KelbyOne Discussion Item on Sharpening S/W Comparison

Issued Sept. 6, 2019.

Seems to be a Kelby Members-only topic …

Focusmagic only looks good when ranked against Topazlabs is because they use InFocus as a comparison, and not the immeasurably better Sharpen AI.

That in itself tells a story - they’re already running scared of Sharpen AI - so much so they’ve omitted it from their trial page!!!

Way to go Topazlabs - you’re ‘applying the heat!!!’

You made me curious so I snipped some of their before and after examples from the Focus Magic add page and ran Sharpen AI on them. For whatever reason Sharpen AI had very little effect on improving the before versions relative to what they show as the after they produced with Focus Magic.

It’s probably just that the add page has enlarged everything already, so it’s outside the range of what Sharpen AI can compensate for. To make this a fair test we’d need the original files, and both programs.

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In the KelbyOne post he specifically compares to Sharpen AI. Negatively. That’s what caught my eye & prompted me to click thru to the company products page.

I would have posted this thread on the beta page as a Topaz staff FYI only, but I know a certain moderator would have felt compelled to muck with that location posting.

I am not advocating for a different product. But I’m not going to the mat for Topaz if there are opptys for products improvements via FYI to them also…

Yes. See my reply to Jack also - especially if you don’t have access to the full KelbyOne post. The poster wrote about how he tested 4-5 sharpening software products with the same image (sounds like he takes blurry nature shots & wants ‘superman’ software to fix his bad shooting skills - hmmm - that’s my terminology,
not his). Theoretically the Stabilize feature of Sharpen AI should help a bit even if a bad shot is a bad shot. He seemed to think not relative to this other product he preferred.

I wonder if he’d share his original with me.

Here’s what I snipped (had to do in pieces) from the KelbyOne Discussion Forum re: what the indiv. originally posted. No way to grab his original image that I can see… no download functionality visible:

Snip 1:

Snip 2:

Snip 3:

The KelbyOne members responding to him suggested a couple options to deal with the issue he presented (he seems to not be getting his focus point where it needs to be during image capture, is my sense) that included (1) trying Ps’s “Shake Reduction” feature (hmmm, not sure I know what that is…), (2) another software program called “Astra Image” ( which I gather is for astrophotographers - but what I see on their Web page looks way over-sharpened to my eye, and finally, (3) Akvis ReFocus. Guess it’s all very subjective.

In this example pic the focus point is on the pebbles behind th bird on the right. When I had Sharpen AI take a stab at it the pebbles ended up looking better, but the birds are too far out of focus for it to do much with them.

I even tried an enlargement using Gigapixel AI to see what it might do in this case. Instead of universally sharpening everything, it faithfully reproduced the out of focus areas with their nice soft bokha as it should have.

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Yes. He really missed the correct focus point.

When we had a pro camera shop nearby (Amazon and B&H no sales tax era put them out of biz) I used to take classes they’d offer. People with lots of discretionary income and no photo skills would buy top of the line cameras then use them like point & shoots. I suspect this person did that vs manually selecting a focus pt and/or using a tripod. Those kinds of birds don’t move that fast when on the shore. There is only so much any s/w can do for really blurry pics (also those with bad lighting). But it still made me wonder what, perceptually, would have made him feel the competitive software was more effective than the Topaz SAI offering. Thx for your thoughts!

This is interesting, thanks fotomaker for the post.

I too an image off the Focus Magic website of a skateboarder (near the page bottom) and ran it through Sharpen AI and then took that result and use Unsharp Mask (radius= 1px, Factor=1.426) sharpening in Affinity Photo. Below is the original (blurred), sharpen AI, Sharpen AI + unsharp mask and focus Magic results. Focus Magic did a credible job but I like the result with Sharpen AI (used max setting for blur and Stabilize) + Unsharp Mask better.

Sharpen AI:

Sharpen AI + Unsharp Mask:

Focus Magic:

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I agree, from what you’ve posted, that the Sharpen AI + Unsharp Mask is the best of these options. The Sharpen AI alone & Focus Magic look pretty close to me. The primary difference I see b/wn those two is that the Focus Magic looks as if it stripped either a slight amt of saturation out or it stripped out some of the black shadowing (perhaps in trying to open up the shadows to re-gain details) which affected the density of the black (notice the boarder’s pants) and also the richness of the red/magenta skate park surface & red (reflected?) on the dude’s t-shirt.

Thx for the add’l info and adding to the conversation/observations!

I just heard from the KelbyOne poster guy - who shot the blurry birds.

He uploaded a .psd for me. Well, I can’t attach that here. Not compatible. So I’ll flatten to a .jpg or .tif (whichever works in this forum) in case anyone’s into experimenting. Especially with the Topaz SAI + Unsharp Mask approach that worked well for the Artisan W above.

He said that someone else on that forum suggested he try sharpening programs that use “deconvolution” algorithms.

KelbyOne - original image (apparently he cropped some to upload to their website)

I agree that Focus Magic desaturated the picture but also notice the edges of his pants, Sharpen AI + unsharp mask is much better than Focus Magic. This is one photo so anyone interested could get the trial version and compare other photos but I would save my $65 and go with Sharpen AI + unsharp mask. Unsharp mask is usually present in most photo programs.

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I just took the bird picture that Fotomaker posted and ran Sharpen AI + unsharp mask on it Below is a corp of that. I found that using Stabilize on it worked quite well on its own and had a setting of about 0.68 and used noise suppression as well. I tone mapped the picture first before adding sharpening since it was dull and under exposed. This allows us to see the sharpening better. I didn’t see much improvement of the birds using Sharpen or Focus settings in Sharpen AI.

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I found the same thing you did. Thx for testing and posting the results!

As you say, it’s just for one (badly shot) picture. But, things like this form interesting benchmarks (at least to me) when someone is bad-mouthing one software and praising another. B/c word-of-mouth can be a powerful marketing vehicle…

I suspect the poor guy is blaming his camera and looking for some miracle software to salvage a bunch of really badly shot photos from a trip. While I’m not of the mind that everything must be captured perfectly in camera, it is important to at least get “good bones” to be able to play around with creatively in software.

I think you’ve found the best possible combo of filters and effects for him to try to rescue what he can from what he shot. If you don’t mind me doing so, I’ll pass along the suggestion of the techniques that you found worked on that KelbyOne forum - and hopefully others who read and/or responded there will find out how they might consider using the Topaz tools to some advantage.

Sure, pass it along since I’m not a Kelby One member. I used tone mapping in Affinity Photo (for reference).

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I’m not familiar with what that would do for you. I only know that term from years ago when people were all overdoing HDR (making that awful crunchy look, I’m guessing they’re the ones that now have moved on to over-saturating images…) and the tone mapping seemed to be the 2nd step suggested when processing HDR images.

Affinity Photo has several “Personas” or sub adjustment functions and tone mapping is one. It is pretty easy to use. You can think of it as taking a picture with a wide dynamic range and compressing it into a more narrow range. Alternately, one with a narrow dynamic range (like the birds) being expanded. You’ll notice that the tone values in the picture I did are much better than the original. I tried this picture with Adjust Ai and got an acceptable image but it took more work. I have tested a number of HDR programs in the past on a picture of an old wagon I took in RAW. The best result was with a program called Easy HDR. Second place was with Aurora HDR (by Skylum) . I got that one since it had more manual adjustments. They both beat Adjust AI. In the picture above I used Affinity Photo but my goal was not a perfect shot.

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Yes, that is true.

Thx for the explanation. As mentioned, I’d heard the term. And knew it typically was needed as step 2 of a two-step HDR processing. But I had no clue what it was doing. Your description helps me understand it. Interesting to know how it measures up vs. Adjust AI also… I’ll have to chk out the Easy HDR website.

I’ve been playing with some weather filters this weekend. To figure out if worth getting. I need to learn some finesse skills with them to decide.