Saturday, September 17, 2022

Topaz Labs Releases Photo AI

Topaz Labs has announced the release of Topaz Photo AI, a new app that effectively combines the developer's three adjustment filters - Sharpen, DeNoise, and Gigapixel - into a single AI powered piece of software that promises to analyze any image opened within it using the new Autopilot feature and then automatically make the necessary corrections to it, though these can be manually overridden if the user wishes full control of the adjustments. In theory, photos can be processed with a single click.

Simply from the point of convenience the app would be a great step forward if it worked as advertised since it would now no longer necessary to move an image from one app to the next in order to make necessary changes as I had routinely done in the past.  Everything could be accomplished in a single step and the user, if satisfied with the AI's recommendations, would need only save the processed image.  

Unfortunately, unless I am doing something wrong, the Autopilot does not appear to work as promised.  In most of the photos I opened in Photo AI the Autopilot, after scanning the image, only reduced the image noise (a green dot appeared next to Remove Noise), which wasn't that much of a problem anyway since the images had all been shot at ISO 800.  I had to manually click on the Sharpen, Recover Faces, and Enhance Resolution tabs - without, however, inputting any manual adjustments - to prompt the app to make corrections in those areas.  (When I then clicked on Reset to Autopilot Settings the image discarded these additional corrections and was noticeably inferior to that on which the prompted adjustments had been made.)  The entire procedure is not particularly cumbersome if one is processing only one or two images; but it is unwieldy, to say the least, if one is attempting to batch process a large number of photos.

Topaz Labs controversially began charging for upgrades to its filters several years ago, and I'm not sure it had all that much luck in convincing users to sign on for the extra payments.  Photo AI is most likely a way of sidestepping the problem by offering customers a new app that essentially does the same work as the three old filters but in a new and streamlined package.  The final images, after following the steps noted in the above paragraph (i..e., clicking on each tab individually), were certainly of excellent quality and decidedly better than I could have attained using the three adjustment filters individually, for which I have to admit I'd never purchased the upgrades.

The introductory price of Photo AI is $159 through October 7th, a savings of $40 off the regular price of $199.  One has to look very closely at the fine print to discover that current users of Topaz products are entitled to an even greater discount.  In any event, the purchase price entitles the user to a year of free upgrades.

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