Saturday, January 26, 2013

Film Emulation Part 3 - DxO Film Pack Review

 Kodak Elite Color 200

 Fuji Superia Xtra 800

 Agfa Ultra Color 100

Kodachrome 64

In wrapping up my assessment of the DxO FilmPack product, I will leave you with four images with which I played with some older images, the last three of which were actually taken last year with my previous camera, the EOS 40D. I want to invite any and all comments, specifically as to whether you think DxO has truly captured the essence of the various films represented. As for me, I will simply list my own likes and dislikes of the product::

Likes - 

  • It is a very handy easy to use method of improving the look of your digital image files with a single click - kind of like an "Auto-Adjust" with  twist.
  • Although I can't speak from experience in a darkroom, it seems to me that the product likely does a good job in replicating the various films in it's palette
  • There is a very handy "Controls" Pane, complete with Histogram which allows you to adjust all the usual parameters - brightness, contrast, saturation, etc., and also allows a single click back to "As Shot" to compare your work with the original file, or to work directly on your original. 
  • With these basic controls, it may be the only film processing software you need, as long as you're not working with RAW files, or want to adjust rotation, crop, perspective, etc.
  • The Controls Pane also allows you to work on how much of the effect of a chosen film you actually want, with a simple Slider control - in other words, the software works via an "Opacity" principle.
  • Although your chosen film type might introduce film grain, the amount of grain can also be controlled with an "Opacity" slider, and reduced all the way to zero if you wish. This is very helpful, as I observed yesterday, depending on a lot of variables, a particular shot with a particular film might not exhibit any grain whatsoever.
  • It also allows you to choose the grain characteristics of one film and overlay them on another.
  • It works with 16 bit TIF files
  • Allows batch processing

Dislikes - 

  • There is no Linux version. 
  • It does not really address "film emulation" in general; that is, although it does a good job of simulating various known film types under normal conditions, it does not simulate the superior exposure dynamics of film over digital - but then, how can it? There is no way post-processing software could possibly take a digital camera file with blown-out highlights and re-make it into something that truly looks like what real film would have done under the same conditions.
  • It strangely does not include many of the real films I've been buying lately, such as Kodak Gold or Kodak Ultramax.

That's about it. Would I buy it after the trial period is over? I haven't decided yet. Although it does offer a neat way to make ho-hum digital files look better, it doesn't do exactly what I want - that is, to make my digital camera behave like a film camera. There is still only one way of doing that - to use real film in a real camera.

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