eXtensions - Saturday 2 February 2019
Topaz JPEG to RAW AI on the Mac: Almost Something out of Nothing
By Graham K. Rogers
Topaz Labs have produced an application - Topaz JPEG to RAW AI - available for the Mac and other platforms that allows a user to create a RAW image from JPEG input. I have been trying this out using the 30-day test version. The full version is $99.99, but there is currently a $79.99 introductory offer (until 8 Feb).
The app uses artificial intelligence (AI) and a neural network to estimate probabilities for what is missing in a JPEG image - these are normally compressed so less information is available - and produces output that is improved. This does sound like creating something out of nothing, but the software is designed to make millions of decisions about what may reasonably be expected to be there.
JPEG image (left) and TIFF output from Topaz JPEG to RAW AI
Input panel with controls on the right- Topaz JPEG to RAW AI
I started with several images of about 500 to 700 KB. The conversion process took up to a minute, depending on input size. Output also varied on whether I used the TIFF or the DNG option, with the latter being more economical. For scanning I tend to use TIFF, which produces quite hefty uncompressed files. DNG are Digital Negative Files, a format developed by Adobe, but as I have no software from that developer on my Macs, the files show no icon.
I selected a suitable application (several on the Mac can handle DNG) and they were displayed without problem. I later used the Finder to allocate a specific application (Graphic Converter). The TIFF files showed a mini icon of the image itself.
I later tried with a larger JPEG file (30MB) which took just under 10 minutes to process, producing a DNG file of 273MB. Hard to see, but there were some improvements, notably (again) in the sharpness of the image. I also exported the same image as a TIFF file, which took just over 20 minutes and produced a file of the same size as the DNG. This was really an impractical exercise as few JPEG images of that size would need such improvements as the application was able to produce with smaller input files
As a more realistic test, an unedited medium-size JPEG export of 1.4MB taken from a 35mm slide scan produced DNG and TIFF images of 8.1MB and 7.8MB respectively. This seems to me to be a more representative task.
DNG image (left), TIFF (right, upper) and original JPEG
The application is the result of some quite interesting work with a practical function. I would recommend this for those who need such features: the ability to produce higher quality output from limited image input, such as might come from social networking sites or from smartphones with basic output.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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