How DeNoise AI from Topaz Labs can save your photos | digital trends
It’s a good time to be a photographer, whether you’re just starting out and really have no idea what you’re doing, or if you’re a seasoned professional looking to try something new.
The gear is better than ever, making entry-level chassis better than the previous generation started out with. The software options make cataloging and processing your photos faster and less destructive, so you can revisit things for years and give old photos new life.
It’s this time of year when I find myself on the sidelines at my high school, watching my eldest daughter’s high school games with camera in hand. Shooting high school games is often an exercise in frustration — high school stadiums aren’t as good (or evenly lit) as college or professional stadiums.
This is where the improved hardware starts to help. pick up bwith attached. This is not an inexpensive platform—about $4,200 when I bought it. It’s a good mid-range option that definitely gets the job done. But shooting at night, in harsh lighting, has me figuring out how to replace my $1,800 lens , which would allow me to maintain faster shutter speeds (which is essential for freezing motion in sports photography) while using a lower ISO, which would eliminate a lot of the noise you’ll see in night shots. This better lens, however, costs around $2,800. That’s close to a 75% jump.
But we can do a lot with software these days. For the past two years I’ve used Adobe Lightroom to get the best of what I can. There was still a lot of noise in the photos, but it was usable.
As is typical when you mention out loud that you’re a semi-pro photographer, I’m starting to get inundated with ads and influencers for all sorts of presets, pre-recorded actions, and other things that promise to magically make your photos better, the editing process easier, and basically turn you into the next Annie Leibovitz overnight. This is an impossibility – you have to take your time being bad in order to get better.
But there was one tool I definitely wanted to try at least, just to test the claim. Topaz Labs was one of those companies whose ads were calling me — specifically the DeNoise AI app, available for Windows and Mac. selling point? “Eliminate noise while restoring true-to-life detail for the best possible image quality in your high-ISO and low-light photos.” My night football photos fit that definition.
Again, I’m skeptical about a lot of this stuff – especially when you start seeing Instagram ads and affiliate codes. And no amount of software will fix a photo that’s bad from the start. And I was about to add another layer of complexity to my editing, and I’m not a fan of editing. I want to get in and out as soon as possible.
On the other hand, I got a free trial. So I really had nothing to lose – except maybe several hundred dollars more on a more expensive lens that might not actually give me the result I was hoping for. (Contrary to what my brain often believes, new equipment isn’t always the answer.)
After installing the free trial, I went to work. And the results were amazing. I don’t know anything about the AI models involved (or whether they’re actually AI, for that matter), and I don’t really care. The simple fact is that it took a noisy photo and cleaned it up a lot better than I could have expected. There are five models to choose from – Standard, Clear, Low Light, High Noise, and RAW. You can preview them together to see what you like best, then tweak things from there. (More processing isn’t always the answer you want, and a little noise never kills anyone.)
Or, as I often do after a few cold hours on the sidelines, you can just let the program do its thing and call it a day. It’s your call, and you still have to figure out where to fit DeNoise AI into your workflow. (I let it batch process the exported jpegs at the end.) And it’s not always a quick process. I’ve seen it do its magic on a photo in just a few seconds, or upwards of half a minute. It just depends. So I turn it on and come back a little later, depending on how many shots are being processed.
However, there is no denying the end result. What I ended up with is something that parents would be happy to download and share, and I did it for less than $100.
I still want this f/2.8 lens, though.
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