VSCO’s latest film pack might be of interest to some people out there, so I figured I would do a quick post about my take on it. You might also want to start by reading my post on Film 04, as I talk a bit more about how I use these presets in that post. For those of you who are too lazy, here’s a quick recap: I generally only use these presets for my private snapshots, the stuff I only share with my family. However, I also use them as a rough base for my serious work, since I find that it helps me get colours that I’m really happy with.
So, how does this latest film pack hold up? I have to say that I really like it and it gives some very nice character to my snapshots. VSCO themselves say that these emulations are probably closest to what we were used to seeing in the family album when we were little. I kind of get that same feeling and I think that’s a big part of the appeal for me. Let’s make one thing clear here though; I’ve never shot a single roll or even frame of film in my entire life, so if these are accurate representations of the films that are being emulated or not, I have no idea. Here’s the thing though, they feel right, it looks like it really could be scans from old film photos.
I’ve never been a big fan of the overly faded look that was very prevalent in VSCO’s earlier film packs and the fact that there was very little fading in Film 04 was one of the reasons I fell in love with those presets. In this pack we have a bit more fading than in Film 04 but still considerably less than in 01-03. I’ve also found that it’s quite easy to more or less eliminate the fading in these presets if you want to, without losing the look and feel of them. To get the most out of presets like these, I would recommend that you’re fairly familiar with all the controls in Lightroom, especially curves.
Below are some samples before and after the presets. They were all taken during our trip to Indonesia and they’re just simple snapshots – in other words they’re exactly the kind of photos I would consider using these emulations for. I’ve done a few tweaks to most of them. To start with I’ve removed the grain in all of them; I never really saw the point of adding grain (except maybe for some black and white shots). I’ve also reduced/removed the fading on some of them. However, what you see here is still very close to what you get by simply applying the presets as they are. Btw, if you want to have a look at full size versions of these shots (which I recommend), you can find them on my google+ here.
I think these shots gives you a decent idea of what to expect. It really depends a lot on the photo if the look works or not, just as with Film 04 and their other film packs. I think that Film 04 is still my favourite but, as I was playing around with old shots for this post, Film 05 gave me some very nice results that I actually liked even better for certain shots – for others, Film 04 was still king. Again, it really depends on the photo you’re working on, some looks will just work better than others, it depends a lot on the light, colours and contrast.
You have to remember that these presets won’t give you a magic solution that makes all photos awesome but, when applied properly, in the right circumstance and on the right photo, it can really help you bring out that mood and feeling that might otherwise have been missing. The great thing about them is that, because they’re just presets, you never have to break your workflow and you can make small (or large) adjustments to them without having to go into another program or plugin.
In the end it comes down to a single question: do you like the look or not? The answer from me is that, with a couple of small changes, I like it a lot. Since I got Film 04 I’ve been using it for all my snapshots and now I will mix things up with Film 05 as well. Perhaps I’ll look back in ten years and wonder why I thought this looked good but, for now, I’m getting photos with a look and character that I’m very happy with. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking, maybe I’m getting old.
PS. Also check out my impressions on VSCO Film 04.