Doug Boutwell the occasional odd thought or image

4 Reasons Replichrome Is The Best Way To Emulate Your Favorite Films

Replichrome isn’t the first set of Lightroom presets to emulate your favorite films, but it IS the best. Here are 5 reasons any serious filmophiles will want to take a look at Replichrome.

1 – Noristu and Frontier Versions

Experienced film shooters know that the film stock you choose isn’t the only thing that matters. The lab that processes your film, the experience of the lab technician, and most of all, the scanner they use all have a profound effect on the look of your film. This is why the best film labs usually offer a choice between the two most popular film scanners – the Noristu and the Fuji Frontier. Often, the difference between those two scanners is more noticeable than the different between two film stocks.

Here’s the same scene shot on Fuji Pro 400H. The 400H was scanned on both a Frontier and a Noritsu, and the difference is subtle, but noticeable. The Frontier’s reds are darker and less saturated. The Frontier’s shadows tend to skew cool/cyan, while the highlights tend to go warm/pink. Greens on the Frontier tend go a little cyan. The Noritsu is generally more saturated, and usually a bit warmer. The Noritsu scans tend to be more neutral, in terms of color balance. Some of this is influenced by the lab and scanner operator, of course, but those basic characteristics held true roll after roll, across different labs. Clearly, the scanner model used to digitize a frame of film has just as much impact on the character of the photo as the film itself.


Replichrome tries to stay faithful to those differences, and even to exaggerate them a bit for effect. Here’s the same scene shot on a Nikon D700, and processed using Replichrome:


And just for reference, here’s the straight-up Adobe Standard version that you’d get from a vanilla Lightroom install:


Long story short, the best photographers and the best labs in the country recognize how crucial the choice of scanner is in achieving the look you want – why should you ask any less from your film emulation presets? Replichrome’s presets take this into account, letting you choose not just your film, but also which scanner you want to emulate. Not only is it more accurate, but it’s also another valuable dimension of choice – like being able to not only choose filet migon or halibut, but also whether you want it grilled or baked.

2 – The Replichrome presets look the same on all camera models

The goal of a film emulation preset is to look the same as your favorite film, so you’d expect that to be true regardless of which digital camera you use. You should be able to get accurate film emulation from your Canon camera as well as your Nikon, Fuji, Leica, or whatever. Previous generations of presets have attempted to do this by including separate Canon and Nikon versions in their film emulation presets, but unfortunately, the Canon versions and the Nikon versions often don’t look anything alike.

As an example, here’s the same scene shot on both a Nikon D700 and a Canon 5D, with the Adobe Standard profile applied in Lightroom. Both frames were shot at the same ISO, with the same exposure, and set to the same white balance (4500K, 0 deg). This is the “default” look in Lightroom.

All looks good. The Nikon version is slightly more saturated overall, but they’re pretty darned close. Here’s what those same two images look like with the Replichrome Fuji Pro 400H Noritsu profile applied:


Once again, pretty darned close. Just like the Adobe Standard profiles, the Nikon version is very slightly more saturated, but overall they’re very, very similar.

Another set of film emulation presets by Visual Supply Co. (VSCO) has a different version of each preset – one for Canon and one for Nikon. Here are our sample images with the VSCO 400H presets for each camera maker applied:


Once again, there’s really no reason for the Nikon and Canon versions of a preset to look substantially different. If they DID look different, that would imply that either the Nikon or Canon version was just plain wrong (or perhaps they’re both wrong, but that’s another topic). Notice the difference between saturated reds and blues in the VSCO Canon/Nikon comparison.

Just for kicks, and because you were wondering, here’s the same scene shot on actual Fuji Pro 400H:

Fuji 400H Scanned on a Noritsu

It’s probably not fair to compare the accuracy of the profiles here, because this is one of the reference images used to make Replichrome, so of course Replichrome will be a better match than VSCO’s presets (which, for all I know, are probably a perfectly accurate match for another set of sample images)

Not convinced? Let’s do one more, this time with Kodak Portra 800. First, the Adobe Standard profile:

Canon vs Nikon: Adobe Standard

Next, Replichrome’s Portra 800 Noritsu preset:


And VSCO’s Portra 800 presets:


Finally, the same scene shot on Portra 800 and scanned on a Noritsu:

Kodak Portra 800 scanned on a Noritsu

The inter-camera consistency you get with Replichrome is basically the same as what you get with Lightroom itself (in other words, pretty darned good). By contrast, VSCO’s Portra 800 preset, when comparing the Canon and Nikon versions, looks like two entirely different films, which by extension makes one of those two presets absolutely wrong (and it looks like the Nikon version). Replichrome uses some fancy profile magic to achieve nearly identical results across every camera model Lightroom supports. Whether you shoot on a Nikon, Canon, or something else, Replichrome’s presets provide a faithful emulation of your favorite films – something that no other competing product can boast.

3 – Replichrome supports ALL the cameras that Lightroom supports

Because we dived deep into the technical side of Adobe’s camera profiles, we’re able to provide profiles not just for the most popular cameras, but also some of the more exotic models as well. Basically, if Lightroom can open a raw file, Replichrome has a customized profile for that exact camera model. Replichrome currently supports 386 unique camera models. VSCO Film 01, by comparison, only supports 38 cameras with custom profiles (and custom profiles really are an absolute requirement if you want anything resembling accurate emulation, but that’s another article entirely). This means that, no matter which camera model you shoot, Replichrome has you covered.

4 – ACR versions for free

Replichrome is the only set of film emulation presets that gives you the Adobe Camera Raw versions for free. This gives you the flexibility to work in Bridge/ACR or Lightroom without paying twice. Once again, we could do this because of our years of development experience. Making the ACR versions ain’t no thang for us, and realistically, everyone needs to bring an image into ACR every once in a while. It’s just convenient. So we decided to just give em both to you for one price, because we’re photographers too, and we’ve got your back.

5 Responses to 4 Reasons Replichrome Is The Best Way To Emulate Your Favorite Films

  1. Well, you’ve got me pretty convinced. I only had a brief chance to play this morning while finishing processing a reception, but it looks pretty stellar so far. Thanks for the hard work!

  2. Doug says:

    No prob, Britney!

  3. Heath says:

    Yep, thanks for the effort. Appreciate this review a lot.

  4. Wonderful review, Doug. I can’t wait to purchase Replichrome now!

  5. Heather says:

    I actually think this specific posting , “4 Reasons Replichrome Is
    The Best Way To Emulate Your Favorite Films | Doug
    Boutwell”, particularly interesting and it was a wonderful read.

    Thanks for your effort,Abbie

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