ageing mind

Horacecoker - I'm interested to know how you obtained the information about the steps that David took in upscaling his photo. Is there some piece of software that can extract this information from his images?

No software I know off to extract this kind of information. Because David posted the original image I was able to work out exactly what he did to finish up with his final upscaled crop. As you've asked me I will tell you exactly how I did it.

What I needed to do was to produce a matching crop of David's upscaled image before it was upscaled! This was more difficult than I anticipated due to two things. First of all, David hadn't used a standard aspect ratio, it was in between 2:3 and 3:4 but nearer to 3:4. The exact aspect ratio is simply the pixel dimensions of the finished upscaled image 4204 x 5709 pixels. Photoshop has an option for using a selection box as a fixed aspect ratio but you cannot type a value over 999 into the height and width boxes. To get round this I divided the pixel dimensions of the finished image by 2 repeatedly until I obtained figures under 999 and finished up with an aspect ratio of 713 : 525 and typed these figures in the height and width boxes. That sorted the aspect ratio out. Next problem was I couldn't emulate David's crop without getting quite a lot of the bird feeder stand inside the crop. This puzzled me until I realised David must have rotated the original image to get the feeder stand vertical as he'd taken the shot slanted by about 11 degrees. Once I'd done this I could achieve the exact same crop without any of the stand being in the frame.

I know this is longwinded and I've probably lost you by now but you asked me and I'm explaining what I did as best I can.

So once I'd got the selection box in the same position covering the same area as David's crop I simply clicked Image > Crop. I then looked at the image pixel dimensions which were 1170 x 1589 pixels = 1.864MP. So that's how I knew David had upscaled an approximate 2MP crop to 24MP.

Also, what would you have suggested to be the best method of using Gigapixel when upscaling David's photo? Starting off with a 20 MP image what levels might you have cropped it to and then upscaled for best viewing at a reasonable size? Any hints and tips much appreciated. I think that Gigapixel will be the next Topaz product I will trial.

I will answer that in detail tomorrow, In the meantime, this thread I started might be of help. (Maybe you've already seen it?)

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/63499078

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OP JeremyB2 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: Topaz Labs Products

Thanks sybersitizen. Frankly, most of the information in the link you helpfully provided is above my head

However, it's encouraging to hear you say that the published minimum system requirements are a bit misleading. I'm currently running an i7-3770 Quad Core 8 Thread processor (3.40GHz), 16 GB of RAM, and a nVidia GeForce GTX550Ti GPU. This is a 7 year old system but I believe by certain standards is reasonably well specified. However, I find that working with Topaz Labs software things can become very slow, particularly with Sharpen AI. DeNoise isn't too bad, and I have yet to try Gigapixel which I believe is also pretty demanding.

As I need to upgrade from W7 to W10 I've decided to treat myself to new PC with reasonably high specification, and sell the old one. The GPU is the only item I'm struggling with a bit. I don't want to spend crazy money, but I don't want to find that the new system is still sluggish when working with Topaz products.  I'm not building the system myself but getting someone knowledgeable to do it for me. They are looking into the matter of GPU spec, but I decided I wanted to do some research myself to be on the safe side. J.

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OP JeremyB2 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: Topaz Labs Products

Thank you Horacecoker. I'm impressed by the effort and expertise you used to determine what David had done with his image, and the time you have taken to explain it. You nearly 'lost' me but I think I broadly got the hang of it

Thank you also for the thread link. I had in fact previously bookmarked this as being of interest and assistance. This is a great forum. J.

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Digital Nigel Forum Pro • Posts: 10,484
Re: Topaz Labs Products

JeremyB2 wrote:

Thanks sybersitizen. Frankly, most of the information in the link you helpfully provided is above my head

However, it's encouraging to hear you say that the published minimum system requirements are a bit misleading. I'm currently running an i7-3770 Quad Core 8 Thread processor (3.40GHz), 16 GB of RAM, and a nVidia GeForce GTX550Ti GPU. This is a 7 year old system but I believe by certain standards is reasonably well specified. However, I find that working with Topaz Labs software things can become very slow, particularly with Sharpen AI. DeNoise isn't too bad, and I have yet to try Gigapixel which I believe is also pretty demanding.

As I need to upgrade from W7 to W10 I've decided to treat myself to new PC with reasonably high specification, and sell the old one. The GPU is the only item I'm struggling with a bit. I don't want to spend crazy money, but I don't want to find that the new system is still sluggish when working with Topaz products. I'm not building the system myself but getting someone knowledgeable to do it for me. They are looking into the matter of GPU spec, but I decided I wanted to do some research myself to be on the safe side. J.

Perhaps this will help. It shows my PC's Task Manager while Sharpen AI is running. As you can see, it's maxing the GPU, while not putting much stress on the main CPU (which has 12 cores, 24 threads) or the 32GB main memory.

Topaz Sharpen AI is GPU limited

-

Interestingly, Gigapixel AI seems to have a different profile, making less use of the GPU, and more of the main CPU:

Gigapixel AI makes less use of the GPU, but more use of the main CPU

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Horacecoker Veteran Member • Posts: 3,017
Re: Topaz Labs Products
1

Also, what would you have suggested to be the best method of using Gigapixel when upscaling David's photo? Starting off with a 20 MP image what levels might you have cropped it to and then upscaled for best viewing at a reasonable size? Any hints and tips much appreciated. I think that Gigapixel will be the next Topaz product I will trial.

David's crop was fine, it's just that he went over the top with the upscaling imho. His portrait orientation crop at 1170 x 1589 pixels was actually a decent size on its own without any upscaling for viewing on any monitor up to QHD that's 2560 x 1440 pixels. (Like mine.) I would have just upscaled it to 2160 pixels in height to fit a 4k screen. Which is what I always do with my bird images if needed. I never touch the 2x 4x 6x settings in Gigapixel AI, I just put 2160 in the pixel height box and the software itself then knows what should be in the width box to maintain the correct aspect ratio. No need to type any figures in that box.

Below is an example of a Stonechat I shot last summer that was a similar distance away as the Long-tailed Tit in David's shot.

First image is the full-res jpeg derived from the RAW file in Lightroom with Camera Standard Profile + default sharpening and noise reduction with no additional post-processing. If you view at 100% you'll see quite a bit of noise even at 250 ISO. I suspect an OOC jpeg wouldn't be as noisy as this.

Please view all three images at 100%.

Full-res jpeg from default Lightroom settings RAW file (5472 x 3648 pixels 20MP)

Next image below has been cropped and processed to taste. I always turn the default Lightroom sharpening down to zero but leave the default noise reduction as is. I've found it's better to have no sharpening applied to the image prior to using Topaz Denoise AI but the Lightroom default noise reduction has no negative effect, in fact, it sometimes helps Denoise AI do a better job. I now let Denoise AI take care of the sharpening which it does as part of the noise reduction process. This is controllable with the Enhance Sharpness slider. I always leave the Recover Details slider on its default zero setting. I don’t go mad with the Enhance Sharpness slider. Better too little than too much, I can always add a bit more sharpness later with USM in Photoshop selectively to the bird itself.

Cropped and processed to taste + Denoise AI applied (2304 x 1440 pixels 3.3MP)

All my images are exported from Lightroom to Photoshop for final editing and this is where I use Topaz Denoise AI as a plug-in. The benefit of using Denoise AI as a plug-in with Photoshop is the ability to fine-tune the result after Denoise as done its stuff and the image is back in back in Photoshop. I just click Edit > Fade Topaz Denoise AI and I can use the slider to reduce the effect of Denoise AI anywhere from 100% right down to zero and back again. I can see the effect happening instantly in real-time in near full-screen at 100% view! This is impossible when using the standalone program. Lately, I have started to turn the noise reduction down this way till I can just see a tiny (and I mean tiny) amount of noise when viewed at 100%. In doing this my idea is to appease folk who say the lack of any noise whatsoever in an image looks unnatural.

The final stage is to use Gigapixel AI to upscale the image to 2160 pixels in height. Or if I've cropped to a 16:9 aspect ratio I could just as easily put 3840 in the width box and ignore the height box. This is only a 1.5x increase in size in this instant and has no detrimental effect on image quality. Neither does a 2x crop but the image quality as to be good to start with. I can only be happy with my bird images if they stand up to being viewed at 100% because that's exactly what I'm doing when I view them on my 4k TV. And no doubt I'll have a 4k computer monitor too in the not too distant future.

Upscaled in Gigapixel AI to 3456 x 2160 pixels 7.5MP

Hope this helps.

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Digital Shutterbug Veteran Member • Posts: 4,460
Re: Topaz Labs Products

You should work for Topaz. You could do well in sales, or even better, as a technical writer. Good use of the program and explaining how to get the most from it.

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Steve

Horacecoker Veteran Member • Posts: 3,017
Re: Topaz Labs Products

Digital Shutterbug wrote:

You should work for Topaz. You could do well in sales, or even better, as a technical writer. Good use of the program and explaining how to get the most from it.

Thanks for that, Steve. Most unexpected but welcome all the same.

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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 15,567
Re: Topaz Labs Products

JeremyB2 wrote:

sybersitizen wrote:

JeremyB2 wrote:

... any recommendations for a specific GPU without going totally silly? I note that Topaz optimally recommends 6 GB+ of VRAM. I'm still at the stage when I'm considering which GPU to use for my new PC.

You might find this discussion informative.

As an aside, the published minimum system requirements are a bit misleading. I have Sharpen AI running on an old and modest 8GB system and a GPU with just 1GB of VRAM. It can also run without the GPU at all.

Thanks sybersitizen. Frankly, most of the information in the link you helpfully provided is above my head

Well, at least three things can be learned from it:

1. The best recommendations from Topaz employees, who should know the most about this, are along the lines of Buy as much as you can get. The details regarding which aspects of a GPU matter most remain unexplained.

2. A few specific cards were mentioned, and were not voted down by anyone, so those are presumably good candidates.

3. Much also depends on the CPU and system RAM.

If there were some coordinated effort to test various graphics cards running Topaz products using standardized settings to process a standardized image available to everyone, much more could be learned from that. In the meantime, there can only be vague testimonials along the lines of X wasn't fast enough for me, so I upgraded to Y instead.

However, it's encouraging to hear you say that the published minimum system requirements are a bit misleading. I'm currently running an i7-3770 Quad Core 8 Thread processor (3.40GHz), 16 GB of RAM, and a nVidia GeForce GTX550Ti GPU. This is a 7 year old system but I believe by certain standards is reasonably well specified. However, I find that working with Topaz Labs software things can become very slow, particularly with Sharpen AI.

Very slow is itself relative. Your system unquestionably leaves mine in the dust. If Sharpen AI were to become something I wanted to use frequently on lots of images, I'd be hurting. Until then, it's not an issue.

DeNoise isn't too bad, and I have yet to try Gigapixel which I believe is also pretty demanding.

As I need to upgrade from W7 to W10 I've decided to treat myself to new PC with reasonably high specification, and sell the old one. The GPU is the only item I'm struggling with a bit. I don't want to spend crazy money, but I don't want to find that the new system is still sluggish when working with Topaz products. I'm not building the system myself but getting someone knowledgeable to do it for me. They are looking into the matter of GPU spec, but I decided I wanted to do some research myself to be on the safe side. J.

Might help to point your guy to that link.

OP JeremyB2 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: Topaz Labs Products

Thank you Nigel. I haven't yet confirmed the final specification but I think my PC guy is recommending the Ryzen Threadripper 1920X12-core/24-thread. What GPU are you using? I don't seem to be able to check GPU usage in my W7 machine when running Sharpen AI. CPU usage is not high but I suspect the GPU is working hard judging by the cooling fan noise level from my PC.  J.

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OP JeremyB2 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: Topaz Labs Products

Horacecoker - I can only echo Digital Shutterbug's comment regarding your explanation of how you use Topaz DeNoise and Gigapixel. Thank you. J.

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OP JeremyB2 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: Topaz Labs Products

Thank you sybersitizen. Good points you make about learning from the discussion on GPUs suitable for use with Topaz. I was in a bit of a hurry when I first looked at the discussion. Having now taken some more time I realise that there is useful information to be gleaned. As is so often the case there tends to be the need to balance between an extravagantly expensive GPU, as used by gamers and CAD guys, and something that is of lesser price but will hopefully perform reasonably well with Topaz Labs products.

I have already forwarded that link to my computer guy. In due course, when I get my hands on my new computer, I will report back with details of the components and how the PC performs with DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI.   J.

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