Topaz DeNoise AI release 3.1.1

GBarrington

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Just downloaded it today and tried it with a couple of raw and jpg 'finished' photos. I'd say it's quite a bit faster on my machine. In App, Video processor set to nVidia GeForce GT730, allowed memory consumption set to high. PC: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-6700 CPU @ 3.40GHz 3.41 GHz; 12 GB installed ram. (So, most definitely a mid-tier PC).

They've added a Severe Noise option which makes the Compare View a little complicated to use, you have to click on one of the 4 displayed views, and change it to Severe Noise. It does a very good job. Below, is a screen shot of an image shot at ISO 25,600 and run through DeNoise AI 3.1.1. I hope you can see the differences it is a remarkable improvement. It supports my assertion that new AI editing software can make the differences between m43s and other formats irrelevant.

Denoise 3.1.1 Test2.jpg
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I am not a huge fan of Topaz Denoise- strongly prefer DXO Photolab 4. I have both, but I do not have patience to wait for Topaz and I am not that fond of results - I can not predict what will happen
 

BDR-529

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I have used Topaz AI regularly so I have good amount of high-ISO samples which were taken just for denoise testing.

Here are my findings (Panny and Canon RAW tested):
1) Severe Noise fill indeed fix one problem: even Low Light mode does create a visible mesh pattern on even surfaces if original RAW image has substantial amount of noise.

This is annoyingly visible especially in skin (face) if cropping is needed. Severe Noise mode will not create this type of artifact but downside is that fine details are lost and result looks somewhat plastic.

2) This is not mentioned anywhere but IMHO Topaz has integrated their AI sharpening into AI Denoise (NOTE: I will only use Denoise as the first step of post processing for original RAW files and store result as sRGB TIFF).

At least AI Denoise 3.1 seems to do a very good job at sharpening when normal mode is applied to RAW images which have little noise to start with. Use normal mode and set denoise to very low value like 3-5 but crank up sharpening to 25-30. Once again: this will be applied to RAW files as the first step.

3) Let's face one fact: AI denoise programs do provide stellar results but they can't do miracles. AI Denoise can turn reasonably good pictures into very good ones if everything else was spot on but there was noise left after traditional denoise algorithm (to a certain point).

As far as MFT goes, ISO 3200 or so is the limit. It there just is too much noise, result might still pass in the social media when resized to 1600x1200 but you justs can't crop the result and expect it to stil look perfect. Even ISO 3200 is always too much if heavy cropping is needed.
 
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GBarrington

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. . .
As far as MFT goes, ISO 3200 or so is the limit. It there just is too much noise, result might still pass in the social media when resized to 1600x1200 but you justs can't crop the result and expect it to stil look perfect. Even ISO 3200 is always too much if heavy cropping is needed.
I'm not so sure about that. my sample photo above was taken at ISO 25,600. Now, I rarely shoot ANYTHING serious at an ISO level higher than 1600. But my testing indicates I can go MUCH higher than that and still have a usable image. Below, are three higher ISO photos with no noise reduction applied, feel free to try them yourself. The first is ISO 2500, the second is ISO 3200, and the third is 128,000.
P3070055.JPG
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PC000002-iso-3200.JPG
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2020-04-12 14-35-37ISO 12800 023.JPG
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BDR-529

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I'm not so sure about that. my sample photo above was taken at ISO 25,600. Now, I rarely shoot ANYTHING serious at an ISO level higher than 1600. But my testing indicates I can go MUCH higher than that and still have a usable image. Below, are three higher ISO photos with no noise reduction applied, feel free to try them yourself. The first is ISO 2500, the second is ISO 3200, and the third is 128,000.

First one small comment. Extended ISO values are simulated which means that analog amplification has already been maxed out before A/D and "extended" ISO setting just tells the SW to crank up the exposure in the digital domain. Try denoising RAW files directly and it should be soon obvious that using extended ISO ranges will just make images worse, not better.

Anyways, my point was that no matter how spectacular results AI Denoise does deliver, result will always be a far cry from what you get with the same camera if you are able to shoot with low ISO value. ISO 6400 shot will never become equivalent to ISO 200 and whether it's usable at all depends on the subject. Static pile of coffee beans is a good example where AI denoise really excels but portrait (or human skin in general) is typically on the opposite end of the scale.

That being said, Topaz Denoise AI and equivalents can really save the day if conditions are such that it's either ISO 3200 or no point trying to shoot at all. Depending on subject, result might be totally OK at ISO 3200 and even ISO 6400 if outcome will only be shared in social media in substantially resized resolution. I have come to conclusion that AI Denoise is best used in situations where image is already good "as is" but traditional tools can't totally remove the noise. In this case AI Denoise does really deliver.

One word about RAW filest too. They are not what it says on the box. In reality "raw" files are anything but because camera bodies do apply whoknowswhat NR and DR algorithms on them. Check the manual. If it's possible to switch them off, do so because AI denoise can do a lot better job when somebody has not already messed with the original data.
 
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camera bodies do apply whoknowswhat NR and DR algorithms on them
I do not know of any MFT bodies that apply noise reduction on the RAW files. But some camera brands do this indeed. A particularly "bad" example is the Pentax K-3 iii (APS-C), which applies noise reduction from ISO 200 onwards, and therefore seems to have better ISO performance than full frame cameras (and also better than an "ideal APS-C sensor"). See this chart on Photonstophotos ("triangle down indicates noise reduction"): https://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/PDR.htm#Ideal APS-C/DX,Pentax K-3 III,Sony ILCE-7M3

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