DxO FilmPack 4.0

Vincent Oliver takes a look at a filter suite that has settings to simulate black & white, colour slide and colour negative films.

AT ONE time, photographers would buy a specific film stock to create a mood for their photographs. For example, a high ISO film might have been chosen for a grainy look, or Kodachrome 25 for ultra-smooth colours. Now, with digital capture, we have a smooth, grainless look for almost every shot. However, there are filters that can simulate traditional film stock using Photoshop and other imaging applications, so achieving particular filmic ‘looks’ is predominantly a post-capture process.

DxO FilmPack 4.0 is a suite of filters that includes many predefined settings to simulate black & white, colour slide and colour negative films. There is also a set of designer presets that includes old film processes and traditional film filters, plus toning effects.

DxO FilmPack 4.0 can be used as a standalone application or as a plug-in.

When FilmPack 4.0 is used as a standalone application, it has a limitation of only opening JPEG or TIFF files. Using the application as a plug-in gives you the option to apply a film look to any file that is open.


The DxO FilmPack 40 interface is well laid out, and although simple in appearance it offers plenty of user control. At the top is the menu bar with all the usual commands, although this doesn’t appear on the plug-in as files are sent directly from your image-editing application. Directly below is a set of icons, including Print and Display, Full screen, Split view, a ‘before1 and ‘after’ view, and a Snapshot button. There is also a Fit to Screen, 1:1 and Zoom slider for the main screen view. At the base of the interface are five tabs containing a series of thumbnail previews of film or effect presets. Click on the effect you want and it is applied instantly to the image. Use the predefined presets for a quick result or use them as a starting point to apply your own custom settings.

The effect controls are on the right-hand side, and these enable you to customise any of the settings, including Film type, Film grain, Filter, Toning, Vignetting, Blur, Texture, Light Leak and Frame. A second tab contains Contrast, Saturation, Exposure, Vibrancy, Micro contrast, Hue-Saturation-Lightness and Noise Removal. Your settings can be saved as a new Custom Setting for future use or exported for sharing with other FilmPack users. Finally, the Snapshot panel is on the left, and any Snapshot you capture is displayed as a thumbnail. Use the Snapshot feature to capture work in progress or use it to revert to an earlier stage.

FilmPack 4.0 simulates most popular film types, including black & white, colour negative and slide films. Some of the differences between film types are very subtle, providing just an increase in grain size or a small tweak in contrast. However, DxO has spent a lot of time matching film quality with a digital equivalent and in this respect the company has succeeded.

The real advantage with this application, though, is that you can use the colour quality of one film type and apply the characteristics of another film, such as grain size, contrast, saturation or intensity. If you have used traditional glass filters, you can also apply these to a black & white converted image -adding a yellow, orange or red filter intensifies the blue in the sky. There is also a Channel Mixer under the black & white settings for fine-tuning colours that have been converted to their greyscale equivalents. Notable missing filters are graduated colours and ND series, colour-correction filters, and the 81 and 82 series. There are a limited amount of Old Photographic Process presets, which, when used in combination with some of the distressed frame edges, can look very convincing, but no doubt these will be added to by either DxO or the user community.Once you are satisfied with the settings, you can print directly from the FilmPack interface (standalone version only) or press the Save button and save the image in a JPEG or TIFF. If using FilmPack as a plug-in, you are returned to the host application. When used as a plug-in,

I would have liked the effect to have been applied to a new layer together with a mask in place. This would give scope for using a blending mode or painting on the mask to hide or reveal parts of the applied effect. Photoshop users can achieve this by creating a duplicate layer and then apply the FilmPack effect to the new layer.

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