VSCO Film 05 -- A Whirlwind Tour Of Slow Film

Fuji 160C 01

Consider this part I of a broad feel based visual comparison of VSCO slow film treatments for those of you who asked me the "is it worth it" question regarding yesterday's release of VSCO film 05. Not ever single preset variation. Just a random shot from this weekends BTS StupidCrap™ I shot fly-on-the-wall style with the Fuji X100S. I'll start with film 01 and go through a bunch of the slow film emulations for all the other packs. Not all of them, more of an overall feel kind of thing using the baseline presets that are representative. I did skip 03 – I have it but it's so whacked out I consider it a separate beast altogether.

Let's start with the shot at the top one of my go-to quick and dirty presets on import for stuff shot in reasonably ample light. Fuji 160C from film 01. Just as a levelset I took the as-shot white balance and didn't do any fine tuning between any of the preset applications. Not the best way to do this as even a 1/3 stop bump up or down makes a huge difference with the curves applied by VSCO for all of these presets. You are typically going to add some fine-tuning based on the default contrast curve but that will muddy the waters here. Maybe part #19 will show some fine tuning variances of what I would actually do rather than an on-import kind of thing.

A note on the white balance though. As usual the Fuji X100S's auto white balance did a good job. It saw a bunch of different things and chose daylight instead of something whacked out. Canon/Nikon could definitely learn a thing or two from Fuji's auto WB KISS method of auto-WB. When in doubt go with daylight. For the numbers kind of people out there the auto WB happenend to be 5050/10 in auto. The X100S daylight setting in Lightroom happens to be 5050/11 – no shit. For those of you that want to see the flat as imported version here it is… nothing changed. No preset, nada…

No Preset

Now on with the tour. Here's Film 01 Portra 160

Portra 160 01

There are a lot of variations and other films in 01, my personal favorite pack of presets, but we'll stick to just the slower less grainy films for this installment. Moving on to Film 02 we have Fuji Superia 100 aka Reala

Superia 100 02

Here's the Kodak films from Film 02. First up Portra 160NC. One of my favorite actual films of all time.

Portra 160NC 02

And of course Portra 160VC, another of my all time favorites. The VSCO version seems way over the top to my eye. There was less difference in the real films in my experience. A tiny tiny contrast variation at best.

Portra 160VC 02

Let's move on to the most radical but not insta-grammy film pack – Film 04, slide films. Starting with another favorite of mind from way back Fuji Astia 100

Astia 100 04

Something that started with Film 04 – a portrait variant for different presets. This one is Fortia SP Portrait

Fortia SP Portrait 04

And here is Kodak E100G. Meh, I liked Kodachrome myself when I shot slide film…

E100G 04

I will show an E100G along with it's variant so you get a feel for the portrait variant for comparison when I show you one or two from Film 05. Kodak E100G Portrait…

E100G Portrait 04

Which brings us to VSCO Film 05 released yesterday. I've not played around with this a whole lot. I've only used it on shots made from this past weekend. Only you can decide if it brings something to the table that the other's didn't. Let's start with Kodak Ektar 100 before I go way off the rails on some things I think are kind of strange…

Ektar 100 05

Something really really strange here. I noticed it right off the bat. Hard to really see in web-sized images but apparent on a 27 inch screen with a 16 mpix file. Why the hell can I see so much grain in the Ektar 100 preset? Hmmmm, hmmmmm, WTF? Upon inspection you will find that someone decided that Ektar should look grainer than Portra 160, Fuji 160C, Portra 160NC,VC, all of the slow films ever… I have no idea what universe this actually looks this way. Ektar 100 is pristine, it looks downright digital at normal-ish enlargement sizes. Doesn't really matter, I suspect most people tone down the grain or turn it off anyway except for very specific effect-y photos.

While I'm on that topic, you may have heard my rants that "profiled" cameras with VSCO look far far more different from each other with the same "film emulation" than the box stock Adobe profile and the "standard" preset does. Assuming the "profile" to better match some actual film target goal this would seem to be an issue in VSCO's process that remains unsolved and more market-speak than some actual advantage in emulation of some mythical film characteristic. Ohhhhh profiles wow that must mean it's "accurate". Yeah whatever. On a similar note regarding camera specific preset variants included with each film pack – it boggles the mind that it never occurred to VSCO to make the frigging grain settings camera specific based on resolution. I mean come on guys – you go through the trouble of replicating these things for all the cams but you can't take resolution into account and just slap the same grain settings on all of ummm… yeah yeah yeah I know more variations but hey… $100 presets guys. I would do it or I wouldn't be able to sleep at night.

Okay rant over. Just do it yourself for you own tweaks. In any case here's Kodak Gold 100…

Gold 100 05

and as promised the portrait variant Kodak Gold 100 Portrait for your comparison.

Gold 100 Portrait 05

Let's wrap this one up with Agfa Vista 100.

Vista 100 05

Along with it's cousin – Agfa Vista 100 Portrait

Vista 100 Portrait 05

There are far far more variations and versions than I am showing here as can be seen on VSCO's website listing all of them. This should give one a quick fly by on the various families of film packs on the slower speed emulations. It should be apparent that even though each film pack has different film emulations that each one also has an over-arching feel or theme to the look. All of these excepting the Film 03 are in the realm of normal and are just a bit of flavoring rather than some overwhelming effect that you'll be sorry you ever even tried five years from now.

I'll continue this with some other mix-match kinds of comparisons with the medium and higher speed emulations as well. Probably with a different set of variables than just the baselines to give people a better idea of what the ranges are. Maybe some fine tuning too instead of a static baseline as that's more typical than just the preset.

Questions?

RB

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