Processing Part II

Kinda Safe For Work

My placeholder post processed with Replichrome was sort of a reminder to myself just to get back to an email question regarding VSCO presets vs. Replichrome presets. I'll cut to the chase right now. Apples vs. Oranges in many ways but also some overlap in terms of getting to the similar places in a different way.

Let's start off with something that has what might be more of a typical lighting contrast (if there is such a thing) as you'll be able to see the a few differences more radically.

Above is my usual default for this project. VSCO FILM05 BW400CN. No particular reason. It has wild amounts of contrast. Most of FILM05 is quite radical both color and B/W. Let's call it a random starting point that I leave alone for the most part so I don't end up twiddling around for hours on pictures I have no idea if I'm going to use for anything. Shoot, import with preset, done. Just so happens Replichrome Icon has the same film emulation Here it is.

Hmmm, depending on your taste you may like one or the other better. Neither of them actually looks like BW400CN but it's a good place to start becuase BW400CN used a very standardized C41 color development process as opposed to real B/W film. This particular one has no silver grains left after development just gray dye clouds. Replichrome has less grain than VSCO on it's "middle" version. Which is probably "more accurate" but here's the rub. Just like every single film emulator out there for digital they've got some form of post-scan contrast curve/printing curve/development treatment, etc baked in.

Hate to say this but BW film looks has far more to do with the latter than the film. I'm not saying the film has nothing to do with it but the end results are far different depending on development/printing or post scan treatment. Consider each of these to be random versions of some persons individual development/printing or post-scan digital version of the same thing.

Let's take a look at another common film with slightly less lighting contrast. How about Plus-X a personal favorite of my own in both 35mm and medium format 120.

First up here's VSCO FILM07's default out of the box treatment.

That's out of the box, no exposure adjustments nothin'. Here's Replichrome's version.

Oooooh, that's much "better". Sure it has way more contrast and brighter mid-tones as well as some other things that at first glance may be more appealing which I'll discuss in general differences between the two shortly. First let's see what happens when we put the mid-tones in the same general neighborhood.

Just using exposure of +0.5 puts us somewhere mid-tone wise in the same ballpark. Yep Replichrome has more contrast for Plus-X then again VSCO has about 3000 one-click tweaks that are fairly well thought out including various contrast bumps etc. It's just LR presets so go tweak anything you want, if you tweak enough they'll look exactly the same.

Practically speaking VSCO FILM07 is probably the most tame set that VSCO has ever made in terms of initial out of the box contrast, "fade", and grain. In fact I would have to say even the normal version of this particular emulation is probably closer to Plus-X developed to Kodak's recommended CI and printed in some pedantic way on normal contrast paper. That's actually a great starting point to start bumping things up vs backing them off.

Let's move to yet a lower lighting contrast scene and give TRI-X a whirl. Hmmm, VSCO has about nine million versions of that now the first one being in FILM01, then a bunch in FILM06 and yet another one although a completely different film in FILM07 (TXP/TRI-X320). We'll take a look at FILM01 their first out of the gate.

Now let's see Replichrome's TRI-X.

A touch more contrast than VSCO and for the first time a hair darker on the mids. Seeing a pattern here? But wait VSCO FILM07 has pushed and pulled versions of TRI-X. Let's see what +1 push looks like.

WTF, how can pushing a film a whole stop (a lot) in FILM06 have less contrast than the normal version in FILM01. Well it really can't but both of these preset vendors are riddled with inconsistencies like this. I've not looked but I'll bet money that the spectral sensitivity in the BW mix develop pane are different between all three of these which is ummm just not how things work with real film unless you stick a filter on your lens and then none of these mixes have anything to do with the price of tea in china. Again chalk it up to whoever was at the scanner that day, having nothing to do with the film. Just for the hell of it let's see what VSCO TRI-X pushed three stops looks like.

Hmmm, this would suggest that the TRI-X+2 version probably looks a whole lot like Repichrome's base version. Moving on to an even lower contrast scene let's take a look at Plus-X again instead of TMAX3200P which is sort of a repeat of TRI-X kinda and very strange in that the variations from both vendors go in completely different directions. Fist up VSCO FILM07 Plus-X out of the box.

Now Replichrome but this time let's use their + version.

Holy crap that has a ton of contrast. VSCO and Replichrome both have -, --, +, and ++ versions. VSCO even has some with triple +/- but they are sort of reversed in general but not really. In VSCO + versions get fade-y-er and fade-y-er with more and more grain as if you hideously underexposed the film, - version sort of opposite. With Replichrome the - version sort of do that and simulate underexposure and the + versions seem to be a take on over exposure and over development where VSCO are not, instead they are more tame.

Let's hit some of VSCO's one click tweaks just of the hell of it along with upping the exposure a hair. First let's up the exposure a whopping (for me and a lot) half stop.

How about contrast+

and contrast++

Okay, enough. If I nudged the slider by tenth stops there would be radical changes in both just like in any case where you've got a a moderate to strong contrast curve slapped on. How about overall?

Very generally speaking:

  • Both up the contrast significantly. Replichrome just seems to add more in general. Maybe too much for more normal scenes and great for lower contrast scenes.
  • If you are liking Replichrome more than VSCO in general it is probably due to more contrast off the bat and clarity. VSCO in every case (on every emulation with maybe one or two exceptions, cannot remember) is zero or even negative clarity. Replichrome seems to always add at least +20 to clarity. So if you have VSCO just do that, heck they have a couple of one click ups and downs for that.

Both are okay and not badly done. In general I would say VSCO is more flexible over a wider variety of scenes especially FILM07. VSCO even inside one pack is more diverse and almost crazy in FILM05-07 with the number of variations. As I mentioned before both are merely stuff you can go tweak yourself for the most part. Don't get too wrapped up in the "profile thing" since both claim "accuracy" due to the profiles which is crap considering they bake in various tastes. Even more that when I use "standard" with no profile I can match up cameras across brands exactly with the same standard preset and Adobe's default profile but it's impossible to match the profile version of say a Nikon to a Fuji (assuming the exact same sampled WB). So tell me which completely different look is more accurate? Yeah right.

End Notes

All photos made with the Fuji XT-1 and 18-55mm XF. Processing as noted above.