If you are anything like me, you come home from a shoot and the last thing you want to do is pour through all the images to start to edit the photos. I discovered a set of Lightroom presets a few years ago called VSCO Film from the Visual Supply Company, which will help you emulate different classic films of yesteryear. These emulations are pretty accurate as well and can help your workflow if you are trying to achieve a "film look" with your photos.
This is my review of working with VSCO Film for about 2 years now, and while I have previously written about my experiences before, I wanted to start this blog with content that people seemed to want information about.
The first question that you may be asking is "why would I want to use these film emulations?". That is a valid question because as digital photography has become something that nearly everyone take part in now thanks to social media, we find ourselves with more photos that we know what to do with. If you like the look of film, but the convenience of digital photography then these emulations are right up your alley.
Here is a list of the supported types of the film emulations with VSCO Film 01.
- Fuji 160C/ + / ++ / -
- Fuji 400H/ + / ++ / -
- Fuji 800Z/ + / ++ / -
- Kodak Tri-X/ + / ++ / -
- Kodak T-MAX 3200/ + / -
- Ilford HP5/ + / -
- Kodak Portra 160/ + / ++ / -
- Kodak Portra 400/ + / ++ / -
- Kodak Portra 800/ + / ++ / -
- Kodak Portra 800 HC
The + and - symbols next to the film name is added or reduced contrast/effect and the HC next to Kodak Portra 800 is High Contrast. The convenience of these presets is addicting because they are very powerful presets and you can completely change the look and feel of a photo just by switching from Fuji 160C++ to Fuji 800Z.
First, let's talk about what VSCO did really well. I mentioned the ease of use and I will mention it again, presets in Lightroom are very easy to use and can serve as an excellent baseline for your workflow. They all are very dialed in their effect and after comparing film photos to a few of these emulations; I can say that they are pretty accurate. If you are searching for an easy to use and fun way to edit through your photos quickly and want to emulate film types of some very popular photo films then you cannot go wrong with VSCO Film packs.
Now, on to the bad and what you will not be getting with VSCO Film 01. The film emulation presets cost money and VSCO charges quite a bit for their presets. Each preset pack will run you $119. Now after you purchase one of their packs, you will receive 25% off any of the other packs. That quite steep for Lightroom presets, even as high-quality as these presets are. Since these are Lightroom presets, that means that you CAN achieve the look of that preset in Lightroom without having to buy the presets. All that is required is having to know your way around the Develop module in Lightroom very well. I have been using Lightroom since 2008 and I don't think I could achieve the same results without the presets, but I haven't really tried. While the presets can help you achieve beautiful edited photos, most times you will not be done editing the photo with one click of a button. I constantly tweak the sliders to suit what I'm trying to achieve with that particular photo and as I said above, the presets can give you an excellent baseline. Most times I continued to edit my photos after using the presets. Some of my clients didn't seem to like the green tint a few of the Fuji film emulations have built in, but that is a matter of opinion.
So what's the verdict? Well I own two packs of these film emulators, and I use them regularly; especially when I'm editing portraits. That's where I have noticed the best results and the most time saved editing. When I'm editing my landscape and nature photography, I spend hours editing one photo and I'm not looking for any quick solutions. When I'm editing through a portrait shoot, these presets have been helpful in establishing a great starting point for my editing. If that is worth $119 though, I cannot tell you. It's a steep price, but these presets are professionally made by talented designers.
I'll leave you with some examples of photos that I have edited using VSCO Film 01. Thank you for reading!
What do you think? Would you buy these presets for your editing workflow? Leave a comment on why or why not.