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Classic Film Look for Digital Photos Using DxO FilmPack 3

September 15 2011

by Philip Northeast

Photographers can easily recreate the look of their favourite film with one click using FilmPack 3, the latest software for digital photo processing from DxO Labs.

Photographic  film companies spent many years refining the colour balance and contrast characteristics of their iconic products, such as Kodachrome or Velvia. Each film has its own combination of these attributes and photographers choose the film to suits their style and type of photography.

The coming of the digital era meant expert photographers had to develop a range of post processing tricks to recapture their trademark look in digital photos.

FilmPack 3 from DxO applies post processing tricks to simulate the look of a wide range of traditional films with only one click.

“Our thorough approach to accurately characterising the unique rendering of each film allows DxO FilmPack 3 users to faithfully apply the visual signature of many iconic silver halide films, some of which are not available anymore, such as Kodachrome®,” said Jerome Meniere, CEO of DxO Labs.

“We put a strong focus on authenticity for all DxO FilmPack 3 renderings, developing our software in partnership with expert photographers having extensive knowledge of both film and digital photography, to ensure unrivalled film fidelity.”

Depending on the version of FilmPack 3 it comes with either 20 to 36 colour film types, including transparency and negative films. There are black and white film simulations, and FimPack 3 can apply some other effects.

Apple Blossom with DxO FilmPack 3 Kodachrome 25 simulation


Using DxO FilmPack 3 as a stand alone program it displays the range of available film simulations  on a strip below the image area. Photographers simply click on the thumbnail to give the working image the chosen film look. Photographers can view the image with before and after versions, shown side by side, to help get exactly the right look.

Processing digital photos with  DxO FilmPack 3 reveals a wide choice of film types is an advantage. Some  digital photos work better with different film simulations. As ever it is a matter of choosing the film type to suit the subject.

The apple blossom worked best with the Kodachrome 25 transparency simulation. It gave the petals a crisper whiter tone while increasing the contrast to darken the background.

Blowing Bubbles with Fuji Superia Reala 100 simulation in DxO FilmPack 3

The reds in Blowing Bubbles come up with more punch and vibrance using the Fuji Superia Reala 100 colour negative simulation without excessively changing the skin tones. It was an overcast day, so the colours in the original were a bit subdued. The contrast enhancement is less than the FilmPack 3’s Kodachrome simulations, which is better for this digital photo as it retains the context of the subjects.







Portrait with the Kodachrome 64 treatment modified into custom preset






For a formal portrait  appearance the Kodachrome 64 colour transparency simulation gives more contrast to help isolate the subject from the plain background and lift the white colours. The result is similar to an advanced layer combining trick in Photoshop Creative Suite, but FilmPack 3 does it with one click.

With the standard DxO FilmPack 3 settings there was  too much red in the  skin tones. The controls in the right panel of FilmPack 3 allow adjustments to the standard settings for each film type. In this case, desaturating the red channel slightly gave better skin tones. Photographer’s using the Expert version of FilmPack 3 can save this extra adjustment to the film type as a custom setting so they can be reused easily, or applied to a number of digital photos in a batch process. .


Black & white film photographer Sebastio Salgado recently moved  from silver halide to digital, said, “DxO FilmPack has become a must-have step in my photographic workflow to render the unique Kodak Tri-X® grain on my large-format prints.”








Black and White options in Film Pack 3 include Kodak’s Tri-X






Photographer’s can adjust intensity of Film Pack 3’s grain simulation when they choose a film type such as Kodak’s  Tri-X with a high 400 ISO.


Processing Modes

DxO FilmPack 3 can run as a standalone package or as a plugin version so it becomes part of the host application.

Standalone Version

As a stand alone program FilmPack 3  takes digital photos files with some processing already applied. JPEGs straight from the camera or, more normally images processed from RAW files from programs such as Adobe Lightroom or DxO Optics Pro 6.

Plugin Version

DxO say the FilmPack 3 license includes plugins for Adobe® Photoshop® CS4/CS5, Adobe® Lightroom® 3, Apple® Aperture® 3, and DxO Optics Pro 6. In addition, DxO FilmPack 3 can be used as a Smart Filter in Adobe® Photoshop®. All can be simultaneously installed on two computers.








Film Pack 3 plugin integrated into DxO Optics Pro 6






In the bride photo being processed in DxO Optics Pro 6  the plugin version of FilmPack 3 integrates seamlessly into the host application and FilmPack 3 settings are part of the color rendering control panel.

The advantage of the plugin approach is all the image processing is done at the same time so the full effect of all the adjustments can be previewed and this takes into account any interaction between adjustments.

Price and Availability

DxO FilmPack 3 is available  from the DxO Labs e-store (www.dxo.com) and  photo stores, such as Adorama, at a special introductory discount of up to 30%:





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