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Digital Emulation of Velvia 50

Can you simulate this classic film with a plug-in?

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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Ever since digital cameras first became available, people have wanted to emulate their favourite films. This was probably exacerbated by the fact that digital didn't have strong 'flavour' of its own to begin with and people fell back on what they already knew.

The first film simulations were pretty crude - add a heavy tint of colour and turn the saturation up and down. However, as technology became more mature, the simulations got better. However, in the many years since digital appeared people have found their own ways of processing film and some may ask "why would we want to copy a redundant technology?". The answer is 'it depends' - the different emulations can be seen as just a range of pre-canned 'looks' that can be used to get you somewhere quickly without extensive knowledge of photoshop.

The bigger factor for some photographers may be the fact that they want the look of a classic film but are unsure of its future. In this particular article we'll be looking at Fuji Velvia 50, which seems to have been the landscape photographers holy grail, and will look at just how close the different film emulations get and also whether the look they give is attractive in the first place.

The software we will be trying will be DxO Film Pack 3, Alien Skin Exposure 4, Imagenomic Real Grain and finally I'll be trying to get a similar look using my own knowledge of how Velvia 50 renders colour.

For our example pictures we'll take some of my own photographs from the last couple of years where I've also taken my digital camera out with me as a sketching tool. In some cases the compositions aren't exact copies and the light may have changed subtly but I would say they are close enough for a guide.

Please don't think that I'm recommending that it's a worthy goal to blindly emulate Velvia 50 - however I'm sure the comparisons are of interest to some.



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