Just announced, and available HERE, (use code “claritynew” for a 40% discount!) Topaz Clarity is a new plugin that helps further define detail in your images. I’ve been playing around with the Beta version for a while and just got my hands on the full plugin last night. I can say that it is going to become part of my workflow, especially for landscape and interior work. Read on for examples and more details on this new, cool, affordable plugin…
The interface has morphed by comparison to some of the other Topaz plugins, and has done so into a very familiar layout with new, useful masking tools as well as HSL and clarity sliders. Click the image below for a larger view of the screen shot (or any image in the article to see it larger)
As you open an image in Topaz Clarity, (if doing so within Photoshop) I’d highly suggest applying it to a duplicate layer so that you can mask, or adjust the opacity of the filtered layer once you save the adjustments. Topaz Clarity gives you a bump in both contrast as well as saturation with some presets either increasing or decreasing each, or either) of these to suit a particular look building definition through these two main factors.
The way I do it:
- When ready to apply a Topaz Clarity filter, I will duplicate whichever layer (normally the background, or a merged layer) and with that layer selected I choose FILTER > TOPAZ LABS > CLARITY
- Within Topaz Clarity, I’ll figure out which filter best suits the image, and if needed I’ll play around with any adjustments via the sliders on the right and click OK at the bottom right.
- It will save back in Photoshop on that duplicated layer which I can then mask, or adjust the opacity/blend mode, etc. Normally, I’ll simply adjust the opacity of the layer until it seems to be just right, and if needed, I’ll mask out areas where the extra contrast or punch might not suit the image.
It’s as easy as that, and if you know which filter you want to apply, the round trip can take a mere 15-20 seconds or so. I use a variety of contrast actions that I’ve played around with for years, some work better than others for certain images, but Clarity makes pretty short work, and has a filter that will work for just about any image, or at least any image I’ve worked through so far.
This image is an old one that I just happened to grab from my library because I like flowers and liked the initial color contrast between the yellow and purple. 20 seconds later, the punch that Clarity gave it turned it into a much more appealing image to me.
“Topaz Clarity uses proprietary technology that allows you to quickly and easily adjust various levels of contrast with no halos or artifacts. The results are compelling images with a very natural look.”
I’m not sure I can say it much better than that and from my time with it, that statement is very accurate. A few bullet points on the key features:
- The interface is entirely new and will be different for those used to Topaz plugin users. This is a very good thing in my opinion.
- This new and improved user interface does provide a more intuitive interaction, with larger buttons and bigger navigator window.
- There are over 100 presets that have a ton of user adjustability by way of sliders, masks, et al, and the ability to instantly save your tweaks as a new preset.
- A new, advanced masking technology allows for more precise masking with three different brush types: normal, edge aware and color aware.
- You now have the ability to choose a gradient mask to selectively apply the effects via a linear, radial or reflected gradient.
Your presets live on the left hand side and when hovered over, you will get to see a preview window to asses the particular preset for your image. In the main viewer, you can view the processed image (toggle between the processed and original image by pressing your space bar) or you can view the two versions side by side. On the right, you have tabs to view your Navigator, Loupe, Mask and Histogram while the Clarity Slider, and your HSL adjustments live in drop down panels below on the right. Most software companies seem to be adopting this general layout as it is very popular and familiar for those of us that use Lightroom, Photoshop and other popular image editing software. We’re also seeing more and more functionality in these programs which provides less dependence on Adobe products 🙂
Here are a few more before and afters, click on any to see a larger version.
Topaz Clarity is available now for $29.99 (normally $49.99) through the end of the month (until May 31st) when you use the code “claritynew” at Topaz Labs website HERE.
If you’re not sure, you can always download a free, fully functional 15 day trial which I totally recommend. For me, I will certainly be using this as a step in my landscape, interior and HDR processing as it has eliminated halos and artifacts which are normally so prevalent in these types of filters, but punches up contrast and color very organically. I feel it can really benefit my portrait sessions as well as my general daily shooting when I want to add a bit more punch. Another useful tool in the ever evolving tool box, and for $30 it’s a steal. I really do love the Topaz plugins as they offer a lot for very little money compared to many other plugins out there.
Topaz plugins are compatible with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements or you can use it with Aperture and Lightroom when used through Topaz Fusion Express, which is a free compatibility plugin for those digital asset management software programs.
A few more of the Topaz Plugin review/tutorials that I really enjoy and use from them can now be found under the software section on the new REVIEWS page which now lives at the top of the blog!
Thanks for the read everyone and happy shooting!