Report from the Field: Many Years Ago.

I’ve hummed and hahhed about posting this. This blog does not do product reports or endorsements. I figure there are enough and more of those already.

So what follows is simply where I am in my journey of post processing software investigations.

Also if your  a “Bokeh” fanatic, believing that the world does not begin until f/1.8, then click away now, as there is nothing here for you.

For the record, I have a fairly large investment in software by NIk. I purchased stand alones of their Noise and Sharpening products years ago. And I’ve updated them regularly. They are my main go to until recently.

I’ve also been a fan of a number of the Topaz add ons (plugins) for Photoshop. I’m not too much of a preset sort of person, so my Topaz products have been mostly image enhancement.
Recently got a ‘free’ upgrade to the latest Topaz Studio product.(more of that some other time over a glass of chaddy I think).  And because of that, looked at their AI Sharpen. (AI in that name meaning ‘Artificial Intellegence’, but that would be marketing hype.
Anyway to cut to the chase, I am quite impressed by the results.
But, and I stress but.  This is not a recommendation to rush out and buy, to download, or to use.  Its simply what I’ve found works for me.
Just in case someone asks, here is their site. Topaz Labs

Which leads me to the point of the post late mid-week.
Many years ago.

In 1976, a magazine, Photo Techniques was launched, and it co-incided with what was to be a major change in career direction for me. Mike Johnson was the editor, and one of the main writers was a character named Ctein. (Let’s get it right: pronounced, ku-tine as in fine)
He wrote all sorts of articles on getting the best possible quality from photochemical prints. He knowlege was legendary, his practical hands-on experience was at the time without peer. If Ctein said it, it was right.
As the digital age took off all around us and ‘Giclee’ prints became the selling point, Ctein lead us all to “Yellow Brick Road” leading to print perfection. And without a loyal dog Toto to be seen.

Eventually- many years later, the magazine folded, but Mike Johnson now runs a web page called The Online Photographer TOP
See page here.
Or direct to the blog here

His biting humour and keen eye now graces an almost daily dose of Mike. Ctein continued to publish on Mikes TOP

I’d been busy of late and hadn’t checked, but when I looked today I found an article by Ctein, published back in September, 23 to be precise.
Topaz AI Sharpen.

Here tis.
Even if you don’t have/want/use/dislike/hate with a passion/or are ambivilant if you want a reasonably argued case for the way digital image processing is going to progress in the future, its a good starting point.
Also interesting to see the tangents and other discussion about ‘sharpness’ that have kicked off on TOP because of the article.  You’ve still got it Ctein. 🙂

And just for completion, here is a comparison pair

On the left is the original NEF image. On the right the result of running it through Topaz AI Sharpen. Showing at 200% in Lightroom

For the technically ept.  Nikon D500, 500mm f/5.6 PF and a TC 1.4 Converter. NEF processed by Adobe Camera Raw
Nuff Said.


10 thoughts on “Report from the Field: Many Years Ago.

    1. It does make quite a differerence but as Rodger points out it is very resource hungry. Not something I’d use on every image, but perhaps 1 in 20 if the subject matter was critical.
      The comparison is shot on the 500mm with a TC and a fair distance out on a hot day over a field, so heat haze was always going to take out the sharp edge.
      What I think is more interesting, is Ctein’s appraisal of where we currently are with software, and what the future will bring. Who would have thought 5 years ago of a smartphone with 3 different lenses. !

      Liked by 1 person

    1. G,day Derek, I didn’t want to do a real ‘review’, there is enough blather on the web already. But the first few images I put through AI Sharpen, were enough for me to buy the software.


  1. Definitely worked for you, but I could only get marginal improvements at best and mostly the images were worse than the original, with weird artifacts in them, plus it took 90 minutes to process a couple of images. That might be due to my old computer, so I’m not saying that’s the case for everybody, but try the free trail and make your decision from there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rodger, excellent point. As I said, its no review of the product. I’d probably not use it on more than 1 in 20 images, if that. Just for the times when the stars don’t align over a given spot, 🙂

      Several things I noted.
      1. It is extremely resource hungry. Even on a high spec mac it takes 2-3 minutes. On an older machine I think its unworkable.
      2. When it gets something it has a ‘memory’ of, say feather detail, its is quite stunning. Not making stuff up, but enhancing the good bits.
      3. It definitely knows how to avoid out of focus bits, and also does not increase grain/noise.
      4. It has some complexities with some patterning detials and makes stuff up. A nuiscance at best. I overcome that by opening it as a layer in another software and then brushing out the wonky bits.

      What I think is excting, and Ctein covers it well, is where all this is going to take us in a few more years.


    1. Hi David, yep, it does say a lot about where we will be software wise in the future.
      If I was going to use this software for print making, I’d be inclined to add a few points of grain, to give some texture/form to the lighter areas, otherwise because of the way it works, they would appear refrigerator white. 🙂
      Does it encourage sloppy shooting technique? I hope not, but there are times when inspite of our best, and heat haze is one of my bugbears with the longer lenses, that a little help would be appreciated.

      The comparison pair probably needs me to a a full review and include Nik Sharpen/ Photoshop Smart Sharpen,/ Highpass Filter and so on, but then it would be a review and I don’t do those. 😉
      There is no work done in AI for this result other than simply load it, accept the default and export it.
      I’m only getting the feel of working with the slider controls.
      All good


    1. Hello AB, I think Ctein says it best, and as we explore some of the possibilities of future developments of software it will bring loads of creative opportunities.
      Who’d have thought a few years ago, that a smart phone could bring photography to so many different applications.
      All good.

      Liked by 1 person

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