How the Best Photo Editing Apps Use Artificial Intelligence

This article originally appeared on popular photography.

Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques in photography are becoming more prevalent than ever, touching every part of the digital image making process, of framing to me concentration to me Final edit. But it is also widespread in the sense of being wide spreadThey often appear as separate applications or plug-ins that cater to specific needs.

This is starting to change. As AI photo-editing tools begin to converge, isolated tasks are being added to larger applications and, in some cases, disparate parts are being combined into new utilities.

This is great for photographers because it gives us improved access to capabilities that were previously more difficult, such as Dealing with digital noise. From the developers’ perspective, this integration could encourage customers to stick to a single app or ecosystem rather than playing in the field.

Let’s look at some examples of AI integration into popular photo editing apps.

ON1 RAW images

ON1 currently exemplifies this approach with ON1 RAW imagesIt is an all-in-one photo editing application. The package includes tools that ON1 also sells as separate utilities and plug-ins, including ON1 No noise AIAnd the ON1 Resize AIAnd the ON1 Portrait AI.

The company recently previewed three new features it’s working on for the next major releases of ON1 Photo RAW and individual apps. AI mask analyzes the image and identifies the subjects; In the example shown ON1, the program has selected a horse, a person, leaves, and a landscape. You can then click on a topic and apply an edit, which is masked only to that person/object.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You Edit Photos
In this demo of the AI ​​Mask AI feature in development, the software has identified topics such as foliage and earth. play 1

ON1’s Super AI choice The feature works in a similar way, while Tac Sharp AI It applies intelligent sharpening and optional noise reduction to improve detail.

Topaz Photo AI

Topaz Labs It currently sells its utilities as separate apps (they also work as plug-ins). This is great if you just need to remove noise, sharpen or enlarge images. In reality, though, many photographers buy the three tools in a bundle and then wear them between them while editing. But in what order? Is it better to zoom in and then remove the noise, or zoom in at the end?

Topaz is currently working on a new app, AI imagesThis turns these tools into a single interface. Autopilot searches for subjects, corrects noise, and applies sharpening in one place, with controls to adjust those parameters. The app is currently available as a beta for image quality bundle owners with an active image upgrade plan.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You Edit Photos
Topaz Photo AI, currently in beta, combines DeNoise AI, Sharpen AI and Gigapixel AI in one application. Jeff Carlson

Luminar New

Skylum’s Luminar was one of the first products that really embraced AI technologies at their core, albeit with a bewildering rollout. Luminar AI was a rewrite from Earth to Luminar 4 to center it on the AI ​​imaging engine. The following year, Skylum . was released Luminar Newanother rewrite of the application with a separate and more scalable AI base.

Now, Luminar Neo . adds Accessories, taking tasks that have been distributed between different applications by other vendors, and integrating them as add-ons. Skylum recently released an extension for HDR Merge to create high dynamic range photos from multiple photos with different exposures. AI Noiseless to deal with digital noise is coming soon, followed in the coming months by Upscale AI for image zooming and AI background removal. In all, Skylum promises to launch seven extensions in 2022.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You Edit Photos
With the HDR Merge extension installed, Luminar Neo can now combine multiple photos taken at different exposures. Jeff Carlson

Adobe Lightroom and Lightroom Classic

Adobe Lightroom and Lightroom Classic are adding AI tools in stages, which fits the platform’s case for being one of the original “big photo apps” (RIP Apple Aperture). The most important recent addition to artificial intelligence has been the revamped one Masking tool reveals the sky and themes with one click. This feature is also integrated into Lightroom Adjustment presets.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You Edit Photos
Lightroom Classic created this swordsman mask (highlighted in red) after a single click on the Select Subject Mask tool. Jeff Carlson

It’s also worth noting that since Lightroom Classic has been one of the biggest players in photo editing for quite some time, it has the advantage of allowing developers, like those mentioned so far, to offer their tools as plug-ins. So, for example, if you mainly use Lightroom Classic but need sharpening beyond the capabilities of the detail tool, you can send your image directly to Sharpening Topaz AI Then return the processed copy to your library. (The Lightroom desktop, the cloud-focused version, doesn’t have an additional build.)

What does AI integration of photo editing tools mean for photographers?

As photo editors, we want the latest and greatest editing tools available, even if we don’t use them all. Adding these AI-enhanced tools to larger applications makes them easily accessible to photographers everywhere. You do not have to export a version or send it to another utility via a plug-in interface. It keeps your focus on the photo.

It also helps build brand loyalty. You may decide to use ON1 Photo RAW instead of other companies’ tools because the features you want are all in one place. (Enter any of the above applications in this scenario.) However, there are different levels to this. From the looks of Topaz Photo AI beta, it’s not trying to replace Lightroom anytime soon. But if you’re a Photo AI owner, you’ll probably be less inclined to check out ON1’s offerings. and so on.

More subscriptions

Then there is the cost. It’s worth noting that companies are starting to offer subscription prices rather than just individual purchases. Years ago, Adobe worked entirely on subscriptions, which is the only way to get access to any of their products except for Photoshop Elements. Luminar Neo and ON1 Photo RAW offer subscription pricing or one-time purchase options. ON1 also sells standalone versions of the Resize AI, NoNoise AI, and Portrait AI tools. Topaz sells its services right away, but you can optionally pay to activate an image upgrade plan that renews every year.

Subscription pricing is great for companies because it gives them a more stable revenue stream, and hopefully, they will be incentivized to keep improving their products to keep those subscribers over time. Subscriptions also encourage customers to actively stick to what they pay for.

For example, I sign up for the Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps plan, and use Adobe Audition to edit audio for my podcasts. I suspect Apple’s audio editing system, Logic Pro, would be a better fit for me, based on my preference for video editing in Final Cut Pro versus Adobe Premiere Pro, but I’m already paying for Audition. My audio editing needs aren’t complex enough for me to explore the limits of each application, so Audition is good enough.

In the same way, subscribing to a large app adds the same kind of comprehensive access to tools, including new AI features, when needed. Having to pay $30-70 for a focused tool suddenly seems like a lot (although that means the tool is there for the future images you need).


On the other hand, investing in large applications depends on their continued support and development. If the software is stagnant or discontinued (again, RIP Aperture), you consider the time and effort to migrate it to another platform or take it out and its modifications.

For now, the tools are still available in a variety of ways, from single-tasking apps to plug-ins. But the convergence of AI is happening quickly, too.

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