Topaz Labs Announces Plan to Charge for Upgrades, Internet Riot Ensues


Change is hard, but it is particularly painful when it involves your wallet.

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Photo by Tranmautritam from Pexels.

That’s probably why Topaz Labs decision to charge for future upgrades didn’t go over well – at all – and has become the latest Internet outcry in the photography world.

The announcement came from CEO Eric Yang and was posted to the company forum. It was pretty basic and to the point. The company is going to start charging for upgrades to its popular DeNoise AI, Sharpen AI, Gigapixel AI, and Mask AI plugins starting in August 2020 of this year.

His message read in part:

“I have an announcement that may seem like bad news at first, but will end up being good news in the long run. Starting in August 2020, we will charge for product upgrades to DeNoise AI, Sharpen AI, Gigapixel AI, and Mask AI.

Every company says that they value their customers. When we started Topaz Labs many years ago, we tried hard to figure out ways to show this through actions instead of just words. One of the ways we did this was by offering free major upgrades for all of our products. Conceptually, this felt really good to us […] Within the last few years, though, we started to realize something. Product development and research is expensive!”

It is hard to fault a company for trying to stay profitable and relevant in the cut-throat world of photography software. Even so, that hasn’t stopped people from being disgruntled over the change.

Do you use Topaz Labs? What do you think of the proposed changes? Will it make you reconsider your support? Let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section below if you like.

Also, check out some of our other photography news articles on Light Stalking by clicking here.


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Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

Seriously? People are upset by this? Wow.
A company needs to turn a profit to survive. No money coming in, no profit.
Simple really.

Oh? You’re still upset?

Well let me explain it another way.

Imagine you’re at a party at a friends house. The party is rocking. Everyone is having a blast. Except your friend told his parents the party would be over by 1am.

It’s now 6am and they have been contacted by neighbours to say it’s gone past high-jinks and it’s now a problem.

Parents come home, pull the plug and tell everyone the party is over. Your friend, however, is still in trouble. Big trouble.

Get it?

Hi Paul. I get it. I get that when Topaz was a young company struggling to get recognized they made a conscious decision to offer their software with free upgrades. They didn’t just accidentally come up with that hook. It worked too. I have 17 of their products. And they have grown from a “nobody ever heard of them” company to a successful, profitable company. I like them, but the free upgrades are part of the reason I found them a good value and acceptable risk for my money and trust. I just don’t trust them anymore. I effectively entered into a contract when I bought their product by reading their description of their product and offer of free upgrades. I have no problem with Topaz offering whatever product they want with any terms they deem necessary, but changing the terms after the fact was duplicitous. I have no problem with Topaz changing their policy to charging for upgrades..starting now.
But I did enjoy your simplistic profit = survivable lesson and somewhat nonsensical teen party analogy.

I recently started to think about alternatives to Lightroom and checked out Topaz. Now, I don’t think so. If I wanted to pay for software upgrades I would just stick with Lightroom.

I have owned “most” of the Topaz line for a number of years, and the problem I have always had is that they do not put their products under the umbrella of an overall software app. When you get LR, you don’t have to buy separate progs for sharpening, noise, color enhancement, etc. Topaz sells it all ala cart, thus adding greatly to upgrade costs. Some of their software is truly exceptional, but unlike other apps, it all has to be upgraded individually. To add further to the confusion, many of their apps are also sold by Franzis software, at a greatly reduced price. Franzis’ versions are not necessarily identical, but pretty close. I suspect the Franzis versions were sold to Topaz, and they further improved them. I have asked Topaz if I could buy a “package” of their software to save some money, and was told flatly NO! You will spend a ton of bucks having to buy each software app separately, rather than as a package.

I use Topaz Labs plugins all the time. I think the people who rely on and love the results of these products will pay the upgrade price. It is why I continue to pay the monthly subscription for Photoshop. I like it. I pay it. I don’t like spending money, but software isn’t made for free.

It reminds me of Yahoo/Flickr offering unlimited storage a few years ago for free… It’s nice to have but it’s not sustainable.

I use and love Topaz Studio 2, and I will stay with it it as long as the product is a good value vs it’s competitors.

If the upgrade was a substantial improvement over the previous version, a nominal fee of under $20 would be acceptable, at least to me.

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