• air-jordan-3
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  • air-jordan-3-infrared-23
  • air-jordan-3-powder-blue
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  • air-jordan-4-white-cement
  • air-jordan-5-fire-red
  • air-jordan-5-grape
  • air-jordan-5-oreo
  • air-jordan-5-v
  • air-jordan-6
  • air-jordan-6-carmines
  • air-jordan-6-olympic
  • air-jordan-7-bordeaux
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  • air-jordan-7-marvin-the-martian
  • air-jordan-8
  • air-jordan-8-bugs-bunny
  • air-jordan-8-chrome
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  • air-jordan-9-birmingham-barons
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  • air-jordan-10-chicago
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  • air-jordan-10-stealth
  • air-jordan-11-gamma-blue
  • air-jordan-11-legend-blue
  • air-jordan-11-low
  • air-jordan-11-low-bred
  • air-jordan-11-low-citrus
  • air-jordan-12-gamma-blue
  • air-jordan-12-obsidian
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  • air-jordan-13
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  • air-jordan-14
  • After my review here on the blog of the Lucis Pro 6 plug-in (link), I had a number of readers asking if I had tried the Topaz Adjust plug-in, as they felt it gave a similar high-contrast look for a fraction of Lucis Pro’s nearly $600 price tag (Topaz Adjust sells for $49).

    So, I downloaded the Topaz Adjust Photoshop plug-in a few months ago and have been using it when I got the right type of image to edit, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the plug-in and give some examples.

    DISCLAIMER: If you hate this high-contrast, under saturated, over-sharpened looking effect, please just skip this post altogether.

    Initial Thoughts
    When I first started using Topaz Adjust, it was still on version 2 and while I liked the effects themselves, the interface was….well….it needed some work. Luckily, the latest version (version 3), is a big improvement when it comes to Interface issues and most of my gripes from the previous version have been addressed.

    While I know that both Lucis Art’s plug-ins and Topaz Adjust do numerous effects, what people seem to be buying these for primarily is the extreme contrast, almost illustrated, hyper-sharp look that’s so popular, so I’m going to focus on that area of the plug in.

    The Results
    Taking the plug-in through its paces:

    topaz-1

    First, let’s look at our unretouched original (above), then let’s open the Topaz Adjust plug-in (shown below).

    topaz-2

    The resizable filter window (shown above) has a number of presets along the left side, and it has a decent-sized thumbnail so you can see a preview of how a particular effect will look before you even click on it. (You click on the thumbnail to apply a look. You can scroll through the effects and see them applied in the larger preview window using the Up/Down arrow keys on your keyboard, which is very handy.)

    If you find a preset you like, you just click OK, and the filter is applied (it took 24 seconds to apply the filter on a 12-megapixel image on my MacBook Pro laptop).

    topaz-3

    The image above has the preset “Psychedelic” applied, which I thought looked fairly close the same effect you’d get with the Lucis Pro filter.

    topaz-4

    The effect seemed a little over the top, so after I applied it, I went immediately under Photoshop’s Edit menu and chose Fade, then I lowered the intensity to just 60% (as seen in the image above).

    If you want to tweak the settings, there are a row of tabs under the main Preview window where you can tweak the Exposure, Detail, Color, and Noise.

    Once I saw how the effect looked, I thought it would be interesting to see how the Topaz Adjust effect compared to the Lucis Pro plug-in look, so I went back to the original unretouched image and tried the Lucis Pro 6.0 plug-in (shown below).

    topaz-5

    Here’s the Lucis Pro 6.0 Interface window. I lowered the Enhance Detail amount to 60 and clicked OK.

    topaz-6

    You can see the effect looks fairly similar (shown above). I also wanted to compare the effect using the same image I had used in a previous article (the image is of rapper 10-Minute).

    topaz-7b

    Here’s the original image (above), right out of the camera.

    topaz-7

    The image above has the Lucis Pro 6.0 plug-in applied at that same setting of 60.

    topaz-8

    Here’s the same original image but with the Topaz Adjust filter applied (using the same Psychedelic preset). You can see the obvious green color cast on this image, so I hit “undo” and then went back to the filter to tweak the settings.

    topaz-9

    Here’s the same filter with just one setting tweaked: I clicked on the Color tab and lowered the Adaptive Saturation amount to zero. How did I know which slider to adjust? I didn’t. I just dragged each one back and forth until I found one that did it. I know—pretty high-tech, eh? ;-)

    The Bottomline
    While the underlying mathematical algorithm in the Lucis Pro 6.0 plug-in will probably produce a technically better image with less noise, they both create a somewhat similar effect. However, in my opinion there are three big advantages that the Topaz Adjust plug-in has that really tip the scales in its favor big time.

    1. The affordable $49 price tag. That’s nearly $550 cheaper than the Lucis Pro 6.0 plug-in. Yikes!
    2. The fact that it doesn’t require a hardware dongle (like the Lucis Pro plug-in does), is huge. In fact, the whole hardware dongle thing with Lucis Pro is a deal killer for me right off the bat, and I know a lot of people feel the same way.
    3. The thumbnail previews, and ability to toggle through them live, is a big advantage and makes the tool that much more usable.

    Thus far, the plug-in has performed flawlessly for me (not a single problem on two different machines), but as I mentioned; it’s not the fastest plug-in in town. That’s really shouldn’t be an issue, unless you’re applying this look to a few hundred photos (and I’m praying you don’t).

    NOTE: The most common way I use this plug-in, is to duplicate the layer; apply the filter on this duplicate layer, then hide this layer behind a layer mask (Option/Alt click the Layer Mask icon), then just reveal the effect where I want it by painting in white with a soft-edged brush.

    While both plug-ins will do much more than I’ve outlined here, if you’re looking for this particular look, and you want a plug-in to do all the heavy lifting for you, it’s hard to beat what Topaz Adjust offers at such an incredibly affordable price.

    You can download a free fully-working trial version from the Topaz Labs website, and give it a try yourself.

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