Raw from JPEG


Today’s Question: I’ve been watching your recent Ask Tim Grey posts on shooting DNG on iPhones [and other smartphones], particularly where you point out that the special features cannot be used by Lightroom Mobile. Does Topaz’ JPEG to RAW app offer a way around this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No. The “JPEG to RAW AI” software from Topaz Labs doesn’t provide a true alternative to an original raw capture.

More Detail: I frankly find the marketing materials related to “JPEG to RAW AI” from Topaz Labs to be quite misleading. The core features of this software are noise reduction and compression artifact removal, which are features that can also be found in other software. The resulting image is then converted to a 16-bit per channel TIFF image. However, because the source of the image data would have been an 8-bit per channel JPEG image, you aren’t actually achieving a benefit from the higher bit depth.

In other words, “JPEG to RAW AI” is really just sophisticated image-cleanup software, which saves the resulting image as a TIFF (not a raw capture format) in order to avoid additional compression artifacts. The conversion to 16-bit per channel offers no real benefit, and causes the base file size to be twice as large as it otherwise would be.

While “JPEG to RAW AI” does a good job of reducing noise and compression artifacts in an image, it isn’t a tool I would recommend in general. As noted above, I also find the marketing of this product to be terribly misleading in terms of the actual benefits involved, and some of the information presented is factually inaccurate as well.