For the past few years, I’ve been content with keeping my entire photo editing worldview pegged to the Adobe ecosystem. Anything that Lightroom couldn’t handle, or that required more refined content-aware heavy-lifting, was offloaded to Photoshop. And that’s the way things went for a very long time.
Just about everything that I needed to do in terms of organizing and editing my photos was handled by Adobe Lightroom (both Classic and the “New Coke” flavor).
Then, a few weeks ago, I went on a photo purge of legendary proportions in an effort to reduce the overall footprint that the files were taking up on my hard drives and cloud backups. During that cathartic exercise (really, I recommend everyone does this), I found a whole bunch of old photos that I forgot about. These were photos taken with cameras that I can barely remember using, but they held promise and I wanted to take a crack at editing them.
Unfortunately, that’s where things fell apart pretty quickly, especially when it came to mitigating the extreme noise and lack of sharpness that these images suffered from. Unfortunately, Lightroom’s noise reduction and sharpening tools only made things worse. With the noise reduction, any visible effect would also obliterate any edge details, rendering the image into a mushy mess. With the sharpening, I’d see an excess of added artifacts and noise get introduced. In most cases, the “corrected” results looked worse than the originals.
After doing some research and chatting with a few photography friends, I got turned on to Topaz DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ll save you the anticipation.
I was seriously impressed… blown away, actually.
While the results themselves were noteworthy, what really caught my eye was just how automated everything was. I’d just load my photo into the app that did what I needed to do—reduce noise or add detail, respectively, and sit back. In the case of noise reduction, DeNoise AI mitigated noise while preserving edge details and preventing any of the areas from getting mushy. Sharpen AI was able to snap detail back to photos that just barely missed critical focus and that would otherwise be rejected.
In both cases, using these purpose-driven apps worked exceptionally well and truly did save these legacy photos.
About the author: Brian Matiash is a professional photographer, videographer, and published author based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. His passion is to serve other photographers by helping them grow their own visual pursuits. Learn more about Brian by visiting his website, on Instagram, and on YouTube.