Review: Topaz Labs Plug-In Bundle
Clean 2, DeNoise 2, and DeJPEG 2
The three remaining filters in Topaz’s Plug-In Bundle are decent, though nothing special. Think of them as bonus filters you might find useful from time to time.
Aiming to improve skin tones in portraits, Clean 2 offers adaptive smoothing operations that can reduce unattractive skin textures and blemishes. While Clean 2 can’t compare to more expensive portrait retouching programs like Imagenomic’s Portraiture, if your portrait retouching needs are few, this might be all you need.
DeNoise is a noise-reduction filter that independently targets luminance and chrominance noise. It does a good job but can’t compare to higher end noise reducers, such as NoiseNinja. Fortunately, more modern cameras aren’t as prone to noise troubles as earlier digital cameras. But for those times when things do get noisy, DeNoise can help.
DeJPEG reduces block JPEG artifacts. However, as with noise reduction, there’s a sharpness penalty to be paid when you reduce JPEG troubles.
If You’re in the Sweet Spot, It’s a Sweet Deal
Topaz’s Adjust, Simplify, and Detail are the real stars of this package, and even if you got only these three for $179.99, the bundle would be a good deal. Whether these plug-ins are right for you depends largely on your Photoshop skill level. There’s nothing really magical in Adjust. If you already have good Photoshop image-editing skills, you can probably achieve the same effects on your own. But if you’re a novice to intermediate user, Adjust will open up some new correction possibilities. Or even if you’re an experienced user who’s short on time, Adjust could free up some extra hours in the day.
The main thing to know about these filters is that less is more. It’s easy to run amok with them, so try to maintain a cool head while using them. You should be able to achieve some very nice results.