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Topaz Image Enhancing Software Advice Required


Dabber 18 236 England
25 Jul 2020 2:17PM
Iím just wondering if anyone has any advice or views about Topaz Labs A1 sharpening software?

My main use for this (or similar) would be for when I convert my very old, mainly black and negatives that I have accumulated over the years. The very early ones taken on an old Helina Paulete in the 1960s, processed by me, are really not the best. Having said that, I have managed to get some half decent results using the camera raw filter in Photoshop CC 2020.

I have also taken a real interest in local history, and have collected quite a few old postcards of local streets and buildings now long gone. These too, always in need of a little TLC so my aim is to develop a workflow that will enable me to get the best image quality from them.

I have been looking at the Topaz range of enhancing software, but canít make my mind up whether it will significantly improve on what Photoshop can deliver?

This is basically my current workflow, regardless of source of the original image, neg or print.
Open up in CC, do any quick crops to get rid of anything not really relevant to the finished image.
Open Camera Raw filter-then in the basic field manipulate the black/shadow/white/highlights and contrast sliders to get the most pleasing image. Then into the Detail and try to get rid of grain and artifacts, I almost never introduce any sharpening here as it just exaggerates the graininess. Sometimes open the curves to see if that has any beneficial effects, then in geometry see if any verticals need straightening.
Back into Photoshop, do a bit of localised dodge and burn, sometimes select details (faces, skys etc.) and using curves try to improve those areas. Then finish off using the spot healing brush to get rid of any creases and other unwanted detail. Generally Iím ok with all of that except the noise reduction and sharpening, hence the post.

Maybe there is some good advice/tutorials on YouTube, but Iíve not seen anything yet, Iím not great at Ďsearchingí! usually find anything except what I want, that maybe an age thing.
Thanks for looking
Dabber

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sherlob Plus
14 3.1k 129 United Kingdom
25 Jul 2020 4:08PM
I am a fan of Topaz AI Sharpening and DeNoise plugins. I have incorporated both into my workflow, but not for every image. If I opt to use them I tend to so as part of the initial processing steps in LR - before any other adjustment after I have assessed the image quality. The sharpening filter is excellent, but as with any post processing technique, you need to apply it with care and in moderation. I find that it occasionally introduce added noise into the image as a consequence of the sharpening algorithm used - this is not a grain, but rather a mottled like pattern that is unsightly. This is more notable for the "stabiliser" and "focus" options. That said it has helped me "save" the odd shot that would have otherwise been relegated to the bin.

In the applications you describe I don't know how beneficial the sharpener will be. However, Topaz do a free 30 day full functioning trial. It was through this trial that I came to appreciate how good the filters are. Why not give it a go? Be warned though the plug-ins are demanding in terms of processing power...
IanYorke 7 26 United Kingdom
25 Jul 2020 4:54PM
In your use case it is unlikely that the scanned images contain enough information to benefit. The only way to know is to download the trial and see for yourself. Certainly on digital camera images the Sharpen AI can work wonders, particularly with image movement/camera shake.
Dave_Canon Plus
14 1.8k United Kingdom
25 Jul 2020 8:03PM
I have most of the Topaz Plug-ins and found them very effective. In particular, De Noise AI which I use rather than the noise reduction in LR or PS. I can then apply the Sharpening AI. Because it analyses the image it normally avoids sharpening backgrounds etc. In fact in the latest upgrade it can automask the main subject ensuring sharpening is only applied to the main subject. I find that it does not generally oversharpen as do other methods so you are less likely to end up with halos. Try it and see.

Dave
Dabber 18 236 England
25 Jul 2020 11:43PM
Certainly looks as though it could be beneficial but as each of you points out the only true test is to use it.

I didn't realise there is a 30 day 'free trial' which ought to ample time to give it a good run through projects that I have used CC on.

I agree with Ian Yorke that old black and negs being scanned are going to be difficult to work on, but I will be able to do direct comparisons.

Thanks to each of you for taking the time to comment, very helpful.

Dabber ,
26 Jul 2020 9:59AM
I would suggest that you use DeNoise first - before anything else. I have been using Topaz for years and although I love their 'legacy' products personally I am not a great fan of the AI products. I have also found the PS CC Shake reduction is extremely good (rather hidden in the 'Sharpen filter).
There are a lot of Topaz videos on YouTube - also available on the 'catch-up' section of your TV.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=av3lfRUGzNg

They also have their own 'chat' section on the internet.
peterjones 18 5.0k 1 United Kingdom
26 Jul 2020 11:17AM
I use the Topaz suite on a regular basis and have found that Denoise AI is probably the best noise removal tool out there, used wisely Sharpen AI is excellent, I use mine on the top of a layer stack and can adjust opacity and/or layer blend mode to taste.
If you like cutting out your subjects then Remask AI is very effective, I once cut out a rat and the mask got the whiskers and fur.
Good luck.

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