So this is a post for all my photographer followers, friends, peers. If that’s not you, consider yourself warned…it’s going to get a bit geeky for awhile!
Almost 2 years ago I did a quick little blog post [HERE] reviewing the newly launched VSCO Lightroom presets. Oddly enough, that post is still one of the most popular posts on this blog. Well I recently got my hands on the newly released Lightroom presets called Replichrome from Totally Rad, as in Totally Rad Actions. On the TRA site they make no bones about who they are up against… (VSCO) and how/why their presets are far superior and the better choice. I suppose if you didn’t have either set you wouldn’t know the difference or how/where to compare. So let me do that for you…here’s a quick breakdown of what I have noticed at first glances.
Literally the first thing I noticed was a BIG thing to me because it’s probably my #1 pet peeve about the VSCO presets. With Replichrome ALL the B&W presets are organized very neatly into their own folder. That’s HUGE to me. I love it! If I want an image(s) to be B&W I know right where to go; with VSCO all film emulation presets are thrown into one folder…nothing to distinguish which is B&W and which is color…you just have to trial and error it.
And the next thing I noticed were how AMAZING the black and white presets are. Like as in shut-the-front-door-I-think-I-have-finally-found-what-I’ve-been-looking-for-in-a-B&W-conversion-preset-and-it’s-about-freaking-time!!! I have not been shy about the fact that I do not have a B&W preset or even a Photoshop adjustment that I really like. But I am soooo excited about these. I think all their B&W presets are pretty great ‘out of the box’ so to speak; very little adjustment needs.
TRA Replichrome | Kodak Plus-X 125++ [above & below]
If you have no experience with any film effect presets (Lightroom or Camera Raw) then these will probably frustrate you and/or make you think you wasted your money. That was how I felt at first with my VSCO set. It’s just the nature of the “film” look. Skin tones tend to go deep in either an orange/pink or a green/blue. I’m not a purest by any measure so I can’t say one way or the other how true to life these emulations are, but I will say that they do take some getting used to and tweaking to your own liking.
I like my images to have a pretty “clean” look…colors and tones to be as close to how they were actually captured, no big deviations from the original. I found that the Kodak Color set from Replichrome to be the better “film set” and I thought those presets had more to choose from that helped me maintain the coloring, toning and overall feel of my images as close to how they were captured.
Favorite from Kodak Color: Kodak 400 Noritsu [below]
On the contrary, I found the Fuji Color set not at all to my liking. It may just be that there’s some getting used to because I really love my Fuji set from VSCO, so I’m going to keep playing with them to see if I can keep tweaking to my liking. Putting it simply, everything ‘out of the box’ with the Fuji set was just TOO much. Too dark, too deep, too orange or too green…it feels like everything needs to be dialed back a bit.
From Fuji Color: Fuji Pro 800z Noritsu [with NO adjustments - below]
From Fuji Color: Fuji Pro 800z Noritsu [WITH adjustments - below]
And then just for kicks and grins here’s another Replichrome preset from the Kodak set…
Kodak Ektar 100 Noritsu [below]
Other insights and overall impressions:
The other thing that I noticed with Replichrome is that when I ran a preset it was obvious where the adjustments were being made in the Develop side panel; you could see which sliders were changed. I like seeing what is being adjusted and tweaked so that I can fine tune that slider to my own taste. With VSCO presets the tweaking isn’t always easy to find or pin point in order to make your own adjustments. I also love that when you run a preset the shadows and blacks are almost spot on where they should be; with the VSCO set those are consistently the sliders I have to adjust the most. The one thing I would like to see on the TRA site, however, are the names of the presets used on their “sample” images. It’s great to show the photos processed, but to me it’s more helpful to know which preset was used to achieve that “look”. All in all I am actually quite impressed…if nothing else the B&W have completely won me over.
I’m thinking of doing a side-by-side compare of the Replichrome vs VSCO in one of the next upcoming blog posts…the presets won’t exactly be apples to apples, but may be close enough to see the difference.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback about what you have found with the Replichrome and/or the VSCO sets. Contact me using the link below, or leave a comment.
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