In the pantheon of film emulation software, the first name you probably think of VSCO, and for good reason. VSCOCam is one of the most popular editing apps for iOS and Android, and for Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop users, they’ve got a line of film packs that, up until this point, have offered well-known and oft-used films. Now, they have Film 07 – Eclectic Films, a ragtag collection of clean-looking presets. There are well over 100 presets across 18 films, some color, some black-and-white, and some tungsten-balanced. The company bills them as ideal for “portraits, night photography, and architecture,” but they’re good for more than that.
Pros and Cons
-Each film has several versions offering slight variations depending on the mood you’re going for
-The software comes with camera profiles that tailor the presets to the nuances of what you’re shooting with (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus, and Leica are covered.)
-Accurate rendering of the films offered, and the changes aren’t glaringly obvious, save for maybe tungsten and a few others.
-No Pentax love. Full disclosure, I’m not a Pentax shooter, but I imagine Pentax shooters would appreciate coverage.
-There is a suite of tools offered that are separate from the preset dropdown menus, and these tools include a Reset option to revert the image back to its original settings. It would be swell if a reset option was including at the top of the preset list. It’s a minor quibble, but it would be helpful.
We used VSCO Film 07 – Eclectic Films with Lightroom 5.7 on a Mid-2012 MacBook Pro and photographs from a Sony NEX-6.
Courtesy of VSCO’s website.
- Agfa Optima 100 II — / – / + / ++ / Cool / Warm
- Agfa Portrait XPS 160 — / – / + / ++ / Cool / Warm
- Agfa RSX 50 II — / – / + / ++ / Cool / Warm
- Agfa RSX 200 II — / – / + / ++ / Cool / Warm / Warm +
- Agfa Ultra 50 — / – / + / ++ / Cool / Warm
- Agfa Ultra 100 — / – / + / ++ / Cool / Warm
- Fuji 160S — / – / + / ++ / Alt / Cool / Warm
- Fuji Sensia 100 — / – / + / ++ / Alt / Cool / Warm
- Ilford Pan F Plus 50 — / – / + / ++
- Kodak Ektachrome 64 — / – / + / ++ / Alt / Cool / Warm
- Kodak Ektar 25 — / – / + / ++ / Cool / Warm
- Kodak Elite 50 II — / – / + / ++ / Cool / Warm
- Kodak Plus-X 125 — / – / + / ++
- Kodak Tri-X 320 — / – / + / ++ / +++
- Fuji T64 — / – / + Alt / + / ++
- Kodak Ektachrome 64T — / – / + / ++
- Kodak Elite Chrome 160T — / – / + / ++ / Alt + / Alt / Cool / Warm
- Kodak Portra 100T — / – / + / ++ / Cool / Warm
VSCO Tools Includes
- Auto Tone
- Auto WB
- Greener Greens
- Orange Skin Fix
- Highlight Save
- Highs Squash
- Lows Boost
- Shadow Save
- Reset All
- Fade Highlights
- Fade Shadows
- Grain Bigger
- Lens: CA & Fringing
- Sharpen High ISO
- Creamy Highlights
- Tone Fuji
- Tone Kodak
- Reset VSCO Film
Ease of Use
Setup is fairly simple. Be sure to have “Store presets with this catalog” unchecked in order for them to show up, and when you’re installing the software, just select the company who’s cameras you actually own. Leica might feel like an aspirational click for many.
The main presets are split across two folders: one is tungsten-specific, the other has everything else. You’ll notice that there’s a “Standard” folder. That one isn’t camera-specific, and it might be where Pentaxians go to get their work done. If you think the camera profiles are a ruse, try applying the same preset across camera profiles to one image. There are discernible differences. Take the yawning cat that opened this review. I made the image with a Sony NEX-6. Here it is again with the Sony-specific profile:
Here it is with the Fuji-specific one:
See what I mean? There are more cats in this review. I live in Istanbul. All we have are cats.
As with all of VSCO’s preset packs for Lightroom, each film comes with around five to six versions with slight differences in tonality denoted by +, -, Warm, Cool, Alt. Occasionally, there’s — and ++. The company analyzes the different ways in which film can (or could in some cases) be processed. Anything with a – or — signifies a cleaner look with less grain. Films with + or ++ have a grittier, grainier and more emphatic aesthetic. Warm and cool are relegated to instant film because temperature can affect how the picture develops. The following six images will show the variations for one film:
Real Life Applications
This suite of presets was billed for portraits, architecture and night photography, and it’s good for all of those things. This would work well for editorial purposes, where the lines seem to be a bit more flexible than pure photojournalism. Advertising, too, might be a good fit for these presets, as well as, dare I say it, street photography. At least, in my practice, I’ve found that it’s good for street photography and animal portraiture.
Extra Image Samples
Presets are a simple thing to use. Click and adjust, if need be. VSCO Film 07 offers 18 eclectic films and set of tools to help adjust certain things: sharpness, saturation, grain, and the like in varying degrees. The company really dives deep and offers as many variations as it can without being overbearing. The presets are mostly subtle, which may strike some as a negative, but for me, it’s a positive. The image’s aesthetic should not distract from what’s actually in the image. Fancy presets won’t make an uninteresting photo interesting. The preset should be in service of the image, not the other way around. Fortunately, this set of films manages to do that well.
All things considered, we award VSCO Film 07 – Eclectic Films five stars out of five.
Pick your copy up on VSCO’s website.