Tuesday, July 23, 2013

REVIEW: Topaz Lens Effects (Special Offer) & Webinar Video


Topaz Lens Effects

Topaz Lens Effects is one of those products that you don’t hear much about, but it’s one that I think is pretty underrated. The reason why is that there’s not only some decent photo editing filters, but there are also some cool special effects like Fog, Motion (aka Streak), Tilt Shift, Bokeh, Polarization, Sharpening, Vignette, etc.... It makes it easy to experiment and add some extra wow to your images, especially if your budget doesn’t allow you to own a lot of more expensive products.

Click here to download a trial copy to experiment on your own images, and check out just a few that I’ve included here to illustrate a tiny bit of what this product can do.

Sample Image – Chicago Police

Here’s a real simple edit that shows off the fun to use streak filter (Filter Streak – Left to Right High used here) which I used to give more sense of motion to the shot:


After Lens Effects Streak and More Saturation filters

Here’s what the image looked like out of the camera:

Original Image out of camera (from RAW)
Original Image out of camera (from RAW)

Here’s my Photoshop layers adjustments (easily doable in Photoshop Elements too):

image

The layer mask was just to selectively tone down the filter in some areas and use it more heavily in others to suite my taste and intention. Not all scenarios will require a layer mask.

Sample Image – Japan Hillside


Original Image - no edits


After Lens Effects Edits

After version with a little more saturation and Fog II lens effect
After version with a little more saturation and Fog I lens effect
Click for a larger version

To watch me edit this image, watch my Topaz Labs Webinar from early July that will be published to http://www.youtube.com/TopazLabs (coming soon). The filters used were:

  1. xF Add Adjustment - More Contrast
  2. xF Add Adjustment - More Saturation
  3. Filter - Graduated Neutral Density - Quarter Half 1 Stop
  4. Filter - Graduated Neutral Density - Top Half 1 Stop
  5. Remask to select the sky & lake reflection of sky
  6. Photoshop Photo Filter – Cooling Filter (82) – can be done without Photoshop
  7. B&W Effects – Dynamic I Smooth with 40% Opacity Soft Light Blend Mode layer (to give more mid-tone punch)
  8. Fog Effect – Fog I 
Creative Blur

This is kind of a Lens Baby effect on a chosen region from your image using on of the included filters:


Lens - Creative Blur - Centered Upper Half Effect

It’s not my style, but lots of people who long for a Lens Baby’s might enjoy it.

Sample Image – Fall Pathway

Now to be fair, I’d probably do a little more with this image using Adjust before I’d call it done. However, I’m trying to show how far you can go with just Lens Effects.


Edited using only Lens Effects and one optional Photoshop Adjustment Layer

Original Image before Lens Effects
Original Image before Lens Effects

Here’s my Photoshop layers to show what I did:

Photoshop Layers for Topaz Lens Effect Edit

The layer names are the presets I used in Lens Effects (all default presets except where noted). Here’s the why behind my layers:

  1. More Contrast – This is a preset that just does what it says.
  2. Saturation Boost – I wanted to amp up the fall colors. This can be adjusted to taste, but I just accepted the default for time constraint reasons.
  3. Photo Filter – This is an optional step that could have been done using White Balance in Adobe Camera Raw, in camera using the Shade White Balance or in your favorite RAW file editor (i.e., Aperture, Lightroom, Capture NX2, DPP, etc…). I just wanted the pathway to look warmer, so I chose the Photo Filter using Warming filter #85.
  4. GND Top Half 2 Stops – This is a digital Graduated Neutral Density filter that darkens the sky slightly and brings out more details in the tree tops.
  5. Warm II – I wanted to warm up the entire scene overall
  6. Sharpening II – Because I don’t want to sharpen the next layer, I do this step to sharpen the base image.
  7. Fog I – I use the Fog I preset to give the sense that the fog was rolling in. It was for fun and is clearly optional.

Conclusion

Yes, there is overlap with this product and similar products from Google (i.e., Color Efex in the Nik Collection), and onOne (i.e., Perfect Effects) so I’m not suggesting that this is a product that owners of either of those products needs. However, users who haven’t made an investment in post-processing software or plug-ins will find that they can do quite a bit with this product alone.

As an owner of pretty much all of the major plug-ins on the market, this is my go to plug-in for Fog or for a very fast Graduated Neutral Density filter effect on level horizons.

Watch my Topaz Webinars to see how I use it in Topaz only workflow.

For those who are wondering, YES it works with Lightroom 2 and up, as well as Adobe Photoshop CS3-CS6 (32-bit and 64-bit), Photoshop Elements 6-11, PaintShop Pro, Photo Impact and Serif Photo Plus. I used a little Photoshop for my demo, but some of these alternative products could have easily done the same thing.

Overall I find this to be a nice complement to the Topaz Collection, and a decent first plug-in for budget conscious buyers looking for more than what their basic RAW photo editor provides. 

Webinar Video

Here’s the video from my last webinar where I demonstrate how I use Lens Effects:

Where to order

Click here to order your copy and use the coupon code RONMART to save 15% on just this product, the entire Topaz Collection or any other Topaz product. If you have any troubles with this code, check my discount coupon code page for the latest details, or contact me.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

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

No comments: