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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Eric Duminil's picture

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

Patrick Hall's picture

Vs $120 in film and processing?

Tron's picture

VS $0 to make your own preset?

Tara Lundrigan's picture

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.

Danny Dillard's picture

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

S Wade's picture

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.

S Wade's picture

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.

DennisonBertram's picture

"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?

joseph molina's picture

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

joseph molina's picture

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.

mlML's picture

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.

mr.gncd's picture

In the end nobody should not care.

Josh Newton's picture

So.... everyone should care? ;)

joseph molina's picture

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.

Josh Newton's picture

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.

Daniel S's picture

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.

BDWT's picture

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?

Rdem Gafurama's picture

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

J. W.'s picture

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.

FrankY Lo.'s picture

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.

J. W.'s picture

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!

JoshGaede's picture

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.

Tyler Brown's picture

I agree Partick I think 5 year old cameras like the D700 have better Dynamic Range than film. I think the Digital Handles Highlights better, however depending on his settings in the whites in highlights he may have created unnecessarily. I know many friends dumping their FF frames for Medium Format film for their wedding business swearing by Richards Photos Labs. I personally don't understand this inefficient practice since it all has to be scanned to digital for the internet or even print since no one uses analog printing techniques anymore. Granted you get noise in the shadows by pushing digital you can't really push color film without weird color shifts, and if your pushing TIFF file scans from film you are dependent on the scanners ability to handle shadows in the film.

Joel Dryer's picture

I find the roll-off interesting in the digital/film comparisons. Take a
look at the wooden post, third row from the top. The colors and
gradation are much more pleasing than the digital, IMO. The same thing
could be said for the back wall of the table setting photo. Overall
though, this plugin does a really nice job of mimicking the film look!

Yannick von G's picture

Pretty much pointless for me. What is that film-frenzy about anyways? Why should a photo look like a film image? Why do a preset to clone something instead of doing a preset that looks pretty, regardless of its similarities of some film.
Film was good for dynamic range. the end. ;)
Soon there will be presets to simulate an old TV screen from sony, then one from panasonic, then from an old laptop - just like in the good old times. o.O

joseph molina's picture

Why are there presets for any "look"? Because a group of people like it. And theres no denying that there is something very aesthetically pleasing about portra 400, something alot of people have tried to emulate, whether they were aware of it or not, especially among wedding photographers. Good skin tones, cool greens, rich blues and reds, whats not to like? Its not the same thing as emulating some crappy expired film stock.. or a panasonic tv, there are simply objective advantages to films "look", because it was engineered to deliver those results.

Yannick von G's picture

But as with any preset, the result depends on what you give it to work on. The results should for example be drastically different when using another white balance or just camera (brand).

joseph molina's picture

Yes, which is why he made different preset packs for different brands. He's finished the canon, fuji and nikon ones i believe.

As for different cameras in the same brand, i've found that, at least with canon anyways, the differences are pretty imperceptible if your starting with a raw file.

Danny Dillard's picture

How do you guys feel about Redleaf presets compared to these? I'm liking Mastin

David Drufke's picture

I couldn't possibly guess which was film and which was digital, but I did prefer the photos on the right, mostly based on skin tone.

Sam Figueroa's picture

The colors look pretty much the same to me on both sides. (Yes there is a tiny difference but negligible). But I found the lens used on the right to produce a nicer outcome. The focus fall-off is much smoother and I like it more. (Or it was the same lens and the combination of sensor - lens, film - lens just produced the nicer result).

Ralph Hightower's picture

They are limiting themselves by just targeting Kodak Portra 400. Portra 400 is my "goto" film for color and Kodak BW400CN for B&W and the ease of developing locally. But I like Kodak Ektar 100 for shooting color in daylight and for B&W, there's TMAX 100, 400, and Tri-X (400). Sadly Kodak discontinued TMAX 3200 which I prefer over Ilford's Delta 3200; TMAX 3200 has higher contrast and Delta 3200 contrast is muted.

Hunter Harrison's picture

Ralph - Kirk is already working on additional presets for Fuji 400H, but no plans publicly discussed for the other films you mentioned. He is starting with the most popular portrait films. Ektar is great, but it's typically not used for portraits, although it can be. Developing the presets takes time because he is scanning on his in-house Fuji Frontier and comparing to digital in order to match the look.

tony pardilla's picture

i just picked up totally rad's replichrome, love it, they gave me both the LR and the ACR versions for $69, not bad since it included a bunch of different film stocks as well

Christopher Wren Brashear's picture

I just bought this, and the $69 Mastin set does include both LR and ACR for both Canon and Nikon. So far I'm loving it!

Ryanwiz's picture

What I really want to know is, do people really want a photo of the dress hanging from a tree?

ReinoldFZ .'s picture

who need clothes ;-)

Sam Figueroa's picture

Just my 2¢ here: I have yet to come across a preset (or preset-collection) I would regularly use. I rather develop my own and have my own style come through.
Good thing there are a ton of preset-systems out there already, or by now everything would look like Instagram *(tongue in cheek)*.

Timariuveo's picture

F**** the whole time i liked the ACTUAL film more, and was hoping for it to be the digital+preset.
now i have the feel of not getting what i like best... because i wont switch to film

Nelson Villamayor's picture

I want to see the straight out of the camera jpeg/raw file comparison.

Dana Fernandez's picture

Here you go! Left to right (Digital RAW > Digital Edited with Mastin > Film Scan)

Paul Szilard's picture

I must be a dummy, but I just don't get it. To me, it's like car makers would be trying to emulate a horse and cart! Why would I ever want to emulate flat and inaccurate colour of film, when I can do better with a colour corrected digital. Nah, not for me...

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