Last updated on September 13th, 2019
Topaz Studio 2 is a creative photo editor geared towards fine artists that want to expand the imaginative workflow. It uses filters, masking, and non-destructive layers to produce photos that can be considered abstract photography.
Topaz Labs launched the Topaz Studio 2 software in July 2019. My Topaz Studio 2 review will cover the basics from a travel photographer’s perspective. I usually take landscape images while I travel but city and wildlife photography also come into play.
First of all, I find Topaz Studio 2 is geared towards fine artists because it promotes many images that are painterly or have glowing effects. In addition, imagine a sketch artist drawing a landscape with colored pencils – the software can produce images like these. That’s why it’s really a creative photo editor for people that want to go beyond the normal exposure and color adjustments.
Don’t get me wrong, you can still edit and produce realistically vivid photos without that is it Photoshopped comment?
What’s New in Topaz Studio 2?
The most noticeable difference is the price. The original version of Topaz Studio (Classic) was free with paid filters or adjustment add-ons.
Topaz Studio 2 costs $99.99 (currently on sale for $79.99 at the time of writing this) with all the filters included. I think the whole bundle idea is better without having photographers figure out which add-ons they need. You can also use coupon code aperlust for a 15% discount. Topaz Labs also has a 30 day, no-questions-asked refund policy.
Topaz Studio 2 Review and How It Works
As soon as you open an image in Topaz Studio 2, you won’t see any sliders to edit your image. That’s because you need to add a filter, also known as an adjustment layer, to make changes similar to Photoshop. This gives photographers the ability to edit images with non-destructive layers.
Topaz Studio 2 comes with 25+ filter settings broken into 3 categories: Essential, Creative, and Stylistic.
Outside of the basic filters, my favourite filter is the glow effect. It really makes a creative image pop. But if you reduce the opacity of the glow effect, you can make the image look realistic.
Good to Know
I found the software initially slow on my 13” MacBook Pro. It’s probably due to my MBP not meeting the system requirements. I don’t have a dedicated GPU. I like to be as mobile as possible and I’m not a fan of larger laptops that come with a dedicated GPU. On the contrary, Photoshop and Lightroom are fast on my laptop. But when I updated to version 2.0.6, Topaz Studio 2 started performing much faster where the slowness was no longer an issue.
An issue many users may have is that Topaz Studio 2 (as of version 2.0.6) doesn’t have a spot healing brush tool or lens correction. This isn’t a problem for me since I complete these types of edits in Lightroom or Photoshop.
Topaz Studio 2 vs Lightroom and Photoshop
Topaz Studio 2 has a few tools that are like Lightroom and Photoshop: cropping, basic edits, tone curve, etc. Lightroom and Photoshop are two different types of software for mutually inclusive purposes and they both trump Topaz Studio 2 when it comes to image editing and management.
Topaz Studio 2 is not an image manager like Lightroom. And it’s not suitable for making photography prints or albums. You’ll need to do color correction in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Keep in mind Topaz Studio 2 is not intended to replace Lightroom or Photoshop. The software is an addition to the creative workflow. It really complements Photoshop.
I’m impressed with Topaz Studio 2. The interface refresh since the classic version is more user friendly. But as I mentioned earlier, this software is primarily a creative photo editor aimed at fine artists, which is a good thing. I’ve been using Topaz Labs software for 5+ years when I want to give my images a touch of magic.
Depending on which image editing software you already have and the style of your photography, Topaz Studio 2 may or may not be for you. It’s better if you just test it out yourself for free.
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