Although I watched videos and read reviews of Topaz products, I never actually tried them, sticking to my workflow and venturing no further. I love software and seeing what it can do with my images, but I felt safe with what I’m currently using. So what could Topaz Photo AI bring to the table that I couldn’t already accomplish?
I’m writing this review from the perspective of a complete newbie to this software, so if you’re a current user, you can see things I could improve on or even disagree with my findings, but I’ll say how powerfully impressed I am.
Don’t just take my word for it because there is a free trial of the software on the Topaz Website it’s up to you to try with your own images. To register them, you need to activate a license. Once activated, Topaz Photo AI can be used on two computers as a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop or as standalone software and includes one year of unlimited upgrades. With Black Friday sales fast approaching, there’s a massive $299 off the retail price, meaning you’re only paying $159, including an unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee.
What’s included with Photo AI?
Topaz creates many different plug-ins and standalone software. What Topaz Photo AI can bring to your workflow?
- Remove noise including raw files
- Collect faces
- Improve resolution
- Top of the line
These all do exactly what their name suggests and do them very well, extremely well, in fact. For most of my initial experimentation with the software, I used Fujifilm X-T4 raw files, and the difference was obvious. Results were never overcooked or overcooked thanks to the autopilot, but there was a substantial improvement in overall image quality. I didn’t expect the quality of the upscaled images it produced. I also tested the Topaz Photo AI features on my phone pictures and camera jpg files, and again it worked perfectly. So if you want to see how your images can be improved with these features, I’ll definitely give it a try.
The interface is clean and uncomplicated which is a good thing for new users like me. You can toggle any of the features on or off depending on the result you’re looking for, and although I mainly use it for landscapes, I tried the fetch faces option. For some of the higher ISO or softer faces, it sharpened and improved them considerably. So far, I’ve only used the software standalone or through a Lightroom plugin using the File > Plugin Extras option, instead of the Edit In option. The software quickly springs into action, and once the AI has analyzed your footage, it provides you with a preview that you can edit as you see fit. I mostly used Autopilot mode with only slight tweaks here and there, as the results it delivered were surprisingly good.
Autopilot mode is also configurable via the cog icon, and you can set various preferences depending on your usual photography genre. I found this useful. Its approach is minimal and simple, although it can be easily modified to fit whatever your images need.
At first I wondered how much this software could actually improve the captured image, but the results speak for themselves. At times it was able to save some footage that I would normally only skip due to wind blur and other motion issues.
The Topaz Photo AI details easily extracted and enhanced from some images were unexpected, as I didn’t think it could achieve them. The softness of the road and buildings in the image below was easily fixed, allowing me to save footage that I would otherwise have thrown away. The software is no excuse for bad photography, but it can certainly allow you to save images in some cases that you might not get in another photo.
I for one don’t aim to create razor-sharp images all the time, but with the subtle enhancements I can apply using this software, I’m very pleased with the results it produces.
I don’t do a lot of astrophotography images, but I remembered that I had a fleeting glimpse of the Northern Lights in Iceland this year, so what better way to check out the denoising feature than a picture like this? Again, the software did light work on the noise. The image below is zoomed to 100% so you can see the difference it has made. The gallery contains some screenshots for you to see how much this software can improve your images.
What I liked
- Automatic pilot
- Clean interface
- Easy to use
- Visible improvement in image correction
- Plugin or standalone
What could be improved
- Speed gain on some images
A few images took a bit longer to save back to Lightroom. This I’m sure was due to the complexity of the AI adjustments going on and it’s not something that would stop me from using the software, as the resulting images were worth it. It was sometimes around 80 seconds for Nikon raw files and not a frustrating time I’ve encountered with some programs.
Being really impressed with what Topaz Photo AI could accomplish very easily with landscapes, I had to try it on a few other subjects: an image of a crab and an architectural image, both quick snapshots but both greatly improved with Topaz Photo AI. The autopilot scanned and analyzed the images relatively quickly and produced results that I was very happy with considering the original images.
As I mentioned, I used the software as a plugin through Lightroom and thus created a global editing of the images. If you use it as a Photoshop plug-in, it can be used through layers and masks to locally correct or enhance areas of your images.
As this is my first adventure with the software, I have to say that I am very impressed with AI Photo Topaz. I never encountered any glitches or soft spots, even when I tweaked some sliders. A few of the images, depending on the complexity of the adjustments and the file size, would take a bit longer than others to save to Lightroom, but the results are definitely worth it. I have to admit that I’m convinced by what I’ve seen so far and will add it to my workflow for future edits.