Thursday, June 18, 2015

REVIEW: Topaz Labs Glow (discount offer)

See my updated review for Glow 2.0 here.

For years Nik Software was an innovation leader in photo editing, but ever since they were bought out by Google not much has changed. In that time Topaz Labs has really stepped forward with a fantastic line of products featuring outstanding innovation their newest products like Impression and now Glow.

Like many Topaz products which offer unique effects not found by the other major products in the photo editing industry, Glow has some really cool things I haven’t seen before. In fact, I’d couldn’t replicate most of the filters manually in Photoshop as there seems to be some nice low-level image processing happening here.

Given the unique nature of this product, it’s helpful to see a video as screen shots can easily mislead one into thinking that it only offers neon-like effects that some photographers might find unappealing. Check out the video below and see if it doesn’t spark some ideas that make you want to download the free trial!

Great video that shows a lot of cool examples using Glow

Using Glow

Topaz Glow Stand Alone Version
Topaz Glow Stand Alone Version

Glow runs both as a stand-alone app (great for Lightroom integration) as well as a Photoshop plug-in. The user interface is identical to Impression where presets (which allow for customization) appear as live thumbnails to the right. At the bottom you can adjust the strength of the effect as well as the blend mode which is super useful when you aren’t using Photoshop layers as it allows third party hosts (like Lightroom) to only apply part of the effect rather than only the full effect.

When you click a filter the effect is applied and if you click the controls button then you are taken to the panel below where you have the ability to do a significant amount of customization. Customizations are immediately applied and can be saved as new presets.

Lots of customization is possible

A word about performance

On my Alienware Aurora R4 Windows 7 workstation with a Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-3820 CPU @ 3.6GHz and 16GB of RAM, I found the time required to render thumbnails to be slow enough to be annoying but it didn’t block my productivity. It did require more patience than I usually have so I would go off and read an email while it was rendering previews for each image. If you’ve used Impression 1.1 then this is the same UI, but the processing of previews was several times faster.

Sample Before & After Images

Here are some photos I took recently while in Asia using a Canon 1D X and 24-105mm lens which are straight out of the camera JPEG’s with no post-processing. I’ve simply applied the preset to the image and saved. A full gallery of examples can be found at here where you can read the image captions for info about what preset was used.

Please note that all images are copyright Ron Martinsen and ALL RIGHTS are reserved. Written consent is required for any saving or external linking.

Liquify II
Liquify II

Soft Bloom II
Soft Bloom II


Brilliant Fibers III
Brilliant Fibers III

Natural Neon III

Fur and Feathers III
Fur and Feathers III


Like Impression, this is a unique product that doesn’t do what other products on the market do. Some of the presets are similar to what can be done in other Topaz products like Clean, Detail and Simplify, but the vast majority are totally unique to this product. As a result I had a lot of fun exploring and found myself “in the zone” experimenting when I was supposed to be writing a review!

I wish the performance wasn’t so bad on my PC, but I’m due for a PC upgrade next year anyway. I suspect that people on fast Haswell or greater Intel processors won’t have the same delays I am seeing, but to be sure you might want to download the free trial before committing to a purchase. Topaz updates their products regularly, so even if this version doesn’t meet your performance criteria, I’d urge you to check back from time to time for an update. 

I had a lot of fun with this innovative product and highly recommend it for those who aren’t photorealism purists.

UPDATE: See my Glow 2.0 review here

Where to order (SPECIAL OFFER)

Click here to learn more, download a free trial or order your copy today.

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WARNING: To get the discount on this product or your entire order you MUST CLICK HERE and enter the coupon code RONMART. If the code isn’t working then visit my discount coupon code page for the latest code and offer details.

Other articles you may enjoy

Here’s some of my Topaz Labs software reviews:

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