3/19/19 NOTE: This post is no longer current. As of March 2019, Topaz has a new product – Sharpen AI They’re offering a free upgrade for owners of Topaz InFocus, although I’m not sure how long this offer will last.
Topaz Labs recently introduced their InFocus plug-in to refine detail, increase clarity, and rescue blurred images. It uses deconvolution and micro texture in addition to the more common unsharp mask algorithm. If you go to the Topaz website, you can read much more about this and their other plug-ins, download the manual as well as a free 30 day trial, and also examine some very impressive examples of this software at work.
So, how well does the plug-in actually work with a real world example? I decided to give it a try. I selected a photo of a hawk that I made recently. You can see the full image here on Flickr. I was happy with the original photo and most of it is sharp, but the bird’s feet are blurred – I think it was shifting positions when I made the photo.
Here’s a crop showing the appearance before I used Topaz InFocus:
And this second crop shows the improvement after processing with InFocus:
Conclusions and recommendations
InFocus helped me remove a great deal of the blur in this photo. The improvement is good, but not perfect and not quite as dramatic as some of the samples on the Topaz site. It’s very possible that a more experienced / knowledgeable user could do more with this image. I’ll be looking for other examples to try it on and re-reading the manual / watching the tutorial videos to make sure I know how best to use it.
One thing I did notice while playing with the software: The InFocus settings needed to de-blur the hawk’s feet couldn’t be applied to the whole photo without introducing artifacts. I ran a duplicate layer through InFocus and then selectively painted it onto the bird’s feet in Photoshop. You may need to do this too to get the best results.
Should you get a copy of this software? Well I bought one. It seems to work better at de-blurring than I’ve ever been able to do with Photoshop’s built in tools. It’s also quite handy for capture sharpening, even when a photo isn’t obviously blurry.
If you do buy it, spend the time to learn it so you can get good results. You can find the manual and tutorials
here (sorry – no longer available).
©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.