DxO FilmPack 3: Film Fidelity Without Digital Compromise

By Marianne Drenthe

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With 10 years in the digital image calibration business, DxO Labs has a strong reputation for quality image processing. This reputation is furthered with the updated release of their FilmPack 3. New in this version of FilmPack is a redesigned user interface and the ability to use the program as a standalone option or as a plug in within Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop and Apple's Aperture software programs.

What is the DxO FilmPack?

Sometimes we yearn for the nostalgic charm of fine black and white film photography and the incredible grain and vivid colors of analog color photography, but with the practical ease of digital imaging. There are tens if not hundreds of Photoshop actions that attempt to emulate that magical film feel. While we can come close to replicating film colors, contrast and luminosity within layers of levels, curves and contrast adjustments in Photoshop, we often fall short of achieving true film emulation. With improved noise reduction in the newest digital sensors comes a loss of realism and depth. Less noise equals smoother and buttery imagery, but that same combination of qualities produces images with decreased depth. When chemicals react with film and light you end up with photos that are filled with depth and grain, something modern digital photo sensors can't quite emulate.

With FilmPack 3, the authenticity of film grain is once again within reach. The FilmPack offers the beauty of various film grains to apply to images both black and white as well as being integrated within individual film presets. For instance you may long for the smooth neutral tonality, highlight and shadow detail and film grain of Kodak 400CN or maybe your desire is the vividness and contrast of film in a more realistic interpretation of the scene than you can achieve within the confines of the curves tool in Photoshop. The FilmPack serves both these purposes. With the click of the preview button after import, your images are displayed in the array of dozens of film choices: color negative, color positive, black and white and cross processed film options are at your disposal. There is no need to open multiple windows or run additional actions, the FilmPack allows you to preview and spot edit your images to taste with no more effort than clicking on a few options.

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Figure 1: DxO FilmPack 3's emulation of the smooth neutral tonality, highlight and shadow detail and film grain of Kodak 400CN.

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Figure 2: You can achieve the vividness and contrast of film in a more realistic interpretation of the scene than you can within the confines of the curves tool in Photoshop.

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Figure 3: With the click of the preview button after import, your images are displayed in an array of dozens of film choices: color negative, color positive, black and white and cross processed film options are at your disposal.

How does it work?

The DxO FilmPack3 can be used as a standalone application (as trialed) and as a fully integrated plugin for DxO Optics Pro 6.6, allowing hundreds of possible renderings within DxO Optics Pro 6.6. It can also be used as a plugin fo Photoshop, Lightroom and Apple Aperture. All FilmPack3 license holders have access to all versions of the FilmPack.

Two editions:

You can choose one of two options when purchasing the FilmPack. The Essential Edition offers a wide range of vintage film styles and ease of use. The Expert Edition includes the same renderings as in the Essential Edition but with even more film options and advanced features that give you hundreds of creative possibilities.

Dozens of film options:

Whether you choose the Expert or Essential version of the FilmPack, you have access to dozens of color positive and color negative films. The Expert edition includes creative color positive films such as the Polaroid 669, Fuji Sensia and Lomography X-Pro Slide 200 film. Available color negative films in the Expert edition include the Fuji Superia HG1600, known for its high luminosity and low saturation, and Kodak Portra 160 VC with its neutral saturation. If you opt for the less costly Essential edition, you still have access to dozens of film options, but the Expert edition (trialed) gives you the best bang for your buck and more options for creativity.

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Unlimited creativity: 

Not only does FilmPack3 give access to its dozens of preset film types, it also allows you to create your own parameters and save them for intensity, grain and contrast. Once you save your settings you can apply them easily to other images you import into the program.

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You can trial the DxO FilmPack 3 for 30 days risk free at the DxO Image Science website at www.dxo.com The FilmPack 3 retails for $79 for the Essential Edition or $129 for the Expert Edition. On the site is a guide to help you choose which edition will suit your needs best. Happy film emulating!

Marianne Drenthe, Chicago Children’s & Family Photography, marmaladephotography.com.

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