How to use RawTherapee to make images more like film

Hello. I was told to check out this forum for more useful information on what tools are the most useful to make an image more like film. I use Filmulator to process the raws to give most of the film look and then RawTherapee as a beauty pass to make it look even better. I don’t know what is the most useful as at this point, i just use the dehaze and local contrast but am wondering what tools would be better to compliment the Filmulator output

Can you define what “looks like film” means to you? Then we can point you in the direction you need to go.

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Making an image look “like film” is a very vague notion, because there are so many different films of various types. What aspects of film do you want? What aspects of film is Filmulator not providing for you that you would like out of RawTherapee?

Maybe you just want some direction as for what to do to improve your photos? There is such a wide range of things that you could do when editing, the possibilities are truly limitless.


I was always drawn to the film look. As i am new to photography, its hard to put into words what i want out of it. Someone mentioned my photos reminded them of Kodak Gold. Another said that my photos looked nostalgic and like it was taken with a film camera. There is something to that magic of film that i really enjoy. Filmulator gets most of the heavy lifting done with emulating film, but not quite all there. So i enjoy using RawTherapee to take the roughness and add some extra magic to bring in fully the vision i had. I guess i would say, kodak gold look for my photos. I just don’t know enough of RawTherapee’s massive array of tools to fully understand how to take my photos from “Good enough” to “Oh my gods, that could be something in an art gallery” or “I could hang that up on my wall”

You haven’t really described any particular quality, so that might hinder you from going to good to great.

If you just want it to look like Kodak Gold film, find a lot and then rawtherapee can apply it:

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“roughness” You want film grain? Easy way to start out with this is to intentionally raise the ISO and then use chroma noise reduction to take away the color splotches while leaving in the graininess.

“magic” We don’t know what the magic is. People have been searching for the magic for decades since digital superseded film.

Maybe the magic can be granted by raising Drama in Filmulator. Maybe it can be done by doing complex contrast by detail levels adjustments. It’s hard to say if you can’t put your finger on it… otherwise you just have to experiment I guess.


Over a thousand words in the English language and none of them can quite give the feeling of what i experience when looking at film. It’d take half of a novel to describe everything i love about film. In somewhat simpler terms but shallower depth of meaning. There is something to the grainy, almost hand painted look that film provides and digital lacks. I have always gawked and enjoyed the way film presents itself. The impressive colour range, the highlights and shadows. Almost like a vision of an artist come to life. A frozen frame of time, locked forever to peek at for memories. If film were anymore artistic, I could almost see the paint strokes that indicate months of toil, blood, and sweat painstakingly outlining the whole picture as a chef’s kiss to the world. I want to somehow recreate the feeling i get into my rather lacking digital photos. I want them to look like a painting that would’ve taken years to make and the unseen strokes that a brush would make

At some point you’ll need to reverse engineer your feelings back to a set of artistic choices, in this way you’ll be able to adjust the sliders of your editing program to produce those feelings. Until you can adequately describe what the physically charistics of those feelings are, you’re just going to be poking around in the dark. Some times you find what you want in the dark, but its way easier with the lights turned on.


If i were to draw from that wordy wall of text. I could derive from it, that i want my pictures to be vibrant, a good amount of contrast, balanced while all having a bit of grain and warmth(or coldness depending on the mood needed) to invoke as close of a feeling i will ever get with editing digital photos to what i love about film

See Vibrance - RawPedia

See Exposure - RawPedia

Grain- not sure of a specific tool

You can try Color Toning - RawPedia but there are quite a few ways to achieve warmth or coolsness.


I think nobody mentioned here so far the RT Film Simulation Collection:


Then shoot film.


The main reason i don’t shoot film is the cost of the film stock and processing. I am on the low income side of things and film is prohibitively expensive at the moment. Plus i am a beginner photographer with maybe 2 months of experience under my belt, so film is rather wasted on me at the moment until i get better

That’s absolutely true. If you really like film, you can consider shooting b&w and develop that yourself. That’s easy, cheap and fun and some developers like Rodinal cost near to nothing.

If you want to stay digital, you know there’s a downloadable package called the RawTherapee Film Simulation Collection ? That simulates the look of quite some films (but not Kodak Gold…).

W-e-l-l… I am not sure that you are going to like this reply, but…

Since there are more than 469,000 words more than you indicated,
(ref. Merriam-Webster) please try to articulate better what you are after.

This forum consists of a multitude of users. Some are artistically inclined,
some are tech freaks, some are a little of this-and-that. The common
denominator, however, is that most questions/wishes will get a proper
reply, showing a good solution to Problem X™.

But only if you are able to convey what it is that you are after.

“Looking like Kodak Gold” most certainly is not a valid clue. That alone
will not give you a guaranteed success.

A short anecdote to illustrate what I mean: a few decades ago,
Donald Jackson (scribe to the Queen) was My #1 Guru.
So naturally I checked what kind of materials he used.
If only I used the same materials as he did, then my illuminations
and calligraphy would become as good as his.

Unfortunately not! Silly thought.

Whoever admires a Turner because he used WInsor & Newton’s
watercolours? Or a Cennini because he preferred eggs from country
hens instead of city hens for his egg yolk tempera?

So please try to articulate what it really is that you are after.
If you cannot manage in the 470,000 English words that are available,
then at least post a link to something that you would like to achieve.

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

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Please post a raw image and jpg with the look you are trying to achieve and maybe we can help you get there with RawTherapee.


The dev builds have a grain tool. See this thread for more info and a sample Add Noise in Rawtherapee

Kodak Gold is a film of terrible quality, almost everything that was shot on this film looks just horrible - so… I don’t know…

A film simulation might sorta look like a certain type of film but it still may not catch all the subtleties of the real thing. There’s more to it than film grain or garish or muted colors. Digital sensors do not respond to light exactly the same way as [analog] film stocks do so there are subtle differences in tonality and smoothness. Nikon developed a unique sensor for the D700 that had more of a film-like quality than anything else on the market that is still fondly remembered by many (me included).

There’s a parallel in the audio world. If you want to hear a long rant about how digital technology has ruined audio, talk to an audiophile. It doesn’t take golden ears to hear the difference in smoothness and distortions between analog and solid state/digital on a good set of speakers. Of course, when you get to the stratospheric levels of the super high end the differences diminish, but those of us in the real world can’t play in that sandbox.

This is the same shot taken with a Canon EOS R and a Zorki 4k rangefinder using HP5 film, for the Canon shot I use the HP5 film simulation and tweaked the curve to match the tone of the film, it’s not 100% there but I think one could get very close. The grain on the other hand can’t really be replicated with the current tools, the noise module in the local adjustment is way too fine and doesn’t really look like the real thing.

The digital file is also sharper but that a combination of lens, bad scan and noise. I think in term of color & tone you can pretty much replicate the film look with curves (although it’s very hard without a reference) but it would be nice to have a fully featured grain module (like e.g. TrueGrain Grain Library).