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Topaz Labs Photo AI Review

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After being a long-time user of Topaz Labs, Photo AI 2 was a program that I was skeptical of but still wanted to give it a try. After all, is it better than my current versions of Sharpen AI or Denoise AI? Will it replace all the Topaz software I’ve purchased in the past? To get to the bottom of this, I created this review to help you figure out if this program is a good fit before you take the leap like I did.

In this review of Topaz Labs Photo AI, you’ll learn the basic uses of the program and how it can function as a helpful tool in your workflow alongside Lightroom or Photoshop. I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of where it shines and where it fails and give an honest opinion on whether you should buy this program for yourself or spend the money on something else.

What Is Topaz Labs Photo AI 2?

In short, Topaz Labs Photo AI 2 is a standalone software intended to improve your image quality using artificial intelligence. Topaz Labs claims that this image-enhancing program uses a “deep understanding of the contents of your photo” to identify the adjustments necessary to fix issues that your photo may have. 

This all-in-one program resolves issues such as blurry or soft-focus subjects, high noise, and small image size all in one go, with minimal effort on your part. Future upgrades promise the ability to fix lighting and automatically remove distracting objects from the shot.

For context, Topaz Labs is a software company known for its autopilot improvements of common fundamental photo problems. Their programs Gigapixel AI (which enlarges small images), Sharpen AI (which fixes focusing issues), and Denoise AI (which removes image noise due to high ISO) are among the most commonly purchased from the company – and Topaz Labs Photo AI 2 aims to combine all three into one program. More on this later!

Topaz Labs Photo AI 2

The perfect combo of all Topaz Labs' individual programs in one place. An ideal tool for sharpening, denoising, and rescaling photos with seamless integration with Lightroom or Photoshop.

  • Fantastic image rescaling abilities, giving you more options when printing
  • Decent sharpening abilities with options to correct slight blur
  • Simple denoising to remove even the heaviest grain from a photo
  • No back and forth between multiple apps; do all your image enhancements in one place.
We review products based on independent experience and research, but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page.

Topaz Labs Photo AI 2 Review

Photo AI 2 aims to be the perfect AI companion for any photographer’s workflow – taking many tedious tasks out. Generally speaking, the program performs well (well enough for me to use it actively in my workflow). However, it is not without its faults. 

Ease Of Use

Topaz Labs Photo AI is as easy as drag and drop! Technically, the program is ready to go without any user input from the get-go. Upon first opening the software, you have immediate instructions on how to begin. 

This program’s “straight-out-of-the-box” format is much appreciated, as most busy professionals prefer a quick setup to learning brand-new software. 

Once an image is opened in Photo AI, the program immediately starts its autopilot, scans, and corrects your image. You can view the stage the program is at in real time with the Autopilot window that automatically appears. 

Once the processing has been completed, you can open and modify every tab on the right-side panel and add your tweaks. 

The default side-by-side view of the original image versus the adjusted version is helpful for viewing the changes that the program made. If you don’t favor the side-by-side as much as I do, you can change the view at the bottom of the program to the left of the Save Image button. 

Once you’ve adjusted the image to your satisfaction, click Save Image, and you are all set. A new window will appear with saving settings and a Queue (if you are to save multiple images at a time). 

Overall, this program is easy enough to use without issue for anyone who is not computer savvy. 

A Breakdown Of The Right-Side Panel

All of your extra configurations are located in this panel. Compliments to Topaz Labs for making each segment easy to understand and follow. Great for new photographers as well! 

To start, Photo AI detects your subject and makes independent adjustments to the subject versus the background. You can review what Photo AI considers the subject by pressing the Subject button, with the subject selection showing in red. 

You can refine the subject through the various tools and options, including brushing over parts of your image that you consider a subject. For those who are familiar, this is very similar to the brush tool in Adobe Lightroom’s masking options. 

Directly to the right of the Subject, you can find one of Photo AI’s beta tools, Remove Objects. Remove is similar to Photoshop’s Remove Tool, which is intended to remove distracting objects or elements. This is still under development, so results may not be perfect, but this can be a useful quick fix.

Below Subject and Remove, you will find the rest of the valuable tools.

Upscaling increases the image size, both in pixels and resolution. This works quite well if the image you are loading into the software is also relatively small! The program will always show you the output size. This being said, it often turns off the Sharpening autopilot, so do make a note of that. 

Remove Noise, Sharpen, and Preserve Text also come with their share of valuable adjustments within their panels. 

Adjusting Lighting and Balance Color are two additional beta settings available to use – but are not yet perfected by Topaz. I find both of these to be passable, but I can see the future potential once they are improved. 

Adjusting The Autopilot Settings

With the above being said, there are plenty of reasons to dive deeper into the software and edit your autopilot adjustments. This is intended to minimize the time you may need to play around with the right-side tabs and have the program work automatically. 

To modify the autopilot, at the top left of your screen, go to Edit > Preferences

A new window opens up. If the Autopilot tab is closed, just press on it to open. This brings about a whole slew of detailed autopilot adjustments, from Sharpen presets to Noise and so much more. You can even disable the use of Autopilot if you want to manually process images instead. 

Each panel allows you to set the parameters upon what the autopilot will follow. For example, for Sharpen, the options include telling the software how much blur it has to detect before the Sharpen module turns on. 

Each autopilot section is very detailed, helping set the correct parameters to lessen the likelihood of the program going overboard with its corrections. It took me some time to tweak my autopilot settings to what issues my images frequently encounter, but once I did, life became much easier! 

Photoshop And Lightroom Classic Integration With Photo AI

Topaz Photo AI 2 has automatic plug-in integration with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. This is a great way to thoroughly add Photo AI 2 to your workflow without having multiple programs open simultaneously (which can slow down some computers). 

You can find the Topaz Labs Photo AI integration in Photoshop at Filter > Topaz Labs > Topaz Photo AI.  

Once pressed, a message appears before automatically launching Photo AI 2 and processing the image. 

Once the image is processed to your liking via Photo AI, press Save to Adobe Photoshop, and the image will automatically refresh in Photoshop with the new adjustments. 

The integration is very similar in Adobe Lightroom, but you have a few extra options. In the Develop module, you can find Topaz Labs Photo AI at Photo > Edit In > Topaz Photo AI

Once Topaz Photo AI is selected, a pop-up appears with three options.

Each one has its explanation as to how the photo is impacted. I suggest the Edit a Copy option, as editing a copy of the file without the Lightroom adjustments gives you an excellent foundation image to work off of! 

Just like with Photoshop, Photo AI 2 will open up, process the image, and then press Save To Adobe Lightroom Classic to have the image reappear in Lightroom. 

Performance

This program does make mistakes and doesn’t always perform perfectly. This is a big reason why Photo AI 2 doesn’t have a permanent place in my workflow (as in, I am not using it for every single photo) but is delegated more on an “as-needed” basis. 

What Photo AI 2 is capable of doing is quite impressive. It processes images relatively fast, especially those that need quite a bit of adjustment. To time it, I added this photograph to the program.

In zooming in, you can see that it has quite a bit of noise. 

In timing it, Topaz Labs Photo AI processed the above image in precisely 19.01 seconds on my laptop. 

It did a pretty good job. However, if I were to print this image, I’d make further adjustments to bring back more of the fur detail. That being said, most of my audience (and clientele) view my work online in a digital format, for which this works just fine! 

However, my issue is that every time I need to look at another part of the image, the program needs to reprocess it. This does take up some time and can be a significant nuisance. The same goes for zooming in and out of the image; re-processing is required. 

Price

Like all Topaz Lab’s offerings, Photo AI 2 is a one-time fee standalone product. At a cost of $199 (which can drop to as low as $149 during sales), the price is quite a steal. Many photographers spend roughly $120 yearly paying for Adobe’s subscriptions, adding up to a fortune over a working lifetime. 

The purchase allows for two different computer installations, with more “seats” (as they call them) available for sale. Additional “seats” are $75 each. 

With the one-time purchase of Photo AI 2, you also receive a complimentary year of updates and upgrades. You can extend this yearly upgrade offer through your account on Topaz Labs. 

System Requirements

Topaz Labs lists the program’s system requirements for Windows and Mac users on the website. 

Windows Minimum Requirements:

Windows OS10 or 11 (preferably the most updated version)
CPUIntel or AMD, released after 2013 (with AVX instructions)
System Memory (RAM)16 GB
Graphics Card (NVIDIA)NVIDIA GTX 900 or later with 4 GB VRAM
Graphics Card (AMD)AMD Radeon 400 or later with 4 GB VRAM
Graphics Card (Intel)Intel UHD 600 Graphics or later with 16 GB system RAM

Mac Minimum Requirements:

Mac Operating SystemBig Sur 11 or later
CPUIntel with AVX instructions
System Memory (RAM)16 GB
Graphics CardAny
Video RAM2 GB

It is fair to state that if your computer can run Photoshop and Lightroom well, then Topaz should be fine, too. 

Photo AI 2 vs Sharpen AI vs Denoise AI vs Gigapixel AI – What’s The Difference?

Topaz Labs has many standalone programs, with Photo AI 2 aiming to combine them all into one. But is this a jack-of-all-trades situation, or does Photo AI 2 successfully eliminate the need for the standalone software? In all honesty, I feel that Topaz Labs Photo AI 2 is more of a soft version of each but doesn’t entirely replace them. 

Photo AI vs Sharpen AI

Sharpen AI is Topaz Lab’s standalone program that specializes in removing unwanted blur in images. To test how the standalone program’s module compares to Photo AI, I loaded a long exposure photograph into both and set both programs just to run their default autopilot.

You just drag and drop into Sharpen AI as you would with Photo AI. When loading into the software, you can see the program picking up the blur level and adjusting itself accordingly.

Sharpen AI processed the image in about 5 seconds, while Photo AI still took around 19 seconds. 

The sharpening effect from Photo AI is far less advanced. Sharpen AI definitely wins here. 

Photo AI Vs Denoise AI

Denoise does, as you can predict, noise-removal on images shot at a high ISO. It scans the image and smooths everything out while attempting to preserve the key details.

Denoise processed the image very quickly but struggled to preserve some of the fundamental details (in my opinion). 

I feel that Photo AI did a much better job here. 

Photo AI Vs Gigapixel AI

For image upscaling, Gigapixel AI is the specialty program for such needs. To test this one out, I loaded in a photo (sized at 1500 x 1000 pixels) and had both programs upscale it by 4x. 

Gigapixel did this faster than I could blink. I was impressed! The options and settings are very impressive and far exceed that of Photo AI. Considering how fast Gigapixel worked, sizing an entire batch of images should be very efficient. 

  • Gigapixel could size the image to 6000 x 4000 and keep it at 3.94 megabytes. The detail was very well preserved!
  • Photo AI was also able to size the image to 6000 x 4000, but the photo ended up being 5.38 megabytes. A bit larger than Gigapixel AI. 

Photo AI also preserved the detail well but differently. You see a lot more detail, which keeps it from being too smooth, which may not be too great for a portrait like this. Gigapixel’s version is smoother. 

As to which is better is very much dependent upon what you like more!

Is Topaz Labs Photo AI Worth It?

I wish there were a simple answer on whether this program is worth it, but the truth is that it depends. Like any program, Photo AI 2 has limitations, which are either met or unmet depending on what you need from this software. 

I find Photo AI 2’s greatest usefulness is in its ability to remediate multiple issues simultaneously. For example, if I had done a photo shoot in poor conditions (it was dark, something went amiss with the camera, the focus was soft, etc.), this program helps bring the original images to a much better state.

The batch processing capability is beneficial, as an entire photo shoot can be dropped into the software! This is well worth the price at a flat-rate cost of $199 for a standalone product. 

However, this program will not help make a bad image better. Significant lack of focus, using expandable ISO with high levels of noise, or an image that is far too small in resolution cannot be saved by Photo AI 2 and will have hit the program’s limitations. This is where there may be better uses for the specialty programs that Topaz Labs has, such as Sharpen AI, Denoise AI, and Gigapixel AI

Topaz Labs Photo AI 2

The perfect combo of all Topaz Labs' individual programs in one place. An ideal tool for sharpening, denoising, and rescaling photos with seamless integration with Lightroom or Photoshop.

  • Fantastic image rescaling abilities, giving you more options when printing
  • Decent sharpening abilities with options to correct slight blur
  • Simple denoising to remove even the heaviest grain from a photo
  • No back and forth between multiple apps; do all your image enhancements in one place.
We review products based on independent experience and research, but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page.
Photo of author
I'm a Canadian photographer and photo retoucher turned founder of bwillcreative.com. Around here I help you to decode the mystery of photo editing with no-fluff videos and written guides to help you achieve your creative goals. Outside of shooting photos and my passion for educating, you'll find me mountain biking or on the trails with my dog, Sunny!

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