Digital Film Stock Comparison – Part 1 – The Challenge


Want to get that dramatic action film look? Well, there are ways to do it.

The number of high quality choices for easily simulating the look of old film stocks has been growing over the past few years. I’ve been using Alien Skin Exposure for a while, and after seeing some really great examples of other virtual film plugins and filter presets, I decided to check them out myself.

A recent post by Steve Huff linked to some awesome examples by a couple working as wedding photographers, and a previous guest post comparing digital to real film peaked my interest.

Other seemingly reputable reviews I checked out included several of the various VSCO Film filters by LaRoque Photo, a review of DFT Film Stock at Imaging Resources, and one covering the DXO FilmPack posted by Northlight Images in the UK.

I narrowed down the list to the following based on what I saw and liked.

  1. DFT Film Stocks
  2. Alien Skin Exposure
  3. DXO FilmPack
  4. VSCO Film 02

The particular looks that attracted me the most were based on Ilford Delta, Fujifilm Astia, and Fujifilm Superia. One classic black and white negative film, one of my favorite color slide films, and a print film I had never used.

I tried to find a photo that would include enough color range and contrast to allow a comparison across all the filters and plugins. I chose the one below because the range of colors lit by natural sunlight included both bright and shadowed skin tones and good examples of strong red, green and blue hues.

Also, I noticed that bokeh makes it really easy to see the grain from these film simulations, so this one has it.

All the following comparisons will include a full size JPEG that you can click-through to in order to see the fine details. Check it out above, that is the base image all the others will be starting with.

The OMD EM5 got the white balance and exposure about right, although not perfect. I think this actually helps in evaluating software because differences in the way the various algorithms respond to the extreme luminance values and hues seems to be more noticeable than for middle of the road values. Sometimes the presets will blow out the highlights or bury the shadows, but I did not readjust them in these pictures.

Here’s the EXIF data for the reference photo.

  • ISO 200
  • 0 eV exposure bias
  • Aperture at f/4
  • Shutter Speed at 1/1250
  • No flash
  • Focus point at 1.2 ft

The next post will have the first of the comparisons, black and white using Ilford Delta

Next Post


5 thoughts on “Digital Film Stock Comparison – Part 1 – The Challenge

  1. Pingback: Digital Film Stock Comparison – Part 3 – Superia and Astia | gera fotografija

    • Hi there pictus171,
      The first link you sent didn’t exist when I tried it, so I shortened it to the main landing page. Thanks for pointing this one out, I had not heard of it before.

  2. Pingback: Digital Film Stock Comparison – Part 2 – Ilford Delta | gera fotografija

  3. Pingback: VSCOol | gera fotografija

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