I am opening a separate thread for this issue as I don’t want to lump together too many topics. I’m also having separate issues with Gigapixel which I should be posting about soon. But for now I just wanted to share some feedback on A.I. Clear, in particular with some astro photos that I would like to process.
The image in question was shot on a Sony a7R II, continuous low mode (i.e. star eater not in effect), LENR OFF, ISO 640, f/2.8, 32 seconds. It was encoded as a lossless uncompressed raw file. The image was opened in Adobe Camera Raw and then saved as a TIFF, with only a custom camera profile applied, and no further adjustments, all settings zeroed, certainly no sharpening or noise reduction applied (which I understand can wreck havok with getting optimal results from A.I. Clear). I imported this TIFF into Studio (V1.13.1) and applied A.I. Clear on it, and also ran it through Topaz Denoise 6. Please refer to the attached JPEG, labelled to indicate the processing settings for each crop. A variety of results from different combinations of settings are shown to prove my point.
I immediately noticed that regardless of the settings, I was getting a dark contour halo around the starburst, and it is the same story for any other high contrast edges (brighter stars), sometimes getting worse or better depending on choice of ‘High’ or ‘Low’ for Enhanced Sharpness setting. The best possible result from A.I. Clear was using the ‘low’ Reduce Noise setting, with Recover Detail set to 1.00 (maximum), and Enchance Sharpness at Low, but it is still significantly worse in that regard than Denoise. This is most likely due to the built-in sharpening optimization that A.I. Clear adds. This isn’t something the user has any control over.
In addition, there are regions where the colour noise reduction was randomly not applied by A.I. Clear, so the result is a blob of colour around some stars.
In Topaz Denoise, a good (not necessarily optimal) result was obtained with the Strength set to 0.05, Color noise reduction at 0.20 and Recover Detail at 0.33. Note that the result is very nearly identical to the A.I. Clear Reduce Noise Low, Recover Detail 1.00, Enhanced Sharpness Low result in terms of overall amount of noise reduction, except it is much more uniformly applied and has almost no artifacts. Overall, it is a significantly better result than anything I could get from A.I. Clear.
I wish to quote from the help page of A.I. Clear:
Allow Dr. Partha Acharjee, a research scientist with Topaz Labs, explains it best:
“Recent advancements in Artificial Intelligence has shown great potential in image noise reduction. We were able to develop a proprietary neural network, (a type of AI that learns by studying millions of examples) architecture and realistic noise model to perform well on real-world, high-iso photos. It not only achieves much higher quality result than existing products, but does so automatically without the need for any manual tweaking. Moreover, our custom neural network, trained on millions of photos, can run on any GPU on both MAC and PC, which ensures faster processing on everyday computers without the need to upload your images to a cloud server.”
At this point, I am failing to see how A.I. Clear is achieving a “much higher quality result than existing products”. If anyone has any helpful suggestions on how I can achieve that, I am most willing to learn. Thank you!