(*this article was originally written for, and appeared on the Alien Skin blog, by me, HERE.)
Put out your torches, and put down your pitchforks. I love film. I shoot film, and have a freezer and fridge full of it from 35mm Kodak Gold and Ilford Delta, to 120 Tri X and Portra 160 NC. The question I’ve struggled with though, is why? Why do I still shoot film? It’s expensive to process, ridiculously tedious to digitize and even with expensive drum scanning, still doesn’t reach the depth and range of modern digital files. Well, the answer for me has been nostalgia, the feel of the image, and the ability to take a step back, and focus on shooting in a more organic way that coincides with my initial falling in love with photography in the first place. A beautiful reality though, is that through software, and remarkable sensor technology, we can quickly and easily replicate the look of film if we want, taking care of one of those (my) criteria.
This post is not meant to be any more than a personal experiment in which I’ll look to answer this question for myself when using my go to digital solution when wanting to help analogize results within my digital reality and workflow because, while I may not need film, I sure do love to replicate the look and feel of it. C’mon in…
There are quite a few film emulation plugins to choose from. Looking at the sheer multitude of cross processed filters or “film” replications on offer from different plugins can be daunting. To me, the difference is in the details, and none does a better job in my opinion than Alien Skin’s Exposure has. When choosing a plugin, the biggest and most important features lie mainly in interface, tools available and when discussing a film replication, the actual grain structure and implementation is key. Like past Exposure releases, Exposure 5 gives you a full library of Black and White as well as Color film filters. Many plugins emulate a similar result, but none has paid as much attention to detail, grain reproduction and fidelity as Alien Skin Exposure 5 has, to my eye. With Exposure 5, the new release adds a new user interface and some sweet new controls. Read on for some of the details…
***UPDATE See the new Topaz DeNoise 6 reviewed and compared to DeNoise 5 HERE***
Smooth, yet refined with an impeccable attention to detail.
Noise has become less and less an issue for digital photographers over the last few years as sensor technology gets better, in camera processing is capable of shouldering more of that load than ever before and digital asset management software/RAW converters are up to the task for much of the noise reduction needs. Still, with analog to digital information translation, there is an inherent signal:noise issue that can always be further helped by a good noise reduction software. Add to that, pro-sumer 35mm format models breaching the Medium Format pixel counts, or compact sensors pushing the pixel pitch to near immeasurable dimensions, there is, and will be a need for a manual noise reduction control through post processing. While Lightroom and Aperture have good noise reduction algorithms, they are the swiss army knife of image processing, giving you many handy tools, but what happens when you need a power tool? That little Swiss army knife’s mini-saw ain’t gonna cut through that noise riddled log for you, you’ll need a chainsaw. Enter, Topaz DeNoise5, your powerful, noise reducing chainsaw. You can download a free trial, or purchase DeNoise. If interested click HERE to go to Topazlabs.com. I’ve used Noise Ninja and Nik Define in the past, and I think both of those have just been pushed out of my workflow. Read on for examples and my take…