Topaz Sharpen AI

Started Jun 17, 2021 | Discussions
NorfolkBirder
NorfolkBirder Regular Member • Posts: 143
Topaz Sharpen AI

Just seen on a YouTube vid that Topaz offer 20% of their sales to referrers.

That has really got to make you think about the reviewers neutrality.

Was seriously thinking about the Sharpen AI software.

After trying it out for a few days, I'm honestly not sure it's any better than what I can get with Adobe Raw Elements.
And I don't trust the reviews!

-- hide signature --

Obsess much.

 NorfolkBirder's gear list:NorfolkBirder's gear list
Nikon D40 Nikon D7000 Nikon Z6 II Nikon Z9 Nikon 500mm F5.6E PF +1 more
KarmaAndLies Forum Member • Posts: 83
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI
6

You're right not to trust the reviewers, particularly if they fail to declare the conflict.

If it helps, I paid retail (w/random coupon), and have found good results in 2/3 of the modes it offers. Specifically "Motion Blur" sometimes does miraculous things and "Out of Focus" occasionally improves pictures, whereas "Too Soft" seemingly does nothing. Normally I just leave it on full Auto and very rarely have a photo "downgraded."

My photos are either processed in Adobe Raw or more recently Photolab 4 (w/Deep Prime). While Deep Prime is better de-noise than Adobe Raw, neither one really does exactly what the Motion Blur/Out of Focus does in Sharpen AI.

I use Sharpen AI as the absolute last thing in my workflow on the JPEG output (in particular after de-noise but also after regular sharpen/lens corrections). That might somewhat explain why "Too Soft" rarely improves pictures (but honestly it feels like a fallback mode, rather than say they detected no fixable abnormalities).

PS - I think DeepPrime is better than Topaz' DeNoise AI but YMMV. The main benefit of DeNoiseAI is that it supports Fuji whereas Photolab 4 cannot do X-Trans at all.

Auto mode picked Motion Blur, I hit "Very Blurry" and this is the result. Almost usable quality after (although the picture itself is bad/uninteresting).

Henry Richardson Forum Pro • Posts: 21,772
Similar thing posted a few days ago
1

Similar thing posted a few days ago:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65210809

Thread with some good responses.

-- hide signature --

Henry Richardson
http://www.bakubo.com

IanYorke Veteran Member • Posts: 4,947
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI
1

NorfolkBirder wrote:

Just seen on a YouTube vid that Topaz offer 20% of their sales to referrers.

That has really got to make you think about the reviewers neutrality.

Was seriously thinking about the Sharpen AI software.

After trying it out for a few days, I'm honestly not sure it's any better than what I can get with Adobe Raw Elements.
And I don't trust the reviews!

What modes have you tried? Post some example files with your results and maybe people with more experience of the software could help improve on your results.

Ian

Ramon767 Regular Member • Posts: 273
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI

I've been checking out the Topaz range this evening.

I have to say that I don't get the attraction. The trial has confirmed two things:

  • The trial is worthless because the watermark always conceals the area of interest. That bit of the Ai is perfect every time.
  • The results aren't amazing. They might be no better than LR and me taking a stab at it.

That said i'm trying to clean up 50mm long birds at ISO 5000 in the dark. Maybe i'm expecting too much of the software and not enough of myself.

 Ramon767's gear list:Ramon767's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon Z6 Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III Nikon 500mm F5.6E PF Nikon Z 24-70mm F4 +2 more
KarmaAndLies Forum Member • Posts: 83
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI
2

Ramon767 wrote:

  • The trial is worthless because the watermark always conceals the area of interest. That bit of the Ai is perfect every time.

I found that annoying too. I get that they don't want people using it for free during the trial, but it made it much harder to evaluate.

The closest you can get is "Zoom to Fit" and "Side by Side View" then let the preview regenerate (but this is largely flawed as the program has no concept of pre-generating/bulk generating the previews, so you cannot set it like you want then quickly grep through all your photos, it is this slow kludge while previews generate).

Even after purchase I just leave on auto, save all, then review the results via the JPG output to avoid the obnoxious "generating preview" every new image click (because doing preview gen for the next image in the background pre-emptively would make far too much sense).

The program has groundbreaking tech, but you can tell it wasn't created by someone who has done volume photo finishing work, as working at volume is a complete non-thought. I don't care if it takes 15 minutes to generate all previews, because I can be doing other work, but I do care an awful lot if I have to click every image to generate, and the previews are forgotten when I go back to an image.

That said i'm trying to clean up 50mm long birds at ISO 5000 in the dark. Maybe i'm expecting too much of the software and not enough of myself.

Keep in mind their De-Noise and Sharpen are different products. De-Noise will take care of higher ISO problems/noise, whereas Sharpen AI is better at correcting a handful of optical abnormalities (like subtle motion blur and focus drift).

There's a lot of images Sharpen AI does nearly nothing to, whereas a de-noiser is useful for almost every image but especially high ISO/long exposure (be it Topaz' de-noiser product or DeepPrime).

The only reason this product matters is that when it works it is magic, like "save an image" magic. But it is still a more niche product ultimately, "AI"-based de-noise by contrast should be a staple since it is impactful on near every image.

Digital Nigel Forum Pro • Posts: 16,097
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI
3

KarmaAndLies wrote:

Ramon767 wrote:

  • The trial is worthless because the watermark always conceals the area of interest. That bit of the Ai is perfect every time.

I found that annoying too. I get that they don't want people using it for free during the trial, but it made it much harder to evaluate.

The closest you can get is "Zoom to Fit" and "Side by Side View" then let the preview regenerate (but this is largely flawed as the program has no concept of pre-generating/bulk generating the previews, so you cannot set it like you want then quickly grep through all your photos, it is this slow kludge while previews generate).

Even after purchase I just leave on auto, save all, then review the results via the JPG output to avoid the obnoxious "generating preview" every new image click (because doing preview gen for the next image in the background pre-emptively would make far too much sense).

The program has groundbreaking tech, but you can tell it wasn't created by someone who has done volume photo finishing work, as working at volume is a complete non-thought. I don't care if it takes 15 minutes to generate all previews, because I can be doing other work, but I do care an awful lot if I have to click every image to generate, and the previews are forgotten when I go back to an image.

That said i'm trying to clean up 50mm long birds at ISO 5000 in the dark. Maybe i'm expecting too much of the software and not enough of myself.

Keep in mind their De-Noise and Sharpen are different products. De-Noise will take care of higher ISO problems/noise, whereas Sharpen AI is better at correcting a handful of optical abnormalities (like subtle motion blur and focus drift).

There's a lot of images Sharpen AI does nearly nothing to, whereas a de-noiser is useful for almost every image but especially high ISO/long exposure (be it Topaz' de-noiser product or DeepPrime).

The only reason this product matters is that when it works it is magic, like "save an image" magic. But it is still a more niche product ultimately, "AI"-based de-noise by contrast should be a staple since it is impactful on near every image.

Yes, that's how I use them: every raw image is processed using DeepPRIME, and a minority of images are further sharpened using Sharpen AI. I nearly always use the motion blur mode.

I use DeNoise AI on JPEGs, and keep it in reserve to use after DeepPRIME on the noisiest raw images.

 Digital Nigel's gear list:Digital Nigel's gear list
Panasonic FZ1000 Canon PowerShot G7 X Nikon Coolpix P900 Panasonic ZS100 Sony RX10 III +22 more
Glen Barrington
Glen Barrington Forum Pro • Posts: 22,462
Of Course!
2

It does what other sharpening tools do!  It just automates it.  If you don't want or need that level of automation, it's perfectly OK to skip it!

There is NO magic to any of this.  All sharpening is, is increasing the contrast on the edges of shapes, tonality, and colors.

As far as the neutrality of the reviewers goes.  They aren't making but a few cents per sale.  the vendors HOPE it will buy some partiality, but in order to make enough money from those commissions, the reviewers have to build up their credibility with the viewers.  Those vloggers that steer them wrong, don't have any credibility and don't make many sales.  Stick to those reviewers who have credibility in your eyes, and don't worry about how they monetize what they do.

I note that you haven't criticized DPR because it does the same thing, AND it is owned by Amazon.  Why is that?

 Glen Barrington's gear list:Glen Barrington's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Olympus E-M5 III Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4.0-5.6 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 +11 more
bmoag Veteran Member • Posts: 3,207
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI
4

Jpegs are already sharpened and lack most of the data that the sensor can capture.

As such running jpegs through Topaz Sharpen AI is more likely than not to lead to artefacts, a problem even with raw files, but if that floats one's boat its all good.

JPEGs are not really good for much more than mild color rebalances and cropping, but to each her own. That's not a bad thing, that's the reason to use jpegs in the first place I would think.

Used as part of a raw workflow Topaz Sharpen AI can do amazing things, particularly if you learn how to avoid what it tends to overdo. Photoshop, particularly Elements, has nothing in it currently that compares to certain things Topaz Sharpen AI can do--I think its the best product Topaz publishes.

 bmoag's gear list:bmoag's gear list
Nikon D70 Nikon D3300 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Nikon Z6
plantdoc Veteran Member • Posts: 4,229
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI for decentered images

Can this program help with improving the IQ of images that are mostly sharp but suffer from the all to common decentering softness along one side? Also, the gpu in my older I7 Dell desktop is not acceptable. Not enough memory. Recommendations on a gpu that won't be cost prohibitive or require more internal upgrades.

Thanks.  Greg

KarmaAndLies Forum Member • Posts: 83
Re: Of Course!
10

Glen Barrington wrote:

It does what other sharpening tools do! It just automates it. If you don't want or need that level of automation, it's perfectly OK to skip it!

There is NO magic to any of this. All sharpening is, is increasing the contrast on the edges of shapes, tonality, and colors.

That's extremely inaccurate.

While the term "AI" is heavily abused by marketers, the product we're discussing here does use Computer Vision, Deep Learning models to de-blur. That's why it takes up 2 GB (!) of space for installation, we're largely paying for a large database of CV training data that has been trained using images and blur intrinsics.

What they're doing has been described in multiple academic papers but for one example:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1047320319300811

This one talk about how instead of modelling the underlying images you could instead model the blur itself, then reverse that:

https://openaccess.thecvf.com/content_cvpr_2017/html/Gong_From_Motion_Blur_CVPR_2017_paper.html

There are multiple companies and products that are bringing Deep Learning tech to photo/video retouching, to dismiss them out of hand like that only shows that you've never used any of them (and don't understand the underlying technology).

The product we're discussing here also does the "traditional" sharpening, but nobody is buying it for that. We're buying it because it can do things Photoshop/Photolab cannot do yet (both already utilize Deep Learning, but for other useful things, like DeepPrime De-Noising and Object Aware Edge Cutouts for two examples).

BillyBobSenna
BillyBobSenna Veteran Member • Posts: 3,032
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI
5

I use Topaz on problem photos I want to salvage. I have been very happy with the output. I'm sure your mileage will depend on the types of photos you take.

The only way I can get close to some of the results coming our of Topaz is to use the Photoshop shake reduction function. Basic Lr Sharpening does not work as well as Topaz.

Typically I am just using the auto settings and masking within Topaz.

-- hide signature --

Bill - Beverly Hills, MI
Motorsports Photography
www.billgulkerphotography.com

 BillyBobSenna's gear list:BillyBobSenna's gear list
Nikon D500 Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +6 more
Maverick07 Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI
2

****No compensation from Topaz*********

I have been using Sharpen AI for ~8 months and I am very satisfied with the results. I use it on the majority of my images. A good investment if you want your pics to stand out. However, if you are content with web or snapshots then you probably do not need.

 Maverick07's gear list:Maverick07's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
NorfolkBirder
OP NorfolkBirder Regular Member • Posts: 143
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI
1

Thank you all.

Will do some more comparisons.

(Let's face it, I'm going to buy 🙄)

-- hide signature --

Obsess much.

 NorfolkBirder's gear list:NorfolkBirder's gear list
Nikon D40 Nikon D7000 Nikon Z6 II Nikon Z9 Nikon 500mm F5.6E PF +1 more
Maverick07 Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI

NorfolkBirder wrote:

Thank you all.

Will do some more comparisons.

(Let's face it, I'm going to buy 🙄)

I would be surprised if you have any regrets. There may be a discount coupon on the web. Topaz fills the void which Adobe is unwilling to. No slam against Adobe as I also use LR/PS. Adobe has the tech, however, slow to release. They normally make a major change once a year. May be coming this summer.

 Maverick07's gear list:Maverick07's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Maverick07 Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: Of Course!
1

KarmaAndLies wrote:

Glen Barrington wrote:

It does what other sharpening tools do! It just automates it. If you don't want or need that level of automation, it's perfectly OK to skip it!

There is NO magic to any of this. All sharpening is, is increasing the contrast on the edges of shapes, tonality, and colors.

That's extremely inaccurate.

While the term "AI" is heavily abused by marketers, the product we're discussing here does use Computer Vision, Deep Learning models to de-blur. That's why it takes up 2 GB (!) of space for installation, we're largely paying for a large database of CV training data that has been trained using images and blur intrinsics.

What they're doing has been described in multiple academic papers but for one example:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1047320319300811

This one talk about how instead of modelling the underlying images you could instead model the blur itself, then reverse that:

https://openaccess.thecvf.com/content_cvpr_2017/html/Gong_From_Motion_Blur_CVPR_2017_paper.html

There are multiple companies and products that are bringing Deep Learning tech to photo/video retouching, to dismiss them out of hand like that only shows that you've never used any of them (and don't understand the underlying technology).

The product we're discussing here also does the "traditional" sharpening, but nobody is buying it for that. We're buying it because it can do things Photoshop/Photolab cannot do yet (both already utilize Deep Learning, but for other useful things, like DeepPrime De-Noising and Object Aware Edge Cutouts for two examples).

From a personal perspective w/o science to support; Sharpen works on 95% of the images I have sharpened. I have also used LR to try to sharpen and Sharpen AI was able to take it to the next level. I know it does more then just automate the sharpening process. Of the thousand images I have used this on I have had a couple which induced some artifacts which was not in the original. I consider this an acceptable level of performance.

Software is filling in where camera OEM have dropped off in their pursuit of the mirrorless industry. Really a cost savings for most.

I continue to stand on if you remove the human from the equation the risk is too great.

 Maverick07's gear list:Maverick07's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
ATP62 Contributing Member • Posts: 715
Re: Of Course!

Do you apply sharpen on the whole image, or do you  mask selected part of the image  ?

Maverick07 Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: Of Course!

ATP62 wrote:

Do you apply sharpen on the whole image, or do you mask selected part of the image ?

This depends on the subject. Too many variables involved. Unless you have snapshots where the focus is constant why would you not use the mask feature. If the image is a portrait or person I will also use the preset. This reduces the amount of time to mask. I still tweak to either add or subtract masking.

 Maverick07's gear list:Maverick07's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
RSTP14 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,557
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI
5

Don't compare with images that are already well focused to begin with, use motion blurred or mis-focused ones and you'll see where Sharpen AI shines.

-- hide signature --

Roger

 RSTP14's gear list:RSTP14's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M10 OM-1 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm F1.8 Olympus 12-45mm F4 Pro +4 more
Maverick07 Regular Member • Posts: 377
Re: Topaz Sharpen AI

If you are a newcomer to Sharpen AI and experience delays in processing speed you may want to look at GPU and RAM. These are two areas where your sys is stressed. I have a RTX 2070 w/ 8Gb and 32 Gb on Win 10. In processing 25 Mb RAW files this slows it down a little. This also depends on the image and masking.

 Maverick07's gear list:Maverick07's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads