There are many things that were once true about photo editing that no longer apply. For example, you can’t fix an accidental out-of-focus subject or recover as much detail from heavy noise reduction. Topaz Labs is one reason we can now approach post-processing in a different way.

Topaz sponsored the Showcase so I could give you an overview my workflow using these three Image Quality Bundle products. It really shows off their incredible results.

Topaz Labs, a software company based in Dallas, Texas, makes AI-based video and photo editing programs. While you may be squinting your eyes, I realize that these days “AI” is trendy. End users don’t notice any difference. Topaz Labs is a different story. You will see how machine learning improves photos beyond what was visible in the original images.

Topaz Labs’ most sought-after Image Quality Bundle is the Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI and Gigapixel AI. It normally costs $259.97. The company is offering a Black Friday discount of up to 60% on their Image Quality Bundle. This bundle includes Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, and Gigapixel AI. You can also get the “Everything Bundle” which includes three video apps and Video Enhance AI, for $199.98 (normally $559.96). You can still save 25% on individual licenses of DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI if bundles don’t suit you. Video Enhance AI is now available at $99.99. This represents a 67% discount from its regular price of $299.99.

Before I get into any of these programs, I make some basic adjustments to the RAW files in Capture One. Then I export a TIFF file from Adobe Photoshop to do more detailed editing. Topaz Labs is what I use. I can then run it in Photoshop and have it apply to its own layer. This gives me the greatest flexibility. You don’t have to do this if you want to use these products. Capture One or Adobe Lightroom can open images directly into them. Or, you can run them standalone with the ability batch process multiple images at once.

Before and after basic adjustments in Capture One including cropping, leveling, exposure, white balance, and adding vignette.

Topaz Labs Sharpen AI

After I have finished editing my RAW image using Capture One, it is sent to Photoshop. I should know by now if my photo must go through Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI.

DeNoise AI is a better choice if you only need minor sharpening. It has the ability to improve some details while it reduces noise. Sharpen AI can perform some noise reduction, but it will work better if you have the right program for the issue. Sharpen AI is my go-to program when a photo requires sharpness recovery. It’s worth every penny.

Before and after running the photo through Sharpen AI. 100% crops.

My example photo of the Hawaiian Stilt, taken a few years back, was going to the trash. The long tendrils of water that connect the stilt’s feet to the pond are what I love about this photo. My camera settings were set to capture it moving along, but my shutter speed was not fast enough for it to freeze the action as it emerged from the water. Extreme motion blur affects the head and eyes. It’s not like I can just utter “better luck next year” after taking the photo in Hawaii.

Sharpen AI’s correction options are clearly laid out so that anyone can understand them. This image is very blurred, so I selected the “Motion Blur-Very Blurry” sharpen option. Here I can adjust the blur removal and noise suppression.

Topaz Labs Sharpen AI program overview.
Topaz Labs Sharpen AI program overview.
Masking inside Sharpen AI.
Masking inside Sharpen AI.

Even better, I can make a mask that only targets the areas I care about. I can reduce the opacity on my masking brush to reduce its impact in certain areas if there are any areas that have been too sharpened. To match the noise between the mask and the original image, I use the Add Grain slider. This creates a seamless mix. Now I can click Apply to finish the image in Photoshop.

Before Sharpen AI.
Before Sharpen AI.
After Sharpen AI.
After Sharpen AI.

Topaz Labs DeNoise AI

I would use DeNoise AI first, then Sharpen AI. Sharpen AI is treated as the original, and I can forget that I made any mistakes. Because I added grain to the Sharpen AI step in order to create an even spread in noise, it is now possible to wipe the entire photo with DeNoise AI. This will allow me not worry about double the noise reduction in areas that I have already altered.

The previous image was taken at ISO 320 using a Sony Alpha 7C. I felt it was worth looking at something more challenging. DeNoise AI’s power will be demonstrated by a skip to sunset, where my Alpha 7R III was ISO 4,000. To further increase the noise, the exposure was increased by a stop and a quarter.

Before and after running the photo through DeNoise AI. 100% crops.

Before and after running the photo through DeNoise AI. 100% crops.

DeNoise AI has the same layout as Sharpen AI. The side panel shows the tool. First, I chose the AI Model from several options. This photo is between several models because it has high levels of noise and was taken in low light. It’s easy to click the Compare button to see all four AI models being applied simultaneously to my photo. This allows me to decide which model will give the best balance of noise reduction and preservation of details. Personally, I chose Severe Noise.

Topaz Labs DeNoise AI program overview.

Topaz Labs DeNoise AI program overview.

There are a few more settings I can tweak to fine-tune the image after selecting the AI Model. These include Enhance Sharpness and Remove Noise. To balance out any loss of fine details in my photo, I often use the Recover Original Detail slider. The Color Noise Reduction tool is also available. I used it more frequently in older versions. However, Topaz Labs has become very adept at addressing these issues.

Before DeNoise AI.
Before DeNoise AI.
After DeNoise AI.
After DeNoise AI.

Topaz Labs Gigapixel AI

Gigapixel AI rounds out the Image Quality Bundle. This program is capable of upscaling photos without affecting details. Sharpen AI produced a photo that was 3,535×2,357 pixels, or 8 megapixels. It was cropped in Capture One. While that’s fine for Instagram, I have found myself in situations when I upload a deep crop to social networks only to be asked for a larger print.

Uh-oh. It can be embarrassing to have to admit that you cannot in these situations. I am able to use Gigapixel AI to increase the size of the image while maintaining the original quality.

Gigapixel AI overview.

It’s set up in the same way as the previous two and it’s extremely easy to use powerful tools. The Resize Mode panel allows me to choose whether I want to resize my photo two times or more. Or, I can be very specific and set the width or height. You can choose inches to adjust the width and height of my print. This allows me to specify how many pixels I want per unit, for example 300 PPI.

Let’s just say that I am not asking the entire world about my edited 8-megapixel photo. It should be able to grow to the 24-megapixel image (6,000 by 4,000 pixels) that the Sony Alpha 7C normally takes. To do this, I click on the Width tab. Enter 6,000 pixels. The next step is to choose from Standard, Lines and Art or Very Compressed. This is a simple standard photo, which isn’t too low resolution. I will stick with Standard.

Before and after running the photo through Gigapixel AI. 100% crops.

After selecting an AI Model, you will see a Settings panel that allows you to adjust the Suppress Noise or Remove Blur sliders. According to my experience, the Auto settings work just fine. If you feel your photo requires further adjustments, you can find them below.

Essential for photo editing

Unrepeatable moments are what I experience as a wildlife photographer. Sharpen AI has been my go-to tool for fixing my mistakes and improving my lens sharpness. DeNoise AI allows me to push my cameras a bit more than before, and Gigapixel AI helps me battle big crops. Topaz Labs’ Image Quality Bundle is a great example of this.