Lightroom Film Preset Done Right

Lightroom Film Preset Done Right

There are lots of presets out there for sale emulating the look of film. Enough so that when I heard that Mastin Labs released one I didn't pay too much attention. Fortunately, because of the nudge of a friend, I decided to look into it a little further and I am glad I did. This is the first time I have seen a Lightroom preset designed by a film shooter for film shooters to help them match their digital images from a wedding with those shot on their film. Fortunately for those only shooting digital, you can benefit as well.

Rather than put together a collection of 30 presets, 29 of which you'll never use, Mastin Labs has the Portra 400 Hybrid Pack preset. Yep, one preset, emulating one of the most popular films. Included with the preset is some other goodies (cropping tools to match the aspect ratio of film, 19 blogging templates for Lightroom, and training videos.) But what really makes the Mastin Labs Portra 400 preset different than all the rest is the creator and renowned photographer Kirk Mastin created it with hybrid (film/digital) shooters in mind. While all of us can benefit from it, those who shoot film for part of the wedding but digital the rest now have a preset they can use to match the look and feel as close as possible to maintain a consistency throughout the photos.

Fstopper Mastin Labs Portra 400 Comparison Digital to film

In the instructional videos included with the presets, Mastin shows how to use an anchor image (film shot photo) at the wedding to then match up the colors and tone using the preset. This is also very helpful for film shooters who include a second shooter that might be shooting digital shots at the same time or even for film shooters that would like to get more shots of a scene without overshooting the expensive film. Now this of course doesn't mean you can't use the preset if you don't shoot hybrid (film and digital.) Here are a few of my own photos from a recent engagement session where I shot strictly digital and even without the use of an anchor image the preset makes it easy to get the beautiful Portra 400 look.

Fstoppers Mastin Labs Portra  400 Trevor Dayley 2 Vertical

If you think the Mastin Labs Portra 400 would be a good fit for you now is the time to make the leap. From now till the end of Cyber Monday (December 2nd) it is on sale for 40% off it's regular price. That means rather than pay the normal $119, you can pick it up for $69 - saving yourself $50.

Visit the Mastin Labs Portra 400 Hybrid Pack website for more information, samples and videos of the presets in use. Want to learn even more. Kirk Mastin was recently interviewed for a Musea podcast where he talked about it as well.

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I agree it looks good. But come on, 120$ for a lightroom preset?

Patrick Hall's picture

Vs $120 in film and processing?

VS $0 to make your own preset?

Anyone with basic knowledge in Lightroom or Photoshop, could easily whip a present like this together. So yeah, $120 is a ridiculous number. Anyone stupid enough to buy something like this, shouldn't be a photographer. People should take the time to learn things for themselves.

I agree, but should a person that cannot make film also not be a photographer? Just a question...

Except that they are camera profiles and not just color correction. I doubt it would be easy to get them even close to what VSCO does. But good try.

Also if you think that MF film has such a huge advantage to digital 35mm then you as sorely mistaken as those who you think are stupid enough to buy these presets. Shooting things such as weddings all in film is just as stupid as spending this one time $120. Where is the advantage in spending $2000 on film and processing for one wedding with very little advantage in DR and detail? It's stupid business to spend money shooting film when it is almost matched in digital.

"Almost" matched. For some people, "almost" just isn't enough.

Sean Shimmel's picture


And, additionally, what of VSCO and its multiplicity of options WITHIN a single pack?

in all seriousness, VSCO doesnt come close to these. VSCO's to busy trying to get to vintagy and faded, and not really acurate to portra in my opinion. The closets i've found was Replichromes portra 160 preset, but even still, i think mastins was far better.

Sean Shimmel's picture

From what I've seen, VSCO has plenty of variation WITHIN each pack... of which vintage and faded are certainly not the bulk.

I have nothing at stake with either vendor, but this just seems shockingly expensive for being so limited

Yeah there's alot of variation, but as far as color neg goes, your mostly looking at VSCO 1. In there, alot of the films, but particularly the portra seemed to miss the mark in my opinion, especially in comparisons to actual film scans. I did find my self using the pro400h preset quite a bit, and I do really love the VSCO slide film pack as well. But color neg just wasnt cutting it for me anyways.

Your right though, it did seem expensive for one preset. At the same time though, I've been following Mastin for a while, and i know he put a lot of work, and tons of time into these. Plus, he's already done two sales were he offered them for 60.00, so i'm sure people will have plenty of opportunities to pick them up at a price cheaper than the full 120.

Sean Shimmel's picture

Well written/balanced reply. Thank you.

But I'm still not convinced that it is somehow better and if so, how.

Would be quite intriguing to have a blind taste test of sorts and process the same exact raw file with both (and other) presets... and then let the bride or the subject in the image be the judge.

Want to get to film as close as possible? Install Raw Photo Processor, which is not only the best RAW converter but has the best film profiles. MacOS only but it's so good I run MacOS in VmWare on Windows and process all my photos there.

In the end nobody should not care.

So.... everyone should care? ;)

Cant tell if that was the joke.... or if just a bad sentence structure...

Trevor Dayley's picture

Thankfully photography is my career and I just do this writing stuff to share information with the photography community that I love. I'd be the first to admit it's not my strength. I have read this over a couple times and coming up empty as to which sentence you guys are referring to. Give me some more details and I'll make the fix right away.

Sorry Trevor - wasn't directed at you at all!

Trevor Dayley's picture

I gotcha. "mr.gncd's" comment didn't make much sense. I thought I had made a mistake in the article, which would not have surprised me.

This guy is going up against VSCO and DXO giants. It's going to be really tough for him to get a decent grip on the market. However, I have to admit, his Portra 400 is fickin' good.
I used to shoot Fuji Pro 400H and Kodak TMax 400 exclusively before digital, and if he can nail that one, he's got my money.

Looks pretty good, although I knew right away that the left column was the digital shot because the sky was missing some detail in the highlights and it looked like the dof was more shallow in all the photos on the right, so I figured the right side was probably the 35mm slr.

Patrick Hall's picture

This always shocks me....doesn't film have less dynamic range than digital at this point? Also the DOF should be the same between 35mm film and a full frame sensor right?

@Patrick Hall
Keep in mind that the images on the right are not 35mm BUT FILM MEDIUM FORMAT !!! It's a HUGE DIFFERENCE !

The film photos are with a 645 camera, meaning it's more "full frame" than the mighty FF DSLR. Digital has more resolution than 645 & 35mm film, but negative film has superior dynamic range. To get a DSLR closer in dynamic range requires HDR, but that is time intensive and generally not attractive on people. That is why there are some wedding photographers that shoot film and send the photos to a good lab and they are done with post.

Thanks, i recognized the same and asked myself why does film have a thinner DOF... Damn now that i saw this side by side comparison i want a 645...

John MacLean's picture

Or a D800.
PS - I'm a 5D Mark III shooter, but I give props to Nikon for their DR.

Former D800 owner here. The D800 DR is nearing negative film territory but bringing up the shadows on the D800 gives the image an unattractive look. Better than Canon DSLR mind you, but nowhere near as nice as negative film. In fact, negative film shooters purposely overexposed 2-3 stops to obtain the look they want and still retain amazing detail in the highlights.

John MacLean's picture

Maybe it's me, but I've never been happy with color neg scans, even from a pro drum scan house like West Coast Imaging.

"Color negatives can be the most difficult film to scan. You'd think it would be as simple as inverting the data and removing the orange mask, but it's not. The orange mask is not simply a 40cc orange; it varies in density at every point in the photograph, depending on what is recorded on the film at that point. Variations in processing and exposure mean that the same settings for one negative rarely work for another, even if they are on the same film. And while color negative film is capable of recording great latitude, the highest quality scans consistently come from film exposed in "chrome light" and carefully processed."

Despite these challenges, we consistently produce scans from color negatives that are Museum Quality. We have three scanning software packages to choose, and can pick and choose which one works best for your film. It is not uncommon for us to scan your film using two different software packages so that we can choose which one produces the best results."
So, I can't imagine having a cine processed C-41 and then CCD scanned in a Fuji Frontier to a JPG is going to be optimal. I mostly shot chromes for 20+ years, so I learned how to control the contrast in lighting, but I've been pleased with digital since switching over about 11 years ago. The shadow "lack of detail" in Canon is an issue, but I've dealt with it so far and my clients never complained about it. As image makers, we're far more critical than most who pay us.

The middle of this page says it all!

i continually go back and forth about getting a medium format film camera. I came up with digital so I'm pretty much clueless on the film processing, and digital medium format is by no means in my budget unless I can sell a kidney. Medium format is beautiful with the dynamic range and dept of field.

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