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Nik v. Topaz
https://www.naturescapes.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=283568
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Author:  Craig Lipski [ Fri May 24, 2019 7:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Nik v. Topaz

Hi all,

DChan's post caught my attention, but I didn't want to hijack his thread, so here's a new one.
I'm an enthusiastic, somewhat advanced amateur photog.  I've read a lot of stuff lately, and I'm just getting more and more confused.  If anyone's willing to help, I'm going to throw out a bunch of statements and questions that I'd love to see addressed by those more knowledgeable than me.  By the way, I live in an area with *terrible* internet, so surfing YouTube vid's isn't an option.

I use PS CC, and haven't  updated in a while, because I believe I read that recent updates will kill my free Nik Collection, and I'd have to buy new.  Correct?  If so, I definitely want to take a look at Topaz.

I love that I can click Filters -> Nik Collection -> Viveza (or whatever,) as opposed to dealing with stand alone programs; Can Topaz work the same way with PS?

Speaking of Viveza, I find it very handy for both global and localized adjustments (at times.)  I didn't see anything like that in the Topaz stuff I've looked at.  Is there such a creature?

Nik's "U-Point" (or whatever) technology is sometimes very handy; any way to do localized adjustments without layer masks in Topaz?

I find Nik Dfine easy, and am usually happy with the default setting; again, is Topaz similar, as easy, as intuitive?  Or do I need make judgement calls with a bunch of sliders and face a steep new learning curve?

I work a little harder with Nik Sharpener, but again, find it intuitive and easy; same general questions as above.

I'm working with 32 Gigs of RAM, yet sometimes find Dfine kind of slow - certainly not unbearable, but not instantaneous.  I've read that AI Gigapixel is pretty slow; I don't know if all of the other AI programs are, too.  In general, especially w/ NR and Sharpening, are they slower?  How much slower?

I don't use Silver Effex, Color Effex,or Analog Effex, so I'm not worried about those.  I haven't played much w/ HDR Effex, but that's something I could see myself doing in the future; does the Topaz bundle have any goodies in that area?  Likewise, I've used CS for focus stacking - it's less than ideal; any Topaz help there?

If you're still reading, Thank You!

Author:  E.J. Peiker [ Sat May 25, 2019 7:31 am ]
Post subject: 

The Topaz studio suite is very powerful and just about anything you can do with Nik you can do with Studio (and it's add on components) although you go about it in different ways.  Dfine at this point is ancient and nowhere near the state of the art.  AI Clear inside Studio is litterally lightyears ahead in that it can tell the difference between a smooth background and fine detail and actually enhances fine detail while eliminating noise on the background.  I have not touched Dfine since AI Clear was added to Studio.  It's basically a sharpener and noise reduction tool in one AI tool.  I still prefer Viveza for targetted saturation and contrast adjustments and Silver Effex for B&W but for everything else plug-in related, I find Topaz Studio with it's add on components much more powerful.  Basically I use both products but if somebody said I could only use one I would choose Topaz.

As for the AI bundle, I use AI Gigapixel a lot on older lower rez images but find AI Sharpen WAY too slow for efficient use on anything but images that are in heavy need of rescue.  Those tools run outside of Studio.  AI DeNoise is in the same boat.  The JPEG to RAW program is a waste of time IMHO.

In short, I much prefer Studio and the add ons to Studio - it also runs as a plug-in to Photoshop.

Author:  Joel Eade [ Sat May 25, 2019 7:40 am ]
Post subject: 

1. You are right....I updated PS CC and had to purchase Nik Collection

2. Topaz plugins work as filters within photoshop like Nik and some also work as stand alone programs

3. I don't believe Topaz has anything like Viveza

4. I think some of the Topaz plug ins have opacity sliders and limited masking capabilities .... I do know you can make a selection of just part of an image and run Topaz filters on just the selection (avoids using masks)

5. Topaz Denoise is not difficult to use and works pretty well ... not quite as automatic as Dfine.

6. Topaz has InFocus and Detail which are sharpening effects .... they are easy to use and offer more tweaks than Nik Sharpener

7. AI Gigapixel is a stand alone program and is very slow on my MacBook Pro which has 32 gb RAM .... I made a 24" X 48" file recently for a friend and it took over 15 minutes

8. Topaz Adjust can do some effects similar to HDR

9. I don't think Topaz offers a focus stacking program.

PS You should spend some time with Color Efex Pro its the best of the Nik Collection

Author:  Craig Lipski [ Sat May 25, 2019 7:55 am ]
Post subject: 

Thank you both!

Author:  Craig Lipski [ Sat May 25, 2019 8:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

E.J. Peiker wrote:
The Topaz studio suite is very powerful and just about anything you can do with Nik you can do with Studio (and it's add on components) although you go about it in different ways.  Dfine at this point is ancient and nowhere near the state of the art.  AI Clear inside Studio is litterally lightyears ahead in that it can tell the difference between a smooth background and fine detail and actually enhances fine detail while eliminating noise on the background.  I have not touched Dfine since AI Clear was added to Studio.  It's basically a sharpener and noise reduction tool in one AI tool.  I still prefer Viveza for targetted saturation and contrast adjustments and Silver Effex for B&W but for everything else plug-in related, I find Topaz Studio with it's add on components much more powerful.  Basically I use both products but if somebody said I could only use one I would choose Topaz.

As for the AI bundle, I use AI Gigapixel a lot on older lower rez images but find AI Sharpen WAY too slow for efficient use on anything but images that are in heavy need of rescue.  Those tools run outside of Studio.  AI DeNoise is in the same boat.  The JPEG to RAW program is a waste of time IMHO.

In short, I much prefer Studio and the add ons to Studio - it also runs as a plug-in to Photoshop.


I really appreciate the input, but after poking around, I’m still confused (and not a little bit frustrated!)  Thanks for your patience!
AI Clear has been replaced by Denoise, which people find a step backward?  Am I misunderstanding?  It sounds like AI Clear was really good - I’m considering that, if available; if not, would Denoise + Sharpen work nearly as well?  I find myself doing a lot less sharpening lately, but still sometimes add a bit here and there.

Author:  E.J. Peiker [ Sat May 25, 2019 9:58 am ]
Post subject: 

I think of AI Clear as a cobination of  Denoise and Sharpen in a single inteligent step.  it is fantastic for well focused shots.  AI Denoise works well too but is less automated.  AI Sharpen is completely unusable in a production flow due to significant speed issues.  It's great for a shot where you have some motion blur as the AI engine can work miracles but it can take 20 minutes in that mode for a single shot.  the bottom line is that all of these are tools and all of them have their own best uses and it depends on the image what works best..  Having them in the tool box of available resources will allow you to maximize any image.

Standby, I am going to prep a 100% crop AI sharpen example using the motion blur function in the program - it's pretty freaking amazing but takes 20 minutes...

Author:  E.J. Peiker [ Sat May 25, 2019 10:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nik v. Topaz

OK, here is a before and after of an image where the tripod sank in the sand during the exposure.  Note this is a very tiny piece of a 42 megapixel shot - it-s just 479K pixels or a hair over 1% of the total pixels in the image:

Image


Image


And here is the entire shot after running AI Sharpen Stabilize:
Image

Author:  Craig Lipski [ Sat May 25, 2019 12:48 pm ]
Post subject: 

That IS impressive!  But 20 Min?  Holy cow, I do this for fun,  not to pay the rent!  If I can’t find AI clear, maybe I should buy the Nik Collection for Viveza, sharpening, and HDR, and buy Denoise for NR.
Thanks again - and again. . . .

Author:  Scott B [ Sat May 25, 2019 5:07 pm ]
Post subject: 

AI Clear was replaced with Denoise AI. There were a few grumpy people when they first made the change. They have done a few updates since then and I think it resolved everything to be grumpy about. It also works through the filter option in PS. I would go with Topaz Denoise AI it is really remarkable.

Author:  Eia [ Sat May 25, 2019 8:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Craig Lipski wrote:
That IS impressive!  But 20 Min?  Holy cow, I do this for fun,  not to pay the rent!  If I can’t find AI clear, maybe I should buy the Nik Collection for Viveza, sharpening, and HDR, and buy Denoise for NR.
Thanks again - and again. . . .


I am  weening from LR classic 6 and having used Capture NX in the past and was delighted to learn that DXO Photo lab used the u point technology and with the NIK plugins. I really like Dfine but then I tried Topaz and the pro trial version of AI Clear. Wow - liked it so much I purchased it. Apparently I just got it in time if they are not offering it any longer.

So now I usually use DXO and immediately go to color rendering/camera body then style/toning, decide if I want to crop the photo and get the photo cleaned up with any spots, etc.. Then I do my local adjustments and I do like DXO Clear View Plus ----UNTIL - AI Clear! Now I can't wait to jump into Topaz and use AI Clear right away. I still use NIK Vivezia some of the time.

I thought if the AI Clear was so great I would download the trial version of AI DeNoise and AI Sharpen and try those. So far - ehhhh... the DN is really good but I am not sure if its worth the purchase. Am I doing something wrong? I usually De Noise then Sharpen. When I bring the photo into AI De-noise I have to get up from my seat and get a drink because it takes f o r e v e r.

Have you downloaded the trial? Just a few weeks ago AI Clear was under adjustments/AI Clear and an offer to 'try pro'. I do hope they continue to support AI Clear.

Not the best photo but I purposely used this to compare AI Clear with AI De noise and AI Sharpen. Taken from a boat on very choppy waters. I didn't do anything to the photo but used the plug-ins. I thought the egret wings were a bit clearer after.   Like you I do this for fun. 

Before using any AI plug ins

after using the plug ins for DN and Sharpen

after using AI Clear much faster

Here is a better photo to show AI Clear. This was frustrating to capture because of the choppy waters from the boat but AI Clear did a decent job and even after I cropped this photo (not shown here): Eagle with AI Clear

Author:  Bill Chambers [ Mon May 27, 2019 9:30 am ]
Post subject: 

I still use both products, but I really LOVE the new Topaz Denoise. I find it does a MUCH better job than Nik Define. I agree with E.J. that Sharpen AI is extremely slow but it still has it's place on certain otherwise unusable images. I still use the NIK Viveza and enjoy it and I still prefer NIK Sharpener over the Topaz version (Clear AI). Just my 2 cents.

Author:  Craig Lipski [ Tue May 28, 2019 8:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nik v. Topaz

Buried in this thread, I hope this gets seen and replied to;  I'm looking at Topaz, and for the DeNoise AI system requirements, it says:
- GPU VRAM: 2GB min, 4GB recommended, 6+GB optimal; I have NO idea what GPU VRAM is, nor how to find it on my laptop.
-Graphics Card: Minimum: Iris Plus Graphics 655; "Recommended" and "Optimal" are "N/A"
When I look at my Device Mananger, (Win 7), under "Display adapters", I see:
"Intel HD Graphics 4600"  and "NVIDIA Quadro K2100M"
Am I OK?
Thanks so much.

Author:  E.J. Peiker [ Tue May 28, 2019 12:12 pm ]
Post subject: 

It;s how much RAM your video card has. you can look that up on the video card manufacturers website for your exact card. your card maxes out at just 2MB if it is fully populated. Your machine doesn't have enough video horsepower either on the Intel side or the nVidia side for a good experience.

Author:  Craig Lipski [ Tue May 28, 2019 12:36 pm ]
Post subject: 

Bummer - but thanks for saving me the money, time, and frustration!

Author:  Anthony Medici [ Tue May 28, 2019 12:52 pm ]
Post subject: 

And yet, if I'm not mistaken, the product still works if your computer is underpowered. And there are times when nothing else will save the shot from the trash can. So who cares how long it takes to process as long as it works in the long run. After all, you don't need to watch it process.

Author:  E.J. Peiker [ Tue May 28, 2019 3:30 pm ]
Post subject: 

Tony does have a good point, but for normal production flow application, you will need more horsepower.  Sharpen AI is one of those that I consider a rescue program as you can see from my picture examples above and that's with a system that has 32GB of DRAM and a state of the art video card with 8GB of VRAM.

Author:  E.J. Peiker [ Wed May 29, 2019 4:32 pm ]
Post subject: 

Topaz sent out some tutorial links today and in one of them the narrator talks about optimizing performance. Somehow my use of the GPU got turned off just on Sharpen AI, I thin k it installed that way either initially or after an update. By turning that back on and setting GPU memory usage to maximum, a sharpen on a particular file went from 13 minutes to 25 seconds!!!

Author:  DChan [ Wed May 29, 2019 5:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

E.J. Peiker wrote:
Topaz sent out some tutorial links today and in one of them the narrator talks about optimizing performance.  Somehow my use of the GPU got turned off just on Sharpen AI, I thin k it installed that way either initially or after an update.  By turning that back on and setting GPU memory usage to maximum, a sharpen on a particular file went from 13 minutes to 25 seconds!!!


Hardware acceleration is by default off ??

Author:  E.J. Peiker [ Wed May 29, 2019 5:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Re:

DChan wrote:
E.J. Peiker wrote:
Topaz sent out some tutorial links today and in one of them the narrator talks about optimizing performance.  Somehow my use of the GPU got turned off just on Sharpen AI, I thin k it installed that way either initially or after an update.  By turning that back on and setting GPU memory usage to maximum, a sharpen on a particular file went from 13 minutes to 25 seconds!!!


Hardware acceleration is by default off ??

In my case,  all of the other AI tools installed with GPU on and medium use of GPU memory but Sharpen AI installed with it off.  Changing all of the tools to Maximize use of video memory and changing Sharpen AI to use the GPU made a dramatic difference - on the order of 100 times as fast.

One might ask why you would not set the video RAM to maximum, that is for graphics such as Intel Integrated graphics which borrows system RAM as VRAM and you may not want it to use as much as it can to leave RAM leftover for running programs.

Author:  Bill Chambers [ Thu May 30, 2019 6:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

E.J. Peiker wrote:
Topaz sent out some tutorial links today and in one of them the narrator talks about optimizing performance.  Somehow my use of the GPU got turned off just on Sharpen AI, I thin k it installed that way either initially or after an update.  By turning that back on and setting GPU memory usage to maximum, a sharpen on a particular file went from 13 minutes to 25 seconds!!!


This makes me wonder if this could be the reason Sharpen AI is taking so long on my machine as well.  E.J., would you mind explaining how to check to see if this is reason.  Please remember, I'm a techno idiot, so please dumb it down to 3rd grade level.  Thanks in advance.

PS - using a PC x2; one with Windows 7 Pro and one with Windows 10 Home, both 64 bit;  
Windows 7 Pro machine is desktop, has 48 GB DRAM and I'm not sure of the GPU at the moment.
Windows 10 Home is laptop, has 32 GB DRAM and has GeForce GTX1050 CPU

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