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Topaz Lens Effects review

Topaz Lens Effects is a new Photoshop plugin from Topaz Labs. It can easily simulate a wide range of realistic lens, filter & specialty camera effects. Within minutes you can create very realistic effects from a list of 18 popular options, including bokeh, vignette, motion, fisheye, old school, miniatures, color balance, color enhancement and color subtraction, tilt shift and many other adjustments to your pictures. Topaz Lens Effects make it easier and faster than ever to achieve selective focus and get a wider range of effects to apply during post processing.

topaz-lens-effects

topaz-lens-effects

Greatest benefit of using Topaz Lens Effects is that you can apply any number of filter, lens, hood and specialty enhancements after the shot. This type of control helps simplify your shooting process by simulating the abilities of your camera equipment inside of Photoshop. Topaz Lens Effects advanced technology realistically simulates the most diverse range of filters, lens and specialty camera effects – all in a single, easy-to-use plug-in that eliminates the need for additional, expensive equipment. Lens Effects includes 20 camera, filter and lens effects and over 100 preset that can be combined countless ways for a wide range of creative effects.

Topaz Lens Effects has a few new features compared to other Topaz plugins. The new Smart Brush is used to identify relative distance of near to far objects – making it easy to select any focal point within your image and put the emphasis where you want it. With this type of control you can make selective adjustments to the foreground and background of your image. With the Gradient Brush, you can easily create smooth gradients in your Depth Map by simply brushing (click and drag) across your image. The color picker is a convenient tool which allows you to select the depth value based and paint in any area of the image using that selection.

Topaz Lens Effects “Bokeh” before and after

Topaz bokeh effect

Topaz bokeh effect

The main elements of the Topaz Lens Effects UI include the 18 effect styles panel on the left, each having a few presets. But you don’t have to limit yourself to the presets, because you can adjust the angle, intensity etc of each of the effects, your own way. Standard Topaz plugin elements include Auto Updates, Snap, Zoom In/ Out, Fit image to window etc. You have also the possibility to split the preview to two side-by-side views, to make it easier to see the dramatic differences that this plugin helps you add to your pictures.

topaz-screenshot

topaz-screenshot

Here’s basic Topaz Lens Effects workflow (download a fully functional 30-day trial of Topaz Lens Effects to follow):

1. Start with a clean image for best results. If your image has noise or other artifacts I’d recommend to use Topaz DeNoise to clean it.

2. Open it in Photoshop and duplicate the layer using Ctrl J. By working on a duplicate copy allows you to make some final adjustments to the filtered image via a layer mask or with the layer palette opacity slider in Photoshop.

3. The next step is opening the plugin (Filter> Topaz Labs> Topaz Lens Effects) and then it’s up to you. Choose the desired effect from the Effects Palette on the left of the User Interface. Feel free to browse through the presets or make your own presets to achieve the desired effect on your image.

When creating bokeh effects you will use the Smart Brush to create depth maps – allowing you to select any focal point within your image and put the emphasis where you want it. Once your depth map is created, you can uses it to adjust focal point, depth of field, foreground blur, background blur and blur creaminess. Use the sliders to indicate the effect type, location, strength and transition in your image.

Depth Map indicates the relative distance of objects in the image. Nearer objects should be painted in black, middle objects gray and farthest should be painted white. Increase the background blur slider to create the bokeh effect. Then add additional vignette, filter, sharpening, grain, color enhancements or creative effects to focal selection or to background.

Topaz Lens Effects Tilt-Shift before and after

Topaz tilt shift

Topaz tilt shift

Some technical specifications: it requires at least 1 GB RAM and it features options that allow you to create and save your own presets. It supports smart filters and both 8-bit and 16-bit RGB color modes, MAC and Windows versions are available. Topaz Lens Effects also includes 18 different effect styles and more than 100 presets and it also works with a graphics tablet.

Verdict: Topaz Lens Effects is a great, easy to use plugin which gives you great creative control over your pictures. The new features make it a versatile must-have tool for everyone who wants to give their photos the unique feel that analogue photography brought to the table.

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