A Tale Of Two VSCO's

Okay, so a couple of people have asked me what the hell I am on about regarding the Aperture 3 version of VSCO and why I am so hypercritical. Well… I posted this quite a while back but I guess that didn't quite tell the story clearly enough. I swear this is the last time… maybe. Here we go.

Image at the top - my goofy "Kodak-y" preset that I have had laying around in Aperture 3 for like 2 years or more maybe longer versus the ACR 7 Lightroom 4 version of VSCO Portra 160. It's similar to my own "presets" that I lifted and stamped back in Aperture 2 - of course taking into account the RAW defaults that Apple changed a hell of a lot since Aperture 2.

The biggest difference is probably a few points here and there with White Balance of the two images. I didn't even use VSCO as any sort of model for this. My go to Kodak-y negative thing has no fancy shamancy toning applied nor does it have any grain and it's still pretty darn close heck mine may be "more similar" to real Portra depending on what day it is. Now let's have a look see at the VSCO for Aperture 3 Portra 160 v that same image rendered in LR4 with VSCO for a hundred bucks…

Subtle isn't it. What the… really? really really really? REALLY? Hmmm if I have 8 vodka martinis and stand across the road and squint my eyes and turn my head really fast they might look sorta kinda similar kinda maybe. WTF?

Let's see my lowly old preset with one color adjustment block and one curves adjustment along with a hair of negative overall saturation in the enhance blocks vs. 17 curves, blocks, 3000 color adjustment controls, some highlights and shadows to slow things down a bit, and a partridge in a pear tree. Ummm I'll take my do-it-yourself thanks. What the hell were they smoking? Sniffing maybe? Some sort of toxic waste near the office have some effect? Who the hell knows.

Now don't get me wrong - I still think their products for Adobe are about the only thing worth buying when it comes to presets. Very well thought out, very well supported, great updates, some very clever work-arounds to the limitations of ACR based RAW controls - awesome company. This is the odd man out for them. I have tried to get to the bottom of it. I have even resorted to begging them to re-think the versions for Aperture. I even tried to get some sort of clue as to what they were thinking and why this is the way it is? I get very polite answers that are sort of more like - ummm that's nice now go away.

This has nothing to do with what one "likes better" - if you are a member of the blocked up artifacty looking hyper-contrast loving over processed club you might even "like" the Aperture 3 versions. Not my point. How can something that is attempting to emulate a particular film just be so so so so so so so off - not just from the actual film but from itself? What was the target here? Certainly not real portra and from what I can tell not even their own "carefully calibrated" Lightroom version. The only thing I can possibly guess is that someone sat down in Aperture and attempted to copy the curve shapes and color stuff that they did in Lightroom with no account for what the Aperture 3 defaults actually look like. I am probably way way off in that guess but the curves have a similarity to them from a casual glance. I am way to lazy to reverse engineer that and actually confirm or deny that guess.

I have half a mind to just reproduce the Lightroom version from top to bottom in Aperture 3 myself - at least the ones I use. I don't think it would take me more than a day or so if I can find the time. I just wish they would do it. Heck pay me to do it. It's not rocket science.


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