Topaz photoFXlab: the one-stop shop for your plugins, previewed
posted Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 4:35 PM EDT
If you're using several of Topaz Labs' various image enhancement plugins, and find yourself wishing for a way to harness their power without having to jump back and forth between separate plugins, the company is about to release a new product you're going to find interesting.
Topaz photoFXlab--previewed in a recent blog post from the company, and a related YouTube video--is scheduled to ship later this month, and will be available on both Windows and Macintosh platforms. Compatible as a plugin with imaging utilities including Photoshop CS3+, Photoshop Elements 6+, Aperture 2+, Lightroom 2+, and iPhoto, photoFXlab can also operate standalone. (Raw images aren't supported in standalone mode, though; only JPEGs.) The app detects which Topaz plugins you own, and offers a preview of the various presets in each plugin without needing to first launch the individual plugin. You can search for presets by keyword, genre, and your own rating or one provided by other Topaz users, among other methods.
There's also direct control over the various controls available in each plugin, letting you tweak the look of the presets, or create your own look. As yet, there's no way to save those adjustments as a new preset from within photoFXlab, but you can access your own presets that were created in the individual plugin. Interestingly, photoFXlab also allows you to preview the effect of plugins you don't own, without even needing to install a trial of the plugin first. These presets can't be applied to your own image without first purchasing and installing the plugin, however.
PhotoFXlab has a layered workflow, including the ability to adjust opacity of each layer separately, making it simple to apply multiple filters to a given image and fine-tune the manner in which their effects are combined. Although all eleven current Topaz plugins are supported, only six of them provide a preview image for each preset before application: Adjust, B&W, Clean, Detail, Lens Effects, and Simplify. These previews can either be a generic image provided by Topaz, or a live preview of the image you're currently processing.
As well as the connection to Topaz' plugins, photoFXlab also provides a number of basic controls of its own, such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, saturation, color temperature, etc. The app also provides for layer masking, and offers three selective adjustment brushes: Dodge / Burn, Saturation, and Detail / Smooth. (The masking functionality isn't reliant on Topaz's Remask plugin, and so will work regardless of whether you own this plugin.)
PhotoFXlab connects to all the existing plugins in Topaz's rather extensive suite.
Screenshot provided by Topaz Labs.
One particularly unusual feature of photoFXlab is the ability to copy the look of an existing image for application to your current image. The source image doesn't need to have been edited with Topaz' products, as it's not the specific filter parameters that are being copied. Instead, photoFXlab looks at your source image in terms of toning, contrast, etc., and then attempts to mimic these. You can either supply your own image, use one provided by a Topaz gallery, search for an image online through the app, or select one from either 500px.com or 1x.com.
Topaz photoFXlab will, says the company, be priced at around US$80. An introductory discount price of US$30 will be offered, but no details were available at press time as to the duration of this offer. More information can be found on the Topaz website.