DxO Filmpack 5

If you remember the days of film, or you’re a member of the Instagram generation and love adding creative filters to your images, DxO’s FilmPack 5 will be of interest. It’s one of the most powerful and versatile tools for quickly giving images an arty, retro feel. With a single click, the software faithfully emulates the look and feel of a range of popular film types from the analogue age.

DxO Filmpack 5

DxO Filmpack 5

Even better, FilmPack 5 fits smoothly into your existing Lightroom or Photoshop workflow, meaning it’s easier than ever to create images reminiscent of photography legends like Henri Cartier-Bresson or Ansel Adams. Just like its previous versions, the software allows you to combine the rendering of one film type with the grain structure of another. The intensity of these effects can also be altered to create bespoke film types that are entirely your own creation.

Redesigned interface

To launch the program, you can simply locate the app on your hard-drive and double-click it. If you’d prefer, FilmPack 5 can also be launched as a plug-in from within Photoshop, Elements, Lightroom or Aperture. Along the top of the interface is the Command bar, which hosts a series of buttons for viewing files and changing the layout of the interface. Below this is the Image Display area and to the right is the Controls panel.

The Command bar provides a number of ways to view your files, such as side-by-side or in split view. These layouts make it easy to see the effect of each preset and slider. The Zoom and Modify buttons allow you to magnify, crop and rotate your image. The Modify image settings button, however, reveals a selection of tools, both old and new.

New features

Files can now be viewed directly from the Image Browser. When the software is opened, the Image Browser is displayed, and shows previously-loaded images.

At the heart of the new features are 16 new film types that are now available as presets. The latest selection includes black & white films such as Fujifilm Neopan 400 and Ilford Pan 100, as well as colour classics like Kodak Portra 400 and Adox Color Implosion. Each preset gives your image a different look and feel in a single click, saving you potentially hours of tweaking sliders in Photoshop.

RAW support

One of the most significant additions to FilmPack 5 is the ability to work with RAW files, a feature not offered in previous versions. DxO has made this possible by incorporating the technology behind its popular optical distortion correction software, OpticsPro.

DxO Labs is known for its DxOMark website, which is a respected online source for detailed and technical analysis of camera and lens optical performance. The company has tested gear from all the major manufacturers and OpticsPro uses the data collected to make corrections that are tailor-made for your gear. Profiles for cameras and lenses are downloaded to the user’s computer upon detection of a RAW file and corrections are automatically applied. These fix a range of common issues such as colour fringeing, lens distortion, softness, noise and vignetting.

With this technology under the bonnet, FilmPack 5 Elite Edition allows you to open RAW files in the standalone app (the plug-ins convert any RAW files to TIFFs on import). As the file opens, FilmPack 5 downloads the relevant module and applies automatic corrections, just like OpticsPro. It’s then possible to save these new files without adding a film effect at all, for quick and easy optical corrections. If you choose to apply a film effect, the lens profiles help the software make sure its edits maintain faithful colour reproduction.

Micro-contrast tool

FilmPack 5 also allows you to get creative with brand new tools. Among them is the Micro-contrast tool, which is exclusive to the Elite Edition. Located in the Contrast section of the Controls panel, the slider acts on the details in photos, softening or accentuating fine transitions. This can be set to give a ‘grungy’ effect that’s similar to the look created by the Clarity tool in Lightroom and Camera Raw. When used in combination with the Contrast and Fine Contrast sliders, the Micro contrast slider creates a gritty styling that’s ideal for emphasising the texture of a weathered building or even accentuating the lines of a wizened face, for a ‘warts and all’ portrait style.

Verdict

With some impressive new features, DxO FilmPack 5 Elite Edition is a great option for filmic effects and boasts full RAW support with automatic optical corrections. If you’re into retro styles you can recreate a whole host of different looks with a single click, saving bags of editing time.

Specification

  • Price: DxO FilmPack 5 Essential Edition £39 (As of June 2016)
  • Free trial available: Yes
  • Supported formats: JPEG & TIFF (both versions), RAW (Elite Edition only)
  • Min System requirements – Windows: 7–8.1, Intel Core 2 Duo/AMD Athlon 64 X2, 2GB RAM
  • Min System requirements – Mac: OS X 10.8–10.10, Mac Intel Core i5, 2GB RAM
  • Compatible host apps: DxO OpticsPro 10 or higher, Photoshop CS3 or higher, Elements 9 or higher, Lightroom 3 or higher, Aperture 3
  • Visit: www.dxo.com

This review was first published in the February 2015 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.