Topaz Labs, the company behind the hugely popular DeNoise AI, Sharpen AI, and Gigapixel AI, has made a huge change. These apps, once a triad of separate programs to fix your photos, are now combined into one robust app that’s here to save the day. Meet Topaz Photo AI, your new post-processing best friend. Let me show you how I used it to record my low light wildlife photography.
If you’re familiar with a previous article I wrote on “How to Improve Your Wildlife Photography with the Topaz Image Quality Pack”, you might recall that I’ve been using DeNoise in my workflow for years. As a wildlife photographer, amazing moments happen when the light just isn’t there. I’ve photographed animals during a snowstorm when the sky is completely overcast, and the bright snow and dark subjects and backgrounds really challenge your camera. Other times I’ve photographed wild horses at sunset, and the action picks up as they battle for territory. The light goes out, but the horses continue to train. So I continue to photograph. A special moment years ago I was in Alaska photographing coastal brown bears. It was blue hour, and a bear suddenly sprang into action fishing for salmon and ran into the water. I photographed it, but the light was so low that the image quality and exposure just wasn’t good. Well, the release of Topaz Photo AI was the perfect time to dig into some of those old photos as well as some new ones with noise, motion blur and more to see what this app can do.
Before we dive in, it’s worth noting that there’s currently a big Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale available on the Topaz Labs website. You can get the Everything Pack for $279 (it’s usually $757.97), which includes Topaz Photo AI, DeNoise AI, Sharpen AI, Gigapixel AI, and Topaz Video AI. The popular Image Quality Pack is on sale for $159 (this one is usually $458.97), which includes Topaz Photo AI, DeNoise AI, Sharpen AI, and Gigapixel AI. They also have sales on upgrades and standalone products if you only want one app. Discover these offers here. Now let’s get to the good stuff.
What’s New in Topaz Photo AI Vs. DeNoise AI, Sharpen AI and Gigapixel AI?
With Topaz Photo AI, three apps have been combined into one to help us save time in our post-processing workflow. Now, instead of bouncing between all three, you can do it all in one. If that wasn’t enough, they also added a new feature called Autopilot. When you load an image, Topaz Photo AI analyzes it and tells you what it needs, then automatically applies the necessary changes. It can tell if your image has motion blur, lens blur, or noise and what type. It loads changes and you can use sliders to adjust the strength. A green mark shows you the recommended settings. I found it surprisingly accurate and rarely had to tweak any adjustments.
The advantage of Topaz software is that it uses artificial intelligence. This clever programming learns from photography, and after being tested on millions of images, it understands complex textures like fur, hair, and foliage and how it should affect those areas. Topaz Photo AI can distinguish noise or blur in fine detail and create new pixels to replace the noise to match the actual photograph content. It’s cool to see it run across the image and detect the cause of the blur, like a missed focus or movement, and then fix it. This not only increases the edge contrast, but actually separates your pixels and organizes them for you based on what is causing the issues. The software also detects the subject and will approach this area differently than negative space or flat areas. It’s really modern software at your fingertips.
Another nice update is that Topaz Photo AI definitely feels faster because it runs the settings on my photo and exports the image to my hard drive. Plus, with all three software in one, it does all three processes in less time than it would take to do one before! Saving time in our busy days is always welcome.
My Topaz Photo AI test results
When approaching a test software that corrects image quality, I go really hard. I dug up some of my old, sad, low-light animal photographs full of all sorts of noises and blurs. I’ve also grabbed a few newer images that might need a bit of improvement. I wanted a good selection of problems to see how Topaz Photo AI would work.
I started easily with slightly noisy or slightly blurry photos. These are probably your everyday common problem types. The software did a quick job of them, and the autopilot feature eagerly captured them to produce very pleasing results. I increased the difficulty, adding less lit or more blurry motion blur images as I went. From backlit tern chicks at sunrise to wild horses without lights, the software has made them all better. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the changes on a small computer screen or phone because the software reduces noise and sharpness, so I made sure to include very close screen shots as well as before and after images so you can all see the magic.
Convinced that Topaz Photo AI can solve our day-to-day image quality issues, I now sought to challenge the app a bit. Yes, it was time. I grabbed the crispest photograph I could find. Fortunately, I always shoot in raw format because to save this image we needed all the data available. I still had this photo because it was a special moment. As I mentioned earlier, it was a wild bear fishing in Alaska. The light was gone; it was the last blue hour, barely. Wildlife, however, is on its own schedule, of course. Then the bear I was photographing suddenly sprang into action, crossing the river in pursuit of a salmon. I didn’t miss a thing and shot the entire sequence with a favorite image from the set. The water droplets flying through the air, the bear’s claws scratching forward, the eyes closed, the fur flying: this photo had everything I wanted except the light! The resulting image was dark, extremely noisy and simply dull. So it stayed in my archives, gathering dust until now.
To correct the photo, I first dragged it into Lightroom to increase exposure, remove shadows, tone down highlights, and make color correction adjustments. As you may have seen in your own photographs, when you have to adjust a photo and drag the sliders that hard, it just introduces more noise and degrades the photo more. I let it go and ignored it to make the necessary exposure and lighting adjustments for the photo, regardless of quality. This is where Topaz Photo AI shines. Although you can use it as a plugin for your favorite main post-processing software, I like to use it on its own afterwards. So I closed Lightroom and dragged the image into Topaz Photo AI, took my hands off the wheel and let the app take control. It sped through the photo, easily detecting and alerting me to high image noise, then applying its autopilot settings. I decided to go a little louder, selected the strong mode and tweaked the sliders to get surprising results. What was a photo that should have been deleted was now usable, the moment recovered. It shows the story of that scene without the annoying distraction of motion blur and extreme noise. Are there any photographs of you that you can imagine staring at?
As I regularly shoot in low light, Topaz Photo AI has become part of my post-processing workflow. I’m thrilled to have cleaner shots and look forward to running them over my images of wildlife, landscapes, and even the night sky. With software like this, it can even change my thinking process in the field, because when the light goes out, I know I can still produce work. Why pack when I can just boost my ISO and capture amazing photos? How cool is that?
If you also want to add Topaz Photo AI to your workflow, you can find it on the Topaz Labs website here. If you’re planning on buying anything, be sure to do so in the next few days to take advantage of their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale. There’s a deal for everyone to help you improve your photos with modern AI technology.
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