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Software Review: DxO FilmPack 3.1 Expert Edition From DxO Labs

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With the latest release of DxO FilmPack, version 3 from DxO Labs, you can not only add the style and beauty of classic films to your images, you can now add additional effects giving you more capabilities to replicate the look and feel of real film as well as artistic effects. DxO FilmPack is a plug-in that gives digital images both the look and the grain of conventional films.

Why would you want to give a “film look” to digital? Didn’t film fall out of favor because of all the graininess and the color differences? Why would you want to start making your images look as though they were taken on film? Well, one reason is for artistic license. You may want to give an image that fresh-from-the-fixer look. Another reason is that you may want to integrate film images and digital images together in presentation and you need some method to get a more consistent look for all.

DxO FilmPack 3

DxO FilmPack recreates the color and grain of over 60 classic film types. These include Kodachrome, Tri-X, Velvia, and Illford. These films were analyzed and reproduced so that they could be applied with just one stroke of the keyboard. The package also offers access to several toning filters to transform any digital image into a toned print. These include Sepia, Terra Sepia, Ferric Sulfate, Gold Sepia, Gold, and Selenium.

DxO labs has a complete list of the available film looks and other effects, and they break down into seven categories: Positive Color films, Negative Color films, Black and White films, Creative Renderings, Filters, Cross-Processing, and Toning.

DxO FilmPack can be used as a standalone product or from the filter menu within Adobe Photoshop. With version 3, it can also be used within Adobe Lightroom, and Apple Aperture. The user interface is self-explanatory. You have listings of the categories and film types in a scrolling bar on the bottom, and sliders and controls on the left side. You choose an emulsion and the filter applies the changes to your image. You are presented with a preview on the screen so you can see what it looks like.

You can mix the color of one film with the grain of another. You can control the contrast, saturation, and exposure, remove noise, control the intensity of the grain, the size of the grain, add vignetting, and much, much more. You can mix and match until you get it just the way you want and then you can save it as a preset so that you can use again over again.

In addition to films, with this latest version of Expert, you also get 25 Creative Renderings that are different color and black & white looks. You can apply vintage effects, age your photos, or render them in improbable tints as well as stylize your photos through the use of a dedicated effects tab in the renderings pane.

DxO has redone the user interface so that you can see your images more easily and comfortably through the use of a dark background interface. You can save your personalized settings so that you can apply them to other images and ensure a consistent appearance when batch-processing.

DxO FilmPack 3

You can also see global histograms and per-channel (RGBL) histograms of the images you process. Analyze the contrast, dominant colors, and exposure of the images that you take and process. And with the use of the new integrated navigator you can see where you are in your image when zoomed in and check easily the appearance of the film grain or the effects of denoising.

The new interface also makes it easy to see your image and apply the film rendering that you prefer. If you like how it turns out, you can save your image and move on to the next. Or even display the advanced settings palettes and experiment with the different cursors that control lighting, contrast, vignetting, or other effects – before or after you apply a film rendering to your image. There are even multiple ways to display the before and after looks of your images.

New film type that have been added include black and white – Agfa® APX® 100, Ilford® Delta® 100, Rollei® Ortho® 25, Rollei Retro® 100 Tonal, and Rollei Retro 80s. Positive color films include Agfa Precisa® 100, Fuji® Sensia® 100, and Lomography® X-Pro Slide® 200. And negative color film – Lomography Redscale® 100. There is also a set of 10 new color filters as well.

DxO FilmPack 3

Overall, I really like DxO FilmPack 3 and the thing I like the best is the new interface. It really makes things much easier to use and move around in. It gives you a lot of control and will streamline your workflow. The additional films are nice and the Creative Renderings really give you a lot of capability. The other thing I like a lot, and that I thought was missing in version 2, is the ability to save presets. This is great in that you can do your creative modifications and save them for future use or share them with others.

While DxO FilmPack 3 is not going to be used for every situation, it does provide for a lot of creative artistic expression. It is easy to use and very functional. If you need to match film-based images for a presentation, or if you want some unique creative license to experiment for a different look and feel for that film look, then I can highly recommend this product.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.