New-ish customer, and confused over the menagerie/overlap of products

Hi folks…

I’m an experienced photographer…long time and daily user of Adobe CC.

I’m trying to figure out what to buy or not buy from Topaz, and I have to tell you, the menagerie of products is rather overwhelming as many of them seem to overlap and/or do the same thing (ish).

For starters, these 3 seem to overlap quite a bit:

Sharpen AI
Gigapixel AI
AI Clear

But then there are several others…that talk about “detail”, “focus”, etc etc…which again, all seem to be related to each other as well as the 3 products above.

And then there’s the issue that some are “plugins”, some are “stand-alone” some are “adjustments”, as well as “effects” and “filters”.

I can figure out what plugins and stand-alones are, but the other 3 are confusing.

And then there’s the question of workflow which is REALLY confusing…as in do I do this first, then that second? Or the other way around? Or should I add a 3rd?

Of course I know some of this is up to the creative ideas of the photographer, but on the other hand, with many (all?) of your products, the user has no idea what is actually going on behind the scene, which could help a great deal in deciding which effect/filter/plugin/adjustment/etc to apply and in what order.

For me, presently, and while many of your products look quite interesting, I am interested in sharpening and detail (after cropping an image sometimes heavily, as with bird photos, surfer photos…stuff like that), which SEEMS to point to the first 3 products I mentioned…Gigapixel AI, Sharpen AI and Clear AI.

So can someone point me in the right direction? I’d buy all 3 I guess if funds were unlimited, but they are not.

Questions are which one(s) to buy, and then in what order to use them.


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Hi There,

I’m a user. Not a Topaz staff person. Here’s my take (I also use Ps CC as a regular mode of processing photos).

  • Sharpen AI - use it to help correct for focus issues in your photos. It does a pretty good job especially correcting for focus being off a bit due to camera movement or motion blur.

  • AI Clear - helps denoise your images.

  • Gigapixel AI - is what you’d use if you want to resize your photos (up or down - larger or smaller) with some corrections made by the program in the process to “smartly” fill in some missing info. So if you want to take older low res photos, cropped portions of photos or lower res phone photos and make them bigger in order to better work with them in Ps or print them at decent sizes, this program will help with that. Conversely, if you have a larger photo/image that you want to post online in a way that no one can grab it to re-use themselves you can reduce the size of your images too (w/out resorting to putting hideously obtrusive watermarks all over your nice photos).

Perhaps Topaz educators have a different workflow suggestion for you, but my personal preference is to start with anything that removes noise, then apply a light “capture” type of sharpening, do any creative work (filters, effects, conversions to BW, etc.), add a creative or output sharpening (so a deeper level of sharpening) and for the finishing touch add a vignette or brighten a selected portion of the image to draw attention where I want it to be. But that’s me!

The standalone products tend to be more computing intensive. Topaz Studio is a collecting framework for all the creative tools (that’s where you can follow the framework I noted above in terms of workflow steps…). You can use Studio either standalone or as a plugin filter to Ps (which is what I do!) to sync with your workflow in Adobe and not require hopping in and out b/wn programs.

Telling you what to buy is sorta like someone saying generally, “What camera and lenses should I get?” Well, it kinda depends on what you like to shoot and what your output style is wrt which processing tools will be best for you to get and use. Try the 30-day trials and play with the different adjustments and programs and workspace (Studio) to figure out what suits your style. If I worked for Topaz I’d likely say, “Buy it all”. But I don’t. Check out their free webinars too. They have a few really excellent presenters (like Barclay) who demo the products and talk about workflow. So you can see what they achieve and get tips for how they make the best use of all the “tools”.

Good luck.


OK…so one thing you mentioned is that ALL the Topaz tools…plugins…standalone…etc, can ALL be accessed thru Studio?

And that Studio itself can work seamlessly with Photoshop and Lightroom? So that no matter what Topaz tool I want to use, I never really have to leave(-ish) Lightroom?

Also, you mentioned that Ai Clear “helps denoise” images…that’s one of those examples of wow…there is AT LEAST one other tool that does the same thing (Topaz Denoise of course)…and I think there’s a few more that hint around at the same thing.

Thanks for all that explanation though…helps a lot.


Bill - one thing to remember is that the old plug-ins, such as Denoise, are not going to be upgraded anymore. The newer ones, AI Clear for example, do a better job.

Bill, some good answers above. Topaz Studio is meant to be a replacement for the older Photoshop-style plug-ins, and many of those plug-ins have been moved into Studio.

Be aware that Topaz Studio with basic settings is free, and you can add Pro adjustments later.

The AI series is even newer and very exciting technology. See my blog for examples.

As for cost, you can ALWAYS get a discount on Topaz offerings and sometimes a double-discount (like right now on Gigapixel 4). And upgrades are free for life.

Not quite. Gigapixel AI and JPEG to Raw AI can only be used as standalones.

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Hi Bill,

You have put words in my mouth… I didn’t say all products (capitalized or not…) could be used as plugins. Pls re-read. I mentioned standalone products and Studio (with its creative adjustments options) as two diff things. I also made no mention of Lr. I don’t use it, so can’t speak to how any plugins might work with it.

Yes, there is a certain proportion of feature overlap b/wn products; to make them robust. If you’ve ever bought a new car you’ve found that holds for diff feature pkgs.

I’m sure you’ll find a combo of Topaz prods that suit your needs. If you want to… Take care.

There will always be “some” overlap with any tools but remember that AI Clear is a Topaz Studio Adjustment that detects and removes noise while sharpening the details in your images.

The other 2 are Standalone Applications and Plugins that, in the case of GigaPixel, is a photo enlargment product, and Sharpen corrects Focus, Shake and will Sharpen a photo.

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Sharpen has a function which corrects camera-shake and blur, as well as too soft focus.

Gigapixel sharpens as a natural corollary to resizing: whenever a photo is resized,
it does need some de-blurring and sharpening.

Clear helps to sharpen AND denoise a photo in one, easy-to-control action!

My Top 5 list of (Must Have) Topaz Plugins, in no specific order:

Topaz Studio:
Precision Contrast
Precision Details
Vignette (Free with Studio) gives you the ability to add colored Vignettes, which I love to use in my Floral image.
Impression (for Painterly Images)
AI Clear (Best Noise Removal Software on the planet, plus it is great for capture sharpening)
Texture (I use this on my fine art floral images, this is an extremely powerful adjustment)

Stand Alone:
Sharpen AI
Gigapixel AI
Restyle (I find myself coming back to this plugin time and time again)
Adjust 5 (a wonderful piece of software engineering)

I know I said Top 5 but I just couldn’t stop. I couldn’t live without any of this software.
Topaz is in a league of it’s own when it comes to editing solutions.
I am not affiliated with Topaz in anyway. I am just a satisfied customer.

Hi Dave,

Thanks for you list…yes, it’s hard to know when to stop. :slight_smile:

But man I just still don’t know how to sift thru all this…several programs seem to sharpen, at least a couple denoise, and that other one you mentioned…“Precision Details”, which sounds a LOT like sharpening as well.

Maybe if I just said this:

I take bird and surfer photos quite a bit…a lot of those get cropped way in…I post on the web and Instagram (as opposed to making, say, large prints), so I can get away with a lot of cropping. (Plus I shoot with a Sigma 400/5.6 HSM, which is EXTREMELY sharp on it’s own.)

That said, I sure wouldn’t mind my crops looking even better. :slight_smile:


With that in mind…and if I only want to spend $100 or less now, and maybe add another option or two later, which tool(s) would be the best for making crops look better?

Oh, one more thing…you said AI Clear is the best noise reduction software on the planet. :slight_smile: I have been using DXO “prime” noise reduction for a few years…it works very well…maybe better than anything else? Anyway I was just wondering if you’ve had the chance to compare DXO Prime to AI Clear.


Precision Details is basically a sharpening tool but a sharpening tool on steroids. It enables you to sharpen Small, Medium and Large details with a lot of precision. I really like to use it on just specific areas of my image. For Instance if I need to bring out texture in say foreground rocks or sand (small details would be what I would use. I would run Precision Detail in Topaz Studio and then bring it back to Photoshop and mask in the areas that I want to enhance. By the way, Topaz Studio has wonderful masking capabilities which I sometimes use but generally I am used to masking in Photoshop. Another example would be using the large details adjustment for bringing out the texture in large area like clouds. In a landscape I would use medium details for bringing out details in distant hills. I hope this helps. Precision Details is a great addition to your editing software. I don’t think I process anything without using it at some point during the editing process.

I don’t know if you have Studio yet but it is a free download and has a lot of really good free adjustment built in, such as the Vignette adjustment which I really love. There is a crop tool and a healing tool also built right into Topaz Studio.

If you do a lot of tight cropping and at some point want to make prints, which I highly recommend, Gigapixel AI will really help in getting great results when upsizing your images for prints.

I do agree with you about DXO Prime noise reduction. I have it to and it is a very close second. But in most cases AI Clear beats it. I have had one or two times when I went back to DXO Prime but not that often. The added benefit of AI Clear is that it not only reduces noise but sharpens your image as well. After I come out of Lightroom the first thing I do is run AI Clear on my images. I shoot a lot of high ISO images because I do a lot of flower photography and I don’t like being hindered by using tripods so AI Clear is a real image saver.

Thanks Fotomaker…sorry for the confusion.



I do have Studio…and OK…I’ll check Gigapixel first…and maybe combine it with AI Clear in the near future.


I ran a test using a Joshua tree jpg photo. I ran Gigapixel at 300%, AI Clear on Medium and Sharpen AI using Stabilize with medium NR. Below are a 33% crop of Gigapixel, and 100% crop of the last two. Straight comparison has AI Clear being best for sharpening and noise reduction but using Stabilize in Sharpen AI (SAI) then adding a bit of denoise in Affinity Photo (probably most NR would do) to that picture came out best. Notice the detail in the rock on the center of the left side and noise in the sky. Not huge differences.

Gigapixel x 3 then 33% crop:

Sharpen AI (Stabilize) with Affinity Photo Denoise:

AI Clear: