Intelligent Sharpener Gives You Tack-Sharp Yet Natural Photos

Review by Dave Williams

Topaz Labs has a range of software aimed at helping us fix photographic problems, and the launch of their AI range is really helping to make these fixes quite special. The machine learning of the AI in each of their apps (and plug-ins) identifies and fixes problems in images, including in the new Sharpen AI version 4. The results are quite mind-blowing, to be honest! When you load a photo into Sharpen AI, it first sets its algorithms to work to ascertain what it thinks you’re looking at fixing, and it usually gets it right the first time. There are tricks and techniques we can employ using Adobe Photoshop to sharpen our photos, and I teach those techniques, so it does feel strange succumbing to a piece of software and potentially doing myself out of work; but I have to say that Sharpen AI does a fantastic job while retaining a natural look in photos, unlike a lot of techniques that we previously used. 

Sharpen AI can fix motion blur, focus blur, and the general softness caused by lens blur, helping images to stand out. It does this while applying various corrections to different areas of an image. Perhaps the most important application of Sharpen AI is to fix our mistakes and salvage photos that weren’t previously usable. To test this, I used a photo that I took in Norway of the northern lights over a small town. Embarrassingly for a professional photographer, the photo is out of focus. I’d already gone over a series of techniques I was aware of in other software and I’d given up. So, I used the Sharpen AI Out of Focus – Very Blurry Sharpen Model to see if I could salvage the image, and it worked. It isn’t perfect, but it’s no longer resigned to the hard drive; it’s good enough for a social media post. 

The software is intuitive and, therefore, easy to use, as is the Photoshop plug-in. Exporting images is equally simple. Topaz Labs offers an exceptional range of software at great prices. I’m very happy with the Topaz Labs Sharpen AI v4.0.2 software and I’ll be using it in my regular workflow moving forward. ■