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Software Review: Topaz Labs InFocus

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InFocus is the latest product from Topaz Labs. The goal of InFocus is take an image and make it sharp as possible based on the quality of the original image. In some cases it can improve a slightly out-of-focus image clearer, but that doesn’t mean that it is going to make a badly out-of-focus image come into focus — although there are some situations where it will try.

The real purpose of InFocus is two-fold. First it is an advanced sharpening product that uses its own proprietary technologies to make your in-focused images ultra-sharp. The second use is in forensic imaging. Here the goal is not to make a blurry image crystal clear, but rather to make a blurry image clear enough to identify specific details such as the ability to read a license plate number.

 Topaz Labs InFocus

InFocus is considered a sharpening and deblurring solution. Topaz Labs have developed their own deconvolution technology to restore, refine, and sharpen image detail. Most sharpening methods detect the edges within an image and create more drastic tonal transitions, increasing the perceived sharpness and often producing harsh unappealing results.

InFocus uses image deconvolution technology to mathematically reverse image blur, increasing the actual sharpness. InFocus can enhance the clarity of an already well-focused image as well as deblur an out-of-focus or motion blurred image. They do this through a technique called Blur Estimation.

Many sharpening methods use unsharp masking. Unsharp masking detects the edges within an image and increases the perceived sharpness by creating more drastic tonal transitions (contrast boost). Sometimes this boost in edge contrast can produce harsh unappealing results.

Through the use of deconvolution, the attempt is to reverse the process that caused an image to be blurred. It is through this process that the sharpness is increased by reversing the causes of blur based on the likely origins of the distortions when the image was captured.

 Topaz Labs InFocus

What do you get with Topaz InFocus
• Friendly interface that allows you to expand and collapse the preset panel and the tool panel for a more adjustable workspace. This gives you more control over your workflow

• Preview section that gives you the ability to compare the original image with the processed image and examine the results. You can also pan around the image or zoom in and out.

• You can use existing presets as well as creating ones of your own. This gives you the ability to speed up and simplify your use of Topaz Clean. These presets are previously defined settings that you can reapply at any time. You can tweak these presets and save them for your own use as well as sharing them with others.

• You get the ability to sharpen your images for increased clarity and enhanced structure detail through micro-contrast enhancement.

• You may also recover lost image detail depending on the type of blurring that has occurred to the image. Topaz Labs InFocus

Now what does this mean to you? It means that you get a high quality sharpening program to increase your ability for clearer, cleaner images. You also get, in some situations, to make blurrier images clearer. This generally occurs with images that have a lot of straight lines that the Blur Estimation can use to reverse the process that caused the blur in the first place. Keep in mind that InFocus will not fix bad pictures, but in some cases will make them clearer.

I think that InFocus is a very high quality sharpening program that has a lot of potential going forward especially with regard to the Blur Estimation. As that gets more refined, it may be able to fix more and more marginal images. If you are looking for a solid sharpening product and especially if you own other products in the Topaz line, then I can recommend Topaz InFocus.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.