Topaz to the Rescue

Topaz Sharpen AI software screen. I zoomed in on the face on the left to make my software decisions.

I was photographing a concert Saturday night for the local newspaper and the light levels were low. Using flash was out of the question. A flash would kill the ambience of the lighting.

After some experimenting I decided I needed a shutter speed of at least 1/160 second to keep the very active singers from blurring, and I needed an aperture of f/8 for enough depth of field for the facial features. That meant I needed an ISO setting of 3200 to get the right exposure, and ISO 3200 means a lot of digital noise.

Topaz Sharpen AI gives you the option of sharpening an image, removing noise, or both. In this image the focus is good but the image is noisy. I ran the full size digital file through Topaz and it did a great job.

Before (left) and after using Topaz to remove the digital noise. Click to see a larger image.

Click on this image to get a larger version so you can see the dramatic difference after Topaz removed the digital noise. The after image is much cleaner. For many images, Topaz works better than the noise removal tools in Photoshop (and Photoshop is still my favorite all around photography software).

You can use Topaz Sharpen AI for free on full size images to see if you like it. You will get a Topaz watermark on your image. If you decide you like Topaz, pay for the software and the images you work on will no longer have the watermark.

Hannah Aldridge and Katharine Ross. The uncropped final image resized for the internet.

I was using $300 refurbished Canon SL3 camera body and a $200 refurbished Canon 55-250mm telephoto lens to see if they could handle this job. They did just fine. I recommend Canon refurbs all the time to people on a tight budget who want to step up to a DSLR that takes interchangeable lenses. I carry my refurb kit whenever I want to travel light, or in situations that would be too dangerous to risk an expensive camera.


Concert at the Lamoni Listening Room