Last Updated: October 3, 2013
The beautifully designed presets by VSCO are gaining in popularity by the day, both with professional and amateur photographers. In this VSCO Film tutorial we’re going to look at how to effectively work with these presets.
To put it simply, the presets from VSCO have one primary purpose — to simulate the look of images from traditional film-based cameras. There are four separate packs available, each containing a large number of presets that simulate various types of film. All presets are available in the usual formats, so you can use them in either Lightroom, ACR or Photoshop.
I took the shot below in Lisbon, Portugal, processed using Lightroom with VSCO Film 03, Polaroid C – PX-70 Warm.
Working with VSCO Film
I’m working with VSCO in Lightroom, so all you need to do to get started is import the presets. They are just as easy to use as any other presets, just click to apply, but there are a number of factors that will help you get the most out of them.
As well as the film presets, there are also ‘toolkit’ presets (shown above) for further development of your images, these include colour adjustments, highlights and shadows, contrast, vignettes etc.
Boats in Barcelona, Spain, processed using Lightroom with VSCO Film 04, Fuji Astia 100f HC, clarity boosted manually.
Along with the presets, there are a load of camera profiles that come with any VSCO package, so install the relevant profile for your camera. Most of the major DSLRs are there, if yours isn’t don’t worry, you can still use the presets. Whilst you can use VSCO with JPGs, to get the best results you should really be working with Raw files.
With each type of film come a number of variations with different amounts of strength and toning, so you can choose what suits your image best. An example of the options per film type are shown in the screenshot below, there are ‘+’ and ‘-‘ versions, warm and cool versions etc, so you really can get the perfect fit for your image.
Once the preset is applied you can make regular adjustments with Lightroom if needed, as well as fine-tune with the VSCO Toolkit as mentioned earlier.
Below are a few shots I captured in Havana, Cuba, processed using Lightroom with VSCO Film 02, Kodak Portra 160 VC+, with clarity and highlight adjustments in Lightroom.
Personally I really like these VSCO Film presets, they are relatively expensive, but they offer more quality and control than any other presets I’ve used. The sheer number of options and refinement possibilities mean you can process your images quickly and efficiently, and ultimately get the right look for your photography.