Saturday, July 12, 2014

VSCO vs Replichrome Film Presets

Edited with VSCO Fuji 400h

I remember a year ago creating a post in the forum asking if anyone had any insights into blending film & digital imagery. I got laughed at not surprisingly. A lot of by-the-bookers telling me if I wanted film so bad I should pick up a film camera. And there's truth to that. But if you had just bought a $3500 camera....throwing it to the wind to go buy a film camera didn't seem viable. You can read my post here about shooting & editing to get as close to film with your digital as possible (read mine here). Or watch a video of me editing an image with this same advice here.

Im sure I arrived on this 'Film' quest about the same time 1000 other photographers did which is after I got done drooling over Jose & Elizabeth books. It was like being re-born as a photographer. I know as I write this now how un-original this post really is only a year seems everyones weighing in on it now. But for good reason. And just as many posts as there are, there are opinions, so I suppose no harm in another perspective.

Film is great for a lot of things but as I primarily shoot Weddings I have sat endless hours at my computer afterwards afraid to let go of the editing but tired of doing it at the same time. It was a black hole & an endless cycle. Thats when I realized that film could save me so much time & although its more expensive, my time is valuable too. I figure the time shooting film saves you pays you back triple-fold at minimum. And then theres the new possibilities it unleashes because you no longer have to balance harsh sunlight with a strobe or hide under a tree during Weddings. Now you can go boldly go where no digital has dared before...into the brightest sun & onward. 

First off I want to say that VSCO really is the pioneer in this quest. A lot of other presets have sinced sprouted up including the main headliners Replichrome & Mastin, I created my own as well to suit my taste (found here). But VSCO really got the ball rolling & they did a thorough job while they were at it. Overcomplicated, perhaps, but if you really were a film lover looking for true results they wanted to deliver & did so by acknowledging that depending on what you shoot the presets would vary so they included a set customized to Nikon, Canon & the last set they call Standard for all other shooters. Replichrome took it a step further to compete with them by offering different presets according to the scanner type the film would have been scanned into.
Edited with VSCO Fuji 400h

So without further ado Ill summarize what I took away from this comparison. First & foremost I believe VSCO to be the most correct of the sets. But the problem is when we are looking at all these comparisons online is you first have to ask yourself if your looking for results like other film photographers or true film colors. Typically people are after Jose & other popular film shooters looks & thats not necessarily what youll get even if you go shoot film. They have color profiles set up at the lab & overexpose to get what they get. So being after that you'll have to look at presets differently & expect to tweak them because as of right now no one makes a Jose Villa Fuji 400h preset they make a out of your camera, Fuji 400h preset. Next is the fact that there's tons of variables when people make these comparisons. First & formost being what did they shoot on & how did they shoot the  images because you & me could both click the same preset on a picture we took on the same day with different cameras & settings & the preset will look two different ways. Lastly is that there is over 10 Fuji 4ooh presets in replichrome, 2 in Mastin & 3 with VSCO, so which one are people clicking each time?

With all that said on this comparison I did adjust the blacks for the sunny backlit images but I adjusted the same for each to make it fair. I made sure the images were correctly white balanced before I clicked the presets as well since applying these to blue cast or overly yellow images would not give the correct results. Last, Ill admit that for the different images I sometimes liked Mastin, then VSCO was better, then my own etc etc. So good luck! You might be best off just investing in a few. Ill shamelessly tell you mines only $10 so start there. *Wink. But if you like film VSCO & Mastin are worth having for different reasons.

Notes about each:

VSCO: Has presets sets called Nikon, Canon & for all other shooters there's a pack called Standard. It also has a set called Tooklit for tweaking the presets like getting creamy highlights or lifting shadows.

PROS:  Has one of the closest results for that beautiful film color & the B&W presets rock.
CONS: Vsco for my taste, usually needs lots of tweaking after applying the presets. I usually bring down the is too grain, adjust the green cast in the shadows & mess with the contrast to get it right.

REPLICHROME: Has presets packs for Fuji, Kodak, Black & whites & a Tweak kit.

PROS: Has a lot more usable presets with one click. Beginner friendly.
CONS: Tends to run a little pink on the overall tones from the presets & I usually have to adjust the red channel down out of the highlights to reduce this.  Doesn't look as close to true film as VSCO.

MASTIN LABS: A Canon & Nikon pack of presets that has Fuji 400h neutral & blue with some highlight, shadow & grain tweaks.

PROS: Really simple & good results with the presets
CONS: Doesn't have a Portra preset

I like VSCO best overall. Of course I like the customized preset I made for my workflow as well but its just a little Fuji 400h one & I still like to play with all the other presets VSCO offers in the set including Portra 400 & TRI-X 400 for B&W conversions.  Its a bit spendy but worth checking out if your into the film look.

Now for some pictures using the different presets. Can you tell which is which?

*Mine, Mastin, VSCO, Replichrome

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