LR/ACR Preset: Kodak Tri-X

LR Preset: Kodak Tri-X, originally uploaded by GrayImaging.

[Adobe Camera RAW presets added 01132009]

So I have already released this film emulation once in MikeyG!s B&W Film Presets Vol 1. However after getting out my old negs and prints I decided that I had to have been a bit off. After studying the actual film, simulation programs and the tech papers I feel that this is a more accurate representation of the film. This version alters all colors on the grayscale mixer, not just primaries. To me it seems that by working the entire spectrum I am getting much smoother tones, more reminiscent of real Tri-X.

Grab it HERE.

This is a tricky preset to release, especially since this is the de facto king of B&W to many photographers out there. I pray that the world can accept this preset in all its flaws. I may get close, maybe even closer in the future, but I can never emulate any film 100%. The only way to nail the Tri-X look or any other film look is to shoot the film.

Which, although soapboxing here, brings me to a thought I need to bring up. Since I have started my film emulation presets I have gotten alot of good feedback, but I need to address 2 questions/comments that I have gotten in some volume:

1) Why bother? (film is dead)

I bother because film is the heart and soul of photography. There can be a certain sterility to digital images that was rarely seen on good old analog film. That warmth that film provided in tone, contrast and density made photography. If we can put some of that feeling back into our digital work, especially when its needed, it can only improve an image.

2) Why bother? (if you want it to look like film, shoot film)

I do shoot film. Quite a bit. But I find myself with a digital in hand more often than not. I grew up on film, and will shoot film as long as I can (just got some Ilford 400 hp5+ for the weekend). But for clients photos I almost always use digital, unless they request film. Film is my look, and I want it in my work. It may not be 100% accurate, but 90% approximation of the film I want is better than 100% of what I don't want. Quite frankly film is expensive, and I couldn't afford to shoot a wedding on film and make money. I can't get 10 pictures each of 30 poses in an hour with film, and turn a profit on it. Digital + Simulation gives me what I need with little extra overhead, aside from the work developing my presets or money spent on Exposure 2.

From the response in general I have received, from the download numbers I have seen, people like the film presets. I will keep on making and revising these to get ever closer to the impossible 100%. People are using my presets and enjoying my presets. Most importantly I am using my presets, they are making my workflow easier, and others can benefit from my efforts.

Sorry for the rant,


unMuse said...

"film is expensive"

That statement isn't completely true. Film is expensive if you aren't developing it yourself. Freestyle photo sells films for $1-3. And that's your only recurring cost. Upfront costs are minimal compared to a quality dslr. (dev equip and a negative scanner would run appx $500, and that's with a fantastic scanner.) With film, you're not chasing the technology, so there's no reason to upgrade every year or 2. (I use a 37 year old nikon and lenses the same age and older.)

As someone who shoots primarily in film, I'm tired of that misconception. Film is more labor intensive. Film takes more time and patience and thought if you don't want to run through 20 rolls in 5 hours of shooting. It also requires more skill. But I can honestly say, out of 24 frames, I have 24 usable pictures. I don't know anyone who shoots digital that can say that.

Michael W. Gray said...

I was really speaking from my own perspective, where even with home processing it gets more expensive. I am by no means a pro, but I do shoot protraits and weddings here in a fairly low income section of Missouri. The entire photography market is fairly depressed here, one pro studio, 1 walmart with portrait service. My average photo session lands only about 40 dollars, average wedding about 200. When I can consider the costs of the film and chemistry and time involved to process it eats up my slim profit margin. With a full time job and computer side work along with a family, time is precious and darkroom time for every job cuts in bad.

As I said, I do shoot film and I just ordered a darkroom developing setup up from Freestyle. I have home processed before and will do it again. I love film, but I am more productive in my part time photography business with digital.

As for investment in the gear, I only shoot digital on an Canon XTi I got for $350. Add the cost of Lightroom. $550. I had my Canon glass from my old Elan, which I still use, alongside a Minolta 7000 and a Canon F-1.

I don't want to argue you and you points. But I did want to say why my circumstance make me desire to make these presets.


PS thanks for the info on Freestyle. I had never seen them before and they do have great prices on chemistry and film. I just stocked up on B&W and E-6 chemistry and new tanks and reels (my old gear was crushed in my last move). Bought some Arista film to try also.

Freestyle Photo

unMuse said...

See.. I'm not what people consider a "pro". I shoot for me and I show and I sell, but I don't do pay based work - only because I don't want to deal with the stress of someone else's opinion on what I produce. Mostly because I'm an egotist, but also because I just can't deal with commercial work - i like weird shit.

If you're shooting for money - which isn't an insult by the way - digital is the way to go because you can take 400 photos and dwindle them down to the best 100 with no loss of money. I respect and understand that completely.

And I'm really happy to hear you (maybe or maybe not from my advice) ordered equip from freestyle.. and i understand in a commercial world, time equals a lot of money.. but... in a strictly financial world (which is what my point was) film isn't really more expensive, over all.

I had an Elan II as my "i bought it with my own money, not a hand-me down" first camera.. In the 90s. It's a really versatile camera.

I didn't mean to come off as argumentative, exactly. I mean, sure, part of me did because of how i stated my point.. but I don't want people to shy away from film because of an imagined expense.

Like you, I love film. It's so ingrained in my soul and I want as many "new" photographers as possible to experience what it is to experience what it means to push themselves to perfection (or close to it) in one click of the shutter. It's an experience, a moment, I wouldn't give up for the world. And I don't want anyone else to pass that up, ever.

I love freestyle. They are really, really supportive to the film community. I'm glad I could point you in a direction often overlooked (by a lot of people, honestly).