So, thanks to Joe Fedric I was finally able to join the forums (the system seems to not be working, stuck in an endless loop of sending verification e-mails that never arrive).
Previously I had posted some feedback on the respective product pages, but that "mysteriously" disappeared.
Anyhow, basically on the power of AI Clear alone (and some other Pro Adjustments) I would gladly use Topaz Studio - although having that as a separate effect to just use in Affinity Photo/Photoshop would be super welcome as well. That plugin is quite amazing and hopefully Topaz keeps on training the neural net on ever more images to improve the quality even further (I would gladly supply noisy/clean pairs of images if that were an option).
But while using Topaz Studio certain observations popped up and hopefully this is the place to share them with the developers/users.
1) Most importantly for a graphics application - the display isn't pixel perfect! I was working with some images and noticed that they always seem softer in Topaz Studio than in any other application. And that's because they are - even with HD preview on at 100% we are not seeing the proper pixel representations of the image, they are slightly blended together. Here's a difference map of the Topaz Studio window with the image at 100% over the image in Affinity Photo (which seems to show us the real deal):
I'm assuming this is due to using OpenGL and the way the graphics card works with the huge texture that our image is, but there has to be a way to avoid it. There's a GTX 1060 3Gb on this machine, that should be plenty of graphical power.
This is crucial - if the display is softer then basically there's a risk of always oversharpening the image.
2) This has been mentioned already, but there should be a toggle in options to have HD Preview always on.
3) Zoom shortcuts Ctrl & +, Ctrl & - tend to not work quite often - mostly the Ctrl & - one. Haven't spotted what seems to cause this, but will try to catch it.
4) Any eyedropper tools (Black level, White level, Color Temperature) should automatically get disabled if you touch any other tool. If you set any of those, then adjust, say, exposure and want to pan and instead set the temperature again is quite annoying.
5) RAW file processing feels really soft. Part of that may be due to point 1) up there, but the files just don't seem to have the detail that, say, Affinity Photo, Lightroom or even just an image viewer (Honeyview in my case) that must be using some off the shelf library has. This may be intentional, to have a cleaner slate for the sharpening products you have... but it would be great to have a regular sharpening option in Basic Adjustments. Clarity is not the same and it just quickly moves into that garish HDR look. Basically as is I would take a RAW file into studio to use AI Clear, export in some lossless format and do all the work in Affinity Photo.
6) RAW color temperature - seems a little off out of the box, could really use the regular selections of outdoor, etc.
7) I think it would be great if you could preview the changes iteratively, like some rendering packages do - say, when you drag a slider overlay a 1:100, then1:10 pixellated preview and then process the full image. As is you drag a slider and then wait for that blue progress bar to fill. Some adjustments it's quick, others less so - if you are adjusting the basics, such as exposure etc. it would be great to have a faster preview.
8) If you could develop a straightening adjustment that lets you draw a line/lines and then automatically straightens the image based on that, that would be fantastic. Since you have all the HDR look filters that are quite popular for architectural photos it is strange that straightening options like that are missing.
9) Performance - are you buffering the layers? I notice that when I add a new one the progress bar seems to fill up according to the amount of adjustments present. And when the last one is removed the progress bar fills up again. Seems like if RAM allows it would be great to keep the layers sort-of buffered - if we add an adjusment then we already have the previous stack to work on, then if we delete the latest adjustment we just jump back to it. If a top level adjustment gets deleted only then redraw the ones after it.
But perhaps it's not processed in the order the layers are shown under the hood and I'm just talking gibberish.
Well, I'm sure more will pop up as more testing is done. Thanks for your time in reading this and hopefully we could see some of these adressed/implemented in a future version.