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Author Topic: Topaz Labs InFocus, a new deconvolution based sharpening plugin  (Read 11349 times)
BartvanderWolf
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« on: November 21, 2010, 06:29:05 AM »
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Hi folks, FYI,

http://www.topazlabs.com/infocus/

Finally a dedicated sharpening tool that also works on 64-bit platforms.
It also gives some control to reduce potential sharpening artifacts.

While there is no option to use user-defined point spread functions (PSFs), there is a mode that attempts to construct such a PSF from image content. It does need some (blurred) edges in the image to estimate the PSF.  It's slightly less effective than a custom PSF, but still gives very acceptable results, e.g. restoring sharpness from diffraction blur.


Cheers,
Bart
« Last Edit: November 21, 2010, 06:42:03 AM by BartvanderWolf » Logged
bjanes
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2010, 07:25:57 AM »
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Hi folks, FYI,

http://www.topazlabs.com/infocus/

Finally a dedicated sharpening tool that also works on 64-bit platforms.
It also gives some control to reduce potential sharpening artifacts.

While there is no option to use user-defined point spread functions (PSFs), there is a mode that attempts to construct such a PSF from image content. It does need some (blurred) edges in the image to estimate the PSF.  It's slightly less effective than a custom PSF, but still gives very acceptable results, e.g. restoring sharpness from diffraction blur.

Bart,

Thanks for the information. From the link you supplied, I see that a free demo is available and reduced pricing is available until December 3. I plan to download the trial and try out the program ASAP. My main concern is how Topaz compares to other available deconvolution algorithms. Like you, I use FocusMagic, but it has not been updated for some time and does not work with 64 bit software. The Smart Sharpen in Photoshop is another deconvolution algorithm, but it does not appear to have caught on.   Recent versions of Adobe Camera Raw also use some form of deconvolution if the detail slider is moved to the right, but it must use few iterations since it is quite fast. I have been tempted to buy ImagesPlus since it offers adaptive RL and allows user defined PSFs. It also offers access to the raw data, similar to Iris. What are you thoughts?

Regards,

Bill
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alain
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2010, 07:34:45 AM »
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Hi folks, FYI,

http://www.topazlabs.com/infocus/

Finally a dedicated sharpening tool that also works on 64-bit platforms.
It also gives some control to reduce potential sharpening artifacts.

While there is no option to use user-defined point spread functions (PSFs), there is a mode that attempts to construct such a PSF from image content. It does need some (blurred) edges in the image to estimate the PSF.  It's slightly less effective than a custom PSF, but still gives very acceptable results, e.g. restoring sharpness from diffraction blur.


Cheers,
Bart


Am I right that it's only working as a plugin with certain programs, not as a standalone tool? 
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2010, 08:15:21 AM »
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Am I right that it's only working as a plugin with certain programs, not as a standalone tool? 

Correct, It's a plug-in. That also means that it should work with IrfanView which is free.

Cheers,
Bart
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bjanes
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2010, 08:28:10 AM »
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Correct, It's a plug-in. That also means that it should work with IrfanView which is free.

I installed the program on my Win64 machine and both 32 and 64 bit versions were installed (tlinfocusps.8bf and tlinfocusps_x64). This brings up the question of which version is used. According to a post by Jeff Schewe, opening a raw file in ACR from Bridge (which is a 32 bit application) will use the 32 bit version of ACR, whereas the 64 bit version will be used when the file is opened when ACR is hosted by Photoshop. I would think that the same considerations would apply to the Topaz plugins.

Regards,

Bill



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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2010, 08:35:12 AM »
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I have been tempted to buy ImagesPlus since it offers adaptive RL and allows user defined PSFs. It also offers access to the raw data, similar to Iris. What are you thoughts?

Hi Bill,

ImagesPlus is much more than just a vehicle to have access to (adaptive) RL restoration (and a few other methods). Given it's price I would recommend it to those who have a keen interest in Astrophotography. I'm not particularly impressed with its Demosaicing. That used to be run with e.g. the Canon SDK toolkit which resulted in good demosaicing, but it changed in a more recent version.

However, especially at it's introductory price, Topaz Labs InFocus is a great tool specifically geared at real sharpening of photographic images. It's 'estimate' mode, functions quite well for extracting complex PSFs from the actual image, which is a reasonable alternative for importing custom PSFs. A custom PSF can still restore slightly more detail, but the problem then becomes how to get that more perfect custom PSF. Here is a video, that explains the 'Estimate' mode on an ideal (lots of detail) image.

The only InFocus feature that seems to be missing, is a possibility to export a PSF estimate and re-use it in another image (which e.g. is missing the needed clues for a good estimate). It is possible to save presets, but it doesn't look like that works with the 'Estimate' mode because that requires hitting the 'Estimate Blur' button again.

Cheers,
Bart
« Last Edit: November 21, 2010, 09:18:50 AM by BartvanderWolf » Logged
BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2010, 08:46:30 AM »
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I installed the program on my Win64 machine and both 32 and 64 bit versions were installed (tlinfocusps.8bf and tlinfocusps_x64). This brings up the question of which version is used. According to a post by Jeff Schewe, opening a raw file in ACR from Bridge (which is a 32 bit application) will use the 32 bit version of ACR, whereas the 64 bit version will be used when the file is opened when ACR is hosted by Photoshop. I would think that the same considerations would apply to the Topaz plugins.

As far as I can see, there is a shortcut to the proper InFocus version in the 32 and the 64 bit version of CS5's Plugin folder. So regardless of the CS version that's opened, the proper plugin will be available there.

Cheers,
Bart
« Last Edit: November 21, 2010, 09:32:42 AM by BartvanderWolf » Logged
Rajan Parrikar
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2010, 11:45:21 AM »
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The Topaz founder, Yang, I understand, is quite receptive to inputs for improvement.  My first reaction after the free download of Topaz InFocus last night is that it looks to be a very promising tool.
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Rajan Parrikar
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2010, 11:49:35 AM »
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See this discussion.  It is from Sept 2010.  Looks like Topaz responded quickly to customer input -

http://www.topazlabs.com/forum/topaz-software/6020-topaz-sharpener.html

« Last Edit: November 21, 2010, 01:46:49 PM by Rajan Parrikar » Logged

alain
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2010, 03:05:46 PM »
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Correct, It's a plug-in. That also means that it should work with IrfanView which is free.

Cheers,
Bart

That could be nice, Irfanview has some really nice features.  Hopefully they offer enough compability.
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bjanes
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2010, 03:37:50 PM »
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ImagesPlus is much more than just a vehicle to have access to (adaptive) RL restoration (and a few other methods). Given it's price I would recommend it to those who have a keen interest in Astrophotography. I'm not particularly impressed with its Demosaicing.

Thanks for the additional information, Bart. I don't do astrophotography, but use Iris for its analytical tools. It has RL deconvolution as well as Maximum entropy deconvolution. For the PSP, one selects a star in the background. One could try to use a point source for terrestrial photography, but I don't know how it would work.

However, especially at it's introductory price, Topaz Labs InFocus is a great tool specifically geared at real sharpening of photographic images. It's 'estimate' mode, functions quite well for extracting complex PSFs from the actual image, which is a reasonable alternative for importing custom PSFs. A custom PSF can still restore slightly more detail, but the problem then becomes how to get that more perfect custom PSF. Here is a video, that explains the 'Estimate' mode on an ideal (lots of detail) image.

The only InFocus feature that seems to be missing, is a possibility to export a PSF estimate and re-use it in another image (which e.g. is missing the needed clues for a good estimate). It is possible to save presets, but it doesn't look like that works with the 'Estimate' mode because that requires hitting the 'Estimate Blur' button again.

I did look at the video, downloaded the trial, and was impressed and bought the program.

Regards,

Bill
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2010, 12:51:37 PM »
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Just wondering if any of you guys have had a chance to evaluate the result from this plugin yet, and what you think? My quick initial impression after playing with a couple of images was that I get better results with FocusMagic. The Topaz plugin seems more prone to artifacts. Maybe I just need to get to know the controls better in the Topaz plugin, but so far I'm disappointed.

I really wish FocusMagic would get a 64-bit update...
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Rajan Parrikar
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« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2010, 01:59:02 PM »
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Just wondering if any of you guys have had a chance to evaluate the result from this plugin yet, and what you think? My quick initial impression after playing with a couple of images was that I get better results with FocusMagic. The Topaz plugin seems more prone to artifacts. Maybe I just need to get to know the controls better in the Topaz plugin, but so far I'm disappointed.

I really wish FocusMagic would get a 64-bit update...

I have never used FocusMagic.  After 2 days of playing with InFocus, I have a positive feeling about it.  I deploy it primarily for capture sharpening using the Deblur option.  You have to play around with the controls to avoid artifacts.  But when you get it right, the results are very good.
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2010, 06:38:35 PM »
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Just wondering if any of you guys have had a chance to evaluate the result from this plugin yet, and what you think? My quick initial impression after playing with a couple of images was that I get better results with FocusMagic. The Topaz plugin seems more prone to artifacts. Maybe I just need to get to know the controls better in the Topaz plugin, but so far I'm disappointed.

I really wish FocusMagic would get a 64-bit update...

Hi Jeff,

I'm busy finding out how to get the best results with different scenarios. My initial impression is that it takes more effort to achieve good results than with FocusMagic, but good results are possible. The options with FocusMagic are more limited and less fine grained, so it is faster to reach an optimum. However, besides the seemingly dead end for 64-bit, there is not much (user) choice about which type of issue is being addressed (e.g. defocus or diffraction, which require different approaches).

There are more options with InFocus to choose from.  For general use, I assume it's based on a Gaussian type of PSF, the "Generic" blur type setting works best, but one has to avoid a too large radius setting. What is too large? Well that's the trick to find out, but for a well focused shot with a good lens values around 0.80 or 1.00 seem to be good choices. Modest "Suppress Artifacts" settings (<25) seem enough to remove small ringing artifacts. InFocus does have a larger tendency to develop such artifacts than FocusMagic, but FM probably does it without user intervention and InFocus allows the user to decide.

The "Out-of-Focus" blur type, which probably uses more of a disc shaped PSF, is intended for exactly that, OOF images, but the already in-focus areas can develop artifacts, so it's probably best used on a masked layer. Again, artifacts usually mean that too large a radius is chosen.

The "Straight Motion" blur type is obviously for motion blur, and again artifacts are easy to generate, perhaps too easy.

The "Unknown/Estimate" type of blur is very interesting, because it's intended for difficult/mixed blur scenarios.

So overall, good results can be achieved, but it is also (too) easy to generate artifacts as a by-product. One has to exercise restraint, and it's always beneficial to use a sharpening layer because that gives a lot of additional control. Another possibility is to first resize the image (Bicubic Smoother, e.g. to 200%), then do the InFocus Sharpening, and then resize back to the original size (Bicubic). This seems less artifact prone, but does require more memory and it's slower because more data will be processed.

Cheers,
Bart
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2010, 10:38:25 PM »
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Thanks for commenting Bart. InFocus seems more prone to ringing and aliasing artifacts, but I too am finding that some work with the controls can improve results significantly. So far though, I've yet to beat the results I can easily get for capture sharpening with Focus Magic. The best I've done is to get really really close - admittedly, close enough that the results would probably be indistinguishable in print.  On-screen though, the best results I've gotten from InFocus seem to look slightly more "digital" than I get from FM.

I find ringing artifacts particularly objectionable, and am highly sensitive to images that have that "crunchy" look that comes from over-sharpening digital images. IMHO capture sharpening shouldn't accentuate edges (there's a place for that in output sharpening); to me capture sharpening is about bringing back the fine details that were blurred during capture (from AA filter, etc).

The way I use Focus Magic (which I believe I may have picked up from one of your previous postings) for my D3x shots is to run it with a radius of 1 and the amount in the 100-150% range depending on the lens used. I also use a duped layer in luminosity blend mode, and use the blend-if sliders to bias the effect towards mid-tones (and thus eliminate ringing). I do all this in an action, so the only thing I really have to do on a per-image basis is choose the amount parameter. I've also found that for low-ISO images, the "forensic" sharpening type produces slightly better results than "digital camera", the latter seeming to have a bit of noise suppression in it which is unnecessary for most of my shots.

When I initially tried InFocus I was just using a dupe layer but not setting the blend-if sliders. Once I did that, the results from InFocus were much closer to FM, but the latter still maintains a slight lead so far. I agree it's unfortunate about the apparent lack of support for FM, especially for Mac users since Intel Macs are not supported. But as a Windows user I think I'll probably be sticking to FM running in 32-bit Photoshop for the time being. I did go ahead and purchase InFocus since the current special is such a good deal, and it may turn out there are images for which the "estimate blur" functionality will better than FM results.

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Eyeball
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« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2010, 09:03:18 AM »
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I have been a long-time Focus Magic user and I am experimenting with InFocus also.  For about the same reasons, too - no 64-bit versions of Focus Magic nor Focus Fixer.

I have posted some of my initial feelings and examples over on Fred Miranda:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/957160

In general, it seems like it has possibilities and it has some extra features over Focus Magic (micro-contrast is kind of handy, for example).  It does, however, seem to need a lot more dinking around to get it tuned in and it is prone to artifacts and extra-emphasis of high-contrast edges.  Focus Magic just seems to work like I want it to almost automatically.  InFocus takes more work.

InFocus also does things that remind me of PS's Smart Sharpen (and I pretty much hate Smart Sharpen).  For one, it seems to really emphasize edges that are already high-contrast.  I don't want my deconvolution sharpener to do that.  I want it to sharpen/deblur all edges more-or-less equally, particularly when I am using it for detailed capture sharpening.  The best way I have found to control the high-contrast edge emphasis in InFocus is to use the Unknown/Estimate method and apply edge smoothing.

Another thing that reminds me of Smart Sharpen is the difference in behavior between the Generic and Out-of-focus methods.  Out-of-focus exhibits characteristics that remind me of Smart Sharpen with "More Accurate" turned on and Generic with it turned off.

The Suppress Artifacts control is too blunt/dumb for my liking.  It has a very sharp cut-off similar to the Threshold control for USM.

There are two videos linked on the Topaz site but they are easy to miss.  Those videos, along with the electronic manual, help a bit in understanding how Topaz meant the various deblur controls to be used.  Here are the links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwrFuaLJv1c
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyuXwDFs95U

I already purchased InFocus using the current discount so I hope Topaz continues to tweak this piece of software.  They have been very responsive in the past on this kind of thing so I have hopes.  In the mean time, I won't be uninstalling Focus Magic.  It just does what I want most of the time quickly and easily.
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2010, 11:18:57 AM »
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In general, it seems like it has possibilities and it has some extra features over Focus Magic (micro-contrast is kind of handy, for example).  It does, however, seem to need a lot more dinking around to get it tuned in and it is prone to artifacts and extra-emphasis of high-contrast edges.  Focus Magic just seems to work like I want it to almost automatically.  InFocus takes more work.

Yes, I agree.

Quote
InFocus also does things that remind me of PS's Smart Sharpen (and I pretty much hate Smart Sharpen).  For one, it seems to really emphasize edges that are already high-contrast.

It looks like that is caused by the "Suppress artifacts" control. Edges are preserved more or less, but material structure gets blurred just like the ringing artifacts. It's best to stay under 30 for that control. Of course these artifacts come into play almost only if you increase the radius too far. What can work, is a cascade of 2 InFocus runs with more modest radius settings. However, it should not be necessary to jump through hoops, FocusMagic doesn't need it either.

I'm not sure that the "Unknown/Estimate" blur type is appropriate for regular scenarios, and it is also not very repeatable because its effect changes with image content. It does help wit mixed PSF typ scenarios. Under normal circumstances the "Generic" blur type seems capable enough. It looks like it uses a Gaussian type of PSF model, which should work reasonably good for a normal mix of blur sources. The "Out-of-Focus" blur type is probably based on a disc shaped PSF, and would indeed be appropriate fo OOF shots, although the already in-focus areas can develop artifacts. Working on a masked layer pays of in such situations.

I'm the least impressed by the "Straight motion" blur correction, since it produces lots of artifacts elsewhere, and it has a too limited range for serious amounts of motion.

Cheers,
Bart
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Gordon Buck
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« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2010, 04:49:33 PM »
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Because it was on sale and well publicized, I bought InFocus and have begun to get acquainted with it.  Frankly, so far I am not impressed.  For me and my skill set, it is much easier and simpler to get significantly better results with Focus Magic.  I'll continue to try to learn InFocus while hoping for that "aha" moment but I wish I'd jumped in a few days sooner for the trial version instead of immediately purchasing the onsale version.
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vjbelle
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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2010, 03:38:02 PM »
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I've used Focus Magic and stopped some time ago because of its dead ended movement forward.  This is a wonderful and unbelievably priced plugin that not only does what Focus Magic did but better with more control.  I have no comments regarding smaller files than 21MP as I do not have any equipment under that.  With my files in the 21 to 39MP range this plugin gives marvelous results..... I have been doing this for a long time and it didn't take but a few minutes to see the potential for this plugin.  Bravo to Topaz..... Cool
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Hening Bettermann
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« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2010, 03:40:05 PM »
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Bill Janes on 21. november:
> My main concern is how Topaz compares to other available deconvolution algorithms.

Has anybody compared it to the R-L deconvolution of Raw Developer?

 
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