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Software Review: Topaz Labs Plug-In Bundle

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This is the first of three part series that will look at the six products that come with the Topaz Labs Plug-In Bundle. They include Topaz DeNoise 5, Topaz Adjust 4, Topaz Simplify 3, Topaz Detail 2, Topaz Clean 3, and Topaz ReMask. The goal of this bundle is to give you everything that you need in one package to handle all of your photographic editing and enhancing needs.

The Topaz Labs Plug-In Bundle gives you a complete one-stop shop for enhancing, color correcting, sharpening, masking, and much more. As with most filters, many of these functions can be done by hand in Photoshop and other programs, but their benefit is that they make the task much faster and easier to accomplish that will save you hours of work. For information on what is required to run these plug-ins you can check out the compatability page.

 Topaz Labs Plug-in Bundle

Topaz DeNoise 5
Topaz DeNoise is an advanced noise reduction tool that removes noise from your images while attempting to preserve the most image detail. What exactly is noise? Noise is a random and unwanted problem caused by the sensor and usually has to do with high ISO settings. It appears as randomly spaced dots on the image and gives the appearance of graininess.

Noise is generally seen in the plain areas of your image such as a solid wall or strongly colored sky. It can also be found in areas of high color and in the darker shadows as well since lower light offers less information than does areas with more light.

Except when trying for a particular effect, noise is considered to be a detriment to an image and tends to result in an image with less detail and reduced clarity. While sometimes the noise may appear to be minor, it is when the image is enlarged or when you zoom in on the photo with a program like Photoshop.

 Topaz Labs Plug-in Bundle

What is new in Topaz DeNoise 5
• The processing speed has been double as well as the ability to work with images twice the size as the previous version. This now provides a faster and more effective way to reduce heavy noise in high-ISO images.

• Topaz DeNoise 5 is powered by a leap forward in noise reduction technology through the use of IntelliNoise, which was developed in-house by Topaz Labs after years of research into image processing. The goal of this project was to discover a noise reduction solution that was actually capable of recovering detail as well as removing noise.

• With the new Debanding Tab the horizontal and vertical banding noise that can be evident in many high ISO, low light images is eliminated through the use of the new dual-directional Debanding feature.

• By using the Correct Black Levels slider in the Noise Reduction Tab will help reduce haze (caused by noise) and reveal the true richness in the darkest parts of an image.

Now what does all of this mean to you? Well, first off it means that you can shoot faster. This is especially true when you are in a darker indoor situation where you need to push your ISO to 1600 or even 3200. Through the use of Topaz DeNoise, you know that you will be able to reduce the noise levels that will be produced so you can go ahead and take the shot.

You can also shoot darker. Topaz DeNoise gives you four stops of noise reduction allowing you to shoot 4 stops darker without losing quality. This is important when flash is not an option, but you still want to get that perfect shot. You can also shoot clearer by not having to open your aperture all of the way in order to get clean low-light shots. Instead you can keep your depth of field by using a smaller aperture and higher ISO.

 Topaz Labs Plug-in Bundle

Topaz Adjust 4

Topaz Adjust is plug-in that uses new technology created to make your images pop. Through the use of sophisticated algorithms, Topaz Adjust allows you to work quickly and effectively to improve any image without spending a lot of time working with layers or adjustments. There are also several different presets that provide a starting point for your image.

Through the use of Topaz Adjust, you can achieve many different looks like exposure correction, contrast adjustment, pseudo-hdr, extreme color, simplified details, as well as exaggerated details. With Topaz Adjust you can make your images pop, fine tune your images, rescue dull images, and add unique color effects.

What is new in Topaz Adjust 4
• New user interface. Includes the ability to easily expand and collapse side panels.
• New presets layout. The new preset format features its own preview window.
• Quick slider reset allows you to double-click on the slider name to easily reset
default slider values.
• Larger image abilities. Significant stability increase for processing large images.
• Realtime interface and preset thumbnails that offer previews of each presets’ effect on the image are displayed in the Preview finder.
• Shortcut keys: For example, use the spacebar to switch between the original and the processed images, the + and – keys to zoom in/out of the preview, and the arrow keys to change parameters values.

So, how will Topaz Adjust 4 help you in your work? First, it will simplify your ability to get the colors in your image to pop. You can take bland skies and make them come alive, you can washed out colors and reinvigorate them, you can take photos that you thought were had no hope and make them pop.

Because Topaz Adjust comes with presets you can quickly highlight them and in the preview window get an idea of what your image will look like. When you find one that you like you will select it and then you have the ability to tweak it how you like.

 Topaz Labs Plug-in Bundle

If before you choose the filter, you make a layer copy, apply the filter, then when you are back in Photoshop, you can then use layer masks to paint in or out specific areas that you want to reduce the effect. You can even apply additional Adjust filters.

If you are into High Dynamic Range imaging, then Topaz Adjust will give you great results if you want to use one image to create the effect. Working them the traditional way you can add finishing touches with additional color pop.

Topaz DeNoise runs for $79.99 as a standalone, and Topaz Adjust goes for $49.99. Or you can get the whole Topaz Labs Plug-In Bundle for $179.99 which is a savings of $160 over the individual prices.

I really like the way that both Topaz DeNoise, and Topaz Adjust were easy to use, and really produced nice results. In both cases it was simple to get to the exact results that I wanted without a lot of effort. This makes it very easy to highly recommend both of these products as they will save you time and effort in getting your best shot.

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About T. Michael Testi

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

    Great review. Very informative.