One of the functions that all image makers really seem to like is the ability to apply a “look” to their images.  This can be as simplistic as using Instagram filters and as rich as taking a powerful, well edited image and making it look like it was shot on classic film.

With the growing popularity of film filters on Instagram, photographers are being asked increasingly for this same look from their clients. For years achieving this look  meant a lot of trial and error, sampling and experimenting with various settings on Photoshop and Lightroom. Fortunately a few companies saw the demand and did the homework for the rest of us, some of the most popular being  VSCO and DXO.

The tool that I recommend for filmic looks is called DXO Filmpack Elite 5 ( and is available online at Henry’s.  DXO is well known for doing extensive camera sensor testing and evaluations and their software division produces three incredible products.  DXO Optics is an editor and RAW converter, DXO Viewpoint is, in my opinion, the best tool out there to correct perspective errors such as buildings tilting or falling over, and DXO Filmpack has the most accurate and truly representative film presentations available.  

Why image makers want to make their images look like they were shot on film is entirely personal, but while the majority love digital, there remains a very committed community of creatives who continue to shoot film.  Because getting black and white  film processed can be a challenge, and because some classic films are gone forever, using digital software to achieve this look  has become very popular.  In fact, it is so popular that Fujifilm built JPEG conversions of their most popular film stocks into their cameras, and they look incredible.

You may want that Fujifilm Velvia look for a landscape shot.  You may have a portrait image that would look awesome if only it had the flavour of Kodak Portra 160.  You may have some flower work that would look great as if it had been shot with Kodachrome 25.  This is where DXO Filmpack Elite 5 comes into play.

The product can work as a standalone application, or as a plugin for Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements while still supporting Apple’s Aperture.  The tools are very easy to use and offer over 120 different looks in the single package.  When you compare buying preset collections to this, Filmpack Elite 5 is a real bargain.  Moreover, every single option is fully editable for tone, contrast at three levels(grain, film emulation, frames) and textures.  DXO Filmpack Elite 5 is an incredibly flexible tool.


Figure 1 : The Filmpack Elite Interface – incredibly easy to use

To give you a few examples of what the tool can accomplish, I’m including the original RAW out of camera, plus three treatments of this basic landscape.

Figure 2 : RAW out of camera - Fujifilm X-Pro 2, Fujifilm 16-55/2.8

Figure 2 : RAW out of camera – Fujifilm X-Pro 2, Fujifilm 16-55/2.8

Since I was shooting with Fujifilm’s awesome X-Pro 2, the first treatment I used was for Fujifilm’s treasured Velvia 50 film.

Figure 3 : Fujifilm Velvia 50 - great punchy colour

Figure 3 : Fujifilm Velvia 50 – great punchy colour

Next I did a black and white option, favouring Ilford PAN 100.  Panchromatic films were known for sharpness and rich contrast.

Figure 4 : Ilford PAN 100 - rich detail, superb contrast, excellent tonal range

Figure 4 : Ilford PAN 100 – rich detail, superb contrast, excellent tonal range

For the last treatment, I wanted to make the image look like it was taken about eighty years ago.  For this, I used one of the DXO studio treatments called Cappuccino that emulates the look of an older sepia toning treatment, along with a coffee bath for more brown than yellow.  I also used the texture function so the digital image had the look of being produced  on a coarse textured fibre paper.  I would disable the texture if I was printing on a proper fibre paper, but if I only had a very flat matte paper, I would leave the texture in for flavouring.  You can see the coarse grain of the early film emulation and the effect of the texture particularly in the sky.

Figure 5 : Cappucino treatment with paper texture

Figure 5 : Cappucino treatment with paper texture


Adding a filmic look to your images is not limited to Instagram or social media tools.  You can make very professional grade images at very low cost and expands your creative latitude by adding DXO Filmpack Elite 5 to your post processing library.

Until next time, peace.

Ross Chevalier

Ross has been a photographer for over four decades and is a professional photographer, videographer and imaging educator.


Ross Chevalier

Ross has been a photographer for over four decades. He has worked as an apprentice, been a professional photographer and a photographic educator. He is an amateur videographer and offers mentoring programs.

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by October 27, 2016 Gear