Topaz Labs makes some of the nicest and coolest Photoshop plug-ins around. They are powerful, easy to use, fun and they offer some really useful tools and effects all at an affordable price and with a generous upgrade policy. If you use their free Fusion Express app you can even use most of the plug-ins in Lightroom version 2-4. Otherwise the plug-ins are compatible with Photoshop CS4 – CS6 32-bit and 64-bit, Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 – 11 and with Fusion Express Photoshop Lightroom 2 – 4.
Your video card will need to support OpenGL 2.1 or higher which today is pretty much every video card. ReMask is the only odd plug-in in that it is compatible with PhotoFXlab, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro. ReMask is not compatible with iPhoto, Aperture, Photoshop Lightroom, Photo Impact or Irfanview.
If you don’t have a host program (aka Photoshop, etc.) you can purchase their PhotoFXlab program and access them through it.
If you need help learning their plug-ins they have free tutorial video available that both complete and very well done. They should help you get up to speed with the plug-ins in no time flat.
I recommend getting the bundle. It includes all of their Photoshop plug-ins including
Topaz Adjust Optimizes exposure, color and detail strength. You can go from natural but more detail and better color to strong detail, exposure and color making your image look like and HDR (High Dynamic Range) image. Included are dozens of presets that you can use as is or change, You can also create your own.
Topaz DeNoise removes noise, color noise and banding while recovering and preserving image detail. Of all of the noise reduction programs on the market I find Topaz DeNoise to be the most reliable and it does the best job. With tons of presets you may never need to touch a slider, but the power is their in the sliders if you need to tweak your noise reduction. You can also create your own presets.
Topaz B&W Effects
Create traditional and stylized looks with the most versatile tool for B&W Enhancement on the market. With a wide range of presets converting color images to black and white has never been easier or you can use the wide range of tools to do your own conversion. Then of course you can save your conversion settings as a preset for ease application to other images later.
I have not had very good luck with masking plug-ins. They are either too complicated to use or they just don’t do a good job. Topaz ReMask on the other hand is easy to use as does do a good job. I have to hand it to Topaz Labs they really have their interfaces down and in the case of Topaz ReMask they have really thought out the features you will need to mask out simple objects and complex objects like whispy hair.
Topaz Lens Effects
Create bokeh, vignettes, color tone balance, motion blur and more after the shot. There are other plug-ins on the market that does this type of effect. However none of them has the presets or the features that Topax Lens Effects has. Here again Topaz Labs really has exceeded all the others on the market.
Selectively control 3 levels of image detail without creating halos or edge artifacts. When you want to extract the most detail from an image only one plug-in does the job right and that is Topaz Detail, the level of detail you can extract from an image is simply amazing.
Create digital art and painting effects in your images for a wide range of artistic enhancements. This plug-in is simply fun. From creating line art to creating painting effects Topaz Simplify can do the job and do it well. With its wide range of presets as well as wide range of controls the number of effects that you can create is nearly limitless.
Smoothing and edge stylizing for creating smooth, flawless skin and curly, vectorized effects. Topaz Clean can do the job. This is one plug-in that I have very seldom had to use the wide range of controls on, the presets that are included have always had what I wanted and needed.
Sharpens and refines to improve image quality and reverse minor instances of blur. This is a wonderful sharpening tool. However, the blur correction is not up to par, in fact of all of Topaz plug-ins Topaz InFocus is the least capable. They really need to change the name to Topaz Sharpen as it does a wonderful job of sharpening, but correcting blur leaves a lot to be desired and has proven time and time again to be a big disappointment for me.
Have and image that has too much JPEG compression applied to it? Topaz DeJPEG can remove the blockiness and restore a modest amount of detail. This is another plug-in where I have been able to rely on just the presets.
Topaz Fusion Express
Integrate the power of your favorite Topaz plug-ins without leaving your workflow. Want to use your favorite Topaz plug-in in iPhoto, Aperture & Lightroom Topaz Fusion is what you need to do it. This plug-in is free and works with all of the Topaz’s plug-ins with the exception of Topaz ReMask it is only compatible with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.
For $299.99 you get one hell of a package of powerful, easy to use and useful plug-ins. Of all of the plug-in packages on the market Topaz’s is the best. Besides getting free point updates they sometimes give you free updates to major new versions. I haven’t seen many companies do that and I have to applaud Topaz Labs for doing this it really makes their plug-ins a heck of a value. If you can buy only one plug-in bundle make it Topaz Labs’s package, you won’t regret it.