Fuji XE1 + VSCO Film 4: A Quick Review
I already had a quick post about the recently released VSCO Film 4 presets for Lightroom the other day, but since then I've done some more testing. One of the things that immediately struck me was that the faux slide film looks were an ideal companion to Fuji's X-Trans cameras. The fuji XE1, X-Pro1 etc all come with picture modes named after Fuji's various films, including ones for Provia, Velvia and Astia. To be honest though, they don't really look anything like the respective films, so I was curious to see what the combination of X-Trans sensor and VSCO's simulated film stocks would look like. The answer: pretty damn good.
The first thing that strikes you after playing around with the presets, is not so much that they look like the slide films that you may have been used to, but more that they "feel" like them. I don't mean to get all philosophical and zen about it, but there's something about seeing the rich contrast and colours that immediately invoked memories of getting slides back from the lab. I guess this is a testament as to what a good job VSCO did on the creation of FIlm 4. As for the individual presets, it's hard to say how accurate they are without shooting comparisons on film and digital, but based on my own experience, like I said earlier, they feel right.
If I was to nit-pick the presets, the only issue I have is that I think the blacks are crushed just a little bit too much. I know slide film always had a high contrast ratio, but these can sometimes kill any shadow detail altogether, and based on my own memories of shooting slide film (and the large pile of slides I have beside me while writing this), I don't remember it being so bad. Luckily it's easily fixed with Lightroom's Shadows slide though. The other thing I don't like about it when using it with shots from my XE-1, is that it adds some sharpness to the image. Now, this isn't a problem on files from any other camera, but when using Fuji X-Trans files which really don't like Lightroom's sharpening algorithm in my opinion (send your hate mail too….) and it adds just a little bit of un-natural ness to the files. I'm fairly nit-picking here, like I said, but I've found myself turning the sharpening back down after applying the effects. Other than that though, they look pretty great.
Incidentally, I've tried them on files from my Canon and Nikon cameras too, and files from the Canon 5D Mark II when processed with Film 4 look really great too. For some reason they just jump off the screen. Perhaps it's the extra resolution. I still need to try it with my Nex-7 properly too though, and I expect good things there as well. Overall, VSCO did a great job, and if you used to enjoy shooting slide film in the past and want to achieve the same look you should consider a copy. Incidentally, if you want to see some real Provia, here's a post I posted a while ago, with some scanned Provia.
Here's a random selection of images shot on the Fuji XE-1 and processed with VSCO Film 4 (mostly Provia and Velvia)