For many the answer will be obvious. If you want to do any serious editing later, then shooting RAW is a must, right? Normally I’d say yes, but here’s an instance where I decided to work from the JPEG rather than a RAW file, and I’ll explain why.
Film grain, and how to get it
Film grain is caused by the random clumping of silver halide grains (black and white) or dye clouds (colour film) – the individual grains or colour spots are too small to see. Film grain looks very different to digital noise – many photographers use film grain simulation filters and tools.
Grain is one a film characteristic that was largely unpopular at the time, but is now considered an intrinsic part of that film 'look'. The noise created by digital camera sensors is not the same at all, so we have a strange situation where we're trying to create digital images which are as noise-free as possible, then adding old-style analog 'grain' effects in software.
Digital 'grain' is now rather good. The Grain effect in Lightroom is very authentic-looking, even down to the erosion of hard edges by grain 'clumps', and Capture One Pro offers a grain effect as a standard processing choice. A fine patina of grain, whether it's real film grain or digitally induced, gives fine detail a subtle texture that's often missing in 'straight' digital images, and helps makes photographs look more natural in a way that's hard to explain.
Naturally, grain effects are a standard feature in film simulation plug-ins and other 'analog' effects tools.
Analog Efex Pro 3 review
Verdict: 5 stars Analog Efex Pro 3 is a new and revamped version of the analog effects plug-in in the DxO Nik Collection. It goes way beyond most analog photography tools, offering not just film styles, grain effects and borders, but creative vignetting, bokeh, lens blur, lens distortion, double-exposures, motion blur and more to simulate a huge variety of ‘old camera’ looks. There are other good vintage/analog tools out there, but none that go as far as Analog Efex Pro, and version 3, introduced with Nik Collection 5, is streamlined, updated and even better.
For this shot I cheated. I didn’t use a computer at all
That sounds an odd thing to say. Most people associate digital manipulation with ‘cheating’, but it’s all about the context. This site is all about digital manipulation and I didn’t even use a computer.
How to customise Analog Efex Pro presets
Analog Efex Pro, part of the DxO Nik Collection, has some great vintage film effect presets, but you don’t have to use them exactly as they are provided. It’s very easy to customise and adapt these presets to give exactly the kind of look you want.
How to get started with Silver Efex Pro
Silver Efex Pro is one of the best-known plug ins in the Nik Collection and widely regarded as the premier tools for fans of black and white photography. There are lots of really good ways to create black and white images in all sorts of software, but even now Silver Efex Pro has a magic […]
Noise and noise reduction
Noise is the digital equivalent of grain in film. It’s random electrical signals captured by the photosites on the camera sensor, and usually this background noise level is so low compared to the brightness of the captured picture itself that you just don’t notice it.
Picture styles and film simulation with digital cameras
Digital cameras typically offer a range of ‘picture styles’ to suit different subjects or different tastes in color rendition. Canon calls these Picture Styles, Nikon calls them Picture Controls and other camera makers have their own names.
How to get great black and white in DxO PhotoLab… but you’ll need FilmPack 5
DxO PhotoLab can create superb black and white imagery, both in terms of image quality and in creative control, but you need to get the DxO FilmPack 5 Elite add-on to do it. This does make things more expensive, and it does feel a bit like you’re paying for some things that other programs offer […]
6 tips for getting an authentic analog film effect
Modern cameras can reproduce the world with utter, clinical accuracy. The trouble is, it turns out that’s not what we wanted after all. A lot of the time, what we actually want is the faded, distressed, imperfect look of analog photography. So here are six top tips for getting that analog film effect ‘look’ with […]
Create a grainy black and white effect in Lightroom
You tend to think of Lightroom as an image cataloguing program with some image-editing tools thrown in, but actually Lightroom 5 can do many of the jobs that Photoshop can. It’s especially good at building effects from a series of different adjustments – and you can then save these effects as a preset you can […]