Topaz InFocus Review

This is the beginning of what will become a more robust Topaz Detail Review. When you are ready, you can order Topaz from the Topaz Store page. I recommend you get the full Photoshop Bundle, because it comes with many great products for an amazing price. The Coupon Code “STUCKINCUSTOMS” should save you a bit more money too.

Other Topaz Reviews

Topaz has a few other products that I use — please go see the Topaz Adjust Review and the Topaz Detail Review.

Topaz InFocus Review

This is a placeholder for upcoming, more full review. It takes me a long time to test these things because I like to process dozens of photos so I can show several examples. However, here’s some key info for you:

  • Not just “Sharpening”…  there are many products that do this.  But…let’s say you have motion-blur.  Or a child running… or a fast-moving car…  “Sharpening” that will not help.  You really need a different algorithm to run through the photo and bring it back to looking “still”.  There is a setting in InFocus that allows you to do that.
  • Super-Sharpening – It also, in addition to the above de-action-blurring feature, do very nice sharpening and local-contrast changes.
High Dynamic Range Photo

This photo was already as sharp as humanly possible when I took the thing! But, at a distance on these high-megapixel cameras, there's often some softness. You can see how far zoomed I am in here, and how sharp this tool makes the final image.

High Dynamic Range Photo

And here is a zoom in of the main Topaz InFocus dialog. You can see how I made arrows to some of my favorite sliders and their effects on that distant couple on the ancient Roman wall.

Why it’s cool:

Is it worth it? Yes. I think it’s different enough from the other Topaz Products to make it very interesting… that de-blurring is so cool… a real photo-saver. That’s pretty huge to me!

Should you buy it?

This is a tough one.  If you already have Topaz Adjust or Topaz Detail, then you will find this is a little more than an “improved” version of the sharpening and line-definition.  Often, in my processing, a lot of the contrast and lines get washed out with HDR.  I like to add back in detail and sharpness late in the process.  Since I often use Topaz Adjust or Topaz Detail for this, then I don’t have a lot of need for Topaz InFocus.  However, when doing very detailed work, Topaz InFocus does something very nice that the others can’t seem to accomplish.

Perhaps the best feature of InFocus, to me, is the correction of the “artifacts” around the lines of detail.  Not every photo is sharp.  There’s always a bit of noise.  So, it’s very welcome that InFocus does not try to sharpen (and worsen) that noise area!

High Dynamic Range Photo

This is the overall image. Most of you may know my thoughts, generally, on super-sharpness. My basic thought is that most people see it at this "web size" and never zoom into 100%. But, for those 5% that do, sometimes using a tool like InFocus can help with definition.

High Dynamic Range Photo

This is the "Before" image. You can see it actually looks pretty good, yes? I find that "blurriness" is relative. And not until you see the "after" do you realize that, well, hey... it was kinda blurry!

High Dynamic Range Photo

And this is the After image. It's a pretty good representation of the software. Notice that second yellow arrow on the "artifact" slider. It's my favorite slider for this tool!

Different Sliders for Different Photos

I find that I use different sliders depending on the situation. Those dropdowns and slider “names” are really just guidelines. Each of them performs a different algorithm that will mix in a special way with YOUR photo. Below is a good example of this. I was messing with the top portion to make things get “unblurred”, but I didn’t see a lot of change until I began moving the lower options.

High Dynamic Range Photo

In this photo from Notre Dame, I really wanted to accent the details of these incredible colors and shapes in one of the rear rooms. I couldn't get them right until I started experimenting with all the sliders until the right mix was achieved.

Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Visit my Ethics Statement. It’s all quite simple!

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrandybird/sets/72157625495017836/ Andy Bird

    I think your comment about this one only being a slight improvement on the sharpening tools offered already in Adjust is correct. Having said that I think this review has cleared up a few questions I had about how I can actually use this tool effectively from now on – cheers Trey!

  • http://www.bfhstudios.com/blog Brian Hoffsis

    I’ve played with this a few times and it really seems like a sophisticated piece of software with a bit of a learning curve. As soon as I would fix one area of a photograph I would blow out some of the others. Practice makes perfect.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrandybird/sets/72157625203685374/ Andy Bird

    Good shout Brian – it does take a bit of trial and error but I just fixed one there using Infocus and it looks great. The perserverence paid off :)

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilarmstrong2/ Neil Kremer

    I have always used Topaz Denoise and then Detail on most of my HDR images. Now I add InFocus to the mix and my photos really are much cleaner. InFocus allows me to remove the blur that I thought could only be seen under a magnified view, when in fact people could see them when viewed at full size.

  • http://www.jonwhitephotography.com jon

    great stuff, going to check this out to help me with that fussy 5% of people! hopefully it can offer something to my stockpile of “lazy” handheld HDR’s.

  • Steve Von Bokern

    Waste of money. Generates more artifacts than does any good de-blurring. Only seems to work on low res images. Go to the Topaz website and read others comments, much the same, unless they have erased them.

  • Phil Nelson

    I tested this and wasn’t impressed. I probably should have given it more time, but nonetheless did not see the value.

  • http://www.pbase.com/jandrade Jose Paulo Andrade

    Hi! The church is Sainte Chapelle and not Notre Dame. Well, it is near but not the same! But the photo is very nice! I will try this software.

  • Tom Leparskas

    I have just all the Topaz plug ins (loive them!) and just got InFocus when it came out. Again, not impressed. Too many artifacts left behind. Sort of hoping for version 1.1 or 1.2 to hurry up and come out. Have pretty mucvh said so on the ToppazLabs Facebook page – I think they are listening – they did read it and answer.

  • Deron

    I’m in agreement with most of the others. I use Topaz software on a regular basis but this has to be the most useless plugin of all time. It does not de-blur an out of focus image at all. It just creates lots of sharpening artifacts while keeping the photo blurry. I’m really hoping Topaz gets this right in the future. If they do, it could be the Holy Grail of photo plugins.

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