Topaz Photo AI Review: Does It Make a Difference on Large Prints


Topaz Photo AI claims to sharpen, remove noise, and increase the resolution of your photos. But does it make a visual difference on a printed photo? Let’s find out.

Topaz Labs recently released Topaz Photo AI, combining all of their existing photography AI apps into a single tool. I wanted to do a detailed review to see if using Topaz Photo AI on photos made a visible difference for large prints. In short, I was very skeptical after initially using the software. (This is not a sponsored review.) Did Topaz Photo AI make a difference?


Let’s dive into it.

What is Topaz Labs Photo AI?

Topaz Labs originally released three separate AI-powered photo apps: DeNoise AI, Gigapixel AI, and Sharpen AI. Now they have effectively rolled all of those apps into one app called Topaz Photo AI. It can be used as a stand-alone application or as a plugin for popular photo editing apps, such as Lightroom and Photoshop.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Topaz Photo AI App
Topaz Photo AI application.

Topaz Photo AI includes built-in module tools to remove noise, sharpen, recover faces, and enhance resolution. It also has a new feature called Autopilot, which will automatically scan your image and use AI to detect the subject of your photo and recommend the best ways to enhance your image. This makes it easy for new users to jump into the app and get excellent results. You can customize any of the settings manually if you want more control over how your image is enhanced.

Using the App

The workflow for Tapaz Photo AI is pretty straightforward. Add in the image you want to work on; then, the Autopilot feature will scan your image and apply the recommended enhancements. Then if you want to tweak any of the settings manually, you can do so in the settings panel on the right side of the UI. Depending on your image and computer hardware, this process takes about 10-20 seconds.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Topaz Photo AI Settings
Topaz Photo AI settings panel.

The app does have a snappy and responsive feel to it. The settings adjustments are simple and to the point. Clearly intended to get you in and out of the app so you can enhance your images quickly.

I was also impressed with the save feature, which can automatically apply filter suffixes to the end of your files names. (As an example: If I’ve applied denoise and resolution enhancement to an image, Topaz Photo AI will automatically use “denoise-enhance” to the end of the file name.) This makes it easy to keep track of different versions of an image you have enhanced. You can save files in four formats: JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and DNG.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Topaz Photo AI Save Settings
Topaz Photo AI export settings.

Selecting My Test Images

I decided to test each of the app’s enhancement features on five different images. Most of the images were drone photos that I took myself and thought would work well for large prints. However, the drone photos were only between 12 to 16 megapixels. This can seem small compared to many mirrorless cameras on the market now that can take photos between 20-30 megapixels or more. This made me feel that these images would be great candidates to be enhanced by Topaz Photo AI.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Ozark Drones Aerial Photograph
Drone photograph via Ozark Drones.

After enhancing the images, I would then send those digital “AI-enhanced” images off to be printed. However, I would also send copies of the original “non-enhanced” images to be printed. This would give me a perfect way to make a direct side-by-side comparison.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Images to Print
Sets of images sent off to be printed.

Digital Image Results

By far, the best module I could visibly notice results with was the Remove Noise filter. It did a fantastic job of automatically removing noise and grain from any image. It might have even worked “too well” in my opinion. Because on my computer monitor, it could make images seem a bit sterile. Almost as if they were a painting. And nowadays, it can even be favored to add filmic grain to a digital image. So the jury was still out for me if this would look good when printed.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Denoise Digital Detail
Original digital image on the left, Denoised digital image on the right.

My tests with the Sharpen filter all looked over-sharpened. The feature didn’t feel “innovative” like I’d hoped. The images were sharper but also appeared to have some aliasing artifacts and color fringing. The Sharpen filter did offer some excellent options, such as Lens Blur for shallow depth lenses and Motion Blur to sharpen blur resulting from movement. You could also select to only sharpen the “subject” of an image as well.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Sharpen Digital Detail
Original digital image on the left, Sharpened digital image on the right.

The Recover Faces filter is something I wouldn’t typically use. The results usually just look too uncanny. It seems like it works best on images that have compression artifacts, as opposed to low resolution. I didn’t have any images printed using the Recover Faces filter since none of my photos were portraits.

The Enhance Resolution filter did an adequate job of upscaling my images. (I did 2x for all of the upscaling.) However, I was concerned that the upscaling wasn’t that noticeable overall. The results were “clearer,” but when an image is scaled down to fit on a computer monitor, you couldn’t notice any difference. Only when you “pixel peep” and zoom in at 100% could you see some subtle differences.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Enhanced Resolution Digital Detail
Original image print on the left, Enhanced Resolution image print on the right. Scaled to 45% for comparison.

At this stage, I began to question if Topaz Photo AI was worth the $199.00 price tag. The results I was getting were “improvements,” but were they that noticeable? I honestly did not believe they were. However, all this was to see if the images looked better once they were printed. So I sent the AI-enhanced images and original images off to be printed.

I ordered several large prints, all printed on matte photographic paper, with no texture and low reflectiveness. I wanted the focus to be solely on the printed image detail. When I first examined the prints, to my surprise, it was immediately apparent that the Topaz Photo AI-enhanced prints looked better.

The biggest prints I had printed were 20 “x24” poster prints. One version had the Enhanced Resolution filter applied, set to 2x, and the other was just the original image. The original version looked much softer compared to the enhanced version. Almost as if it was barely out of focus. The upscaled version looked much better once it was printed.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Enhanced Resolution Print Detail
Original image print on the left, Enhanced Resolution image print on the right.

And the Enhanced Resolution prints didn’t have to be poster-sized to look better. I had another print set that was 11 “x14”, which featured a top-down image of Fall leaves. I can not stress enough how nearly identical both of these images looked on my computer monitor, yet once printed, the Topaz Photo AI version was clearly superior.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Enhanced Resolution Print Detail 2
Original image print on the left, Enhanced Resolution image print on the right.

The biggest surprise to me was how much better the Denoised images looked. The denoising process made a world of difference. The original images almost appeared muddy in comparison.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Denoise Cloud Print Detail
Original image print on the left, Denoised image print on the right.

The denoised versions add a touch of clarity that really accents fine details. This translated well to the images once they were printed. My initial concern that the denoised versions would look “too sterile” was gone.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Denoise Building Print Detail
Original image print on the left, Denoised image print on the right.

Even the photo with the Sharpen filter applied looked better. You can clearly see that the sharpened filter brought back a lot of detail to my dog’s fur and whiskers. This photo was taken with a 50mm f1.4 and had an incredibly shallow depth of field. So for this photo, I used the Lens Blur option with the Sharpen filter.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Sharpen Print Detail
Original image print on the left, Sharpened image print on the right.

Final Thoughts

It is safe to say that the printed images that had the enhancements applied to them from Topaz Photo AI were superior. Initially, I didn’t think the “enhancements” added to the photos would make that much of a difference. But they absolutely did. I think the biggest issue is that, when you are looking at the enhanced images on a computer monitor, the images are often scaled down to “fit” onto your screen. (Because most of us don’t have a 70″ monitor where we can scale an image to 100% and still see the entire picture on screen!) And obviously, images on the web or Instagram, are all scaled down to fit those applications.

Topaz Photo AI Review - Enhanced Resolution Print Detail 3
Original image print on the left, Enhanced Resolution image print on the right.

Should you pick up Topaz Photo AI? If you are having prints made of your photos, I would say: absolutely. If you are not printing your images regularly, and mainly keep them digital, I would say: maybe.

The denoise feature of Topaz Photo AI was phenomenal and may alone be worth it for photographers who don’t often print their photos. The other enhancement features, such as Enhanced Resolution and Sharpen, probably won’t be worth it for most photographers who only display their work digitally. This is simply because images displayed on a monitor or phone don’t always need a lot of resolution. This is a completely different story when it comes to prints. High resolution on prints makes a world of difference.

Use AI to Enhance Your Videos?

Did you know you can use AI technology from Topaz Labs to enhance your videos too? Check out our deep-dive video tutorial showing how to Enhance Your Videos with Topaz Labs’ Video Enhance AI. Enhance your videos with AI upscaling, denoising, slow motion, and more!

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