• Price When Reviewed: 66

  • Pros: Excellent preset system; adaptive exposure and saturation sliders for greater effect.

  • Cons: No CMYK; more dramatic effects bring out image noise; Photoshop’s Adjustment panel offers many of the same effects.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

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This review is taken from our group test of Photoshop CS4 plug-ins.

Topaz Adjust offers a quick way to make images more dynamic, by manipulating their exposure, contrast and saturation. It doesn’t offer any creative tools that Photoshop CS4 doesn’t already have, but its swift workflow and more complete preset system allow users to swiftly make their photos ‘pop’.

Topaz Adjust has controls spread across five tabs: Presets, Exposure, Details, Colour and Noise. The Presets are the key to Adjust’s usefulness, offering adjustments from the simple Exposure Correction and Mild Color Pop to the dramatic Spicify (see below) and the over-the-top Psychedelic. You can also create your own.

From here, you can tweak exposure, saturation, hue, contrast, brightness, and levels of detail. Exposure and saturation are what Topaz Labs calls ‘adaptive’: the plug-ins divides the image into a number of regions that you select, then adjusts each for more contrast in each effect. You can also work from scratch, ignoring the presets.

Photoshop includes the Adjustment controls to achieve similar effects – though without ‘adaptive’ exposure and saturation. In CS4, Adobe made these controls easier to use through the Adjustments panel. But presets
in Photoshop are for individual Adjustments, while Topaz Adjust’s combine parameters.

This means it’s quick to select a preset and then modify settings. Having to enter and work within the Topaz Adjust dialog box is slower than moving sliders in the Adjustment panel, but it works as a Smart Filter and in 16-bit modes (but not CMYK).

The presets make it easier to create dramatic images, though noise can be a problem. The Noise tab accesses noise-reduction technology to reduce this, but it’s not always enough.

Supported hosts: Photoshop CS-CS4 (Mac version supports CS2-CS4 only)