Sharpening Images using Topaz Sharpen AI, on DNG Leica Raw Files

One of the people in the Leica User Forum I respect very much suggested that some of my photos might benefit from using Topaz Sharpen AI. I watched the videos, then downloaded the trial version, and I now agree with him. I also watched a video of different sharpening software, including DxO PhotoLab3.

What I wanted to ask here, is whether I can use Topaz Sharpen AI the same way I use the Nik software in PhotoLab4 - send my image off to the other software, which does its thing, and when it’s all done, the image is returned to PhotoLab4.

The example in the video I just linked to is exactly what I sometimes want to do - the image from my camera is good, but I sometimes want more. Topaz Sharpen AI is one of the programs that does this, for several types of unsharp images - you use the tool that works best for your images.


From my limited experience trialing Topaz Sharpen AI I found that it is excellent when it comes to serious sharpening issues, and can even repair some moderately blurred images that would otherwise be discarded. However, when it came to adding sharpening to most “normal” well exposed images the results I got with it were no better then with using Photolab’s Lens sharpness and Unsharp mask tools along with my favorite tool, the microcontrast slider.

Mark .

This should work for any application unless you work with projects:
In PhotoLab, use “export to application” to send the image (as 16 bit tiff) to Topaz Sharpen AI and from there, save the image into the original folder. PhotoLab will then show the treated image.

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Thanks to both of you, I accidentally found that worked just as you say.

I was walking to a local store yesterday, and saw some large iguanas near Biscayne Bay. One of them let me gradually get rather close to it. It moved to a small concrete wall, alongside of Biscayne Bay. I got lots of technically “good”, but rather boring photos of the iguana, when it finally decided I was too close, and started scampering off to my right. I was expecting that, and panned the camera (Fuji X100f) to my right and captured one image. (Note to self, use burst mode and capture several, to give me a selection of images to choose from.)

Anyway, when I got home, I found an interesting image, with blurred feet (which looked good!), and a blurred body (which looked awful). I purchased my trial version of Topaz Sharpen AI (to get rid of the watermark) and tried what you suggested, not expecting it to work. It did work though, just as you describe! Unfortunately, while the software did make the body look good, it made the “scales” on top look awful. By an hour later, I had tried again, but told Topaz Sharpen AI to use the “soft image” tool, not the “motion blur” which I found I had used the first time. This time I got an image that a rather liked!

I can post all the images here if anyone wants to take a go at it.

_DSF4502 | 2021-08-06-Iguanas.jpg.dop (15.2 KB)

Excuses: Why the Fuji? Because it’s small and unobtrusive, to walk around with. Why use ‘jpg’? Because PL4 doesn’t accept raw images from the Fuji cameras that use the X-Trans sensors. The Fuji X100f does have a “zoom” control, but all it does is crop the image - it can’t zoom. It’s a great camera for snapshots, but I find the X-Trans sensor to be a pain. I guess I need to start shooting in RAW+JPG mode, or find a replacement snapshot camera… or continue doing things as I am now, shooting in ‘jpg’ which both PL4 and Topaz Sharpen AI accept. Or, I can put my old collapsable 50mm Summicron on my Leica, and use that as my “walkabout” camera. Or, I can continue what I’m doing, and hope that eventually DxO updates their software to accept Fuji raw images…

Added later. I just reviewed an earlier discussion:

Either I stop using my Fuji X100f, or I find a way to get ‘tif’ images out of it, which should work better in PL4 than ‘jpg’ images. The Fuji raw files seem useless to me, except as something to convert into ‘tif’.

I’m happy that the Topaz Sharpen AI works so nicely with PL4.

Open the jpeg in PhotoLab and export it as 16 bit tiff file…as a first step before doing anything else…

I think my best option for when I shoot with the Fuji, is to shoot RAW+JPG, then do as you suggest, and work with the ‘TIF’ file. Who knows, if I ever really need more from the file, perhaps by then DxO will have started to support the X-Trans sensor, or I can edit the ‘raw’ file in my Open Source DarkTable app.

I could always buy a Leica Q, but that’s many thousands of dollars for a larger “small camera”, and the Fuji is similar in many ways to the Leica Q. Too much money, and too much hassle. As a “walkabout” camera, the Fuji X100f is perfect for times I don’t want to carry the larger Leica - but I still own a collapsible Summicron, but the reality is my very old 35mm Summilux is similar in size, and I believe it is much sharper than what I can do with the Fuji. On the other hand, for “people pictures” the Fuji has options the Leica will never have, and seems to produce the best people photos of any camera I have ever owned. The Fuji autofocus can be told to look for a “right eye” and focus there, and the Fuji’s built in flash makes people look great. I don’t use flash on my Leica, and my ability to focus using the rangefinder, or the Visoflex, or the “Live View” is reasonably good, but not as good as the Fuji. Fuji also has the best viewfinder of any camera I have ever owned, at least for the way I use it. The Fuji can also take close-up photos.

When I think of what I consider “professional photography”, a large format camera on a tripod is what comes to my mind, thinking of Ansel Adams, and more lately Joanna Carter. They both work at capturing a “perfect photo” from the very beginning. I love reading what Joanna writes here, and I love reading the stories about Ansel Adams way back when, back when he was just an excellent photographer, not a “god”. I think he would have loved digital photography, and I think he would have loved PhotoLab4.

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My Export to application is only showing Affinity Photo. How do I add other applications including Topaz Sharpen please?

Do this:


Then select app

You can also think about the Leica D Lux 7 as a great walkabout camera. It has a 17-70mm, f 1.7 lens, shoots RAW and is perfectly supported by PL :-).

I have come full circle when it comes to sharpening and getting rid of noise. I bought the Topaz suite last Black Friday, and deNoise and Sharpen do what they advertise. However, I have discovered lately that I was obsessing too much over having sharp clean images. I recently took a 10,000 ISO (on Nikon D7500) image of a bird, which of course had lots of noise. I took it through DeepPrime and it got rid of most of the digital noise, but still left some noise, as there was a lot. As well the image is not tack sharp. However, the noise that was left was not objectionable, and in fact in my opinion added “character” to the image (like film grain). Same with the image not being tack sharp in the end. I actually never use the Topaz products anymore and will not be upgrading them. I find it sufficient to run an image through DeepPrime, no matter what the ISO, then simply not think about noise and sharpening anymore. Frees up my mind for other modifications I can do using Nik Collection (specifically Viveza and Color/Silver Efex Pro). If I do decide to adjust noise and sharpening (which is rare) I just use Nik dfine and sharpening, which are sufficient for me.

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That’s great thanks. Got it to work now. Thanks for your help. Sorry about the slow reply to you.