THE PLEASURES AND PROBLEMS OF TOPAZ STUDIO 2

Caution: this is a techie post.  I want to share some experiences with Topaz 2 which might be helpful to my colleagues.

First, I like it a lot.  I’ve certainly not put Photoshop (from Elements currently to CS6) out to pasture.  So far It seems that I can do things in PS that I can’t do in Topaz but maybe I’ll learn (any unused neurons still there?).  As an example the side-by-side below was assembled with layers in PS.  Don’t know if I can do things like that in Topaz. On the other hand (as Tevye would say) I’m amazed at some of the things I can do in Topaz that I can’t do in PS.

I have a project underway for another book (shameless commerce plug: see http://www.BetterPix.net). The next book involves using a number of older images processed years ago in various Adobe generations.  I find that Topaz’s AI Clear in Studio 2 adds vitality and sharpness.  Here’s a case in point.  On the left is a print from a slide made in 1965.  The slide was printed and eventually the print was scanned on to a pbase gallery page.  Lots of opportunities for degradation.  On the right is the result of applying AI Clear to that pbase file.  Amaaazzzing!

 

Yes, amazing, and I’ve found it beneficial in other images for the book which were made within the last ten+ years and still in my files as Canon CR format.  Herewith a Sanibel racoon made in 2009, captured in Canon CR and rendered here as a jpg after conversion in CS6.  It was never a good image being a bit fuzzy.  Below it is the image after running it through AI Clear.  Still not great but I’ll take it.

———————-

So, where’s the rub?  Workflow inefficiencies.  I have to open a CR image in PS. Then I can call it into Studio 2 by clicking on that in the PS pull-down filter menu*.  Then I can adjust away but when I’m done and click on Accept in Studio 2 it will return the image to my PS screen BUT then close itself down.  If I’m processing a series of images I have to cause it to reopen for each image.  This is not pleasing.

I discussed this with the wizards at Topaz last May and then again in December.  The problem was that my Canon CR images were appearing brown and drab when opened in Studio 2.   The impressively candid response from them was “We’re fully aware of some of the issues RAW files have with our software. We’re exploring possible avenues to fix this, but it could take some time, as the problem is rooted in the metadata the majority of RAWs have. The workaround you found is actually the very same one we’re suggesting to our users in the meantime. There isn’t much else I can offer at the moment!”

The workaround that I had told them about was as I’ve described above, i.e. open the CR in PS and then send the opened file to Studio 2 for their magic.  So, that’s what I do in order to get the benefit of the superior rendering while I await their solution.  Will it come?  Should it?  Yes, particularly considering how PS has been adapted to so many, many cameras’ RAW processing.

The other issue, that of Studio 2 shutting down after an Accept continues to be a nuisance; Topaz tells me they’re also looking to get this one resolved.

Meanwhile, these are powerful and useful programs!

—————-

—————

*There is a procedure for getting Studio 2 listed on the pull-down menu.  It is at:  https://help.topazlabs.com/hc/en-us/articles/360031185971-Using-Topaz-Studio-2-as-a-Plug-in    Note, however, that even though I’m running a 64bit machine the Topaz LLC Folder had installed in the 32bit OS – C:\Program Files\ and not where they suggested, i.e. 64bit OS – C:\Program Files (x86)\.  Oh, well, just another software snafu leaving less time for a nap.

4 Responses to “THE PLEASURES AND PROBLEMS OF TOPAZ STUDIO 2”

  1. Ken Curtis Says:

    Ralph, I have been using Topaz plug-ins for years now and found some good and others not as good as some of the plug-ins from Google, previously, NIK. I recently upgraded to some of their AI programs which, in some cases, are a major improvement over their older versions. For example, DeNoise AI is without a doubt, the best program for removing noise. I am currently experimenting with Sharpen AI, and it’s shake reduction feature is truly impressive, but the Google plug-ins are better at focusing and sharpening some images where the texture of the objects are “mild”, ie, not much contrast. I also have Adjust AI and at first, did not like it better than the original, but have been “playing” with it and now I like it too.

    I never used Topaz Studio. In my humble opinion, it is not needed when using Photoshop. I only use the Topaz software as straight plug-ins.

    I have found that each piece of software has its strengths and weaknesses and you need to learn what each is good at doing.

    One last recommendation, sign up for Photoshop CC. They have been adding enhancements that are amazing and extend the functionality of CS6.

    My two cents ..

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Ken; worth more than two cents. In re NIK and successors, Denise got me onto those many years ago (Jeez, it’s gettin’ like everything is becoming “years ago”.) and I found that Color Efex Pro 4 was a breakthrough for bringing out detail but I think Topaz has surpassed them. BTW, that family of NIK cum Google is now offered by DxO Software. In re Studio 2, yeah, I’m not shouting from the rooftops yet, but I do like it. I start with it (after P/S) in order to use their filter, AI Clear, which I’m not sure is available as a separate program. I will occasionally use other of their “Essential” filters and, for playing, their “Creative filters. In re PS CC, I’m still a curmudgeon and I became angry with PS when they went to annual fees. so I’m still plodding with CS6 which I had to beat out of them at the time. Thanks for your contribution and I enjoyed your recent South America images.

      • Ken Curtis Says:

        FWIW, Ralph, AI Clear is now included with the new AI Denoise software. If you already have DeNoise, you can get the upgrade for free. Not sure whether you can get the free upgrade if you have AI Clear alone. Two more cents worth …

  2. Ralph Berglund Says:

    That makes sense, Ken, since AI Clear in Studio 2 also includes both DeNoise and Sharpening. I tried it (I have the latest version of DeNoise) but found it not as effective in results, and syrupy slow (98% CPU). So, who knows?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.