Andy Bell Photography

Topaz Sharpen AI Update – Stunning Performance

Topaz Sharpen AI Update - Stunning Performance

I’ve been an advocate of Topaz Sharpen AI since its release. Topaz has now issued an update with the following additional features:

  • Auto-detect masking tool to generate base masks.
  • “Auto-detect mode” capability which will allow Sharpen AI to select the best processing mode for your image.

The masking tool can identify 20 unique subject types, including people, animals, birds and cars. You use it to quickly select areas to sharpen exclusively or exclude from sharpening.

The auto-detect mode analyses your image and chooses the best options for you. Topaz Sharpen AI is unique in that it can, besides ‘normal’ sharpening, correct motion-blurred and out-of-focus images.

Is that possible? Look at this video and see it in action, or read on below…

YouTube Poster

Sharpen AI – The challenge

I gave Sharpen AI a picure that is soft. It’s one that I have never sharpened satisfactorily in the past. I choose it because it had people in it, so I could test its new auto mask feature. I was not expecting it to do what it did…

Here’s the original picture, opened in Sharpen AI but with no sharpening applied…

The Original Picure

What I had not expected was that Topaz Sharpen AI’s ‘auto mode’ tool would automatically recognise that this was, not a soft picture, but one affected by motion blur.

It was a very windy day up in the Lake District in October 2004, and the tripod must have moved because of a gust of wind at the moment the shutter, which was on a 10 second timer, opened. It was the last picture we took on that trip – minutes later the heavens opened and heavy rain set in.

I was curious to see what Sharpen AI could do with this picture and marvelled at the result:

This is the sharpest result ever from this image!

Sharpen AI Auto-Mask

I chose this picture to test the ‘auto-mask’ capabilities of Sharpen AI. Creating the mask is simple – just click the ‘Find Objects button. Sure enough, it found us and produced a reasonable mask. As you can see on the video, I make a tiny tweak to it to complete it:

Here are two pictures showing the results of selective sharpening, using the mask:

I have set the splitter to only show the sharpening of the person on the right…


Selective Image Stabilisation…

Topaz Sharpen AI – Conclusion

Here’s a before and after comparison:

If you’d like a closer look, here are links to full resolution images:

Original Image

The Selectively Sharpened Image

The results speak for themselves – the picture was soft because of motion blur. Now it is sharp, but not over-sharp. It looks natural.

Purists may argue that the photographer should get it right at the time you take the picture. They are right. But people are not perfect. We all make mistakes. And all digital photos need a degree of sharpening, no matter how good the original image is. Topaz Sharpen AI meets all my sharpening needs… It’s one of my go-to tools you’d have to prise from my cold, dead hands before I’d stop using it.

Topaz Special Offer

Topaz is offering Sharpen AI at the discounted price of $59.99 until August 7, 2020. It’s a brilliant time to check it out – a trial version is available.

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