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11-17-2020, 07:58 PM   #1
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Lightroom vs. Topaz AI Sharpen Comparison Photos

I have recently acquired Topaz AI Sharpen. I am using the latest version 2.2.0.
I re-processed a slightly out of focus shot from 2019 of the Thunderbirds show in Atlantic City NJ.
All settings were synced from the Lightroom version after topaz AI Sharpening except sharpening and noise reduction to keep the playing field even.
Topaz was set to auto and it chose focus mode with 50% sharpening and 50% noise reduction.

Top Photo = Lightroom only
Bottom Photo = Topaz + Lightroom.

I am pleased with the improvement Topaz gave me in the final image.
Your opinions would be appreciated.

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Last edited by davidreilly3207; 11-17-2020 at 11:22 PM.
11-17-2020, 09:05 PM   #2
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It's a good photo, and I agree with you that Topaz made it better. It sharpened the photo and didn't create ugly oversharpening artifacts.

Did you try applying some Clarity in LR? Adding a little might help restore some of the color and contrast that got lost through ocean haze. (LR offers around a dozen ways to deal with haze, and for me the Dehaze slider is my least-preferred way.)
11-17-2020, 10:54 PM   #3
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I find sometimes it can make a huge difference, resulting in a really good picture vs. one I would have tossed. (BTW this is mostly in the context of photos documenting live theatre productions.) And results IMO I could not have otherwise achieved.

But it also doing more than edge sharpening--it is really changing the image. As an example I have a case where the image came back with 6 toes on a foot. I am not uncomfortable using it for the theatre stuff, as I have done things like combining photos taken a minute of so apart--it is about the illusion of the theatre for me. But using it under other documenting situations I am not sure it is appropriate.

BTW for people that want to try it--it is very computationally intensive, and needs a very fast computer (and I am typically only working w/ 12-16 MP images).

Last edited by dms; 11-17-2020 at 11:02 PM.
11-17-2020, 11:25 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
It's a good photo, and I agree with you that Topaz made it better. It sharpened the photo and didn't create ugly oversharpening artifacts.

Did you try applying some Clarity in LR? Adding a little might help restore some of the color and contrast that got lost through ocean haze. (LR offers around a dozen ways to deal with haze, and for me the Dehaze slider is my least-preferred way.)
I wanted to keep processing as close to what was done originally in 2019.

11-17-2020, 11:56 PM   #5
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Topaz Sharpen AI, in my opinion, is probably the best of the bunch. It has the most scope for successfully improving a photo, as you've shown above.
That said, Topaz Denoise AI is also excellent (for the most part) but sometimes completely misinterprets what should and shouldn't be sharpened/noise-reduced and can create some strange looks as a result.
Great comparison and a well-saved photo.
11-18-2020, 01:09 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Benz3ne Quote
Topaz Sharpen AI, in my opinion, is probably the best of the bunch. It has the most scope for successfully improving a photo, as you've shown above.
That said, Topaz Denoise AI is also excellent (for the most part) but sometimes completely misinterprets what should and shouldn't be sharpened/noise-reduced and can create some strange looks as a result.
Great comparison and a well-saved photo.
I completely agree on both counts. Neither is perfect, but in my experience both can give better results than the opposition. One of the nice aspects of both is the way Topaz keeps rolling out improvements and additions.
11-18-2020, 02:29 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
I completely agree on both counts. Neither is perfect, but in my experience both can give better results than the opposition. One of the nice aspects of both is the way Topaz keeps rolling out improvements and additions.
I've recently found that Lightroom's denoise is surprisingly efficient/good once you've had a tinker around. Been shooting some shots at ISO 3200. Using the masking tool for sharpening helps (with +ALT key to show the degree of masking) so backgrounds are not sharpened. Colour noise reduction is incredibly efficient, then can apply noise reduction judiciously and bump up the 'detail' slider if I need a bit more of the original detail to remain. The 'detail' slider can be the most deleterious.
It's good enough for me to use that rather than exporting to Denoise/Sharpen in order to have a quicker workflow.
11-18-2020, 03:14 AM   #8
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Topaz produced an improved version of the photo. If this is also the case for large prints, its definitely worth it.

11-18-2020, 04:23 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Benz3ne Quote
I've recently found that Lightroom's denoise is surprisingly efficient/good once you've had a tinker around. Been shooting some shots at ISO 3200. Using the masking tool for sharpening helps (with +ALT key to show the degree of masking) so backgrounds are not sharpened. Colour noise reduction is incredibly efficient, then can apply noise reduction judiciously and bump up the 'detail' slider if I need a bit more of the original detail to remain. The 'detail' slider can be the most deleterious.
It's good enough for me to use that rather than exporting to Denoise/Sharpen in order to have a quicker workflow.
If you use Sharpen or Denoise as a plug-in, it’s no more a burden than any other filter, at least in PS – I don’t use LR.

Last edited by RobA_Oz; 11-18-2020 at 12:38 PM.
11-18-2020, 05:14 AM - 3 Likes   #10
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I have always used the Unsharp Mask tool for sharpening. I had a go at your LR version and came up with this.
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11-18-2020, 05:33 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by davidreilly3207 Quote
I am pleased with the improvement Topaz gave me in the final image.
Your opinions would be appreciated.
The Topaz version looks great to me, David. I will say, I believe it may be possible to get a little more out of your Lightroom adjustments - but it will be difficult to match the Topaz result.

What I'd love to see - only if you're able to oblige, of course - is three 100% crops... one with all sharpening turned off, one with Lightroom, and one with Topaz. At 100%, it would be easier to judge potential artefacts.

Last edited by BigMackCam; 11-18-2020 at 06:36 AM.
11-18-2020, 07:30 AM   #12
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CaptureOne makes a excellent job too! Never got better results than with CaptureOne.
11-18-2020, 09:03 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Benz3ne Quote
Topaz Sharpen AI, in my opinion, is probably the best of the bunch. It has the most scope for successfully improving a photo, as you've shown above.
That said, Topaz Denoise AI is also excellent (for the most part) but sometimes completely misinterprets what should and shouldn't be sharpened/noise-reduced and can create some strange looks as a result.
Great comparison and a well-saved photo.
I have Topaz Denoise AI as well and it is almost a miracle worker. Well worth the price, even saving an ISO 3200 shot on my K3 II. I'd have to double check (I only recently bought it and haven't opened it much), but I thought I saw a brush option on it, which would get around the problem of erratic results.
11-18-2020, 11:05 AM   #14
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I also have a commercial graphics company and use Topaz products regularly, often to rescue customer-supplied images. Besides Topaz Sharpen, JPEG to Raw AI and Gigapixel AI are both worthy additions and huge problem solvers in a pinch. We've sometimes needed to work with some combination of these on an image in order to get printable results.

I'm a big fan of Topaz.
11-18-2020, 11:05 AM - 1 Like   #15
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I've been interested in the Topaz products, but the price for a single app that I can come close enough to with LR or PS... I haven't bit the bullet on Topaz.

---------- Post added 11-18-20 at 11:13 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by gatorguy Quote
use Topaz products regularly, often to rescue customer-supplied images.
Interesting use case
I guess for me, my images didn't need as much rescuing to necessitate the purchase of Topaz.
Maybe one day..
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