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Topaz Photo AI Review – Overpriced?

Topaz Photo AI Review FI

Topaz Photo AI is an AI-powered photo enhancement application that combines image upscaling, sharpening, and noise reduction into a single, easy-to-use interface. Moreover, each of Photo AI’s image enhancement features is world-class and, when combined, can produce spectacular results.

In this updated Topaz Photo AI review, we’re exploring Topaz Photo AI 2, its new feature set, testing its output, and seeing how it compares against the competition. Let’s get started. Jump to Conclusion | Try Topaz Photo AI – Free







Table of Contents

What is Topaz Photo AI

Topaz Photo AI is an all-in-one photo enhancement studio combining AI-powered upscaling, noise reduction, and sharpening into a single, easy-to-use application for PC and Mac. To put it another way, Topaz Photo AI is Gigapixel AI, Sharpen AI, and Denoise AI all rolled into one. This means two things.

Topaz Photo AI is an all-in-one photo enhancement application for PC and Mac.

First, Topaz Photo AI is more useful more often because it does more. Second, you can combine Topaz Photo AI’s three core technologies to achieve results beyond the reach of standalone sharpeners, denoisers, and upscalers. Moreover, you can use Topaz Photo AI’s Autopilot to automatically apply multiple enhancements to a single image or batch or apply any enhancement yourself.

Topaz Photo AI 2 Auto Pilot settings
Enhancing images automatically with Topaz Photo AI’s Autopilot

Since Topaz Photo AI is a standalone application, you can use it independently of any other photography software. Alternatively, you can use it as a plugin for the following photo editing applications.

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Lightroom Classic
  • Capture One

What is new in Topaz Photo AI

Topaz Photo AI 2 introduces two new features – Adjusting Lighting and Balancing Color. As the names suggest, both relight and recolor your photo, and we will explore these features later in this Topaz Photo AI review.

Adjust Lighting in Topaz Photo AI 2
Adjusting Image Exposure and Brightness with Topaz Photo AI’s Adjusting Lighting Feature.

While neither tool is mind-blowing, they succeed in reducing the likelihood of you needing to export your image to a separate photo editing application to make simple adjustments, thus saving you time.

How much does Topaz Photo AI cost

US$199. Check Today’s Prices.

Free Topaz Photo AI Trial

Try Topaz Photo AI free for 30 days. Download Free Trial Now

Topaz Photo AI Key Features

Image Sharpening

Sharpening Portraits in Topaz Photo AI
Topaz Photo AI 2 is an exceptional image sharpening that can correct poor focus and motion blur.

Topaz Photo AI’s AI-powered Image sharpening is superior to traditional image sharpening because it does not introduce artifacts, outlines, and halos. However, Topaz Photo AI goes beyond image sharpening and can deblur and sharpen poorly focused, motion-blurred photos.

Image Sharpening in Topaz Photo AI
Topaz Photo AI is the best photo sharpener I have tested.

Furthermore, Image sharpening has improved in the latest version of Topaz Photo AI. For instance, you can choose between five AI sharpening models: Standard, Strong, Lens Blur, and Motion Blur. New to Topaz Photo AI 2 is Standard v2, which will ultimately replace the existing Standard sharpening model. Up to three adjustments are embedded in the five AI models for fine-tuning the AI model’s strength and noise reduction.

Sharpening Images in Topaz Photo AI 2
The latest version of Topaz Photo AI includes settings similar to those in Topaz Sharpen AI. Namely, multiple AI models result in greater flexibility over the final result. Standard V2 will ultimately replace Standard.

As with previous versions, Topaz Photo AI 2 features Subject and Face Detection, enabling you to apply sharpening to the subject while leaving the background intact. You can also augment your sharpening with the Recovering Faces tool for more natural-looking portraits. Try Sharpening your Photos with Topaz Photo AI – for Free.

Photo Noise Reduction

Noise Reduction in Topaz Photo AI
Topaz Photo AI is one of the best noise reduction software applications you can buy.

Topaz Photo AI 2’s noise reduction differs from traditional detail-sapping noise reduction. Specifically, it denoises your photo while enhancing detail. To illustrate, I fed Topaz Photo AI a noisy ISO6400 Micro Four Thirds image. The results are so impressive that they can be considered equivalent to a sensor or lens upgrade but at a fraction of the price.

A before and after sample of a photo denoised in Topaz Photo AI
Topaz Photo AI is one of the best noise reduction applications I have tested.

Topaz Photo AI offers several distinct AI Models for denoising JPEG and Raw files. Each AI model has separate adjustments for fine-tuning noise reduction strength and deblur. Alternatively, you can enable Autopilot, and Topaz Photo AI will make these adjustments for you. Try denoising your photos with Topaz Photo AI.

Noise Reduction Settings in Topaz Photo AI
Topaz Photo AI 2 now has multiple AI denoising models for Raw files (as seen above) and JPEG images. Consequently, you now have more control over the final result. Note the V2 models will ultimately replace the V1 editions.

Image Upscaling

You can use Topaz Photo AI’s Upscaling to enlarge your digital photos by up to 600%. But unlike traditional photo enlargement applications, which turn one pixel into many, Topaz Photo AI’s artificial intelligence anticipates and inserts additional detail as it goes.

Topaz Photo AI Upscaling
Topaz Photo AI 2 is a terrific upscaler that enables you to enlarge your photos by almost 600%

As you can see in the sample below, images enlarged with Topaz Photo AI can look sharper and more detailed than the original smaller image.

A sample of a photo upscaled with Topaz Photo AI
Topaz Photo AI is one of the best AI upscalers I have tested.

Topaz Photo AI includes four different AI models: Standard, High Fidelity, Graphics, and Low Resolution. Each feature has a separate adjustment, giving you granular control over Denoising, Deblurring, and Compression. Alternatively, you can switch on Autopilot and let Topaz Photo AI apply the adjustments for you.

Upscaling Settings in Topaz Photo AI 2
Topaz Photo AI 2 offers gigapixel-like control over your upscaling with four separate AI upscaling models that provide distinct aesthetics.


With AutoPilot enabled, Topaz Photo AI will automatically assess your photo and apply whatever amount of Sharpening and Denoising it thinks is best. If you are in a rush, you can use AutoPilot to batch-enhance multiple images simultaneously. Critically, Autopilot is reliably excellent. Thus, you can trust it to deliver near-optimal results without your help.

AutoPilot in Topaz Photo V2
AutoPilot is a significant selling point for Topaz Photo AI. With AutoPilot enabled, Topaz Photo AI will automatically apply a reliably sensible amount of sharpening and denoising to a single photo or batch of images.

Recover Faces

Topaz Photo AI’s Recover Faces mode leverages face detection technology to identify and preserve Faces from destructive over-processing – a situation I often encounter when testing AI enhancement apps.

Even with Recover Faces disabled, Topaz Photo AI is better than most. However, enabling Recover Faces and adjusting its strength adds flexibility that is seldom found in other photo enhancement applications.

Moreover, as the sample below demonstrates, AutoPilot is reliable enough to take for granted, although you may find further image-enhancing improvements with additional manual tuning.

Adjust Lighting

As the name suggests, Adjust Lighting enables you to rebalance and brighten your photo’s exposure by boosting shadows while preserving highlights.

Adjust Lighting in Topaz Photo AI 2
In practical terms, Adjusting Lighting is similar to boosting shadows and pulling highlights for an overall brighter image.

Therefore, Adjust Lighting is hardly a novel feature. However, it does diminish the need to reload your Topaz-enhanced photo into your favorite photo editing application for a second round of adjustments.

A sample of a photo brightened in Topaz Photo AI
Adjust Lighting is a handy tool that reduces the likelihood of you having to export your photo to your favorite photo editing application for further editing.

Balancing Color

Balancing Color is an effective white balance tool that can remove color tints or adjust your image’s ‘warmth.’

Balancing Color Settings in Topaz Photo AI 3
Balancing Color Feature in Topaz Photo AI 2

Like Adjust Lighting, Balancing Color seeks to diminish your dependence on a secondary Photo Editing application. And in some cases, it might.

How to use Topaz Photo AI

Click here to skip the tutorial

  1. Opening a photo
  2. Using Autopilot
  3. Comparing your Image
  4. Applying Noise Reduction
  5. Sharpening your photo
  6. Upscaling your Photo
  7. Saving your Photo

Opening a Photo

Click Browse Images to open one or many photos

Opening a photo in Topaz Photo AI
Opening a photo in Topaz Photo AI

Enhancing your image with Autopilot

Upon opening your photo, Topaz Photo AI will automatically run Autopilot and enhance your image for you. A window will appear, showing you which adjustments have been applied.

Running Autopilot in Topaz Photo AI
Autopilot runs automatically when you open a file.

Enhancements applied by Autopilot are denoted with a green dot. You can click on each adjustment to observe or replace Autopilot’s settings.

The Green Dot tells us Autopilot has applied noise reduction using the Strong AI model. You can leave these settings as is or adjust them to taste.

Comparing your image before and after

At this point, you may wish to compare the enhanced version of your image with the original. To this end, you can use the icons at the bottom of the screen to switch between a single and a 2-way comparison view.

Switching between single and comparison view in Topaz Photo AI
Use the icons at the bottom of the screen to switch between single view and 2-way comparison views.

Now, you can accept Autopilot’s settings and save your image. Alternatively, you can continue to make your own adjustments.

Adjusting Noise Reduction

Click on the Removing Noise Section to access Topaz Photo AI’s noise reduction settings. Try each AI Model to see which best suits your image. Then, fine-tune the model by moving the Strength, Minor Deblur, and Recover Original Detail adjustments.

Noise Reduction Settings in Topaz Photo AI

Continue this process until you are happy with the result. Alternatively, click the green arrow to restore Autopilot settings or flick the switch to turn off noise reduction altogether.

Sharpening your photo

Click on the Sharpen section to reveal Topaz Photo AI’s sharpening tools. Start by choosing to limit sharpening to your subject or your entire photo. The former is useful when sharpening images with blurred backgrounds.

How to sharpen your image with Topaz Photo AI
Whichever AI Model is best varies from photo to photo. Experiment with the settings until you like what you see.

Continue the sharpening process by trying each of the five AI models to see which suits your image best. You can then adjust your preferred AI model’s strength and denoising effect.

If applicable, you can revert to Autopilot’s preferred settings by clicking the green arrow or turning off sharpening entirely by pulling the switch to the left.

Upscaling your photo

Click on the Upscale section to reveal Topaz Photo AI’s upscaling tools. Then, choose how much you want to enlarge your image.

Using Topaz Photo AI to enlarge digital photos.
Upscaling photos in Topaz Photo AI.

The easiest way to do this is to select one of Topaz Photo AI’s presets, namely 2x, 4x, or Max. Alternatively, you can set your photo’s desired height and length in inches, centimeters, or pixels.

Then, sample each of the AI models to see which looks best. Afterward, you can adjust your preferred AI Model’s Denoise, Deblur, and Compression Settings to taste.

Saving your Photo

When you finish enhancing your photo, click the Save Image button at the bottom right of the screen. By default, your enhanced image will be saved as a copy, thus leaving your original photo intact and untouched.

Saving your enhanced image.

When saving your enhanced image, name it and specify the folder in which it will be kept. By default, Topaz Photo AI will save your enhanced image in the same folder as the original.

After that, choose the format you wish to save your image. You can choose between JPEG, TIFF, and PNG. However, if you edit the picture further, you may want to save it as a DNG raw file. And that’s it—you’re finished.

Top Topaz Photo AI Alternatives

So, you’ve decided that Topaz Photo AI may not be for you. Here are some fine alternatives.

Topaz Photo AI vs Gigapixel

Topaz Labs develops both Topaz Photo AI and Gigapixel AI, which have similar feature sets and can produce near-identical results. In other words, both Topaz Photo AI and Gigapixel AI are among the best AI Upscalers I have tested.

Gigapixel 7

However, there are some differences. For instance, Gigapixel AI has a few additional adjustments. But, practically speaking, the main difference is that Gigapixel AI costs half as much as Topaz Photo AI and is limited to upscaling only.

Thus, holistically speaking, images processed with Topaz Photo AI have the potential to look better than those processed with Gigapixel AI, thanks to its expanded feature set. But if you only need an upscaler, Gigapixel AI is as good as it gets.

Read my Gigapixel AI Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.

Topaz Photo AI vs Denoise AI

Being another Topaz Labs product, it’s perhaps no surprise that Topaz Denoise AI and Topaz Photo AI are equally effective photo denoisers. Yet, thanks to its outstanding sharpening, Topaz Photo AI will almost certainly produce better-looking images than Topaz Denoise.

Topaz Denoise AI
Topaz Denoise AI

However, you’ll save a lot of money if you’re looking exclusively for a denoising application. Even in this case, I would not recommend Topaz Denoise, as ON1 NoNoise AI and DxO PureRaw have outdone it. Visit my list of best noise reduction software for my latest recommendations.

Read my Topaz Denoise AI Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.

Topaz Photo AI vs Sharpen AI

Topaz Photo AI and Topaz Sharpen AI produce nearly identical results. In other words, both are outstanding image sharpeners capable of correcting poor focus and motion blur.

Therefore, if you only want an image sharpener, you should save your money, skip Topaz Photo AI, and buy Topaz Sharpen AI instead.

Read my Topaz Sharpen AI Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.

Topaz Photo AI vs Lightroom

Lightroom Denoise
Lightroom’s Enhance Mode offers both AI upscaling and denoising

Like Topaz Photo AI, Lightroom is equipped with AI-powered noise reduction and upscaling. In terms of noise reduction, Lightroom Denoise is a very good photo denoiser that’s only slightly less capable than Topaz Photo AI. Regarding upscaling, Lightroom Super Resolution is limited to 200% upscales and is much less accurate than Topaz Photo AI or Gigapixel. As for sharpening, Topaz Photo AI is many leagues ahead of Lightroom.

When you combine these three features, the gap between Topaz Photo AI and Lightroom widens further. Compared to Lightroom, Topaz Photo AI is significantly better at upscaling a noisy photo or denoising a blurred photo.

Overall, if you are a Lightroom subscriber with an occasional need to denoise or upscale an image, you’ll find Denoise and Super Resolution sufficient. But Topaz Photo AI remains the better upscaler, denoiser, and sharpener, and the advantage multiplies when these features are combined.

Read my Lightroom Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.

Topaz Photo AI vs ON1 NoNoise AI

While ON1 NoNoise AI lacks upscaling, it does feature outstanding AI-powered noise reduction and pretty good sharpening. Thus, ON1 NoNoise AI rivals Topaz Photo AI despite its much lower cost when denoising an in-focus image.

Auto Masking in ON1 NoNoise AI 2024
ON1 NoNoise AI

Like Topaz Photo AI, the ON1 NoNoise Tack Sharp AI feature can sharpen slightly blurred photos. Unfortunately, applying Tack Sharp and noise reduction together is far less effective and sometimes outright destructive. Therefore, I recommend ON1 NoNoise AI to sharpen and deblur clean images or denoise. If you need to deblur a noisy image or upscale, go with Topaz Photo AI.

Read my ON1 NoNoise AI Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.

Topaz Photo AI vs DxO PureRaw

DxO PureRaw is unique because it leans on Optics Modules, which profile the characteristics and flaws intrinsic to your specific camera-lens combination to deliver outstanding noise reduction and highly targeted optical corrections and enhancements. All of this means exceptional image quality.

The Process preview mode in DxO PureRaw 4
DxO PureRaw

Yet, DxO PureRaw doesn’t upscale, and while it can correct lens softness to an impressive extent, it can’t do much with motion blur or poor focus. Thus, if you want to sharpen and denoise in-focus images, DxO PureRaw is an outstanding solution. But, if you’re looking to correct blur or upscale, stick with Topaz Photo AI.

Read my DxO PureRaw Review for more information, samples, and comparisons.

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Extracted from ON1 NoNoise AI Review – ranked 3rd in SERP as of 21st March 2024


Topaz Photo AI is a formidable image enhancement application that blends first-rate noise reduction, sharpening, and upscaling into a single, easy-to-use application. Nevertheless, not everyone needs Topaz Photo AI—at least not all of it. For much less money, you can buy an equally effective denoiser, sharpener, or upscaler. Yet, Topaz Photo AI is unique for two reasons.

Topaz Photo AI Review
Topaz Photo AI

First, each of Topaz Photo AI’s three core components is as good as or better than any other upscaler, sharpener, or denoiser I have ever tested. So, if you’re looking for the convinience of having all three of these features under one roof, Topaz Photo AI is the way to go. The second reason Topaz Photo AI is unique is how well these three features work in unison.

For instance, Topaz Photo AI is the only application I have tested that can reliably denoise and sharpen a poorly focused, noise-ridden image and upscale it by 600%. Of course, there are limits to how far an image can be corrected and enhanced, but no other application pushes these limits quite as far as Topaz Photo AI.

Thus, whether Topaz Photo AI is for you comes down to two factors. The first is price. At US$199, Topaz Photo AI is hardly cheap. The second factor is how much of Topaz Photo AI you need. If you want an outstanding noise reduction, you might as well save some money and buy ON1 NoNoise AI or DxO PureRaw instead. Likewise, Gigapixel AI is an equally effective upscaler, and Topaz Sharpen AI also works miracles with blurred images.

Yet none of these otherwise excellent applications can do it all. In contrast, not only does Topaz Photo AI do it all, but it can also do ‘all’ all at the same time. Thus, if you want something like Topaz Photo AI, you should buy Topaz Photo AI. Try Topaz Photo AI Now – For Free

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About the Author

Richard Adams

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