This is an absolutely fabulous product and I am so happy that I have it! I completely recommend that you get it and give it a try - you will be wowed by everything you can do with it. And - they just came out with v4 that has a bunch of updates, so the product is even better, though that is hard to believe!
I had heard about Topaz Adjust before but never really looked into it until recently. One of my goals with my photography for this year is to learn more and raise my skill level, not just regarding using the camera but by employing the various tools available to us. So, I decided to get Topaz Adjust. It is truly an amazing and interesting product. You can apply all sorts of effects to your photos. Also, it is not expensive at all so that helps because everything else seems so expensive. If you decide you want to try out the software, you can get a 15% discount by following the instructions here.
Here’s what you need to know about it. First off, it works as a plug-in to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (I use Elements hence the mention of it). I did not know that when I downloaded it and was frantically looking all over my Mac for the darn thing. I couldn’t find it...ahh!! Well, once I figured that out I decided to give it a whirl. I was both impressed and amazed. The things you can do with it....WOW!
Ok, so I will start with this recent HDR photo shown below, which is fresh out of Photomatix. It has had nothing done to it except the creation of the HDR image in Photomatix. If you are not familiar with HDR or Photomatix, you can read about HDR here and see my review of Photomatix here. Topaz Adjust is a wonderful product and I use it as a part of my regular workflow. This is not about Photomatix vs. Topaz Adjust. Though you can get HDR-like effects from Topaz Adjust, I actually like to create my HDR image and then run it through Topaz Adjust, which will really bring it to life!
I have enjoyed this product so much that now I run just about everything through Topaz Adjust, just to see what it comes up with. You never know until you take a look! Sometimes you get some really amazing results that you could not have come up with on your own!
By the way, you can use Topaz Adjust on any image - it does not have anything to do with HDR. I just chose this HDR image for this review to use as an example. I have also used it on many of my single exposures and the results are fun, interesting and exciting with them too! You can see some examples of that here.
So the image is an improvement over the multiple bracketed exposures used to create it, but is a far cry from completion and certainly does not have any "wow" to it. It seems fairly "flat" to my eye. This is where your processing skills and of course your software products come into play, and where Topaz Adjust can take your shot to the next level of interest.
So the next step is that I go from Aperture (where I keep all my files and manage them) and edit the image with Photoshop Elements. This next shot is after that process is completed. I use PSE (Photoshop Elements) on every photo. It allows me to easily make adjustments in the Contrast (and many other areas) and also to apply Unsharp Mask. This really brings out the details in a photo. Here is what I have next:
You can see that the image has improved (well, at least it has in my opinion!). I made some adjustments around Contrast and Color and think the image makes a better statement than it did before. Also, the use of Unsharp Mask brings much better detail to the rocks in the foreground. But, I still think it could look better so I decide to see what Topaz Adjust will bring to this shot.
Now, time to filter it with Topaz Adjust. As I mentioned at the beginning, Topaz Adjust is a plug-in to Photoshop so go to your Filter menu and choose Topaz Adjust. It should look like this:
I have the previous version, v3 still installed on my Mac (as you can see in the menu above), but I only use the current version 4 and the screenshots in this review are for v4. It is easy to compare v3 and v4 of Topaz Adjust - v4 is better! If you have previously used v3 and upgrade to v4, your learning curve is basically zero. The new v4 works much like the previous version except that the layout is slightly different - but it is still very intuitive and easy to use.
Once you click on Topaz Adjust, it will launch inside of Photoshop and you will get something that looks like this:
This is what the main menu of Topaz Adjust v4 looks like. It is very cool! It will automatically load all the preset choices to the Left side. There are probably 25 or so of them - many more than I can show you here, and many more than in v3, but I have more screenshots below if you are curious! The new presets in v4 are cool! They offer HDR-like effects, some Black & White options - the choices go on and on. See below for some examples.
The nice thing is that it gives you a thumbnail that you can view to see if you want to try one of the presets. If you do, just click on the one you want to work on and it will apply that to your photo in the big viewing area.
There are sliders on the right hand side for Exposure, Details, Color, and Noise. After selecting a preset option, you can make further adjustments in any of these that you choose just by moving the sliders! Here is what those slider menus look like:
Once I choose the preset, I often leave it as is since I think their preset choices are pretty solid. Either way, have fun with it! There is a lot you can do with Topaz Adjust! Be sure and cancel any upcoming commitments - you will probably not want to stop playing with your photos!
One other thing to think about with Topaz Adjust: bring life to your "discarded" photos. If you are like me, you have a bunch of shots that you have taken, that just didn't come out like you wanted them to, for whatever reason. So they are just sitting in your library, or your archives, and you have never posted them to your Flickr page or your blog because they didn't have enough "pop" (or, insert your choice of adjective here). Now, especially with all the goodies built into Version 4, you can try running them through Topaz Adjust and see what you get. You never know until you try and you might just have something awesome!
By the way, here is the final version of the image after making some adjustments with Topaz Adjust. Hope you like it, and hope you like the review! This product is really fun! If you decide to buy it, be sure and click
to get a 15% discount.
Here are some additional screenshots from Topaz Adjust Version 4 which show some of the various presets and the effects they have on this photo. By the way, I went with "Mild Color Pop" on the final version of the photo shown just above this paragraph.
Color Blast option:
Dark Ghostly option:
Sketch Pencil option: