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Weekly Edit

Vintage Film Look Using Lightroom Presets – Weekly Edit

By Matthew Saville on January 25th 2015


In this Weekly Edit video, we’re going to talk a little bit about three simple film-like processing “looks” in Lightroom, and how there are many different popular styles to explore and personalize. (On other words, there is no single right way to do something; artistic post-production is a very subjective process.)

We will be using the SLR Lounge Preset System version 6 (click here to learn more!), however, in the Develop module you’ll be able to follow along with many of the basic adjustments in the video.

Watch The Lightroom Video Tutorial

Original Un-Edited Image


Nikon D750, Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR
1/30 sec @ f/13 & ISO 100, hand-held

Final, Lightroom Edited Images

We’re not trying to emulate a specific brand of film, that’s for hipsters. Okay, just kidding, I actually spend hours studying different films, and there may be more tutorials in the future that focus on a particular one (Comment below if you’re interested!)

Generally speaking, there are still a few visual tools, subtle hints, worth putting in your bag of tricks. For example, in my experience, a faint magenta or purple hue seems to make me think of slide film, and a faint green or yellow hue makes me think of negative film. I know that isn’t an exact science; it has to do with my own personal nostalgia more than anything else.  You can try different combinations / mixologies, and see what looks right for your own images.

Now I feel like a kindergarden teacher telling students that everything they do is beautiful. While it’s true that art is open to interpretation, in my opinion, it is still possible to make your images look just plain bad.  The key to achieving a natural and realistic look is minimal editing.  That’s something I’ve always been an advocate of, when you’re trying to be creative and artistic, yet still timeless.

With that said, you’ll notice that all of these edits, both color and B&W, only utilize three or four presets, and only minor additional tweaks.

Vintage Negative Film Look


01-30 VIVID – FOUNDATION: 32b. Saturate + Blue/Green Kick
02-20 ADJUST – DETAIL & SKIN: 22c. Detail Boost++
03-10 CURVES – COOL CURVES: 14a. Neutra Matte + Teal
…And White Balance Correction

Vintage Slide Film Look

Remember, this isn’t a specific film we’re trying to truly replicate, just a general vibe that viewers might get. (If you ask nicely, and maybe suggest some of your favorite films, I’ll keep recording more videos!)

01-30 VIVID – FOUNDATION: 32b. Saturate + Blue/Green Kick
02-20 ADJUST – DETAIL & SKIN: 22c. Detail Boost++
03-10 CURVES – COOL CURVES: 14d. Neutra Matte + Cool Cross
…And White Balance Correction

Contast-y B&W Film Look

Another thing to remember is, film emulation doesn’t automatically mean funky colors and clipped curves, flat shadows and highlights.  Properly shot film will have a full tonal range, and vibrant colors / contrast. Fuji Acros was/is one of my favorite B&W films, and it was known for having fantastic eye-popping clarity and contrast! Again, it’s not that I’m trying to emulate a specific B&W film’s color response here, I’m just enjoying rich tones in general.


01-30 VIVID – FOUNDATION: 32b. Saturate + Blue/Green Kick
02-20 ADJUST – DETAIL & SKIN: 22c. Detail Boost++
02-50 ADJUST – B&W TONING: 52c. Dramatic B&W ++ (Landscapes)
03-30 CURVES – B&W & ANTIQUE COLORS: 33a. Neutra Punch

Another Example Of Film Emulation

Just for kicks, here’s another photo that shows how a subtle difference (using only RGB curves) can make an image look ever-so-slightly more filmic:

01-3001-30 VIVID – FOUNDATION: 31a. Color
…Plus minor white balance & exposure corrections
01-30 VIVID – FOUNDATION: 31a. Color
02-20 ADJUST – DETAIL & SKIN: 21b. Soft Sharpen +
02-60 ADJUST – VIGNETTING: 62c. Radial +
03-10 – CURVES – COOL COLORS: 14a. Neutral Matte + Teal

01-30 VIVID – FOUNDATION: 31a. Color
02-20 ADJUST – DETAIL & SKIN: 21b. Soft Sharpen +
02-60 ADJUST – VIGNETTING: 62c. Radial +
03-00 CURVES – NEUTRAL COLORS: 04b. Neutral Matte + Cross Processing

Okay maybe Instagram and hipsters are starting to get to me (I even like square crops now!), but the second and third images just looks more real to me; the first image just lack, well, soul.  There, I said it.

As always, your thoughts and comments would be greatly appreciated!

Happy clicking,

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

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The SLR Lounge Preset System V6

The SLR Lounge Preset System is designed to enable Lightroom users to achieve virtually any look and effect in 3-5 clicks. Including basic color correction, vintage fades, black & white effects, tilt-shift effects, faux HDR, retouching, detail enhancing, and so much more, the sky is the limit with what has been dubbed the most powerful and intuitive preset system available! Click the link above to learn more/purchase. The SLR Lounge Preset System is now available for both Lightroom 5, Lightroom 4, and Adobe Camera Raw. (Bridge CS6 and CC only, click HERE for more info.)

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Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Vince Arredondo

    Really nice… as always. I really liked the B&W version

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  2. Jonathan Heckel

    Is it possible to do a tutorial for a Kodak Portra look? That would be really awesome!:)

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    • Matthew Saville

      Hi Jonathan,

      Portra is definitely one of the films I’m researching. Very beautiful skin tones, often pink-ish highlights, and very good rich contrast aside from a faint hint of reddish-green in the shadows…

      Stay tuned for more!

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    • Rieshawn Williams

      Matt you are the best!!! This just make me want to go out and shoot!

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    • David Hall

      Love the film looks. Keep ’em coming.

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  3. Basit Zargar


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    Great presets hence great results

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  5. Hannes Nitzsche

    Love the look of those presets/filters! :)

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