Filter Forge 2 Review

April 21, 2011 | Matt Grayson | Software Reviews | |

There are some really cool new features on the second version of Filter Forge. One of the most interesting features is Shadow via Ambient Occlusion which is a light and shadow algorithm that works out how much light should fall on a certain part of a surface to give a realistic 3D lighting effect. Using a textured filter, by clicking on the lighting tab, you can adjust a virtual sun to say what angle the light should be hitting the texture and the program will alter the amount of light across the different height levels of the filter.

There's full HDR support with over 60% of the components supporting HDR colours. The amount of colours available in the HDR colour palette is practically unlimited meaning you can create all sorts of wonderful filters in the editor from fireballs and explosions to nebulas. Ticking the HDR box in the colour picker will open the HDR colour palette.

Once you start to create your own filters and have also downloaded them from the library, you will have loads available that will take ages to look through. The new instant filter search is found at the bottom of the list of categories on the main window. There are dozens of other new features available for digital artists, web developers and 3D modellers and to trawl through them would be exhausting.

Example Filters

Nik DfineLomo

Nik DfineVibrance

Nik DfineGrunge

Nik DfineReal Contrast

Nik DfineColorizer

Nik DfineDreamy

Nik DfineOld Photo

Nik DfineSepia


The sheer size of Filter Forge 2 is staggering. It caters for a multitude of designers so it's easy to understand that the features won't be used by everyone. But could Filter Forge be missing a trick here? We didn't use half the amount of features available in the programme simply because they're not dedicated towards photographers. Maybe Filter Forge could offer clipped versions of the program geared towards certain industries? This could in turn price the product a lot lower, making it more attractive to a wider consumer base and give it a more aggressive position in the market.

Even if Filter Forge don't do this, what you get for the money is a huge program that will bring hours of fun with thousands of filters at your fingertips. The filters don't look over-processed at smaller sizes and it's not until you really zoom in that you see a difference. It's more noticeable on the old photo filter because the photographs look digitally sharp while the filter is trying to make it look film soft. The cracks and creases show no sign of the distress a paper photograph would have such as torn and stretched fibres.

We were not surprised to see the on-trend filters of today such as lomo, old photo and sepia. A lot of photographers are trying to emulate the older style of photography from the second half of the last century or trying to replicate the light leaks and double exposures produced by the notorious lomo cameras.

Filter Forge and the community that's been built up around it is a unique product. The company are trying to create a family environment which shows through in the mild black humour on the site. There's a counter for how many people like them on Facebook and a thriving forum with hundreds of topics and thousands of posts to get involved with. Not forgetting the rewards scheme for creating new filters.

The current price of $399 is good value for the amount of product you get. However, looking at it for what it is for a photographer; it's a filter software program and that price is expensive. Sure, there's lower graded versions but they lack certain elements that make Filter Forge so unique. It's available as a trial download so you may want to try it before you buy it. If you use multiple layers of filters in your pictures and even if you want to make your own, then Filter Forge is certainly worth looking at.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4
Value for money 3.5

Entry Tags

photos, images, photo, software, standard, photoshop, image, professional, editing, processing, application, effects, filters, filter, forge, basic, Filter Forge 2, Filter Forge 2 Review

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Your Comments

11 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Chris

This is what I hate about digital ‘photography’, nasty filters trying to make a poor photo look good by covering the faults with applied filters. Filters often mask poor work. Either way, the end result is often a pale emulation and simulation of the real thing especially in terms of sepia thiocarbonide, gold, copper, cyanotype and other toning processes.

It’s also a very lazy way of ‘creating’, if you can even calling that. I don’t think putting your photo in the hands of a large number of technicians and software developers can even be called photography. Digital ‘art’ yes! Photography no.

11:16 am - Friday, April 22, 2011

#2 Filter Forge Fan

Chris- I must defend Filter Forge and a flexible definition of ‘art’ and ‘photography’. Everyone is entitled to their opinion- here’s mine. Whenever new technology arrives, the old vanguard resists change and discredits the inevitability of progression. Perhaps when the camera first came into existence and with just a ‘snap and flash’ you have an instant ‘still painting’. It might not have taken 3 months to finish or 20 tubes of oil paint, but in it’s own fashion, to some it was still valuable.
Filter Forge is great on many levels. For one, not everyone can afford an expensive camera & has time or money for ‘proper’ photography lessons. By playing around in Filter Forge, I have been exposed to terminology like HDR and LOMO I wouldnt have been. This makes me curious about ‘proper’ photography and one day may inspire me to go deeper.
Filters sometimes mask poor work- but I think it salvages and creates a piece that might have been trashed otherwise- I think this is a good thing. You obviously havent been to the Filter Forge site, so many professionals and top notch work.
Beauty (art or photography) is in the eye of the beholder. To me, Filter Forge is beautiful :)

10:40 pm - Friday, April 22, 2011

#3 Steven Brooke

From the examples shown, this program looks absolutely awful: artifical, tacky, artless.

1:24 pm - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#4 David

Chris - so you never used the cokin filter range on your film camera? Remember the awful rainbow filter?
Love to see some of your examples of handcrafted “sepia thiocarbonide, gold, copper, cyanotype and other toning processes” -I’m genuinely intrigued that you have worked with these chemical processes.

5:12 pm - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#5 rob

I can’t see any images here, so I can’t comment on the effects provided by this filter set.

However, regarding the difference between “art” and “photographic art”, I have to disagree with Chris. Photography has long grew out and above its roots in painting and became a significant and unique technique. Yes, photography IS a technique, just like painting is. The art has nothing to do with tools you use. It has to do with an idea, a concept, a message, a skill—all combined in one. Filters and Photoshop are just tools, just like paint, brushes and canvas are tools of a painter. Whether you use film or digital tools, that is completely inconsequential. And there is an awful lot of bad traditional photography around, as well as some really good one.

As a matter of fact, digital photography is a giant leap over and ahead of everything that the traditional photography has been able to achieve in its century and a half (roughly) of existence. There was more worthless crap produced with traditional cameras and film than there is produced now (despite the fact, that digital photography has such huge appeal to millions of absolute novices who never took one photo with film cameras).

Just in case you think I am such a biased novice myself, I can tell you that my involvement with traditional photography spanned about 35 years. As soon as I hesitantly bought my first digital camera 8 years ago, I knew, that there will be no turning back for me. All it takes to see the obvious advantage of digital over film, is an open mind.

12:46 am - Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#6 Keith

So Chris thinks processing a digital image is, somehow, cheating. Isn’t he aware that all JPEG images are very heavily processed in the camera, often with unsatisfacory results? This leads many keen photogrsphers to shoot in RAW and do all the processing themselves. This is no different in principle to the old fashioned darkroom and, for best results, requires just as much skill. Show us some of your JPEGS, Chris, to prove me wrong!

10:30 am - Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#7 bedran


12:16 pm - Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#8 bedran

gelek ba?e lê ajokar danakeve

12:19 pm - Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#9 Peter

Interesting that previous comments have focused on traditional processing against digital.  I believe this software gives another ‘String’ to our photographic ‘Bow’ and as such should be welcomed.  Whether you like the images here or not is always a matter of opinion, but if not, I’m sure others created with this process must be good under law of averages. 

Advances in photographic technology have caused an explosion in sheer volume and everyone has the opportunity to achieve the ‘perfect moment’.

10:53 pm - Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#10 Craig Bothwell

Like the guy who currently occupies the White House, Filter Forge is great, other than the fact that it does NOT WORK. I tried the trial version with P.S. 6, but the software did nothing.  If you like your software, you can keep your software. I definitely won’t be keeping Filter Forge. What a waste of time.

4:49 am - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

#11 Jane

For sure, this is a great software to create many different aspects. However, their technical support is terrible. They will never listen to your problem using the program. And, they are making tricks on the prices depend on your computer. I am a graphic design, and having 4 computers at 4 different places. When I check the price on their website by using different computers, their promotions are all different. Since then, I do not trust their prices.
I contacted them several times for some issues I have found. They never listened.
Lastly, they do not apology what they have made mistakes. I usually do not complain, but I have to share my experience to people who has not purchased their product yet. Keep in mind that their technical support is the worst.

5:12 am - Friday, March 13, 2015