VSCO Film Pack 03 – A Quick Review / Preview

As an avid user of VSCO Film Packs in my post processing, I was undeniably excited at the possibilities when I received the email that a third package was released. It didn’t take me long to click the buy button on VSCO Film Pack 03, a collection of instant film presets for Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW.

The idea of sending photos back to my parents childhood at the click of a button seemed like a novel idea, and it is for this idea that the pack has received a little heat. It has been accused of being a desktop version of Instagram, of being ‘hipster’ and of reproducing darkroom mistakes, but all in all it is simply giving you more processing options.

Let’s take a look at some of the presets in use.  As with all VSCO Film Packs, these are not simple Lightroom presets – they also include camera profiles that mimic the old films’ response to light more effectively. These can be used as a part of VSCO’s presets, or as a base for your own presets. The images below were not chosen to show a final processed image, or the best possible way of using the pack, but to how they work applied to a few of my everyday photos from recent shoots and days out.

By far my favourite of the ‘new films’ is the consumer grade PX-680 – an Impossible Project film preset. No, you wouldn’t use it every day, but would you shoot everything on a film like this anyway? It gives a low contrast, warm toned effect that reminds me of the prints in my family albums from the ’70s and ’80s. Great for quickly processing some family snaps or bringing a little life to flat lit images.

Impossible-Project-PX-680

For something a little less extreme, the Fuji FP-100c brings good contrast and not too much colour-shift. This is one of the more useful presets for everyday processing in my opinion.

Polaroid-FP-100c

For another classic Polaroid feel, the Polaroid 669 emulation gives some shift towards greener highlights, slightly tinted shadows and reasonable contrast.

Polaroid-FP-669

One more final look at another extreme preset – the Impossible Project PX-70. It should be fairly clear what this one does. The original frame was shot in warm pre-sunset light. I probably won’t use this one all that often, especially in light like this!

Impossible-Project-PX-70

As with the previous VSCO Film Packs, I have found that many these presets lack contrast for my tastes and often require blacks/shadows adjustments along with an overall contrast boost to bring them to a level I am happy with.

As a final note, I feel that some of the more extreme presets would be more useful if offered in half strength versions. But for now, layering a VSCO processed copy over an unprocessed copy in Photoshop and fading it seems to do the trick.

Am I satisfied? Yes, and no. The pack does what it is supposed to and is useful to an extent for my purposes. But, hindsight being 20-20, I should have realised these effects were not really a part of the way I like to process my images.

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