Topaz Photo AI Quick Start Guide

Introduction to Topaz Photo AI

This article will guide you through your first experience with Topaz Photo AI, starting with why we created it.

Getting a clean, crisp, and high-resolution photo is really important, but the current process of increasing image quality is quite slow and error-prone. You start with a big bag of tools - different noise reduction methods, different sharpening for multiple kinds of blur, different upscaling apps for increasing resolution - and you’re required to know which tools to apply where. You end up spending a lot of time bouncing between software, tweaking sliders, and comparing results. After the whole process, you’re still usually not sure that you’re getting the best possible image quality.

To solve this, we built Topaz Photo AI to be an autopilot for image quality. It detects the unique problems in your image and intelligently applies the correct methods to maximize resolution, detail, and clarity. As with an actual autopilot, sometimes you’ll need to manually intervene for difficult images, but Topaz Photo AI aims to make that the exception rather than the rule. Our vision is for you to be able to drop in any image - good or bad - and receive the best possible version back. This way you spend more time on the creative side of post-processing rather than, say, fiddling with noise reduction sliders.

Two other resources to help you get started are the Frequently Asked Questions article and the System Requirements Article.

Start Here, Video Guide

Brian Matiash walks us through Topaz Photo AI. If you prefer text instead of video, read on below to learn about Topaz Photo AI.


How to Use Topaz Photo AI

Open the application and browse for an image file or drop it directly into the application. The image will load and a preview will display with the user controls. Autopilot will immediately begin analyzing your image, looking for quality issues and automatically turning on the appropriate adjustments based on it's analysis.

You can choose to make manual changes — turning on or off adjustments or changing the strength of adjustments to your liking — or configure the autopilot to make better decisions for your images.

Once you are happy with the results, save your improved image and continue with your photo editing!

The Autopilot

This is the image quality specialist that we built directly into Topaz Photo AI for you. The autopilot will intelligently pick the adjustments and strengths needed to optimize your image after analyzing it. Autopilot will analyze:

  • File type, to pick the best models that can process your RAW or non-RAW image data 
  • Metadata, including ISO and camera information 
  • Noise severity and type
  • Subject detection and blur level
  • Human faces and face quality
  • Image size and resolution

All this is taken into account for the autopilot to select the adjustments to apply. By default, autopilot will run on every image you import to the application. It will describe the issues it detected so you can review the autopilot's judgement.

Hovering over the blue text in the autopilot will show you the faces and subjects detected in the image. To refine the subject detection and face detection, click the "Refine" button so it only processes the subject or faces required.

 You can also manually flip adjustments on and off or change the strengths. At any point, if you would like to go back to autopilot settings click the "Reset to Autopilot Settings" button to revert your manual changes.

Configuring the Autopilot

Change the autopilot to suit your preferences by adjusting the settings in the Preferences > Autopilot Configuration menu.

This opens a menu that controls if and when autopilot turns on adjustments so you can help it decide which adjustments to make for your images.


Image Quality Adjustments

There are five adjustments built into Topaz Photo AI. Remove Noise, Sharpen, Recover Faces, Enhance Resolution, and Upscale/Resize. Clicking the toggle next to each module will turn the adjustment on or off. Clicking on each module will open up options to change the AI model used for processing or control the strength of the adjustment.

The green dots indicate whether the autopilot recommended setting is selected with the recommended strength.

Remove Noise

This adjustment will remove noise while preserving details. When autopilot detects significant sensor noise or luminance noise in your image, it will automatically turn this adjustment on to process your image.

Topaz Photo AI comes with four noise reduction models: Raw Normal, Raw Strong, Normal, and Strong. 

  • Raw Normal: best for low-medium noise, available for raw images only.
  • Raw Strong: best for high noise, available for raw images only.
  • Normal: best for low-medium noise.
  • Strong: best for high noise.

The Raw Normal and Raw Strong models have the best denoising results. We encourage using RAW files when possible.

The Strength slider controls the denoising that the model performs on the entire image. 
The Detail slider is a minor sharpening applied to the entire image to recover some detail after noise is removed.

Sharpen

This adjustment will remove blur and enhance details. Topaz Photo AI comes with three sharpen models: Standard, Lens Blur, and Motion Blur.

  • Standard: has low-medium blur and softness correction. For a natural look, this is the best model to use.
  • Lens Blur: for high softness or out of focus. 
  • Motion Blur: for high blur and streaking where the camera or subject is moving.

By default, autopilot will identify the subject in your image and apply sharpening to only that subject. You can view the detected subject by hovering over the "Subject Only" text or the mini camera icon in the autopilot or in this adjustment. You can change the subject selection by clicking the "Refine" button in the autopilot.

Toggle the "Subject Only" button to sharpen the entire image.

The Strength slider controls the sharpening that the model performs on the image.
The Clarity slider is a minor denoising applied to the image to improve the sharpness and clear up details.

Recover Faces

This adjustment will improve the look of low quality faces so they are clear and recognizable again. When paired with upscaling your image, this can produce stunning results. This adjustment is only available if faces are detected in your image.

Autopilot will detect the low quality faces in your image and apply this adjustment to those faces. High quality faces should not be used with this adjustment. You can hover over the "faces" text in Autopilot to see which faces are low quality and affected by Recover Faces.

Enhance Resolution

This adjustment will intelligently generate new pixels in the image to improve image quality. Enhance Resolution cleans up edges and improve details without changing pixel count. When Resize is used, this adjustment produces new pixels in the image.  Topaz Photo AI comes with three enhance modules: Natural, Graphics, and Low Resolution.

  • Natural: best for realistic images and photographs
  • Graphics: best for art and computer generated images
  • Low Resolution: best for low quality images

Resize and Crop

These tools allow you to change your image size and comes with a file size estimator.

Select the output scale resize the image. Click the crop button to crop the image and change the aspect ratio.


Saving Your Images

Once you are happy with the result in the preview, you can click Save on the bottom right of the application screen to make any changes to the save settings.

Here you can see the files up for processing, make any changes to the file names so they are easier to organize, change the location the files are saved to, and change the file type.

By default, the Topaz Photo AI processed files are saved to the same folder that the original file is located in and with the same file type. For example, a TIFF file on your Desktop processed through Topaz Photo AI will produce a new TIFF file on your Desktop next to the original with an altered name.

Changing any of these settings will apply the changes to all images that are in the queue for processing.

Once you are happy with your save settings, click Save and Topaz Photo AI will process your images in order. After saving, click on the folder icon to open the file location and take a look at your improved image!


Batch Processing

Topaz Photo AI comes with batch processing features so you can spend time perfecting images instead of correcting them. With these workflows, you can:

  • quickly prepare and queue up your images
  • click Save
  • grab a snack or take a nap while your images are corrected and exported

You can let autopilot decide on all adjustments for you or make your own adjustments for your batch of images.

With Autopilot

This option is best if you have adjusted the autopilot preferences and like the autopilot results.

Import your images to Topaz Photo AI. By default, all images will have a green dot on the bottom left which indicates autopilot is on.

Click the Save button and start the batch. Autopilot will select the best adjustments once it reaches that image in the queue.

With Manual Settings

This option is best for large batches of images that are similar (from the same shooting location or created the same way).

Import your images to Topaz Photo AI. Make your manual adjustments on one image, then right click the image or use the three dots to select Apply > Current Settings to All.

Click the Save button and start the batch. Every image in the batch will use the same adjustments.


Plug-ins to Other Image Applications

Topaz Photo AI easily integrates with other image applications so you can access amazing image quality from your image editing or image catalog software. Each plugin is automatically installed if you already have the appropriate application on your computer.

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic comes with two workflows, one that supports RAW editing to output a DNG and another that will create a TIFF or JPG copy of the original image.

The plug-in that supports RAW editing is accessible from the File > Plug-in Extras > Process in Topaz Photo AI menu and will send any image directly to Topaz Photo AI, then import the processed image back into Lightroom Classic. We highly recommend using this workflow with your RAW files for the best image quality results.

The non-RAW plugin is accessible from the Photo > Edit in > Topaz Photo AI menu. This will create a TIFF or JPG copy of any image and send it to Topaz Photo AI for processing, then import the processed image back into Lightroom Classic.

Photoshop

Topaz Photo AI is installed automatically to your Photoshop. The plug-in is accessible from the Filter > Topaz Labs > Topaz Photo AI menu. When used, it will send the pixel data straight to Topaz Photo AI for processing and return the processed pixels back to the application.

Capture One

Topaz Photo AI will be installed automatically to Capture One. The plug-in can be used from the Image > Edit with > Process with Topaz Photo AI menu and will send any image directly to Topaz Photo AI, then import the processed image back into Capture One. We highly recommend using this workflow with your RAW files for the best image quality results.

We recommend not using the Image > Edit with > Topaz Photo AI option (without Process with) as this will not round trip your image and add it back to your catalog.

Affinity Photo

Topaz Photo AI can be added to Affinity Photo by following steps in this article:
How to Add Topaz Photo AI to Affinity Photo as a Plugin

Other Applications

For applications which do not have a dedicated plugin already built, you can still use Topaz Photo AI with them! If your application has an Edit in or Open with menu, Topaz Photo AI will appear there so you can send the image directly to the application. You may need to reimport the image for it to return to your image editing application.

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