Software defaults, looks and starting points - Not software specific discussion

Ok, this is a bit different, maybe off topic, but I think the Lr presets business is crazy, as I think @Andy_Astbury1 mentioned at a live meeting. Apparently there are people who can live of selling their presets. I think that’s just crazy and unbelievable. Who are those idiots who buy presets? I mean it’s also an interesting (art historical) phenomenon. Why do photographers buy presets and what kind of presets do they buy?
Although it’s possible to create some kind of preset or style that produces good or better results for a majority of photos I kind of always had a problem with this approach because every photo is so different and needs an individual treatment. I never really understood photographers who process hundreds of pictures at once with the help of presets. This never worked for me. But maybe I should try it more often.
How many of you use presets or styles for RT, dt etc.?
Are presets about copying someone else’s style?


I use module presets in DT but not so much styles. I have 3 or 4 in each of the main modules I use and the combinations of those derived from lots of experimentation comprises my toolkit…

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Yes! The industry is all about plugins, actions, CLUTs and presets. Entire businesses small and large are based on them, treating the app hosts as a set of APIs and platforms. It goes really deep.

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I guess this gets into a “not my problem” situation…

But I feel bad recommending people free software options when RawTherapee doesn’t have any DAM functionality, darktable is frustrating for many newbies, and Filmulator is intentionally not very flexible on top of currently being feature-incomplete.

Obviously I’m working on that last part as best I can, but I really wish the FOSS photography software situation were better for new users.

All of them get pushed towards Lightroom (“only ten bucks a month”) or other commercial options, and I don’t want that.


The comments by @OK1 made me go back and have another play with Filmulator and its a nice little tool you have crafted. I just don’t want to have to swap out to another app at this point. The images I processed came out great but with no way to deal with noise. I think I could get away with using FIlmulator for quick final edits but if there is noise then I would still have to go to another program. I do like the simplicity… :slight_smile:

Noise reduction is what I’ve been working on the past few months, for reference. I’m trying to take the chroma NR from RawTherapee right now.

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That good to hear. I’m not a pixel peeping noise freak or anything but sometime chroma noise can be nasty. If you get some noise reduction and sharpening control then that will certainly add a lot to your app…Can you run Filmulator from RT??

Why ?

There is no way to tell if this is true, as we only hear from frustrated people, and rarely hear from new users who may be satisfied.


Great observation to bring into the discussion!

I also find the preset business crazy but perhaps for different reasons. The surprising thing to me is that sooo many youtube people sell them. Even when they don’t really have a name as a photographer and certainly don’t produce great work. I don’t really know how presets work but I’m not surprised someone would like an off the shelf look. I literally sit at night sifting through prints or scans of Portra with a sad puppy face. I can’t bring myself to do in in digital but I admit to applying cluts and occasionally even exporting a low res jpeg. I’ve started doing black and white conversions of digital so perhaps I’ll come around to film simulations eventually. Note I have no issue what so ever with other people using film simulations I just can’t bring myself to do it just yet.

Yup, was some kind of residual preset. Renamed all configs and db’s to get proper defaults.

dt devs I hope this isn’t to harsh and you know several people here love filmic. I have to say though that I was shocked to see the default results. 80% of the images just looked completely broken. A couple had something very nice about them but a tinge of strange pastelly colour tone was always present. The exposure bore little similarity to what I did in camera.

The first shots were from this weekend with my kids swimming in a forest lake. Sunny lake shots, dappled forest etc. So I checked some lower contrast, low key dusk architecture shots and they were only marginally better.

I’ve never seen anything like that from a raw developer before. It’s very radical, the files are pulled completely apart. Nothing like a neutral RT profile or at the opposite spectrum a over saturated sooc profile. You basically have to build the image back up again? I don’t remember this from my previous tests but I guess there was never people in them. There are some very complex diversions from what the scene looked like.


Are you using the default settings…

If you’re asking me. yes

I renamed all configs and databases and just opened some of my most recent files. Just so the scenes were fresh in memory.

I guess the log is very strong with this one but there’s more going on.

No I meant filmic…so for example the default midtone bump often messes with color as can the color preservation mode. I find something like midtone 0 latitude 15% color preservation off and slope more like 1.7 ish …gives a result that is a bit more contrasted with less influence on color but everynow and again one of the color preservation modes is better.

Please post a play raw if you’re serious about this. It is getting really really really tiring trying to discuss this without a concrete example to work with.

Yes, filmic by itself tends to be a bit flat and may lack some saturation, but tone equalizer and color balance bring it right back.

Filmic does not exist in a vacuume.


This should be mandatory…no comments saying something does this or that without an example otherwise its really not that productive…

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@priort yes I used defaults but then tried to tweak a bit.

@paperdigits I’m derailing my own thread with this. I wanted a more general discussion. I understand your frustration and didn’t intend this thread to become another one. Just to say though that it’s not about flatness, at least not in the normal sense, it feels as if everything has been pushed around and contrast is like a monochrome layer on top of a pastelly base.

You will see quite a difference just between the chrom preservation modes and pulling back the midtone saturation also can be beneficial…You could try those. To me its not unlike the different curve selections in RT and ART. You may have an automatched tone curve but now change what curve setting that uses and you get dramatically different results also. There is always some tweaking to with almost any software and any tools. If there wasn’t then there wouldn’t be any control either…

Instagram explore page is full of people using those preset. I know you use Instagram. :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s kind of strange but most periods in time have a look about them that was defined by the popular art style or color treatment that was stylish. I’m just chalking the preset market up to that. Trends are trendy and people want to look “with it” or give into the group that says it looks good. It’s how things get dated and why some looks remain timeless. The 2010s were faded blacks and low contrast, the 2000s were HDR over saturated mess, etc. The 80s and 90s had certain film emulsions that were popular along with color and clothing choices. Some photographers make a preset that makes getting that popular look a one or two click process and it sells like crazy.

It doesn’t bother me too much as it’s kind of fun to look back at different periods and go “what we they thinking?” Almost makes nostalgia seem silly.


Speaking of looks, anyway, since I feel the discussion will end at the same point as it always does (going to “taste” and “goals”, avoiding “skills”), you might want to spend a couple dozens well-invested $ in those books:

They can be found on your usual GAFAM (I have them on Google Play for convenience…). The first one has been my basis for the rework of color balance (from the feature point of view, not the theory).

As a matter of fact, most looks start from log-encoded/washed-neutral-boring clips. They showcase examples with Da Vinci Resolve, Filmlight and Adobe whatsitsname, but actual the tools used are pretty generic (channel mixer, color balance, curves, HSL parametric masks).


As the husband of a full-time photo model, I get to witness a lot of these shortcut-lovers amateurs. They are after the experience of feeling like a photographer (a bit like the people who hire fake paparrazzi to get the VIP experience for a day) and can’t be bothered with concepts and craft. The keyword is experience (not the one you gain from practice, the one you enjoy).

I even met a guy with 2 Phase One medium format (worth the price of a house) who hired another guy to build him Capture One presets once for all, to download on his digital backs so the camera would directly process the RAW into TIFF and he could avoid any editing at all.

So the presets business makes a lot of sense… you get immediate reward, results without headache. That’s why I don’t fight against commercial apps and I’m dead-set on the “to anyone’s his software of choice” approach.