July 30, 2014

VSCO Film 05 Review

Education - Photographers

(If you stumbled here on accident looking for a VSCO Film 06 Review, you can find that here)
OK, I’ll be honest. I don’t generally use VSCO Film anymore. Despite this though, Greg Lutze has had a major impact on my life and on the way I see the world (and he’s one of the reasons I’m a photographer today) so I have no problem supporting him and VSCO.  They [VSCO] really helped change my life as a new photographer. (If you’re curious about that story, you can ready about My Journey Through VSCO Film).

Currently, I’ve developed my own processing and vision for my photography (You can read about that journey here: My Process and Crafting a Vision) so I don’t feel a necessary need to rely on VSCO for my work. If we’re honest, I think most professional photographers don’t feel that need.

The truth of the matter is, though, that VSCO has been (and continues to be) an amazing resource for photographers who are still in the process of finding themselves. It is really difficult to find a vision and voice that reflects your personally, and I think VSCO does an awesome job of giving tools to photographers to help them determine the direction they want their work to go. Their presets are well-done, but they’re designed more as building blocks, not as an end marker.

So, with all that said, here are my thoughts (and photos) from VSCO Film Pack 05.

These are the films I grew up having. Not using, mind you, but these are what my parents used to document us as kids and minions wreaking havoc in small, rural Illinois.

As I explored this pack here, I found that my go-to options were Kodak Gold 200 and Kodak Max 800. Also, I preferred the warmer versions of the film packs as opposed to the “traditional” emulations. In terms of Black and White, their version of Fuji Neopan 400 is awesome–much more contrasty and more of what I think B&W photos should look like. It has character and depth and isn’t too flat (some options are, but most of them aren’t). My problem with B&W photos today is that they are often very flat and lack any sense of depth. They seem 2D and lack the emotion of what I think B&W photos should carry. My opinion. Obviously, you can tweak as needed, but I think these are some great starting points.

There are some really great presets in here. Nowadays, I use VSCO more to deliver a bit more eclectic/out-of-the-box images. I’m not a huge fan of the grain in Lightroom overall, so VSCO is limited by that.

I like some of the flatter, darker presets for Portraits and people. The bright, vibrant look isn’t really my style, but I think some of the photos (like the Kodak Max 800 below) is almost matte-like and I enjoy that texture on select photos.

In Film 05, the White Balance makes a huge difference. Obviously, it matters regardless, but with these presets, it seems like just a hundred K or so really changes a lot in the image. It seems as if VSCO went more with the notion (of true film) that you have to shoot it right in camera for it to look best. I don’t think these presets are 1-click jobs. Most of them will require you to set your photo in the circumstances (exposure, lighting, etc.) that the original film would have worked best in.

Ultimately–these presets don’t ring in my head as being as close to their film stocks as possible, however, I think they give a general film-style look, one that is a bit more work to achieve the best results with.

I’ll use these from time to time on some personal work. I’m still all about using my self-made presets and really pushing to control every aspect of my work. If, however, you want to have some fun, or get some nice colors onto your images and don’t want to customize your presets too much, I’d buy VSCO Film 05. I think this is their best set since 01.

Agfa Vista 100 Warm +


Kodak Royal Gold 400 Soft Highs


Kodak Ektar 100 – Warm


Agfa Vista 100 – –


Agfa Vista 100


Agfa Vista 800 Warm +


Fuji Neopan 400 – –


Kodak Gold 100 Portrait


Kodak BW400CN


Agfa Vista 400 – –


Kodak Max 800


Kodak Max 800 Night-Tungsten Alt


Kodak Royal Gold 400 Vibrant


Kodak Max 800 Warm


Kodak Ektar 100 Warm


Kodak UltraMax 400 + Green


Kodak Max 800 Alt Cool


Kodak Gold 200



Thank you for this article. I use VSCO and it’s awesome !