Monday, March 1, 2010

REVIEW: Topaz Labs Adjust 4 - The easiest way to make your photos pop!

Topaz Labs has released an all new version of its very popular Adjust Photoshop (and other applications) add-in. You can read my original review here, where my biggest complaint was its  horrible user interface. Well I’m pleased to announce that they’ve given the user interface (UI) a whole new and improved look. Here’s a screen shot and I must say that even though all of the controls and adjustments are basically the same, this version is much more enjoyable to use:

Click to view the full size version

What’s new

As previously mentioned, the user-interface is much improved which makes using this product both easier and less intimidating. In addition, the performance has improved drastically so you no longer need to take a coffee break when you hit Ok. The new version is optimized for multi processor/core systems and includes both 32-bit and 64-bit edition, so performance is snappy no matter which edition of Photoshop you use. It is smart-filter compatible and is Windows 7 ready. Lastly, the presets panel now features a single preview window which works like Lightroom in that it will show you the impact of the preset on the original simply by hovering over the preset – sweet!

Preset Examples

As I did in my first review for Topaz Labs Adjust 3, I’ve provided some samples that show an original image along with the impact of several popular presets. These are images that are straight out of camera and then various Adjust 4 filters were applied. For the best results, click the image to see a larger version as it is difficult to see some of the differences in the small thumbnails below. I should note that when using the Psychedelic filter, I always click the “Process details independent of exposure” checkbox in the Details panel as I find this results in less noise yet still the spirit of the effect.

Olympic Cauldron

In the shot of the Olympic Cauldron here, it is hard to see much differences unless you look at the full size versions. However, you can notice how some presets will cause a halo around the flame to appear which is desirable to some and horrifying to others. You be the judge as to which is the best…

Click to view a larger version
Original
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Photo Pop
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Dramatic
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Spicify
Click to view a larger version
Psychedelic
Click to view a larger version
Clarity

Canadian Flag

Also at the Olympics MPC building, I took a picture of one of the many flags blowing in the wind. There’s not much to this photo, but the detail in the flag and water ripples made it a decent to show the impact of various presets.

Click to view a larger version
Original
Click to view a larger version
Photo Pop
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Exposure Color Stretch
Click to view a larger version
Spicify
Click to view a larger version
Dramatic
Click to view a larger version
Crisp
Click to view a larger version
Psychedelic
Click to view a larger version
Clarity

Custom Settings Example

Here’s an example of a shot where I tweaked the settings for a rather wild interpretation of a popular view of Seattle and Mt. Rainer at dusk. You can mouse over the image to see the original, out of camera, photograph.

Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after

Here's a screen shot of the settings I used to get these results:

Click for a larger version

Below is another example (hover over to see the before image) where I just started tweaking sliders with the Psychedelic filter until I found something that I thought was different and fun. I added a little sunshine filter from Nik Software’s Color Efex and additional sharpening using Sharpener Pro (local contrast to bring out detail in the siding):

Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after

It’s a little crazy, yet fun – and different from the way I’d normally process this file. This is one of the things that attracts people to this product is that causes you to explore in new directions and process photos entirely different ways from what you might be accustomed to. Some will love it, and others will hate it – but in photography it’s all about being different. Adjust certainly helps you to do that!

Finally, here’s another where I played around with various settings in Adjust 4 to get a fun sky above the Space Needle as well as a little more oomph on the underside of the observation deck. Of course, the edited version features a perspective transformation done strictly in Photoshop CS4, but you can still see the impact of changes done by Adjust in just a few clicks:

Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after

Conclusion

Topaz Adjust continues to be a great value for what you get, compared to the competition. While some of my examples might be extreme and not to everyone’s taste, you can see from the sliders in the UI screen shots and the different preset variations that you are in full control as to how good or garish your results will be. This product isn’t for everyone, but for someone looking for fun point and click improvements, it’s a nice economical solution. Click here to learn more.

Trey Ratcliff is a huge fan of this product, so if you are big into HDR or follow his blog then you’ll probably want to add this product to your toolkit so you can create cool images like Trey.

Special Offer

Purchase your copy of Topaz Labs Adjust at 15% off the normal rate when you use the discount code found on my discount coupon code page. Please be sure to use this link when visiting the site so I can get credit for the referral.

Disclosure

I get a commission if you use the link provided on this page. Thanks for supporting this blog!

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This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

1 comment:

mikeli77 said...

mouse hovering to show before/after shots is really helpful to see what you can do. Thanks!