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