Some experimentation with Topaz Sharpen AI

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
Troy, NY
Before

Peebles 001.JPG
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


after

Peebles 001-sharpen-stabilize.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


before
G12 misc 048.JPG
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


after

G12 misc 048-sharpen-focus.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


before

RX10 test shots 012.JPG
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


after

RX10 test shots 012-sharpen-focus.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Commentary:

I downloaded the software as a free trial onto two computers: a Dell Inspiron 13 with an i7 processor and an HP Elite with the Ryzen chipset and 16 gigs of ram. Neither computer has a dedicated graphics card.

Sharpen AI seems to chew on the files as it is importing them, does more processing while the image is "on-board," and seems to be doing even more processing while exporting the files. The HP Elite was definitely faster in handling the files.

I chose the top set because I wasn't quite satisfied with the sharpness of the floating lamps. The middle set was a hopeless failure on my part (the camera was on the wrong setting), and I wanted to see if Sharpen AI could rescue it. The bottom set was an image I already liked, and I wanted to see if Sharpen AI would improve it somehow.

Cheers, Jock
 
Last edited:

Tilman Paulin

Top Veteran
Nov 15, 2011
69
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
Getting yourself a GPU will make a huge difference. Even an entry level GeForce 1060 (or 1660 or whatever the current or cheapest version is) brought processing times down from 60 seconds-ish to 6 seconds-ish (for me on my i5 with integrated graphics ...

The results are often great... :)
 

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
Troy, NY
Getting yourself a GPU will make a huge difference. Even an entry level GeForce 1060 (or 1660 or whatever the current or cheapest version is) brought processing times down from 60 seconds-ish to 6 seconds-ish (for me on my i5 with integrated graphics ...

The results are often great... :)
So far, I am not desperately impressed with the results.

Cheers, Jock
 
Aug 27, 2013
124
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Miguel Tejada-Flores
I too recently downloaded a trial version of Topaz AI. Mainly because of ctein's fascinating (and relatively technical) recent essay about it, on TOP (The Online Photographer), singing its praises. I haven't used it that much but so far, for me at least, the results are subtle but definitely noticeable and I am rather impressed by them.

Here is an example I processed earlier today. The original was shot in RAW with my Pentax KP - and then converted to monochrome using Nik's Silver Efex. The first version, here, is the 'BEFORE' version -

Manos_Arriba_Halloween_DNG+SilverEfex.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


The second, here, is the 'AFTER' version -

Manos_Arriba_Halloween_SilverEfex.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


It helps to have a large monitor to see the results. To me they are most noticeable in the face - in the first (BEFORE) shot, the details on the face are very accurate - but when you look closely at the same face in the 2nd (AFTER) version - it has a clarity and, yes, a sharpness to it, as well - which to my eye is significantly better than the before version. It helps to view them in a program like Lightroom - which allows one to see an extremely magnified version by double clicking on a particular photo or file. Here on the cameraderie website, I'm not sure if one has the tools to magnify it sufficiently.

I haven't done that much with it yet - but I'm close to becoming a convert, I think.
 

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
124
Troy, NY
I too recently downloaded a trial version of Topaz AI. Mainly because of ctein's fascinating (and relatively technical) recent essay about it, on TOP (The Online Photographer), singing its praises. I haven't used it that much but so far, for me at least, the results are subtle but definitely noticeable and I am rather impressed by them.

Here is an example I processed earlier today. The original was shot in RAW with my Pentax KP - and then converted to monochrome using Nik's Silver Efex. The first version, here, is the 'BEFORE' version -

View attachment 207299

The second, here, is the 'AFTER' version -

View attachment 207300

It helps to have a large monitor to see the results. To me they are most noticeable in the face - in the first (BEFORE) shot, the details on the face are very accurate - but when you look closely at the same face in the 2nd (AFTER) version - it has a clarity and, yes, a sharpness to it, as well - which to my eye is significantly better than the before version. It helps to view them in a program like Lightroom - which allows one to see an extremely magnified version by double clicking on a particular photo or file. Here on the cameraderie website, I'm not sure if one has the tools to magnify it sufficiently.

I haven't done that much with it yet - but I'm close to becoming a convert, I think.
I'll check out your example on a large monitor later today.

So far, the best "cool thing" I've found in a while for post-processing is Luminar, which I bought.

Cheers, Jock
 

Tilman Paulin

Top Veteran
Nov 15, 2011
69
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
SharpenAI to me is more about giving a "consumer-lens" more acuity/microcontrast (saving me from the weight and expense of bigger "pro"-lenses) and about correcting minor focus-errors.

The differences are small enough that some people might not bother while others might appreciate it.
If your lenses are already razor-sharp (and you nailed the focus) you might not see an improvement at all...

It's not something I use on every photo, but on some it turned a good photo into a "wow"-one :)

(and since I already owned the older Topaz-plugins, I got the new AI plugins as free updates - which certainly makes me a bit less critical of them :-D )
 
Last edited:
Aug 27, 2013
124
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Miguel Tejada-Flores
This is ctein's rather technical and details - but quite fascinating - article on Topaz Sharpen AI -


- it's a 'good read' for those who are technically inclined.
 

Tilman Paulin

Top Veteran
Nov 15, 2011
69
Vancouver B.C.
Tilman
After doing a quick test I have to say I'm not coming to the same conclusion as Ctein, that the "Stabilize"-mode would yield the best results, even on non-shaky photos.

I'm also often using Topaz Denoise AI instead. It has a sharpening option too - and I find the results of it the most natural.

A photo from today - taken with the Olympus 75-300mmm at 300mm and denoised/sharpened with DenoiseAI:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Sunday by tilman paulin, on Flickr
 
Last edited:

Latest threads

Top Bottom