For a number of years now, Really Nice Images has been working on creating loads of very film-like presets through use of science. These photo filters/emulsions/presets culminate in their latest offering: RNI Films 4.0 All Films. The emulsions are designed for use with different cameras and have things including camera profiles in addition to some of the more recently popular emulsions such as Fujifilm Natura 1600. That means that you can apply these emulsions to your digital photos in Lightroom or even Photoshop.
Of course, RNI doesn’t consider these to be replacements for actual film. But to be honest, it comes very close.
Pros and Cons
- Portra and EG100 seem to be off at times, though it’s very rare
- Fujifilm 100C is pretty darn accurate
- Simple to use
- Makes a lot of sense in use
- The camera profiles are quite interesting to work with when you use more conventional cameras.
- Doesn’t seem to work so well with the Leica MD Update: Nope it works fine. I screwed up when t came to white balancing and understanding the NYC Subway.
RNI films 4.0 All Films takes all the film emulsions that RNI has cataloged and gift wraps them into one package. This listing, taken from the product page, shows you what you get:
– LIGHTROOM ONLY
Ease of Use
These are presets, so generally speaking they’re designed to be applied to your photos and emulate the look of film. Really Nice Images does loads of research into this and if you’ve used the RNI Films app for iOS, you’ll have a lot of fun here. Something that I really like doing when I work with proper cameras is shooting them in the same way that I would a film camera. With that said, I often use the more traditional ISO settings like ISO 100, ISO 160, 400, 1600, etc. Then when I go to editing the images, I’ll apply a preset to them accordingly in addition to white balancing the image to Daylight.
Unfortunately, RNI Films doesn’t do anything for Tungsten based film yet–though I’d LOVE for them to do this.
When you take these steps, you end up getting something that looks closer to film.
Kodak Portra 400
Portra in general tends to lose highlights, but it’s a very forgiving film. I once shot Portra 400 in 120 at ISO 200 and then asked Lomography to push it. The images came out great. In general, one of the most accepted ways of shooting and developing the film is to shoot it at ISO 200 and develop for 320.
Below is what some scanned Portra 400 film looks like in both 35mm and 120.
This was done with a Bronica ETRS and Portra 400 in 120 format. This image used a variable ND filter and I most likely overexposed by 1/3rd of a stop.
This and the image below were in 35mm.
The most important application of Kodak Portra is skin tones and portraits. For the most part here, RNI Films has done a decent job. You’ve got a load of different Portra presets you can apply and then fine tune with their RNI Films Kit.
While some colors may be a bit off at times, just remember that all sorts of editing that you may do to boost purples or greens was completely possible (and still is) in the darkroom.
Then when it comes to applying the presets to other films, things get really interesting. Before it was gone, it was arguably my favorite chrome film. Here are some samples shot with Sony mirrorless cameras and then having the various EG100 presets applied.
So how close is this to the actual film? Well, let’s take a look. The following images are scans that I’ve done of Ektachrome over the years.
When it comes to skin tones, their Ektachrome (EG100) emulsion doesn’t do such a bad job. The colors aren’t tremendously off either; but where I’d say the RNI Films preset is lacking a bit has to do with their rendering of shadows.
In truth, you can easily boost the shadows in Lightroom.
Another film that I’ve worked with for a very long time is 100C. I’ve screwed up with it more than enough times to know that its latitude is pretty lacking. However, it can deliver absolutely incredible images. The counterpoint: very few cameras are available with solid optics that let you take advantage of the full film plane–which is essentially 6×9 if you’ve worked with the latest emulsion before it was canned.
Here are some applications to a Sony camera’s output.
Now let’s look at some scans.
I’ve got a whole box full of scans if people are truly interested here. The RNI films emulsion set for 100C does a decent job, but I feel like it brings too much details out of the shadows. It handles the fact that highlights are pretty much gone and you need to have very little contrast in your scene pretty well though. Additionally, as the film expires the loss of dynamic range tends to increase. You’ll also get obvious color shifts.
Fujifilm Instax Mini
Instax Mini is an ISO 800 film designed for use with Fujifilm, Lomography and Mint cameras. It’s business card sized but capable of rendering loads of details. Oddly enough, I usually recommend overexposing it just a bit.
The image above and those below are applications to Canon, Pansonic and Sony cameras.
With the exception of certain color shifts, it’s pretty accurate. Now let’s look at some scans.
This one is very tough to figure out–most Instax cameras have plastic lenses with the exception of the Mint Camera TL70–which we love very much. But even that doesn’t have manual shutter adjustment. I think that the colors aren’t a far ways off, but I wouldn’t quite call what RNI Films is doing here to be Instax.
For the most part, the two Camera Profiles that RNI offers are quite good when applied to Panasonic, Sony, and Canon camera images as you’ve seen so far. You’ll generally go in and apply these first to an image, set the white balance and then apply the preset. But when it came to working with the Leica M-D, I was getting weird results. I was clearly in a daylight based situation at one point, and just kept messing with the way that the images looked. For the Leica, you’re best off just not using the Camera profiles and instead going right to the presets.
Update: Nope it works fine. I screwed up when t came to white balancing and understanding the lighting inside of the newer trains vs the older trains that are part of the NYC Subway.
Heck, it even did a great job with a Pentax camera’s output that I tested years ago! I totally didn’t expect that one.
While the RNI Films profile with a smaller number tends to make images a tad brighter, the one with the larger number makes them a bit darker.
Beyond all this, you can do somethings that app can like adding dust, scratches, etc.
Here are some other emulsions applied to photos.
Does RNI Films do a great job? I’d say yes, but not an excellent one.
Do the images end up looking like film? Yes and no. You’re best off applying the camera profiles first.
Would I use it again? Heck yes–but more because I like the variety of looks that are offered and not necessarily because I like the film-look. I’m a skilled enough photographer in that if I want to use film, I’ve got no major reason not to. I tend to stick to CineStill emulsions these days, but either way I like what RNI is doing here.
RNI Films All Films 4.0 Pro receives four out of five stars. I’d love a bit more fine tuning and I’m sure that they’ll do it. And I’d also love Tungsten film presets. At the moment though, this and VSCO are some of the closest things that you’ll get to film looking presets.