If you prefer to go directly to the software without reading click here Topaz Sharpen AI.  Apply Topaz Labs Coupon Code coolwildlife15 to receive an automatic 15% discount.

This is part two of our three part review on the Topaz Suite for Wildlife Photographers.  In part one I reviewed Topaz Denoise AI v2.0 which as the name implies is used for minimizing noise created by high ISO settings.  This time I will be reviewing Topaz Sharpen AI.  Let’s be honest, we’ve all had those moments when you capture that once in a lifetime wildlife image and you chimp away on the back of your LCD while out in the filed and it looks great.  Then you get home and bring it up on your big monitor and realize the eyes are not tack sharp.  Another image headed for the trash can……..or is it?

What if I told you there might be a way to rescue that National Geographic award winning soft image?  That’s right, Topaz Sharpen AI just might hold the answer to your prayers unless you really missed the mark, so let’s jump in and see just how much magic we can muster up.

The first thing you’ll notice when you dive in to the Topaz Sharpen AI interface is that you have three basic options: Sharpen, Stabilize and Focus.

  • Sharpen – used for images in focus and stable. This is the standard sharpening mode most of us have used for years to add a little sharpening to our images except now it is AI based and the software can recommend the optimal settings as a starting point.
  • Stabilize – employ this method when you have camera shake or blur from reduced shutter speed.  Very common especially when using long lenses or hand holding.
  • Focus – recovery for images that are out of focus.

In all three modes, the artificial intelligence (AI) within the software analyzes the image and sets the sliders to the recommended settings for correcting the image but you can change any of the sliders manually as you wish.  The sliders present you with three options; Remove Blur, Suppress Noise and Add Grain and you can move each slider independently and view the image preview as you do to see the changes.  The split view allows you to move a line across the image so you can see the original and the modified view as you make your changes to each slider.

For each of the RAW images below I zoomed in to 200% of the image and left each mode in AUTO so you could see the results that the software applies.  You could then manually use the sliders to render the image to your preference, however I did not do that so you could see how the software rendered the image by default using its AUTO mode..  The first image is intended to show you the interface on the right side and the next three depict the difference between the original image and the Stabilize and Focus modes. You can click on each image to magnify them for a better look.

Topaz Sharpen AI Interface

Topaz Sharpen AI Interface

Topaz Sharpen AI Original

Topaz Sharpen AI Original

Topaz Sharpen AI Stabilize

Topaz Sharpen AI Stabilize Mode

Topaz Sharpen AI Focus Mode

Topaz Sharpen AI Focus Mode

This image was taken from my kayak hand held with a Nikon 80-400 VR at 400mm f 5/6, 1/1000th and ISO 250.  Not surprisingly there was camera movement so the Stabilize mode did the best job sharpening the image and dare I say bringing it back in to focus.  Take a close up look at the eye, the wrinkles in the neck and the scales on the foot.  Comparing the original and the stabilize mode image you can really see just how much sharper the image is and remember that’s without me tweaking the image any further than the auto adjustments.

Conclusion: Topaz Sharpen AI has become an integral part of my workflow.  If you are cropping in on subjects or performing large print jobs then having sharp images matters and Topaz Sharpen AI should be in your toolkit.  Magic however does have its limitations, Topaz Labs claims that Sharpen AI can correct up to 10 pixels of defocus so if you have images where you have minor camera shake and only slightly out of focus images give Sharpen AI a try before you hit the delete key and blow away the next front cover image of National Geographic.

Topaz Labs does offer a free 30-day trial and you can follow this link to go to Topaz Sharpen AI directly.  Bonus: If you decide to buy you can use Coupon Code coolwildlife15 to receive an automatic 15% discount off your purchase.