DxO FilmPack 3 Review

4.0
September 19, 2011 | Matt Grayson | Software Reviews |

If over 60 film simulations aren't enough for you, there's the option to create your own effect in the Expert version of DxO Filmpack 3. You can establish your own specifications of contrast, grain or intensity and save them in the custom area before applying them to any picture you want.

Nik DfineControls

In the top right of the window on the same toolbar line as the preview options, there's a button called Show Controls which, when clicked on, opens manual control of the picture to fine tune the settings that you want. An RGB histogram is provided which splits down to the individual colours as well as luminance.

Nik DfineColour Rendering

Nik DfineBasic Settings

Nik DfineHue - Saturation - Lightness

Nik DfineNoise Removal

Nik DfineFilm Grain

Nik DfineCreative Vignetting

The options below the histogram will change depending on whether you have a black & white or colour effect selected. There are some common features though for adjusting the intensity of the filters, removing noise and adding a vignette. We found it easier to zip through the effects using the thumbnails at the bottom while fine tuning adjustments using the toolbar on the right. The adjustments that you can make are extensive if not limitless and we started to get some great effects on our pictures straight away.

But let's look at the science and preparation behind the films. DxO have gone to a lot of trouble to create them and worked with Picto in Paris and Duggal in New York, to get the most precise simulations they could, although brands such as Kodachrome were developed in Kodak's own professional lab. As well as this, DxO also worked with professional photographers who have extensive knowledge of film to ensure that they were producing the most realistic results. DxO claim that other film simulation programs generate an artificial Gaussian noise and then manipulate the results to imitate a film type. They say that they've extracted the precise film grain matrices from test images taken of calibrated test patterns and real-life subjects.

Once we'd found the settings we wanted and made our adjustments, we clicked save. Working in Photoshop, this will close down Filmpack 3 and place the edited image on the workspace and logged in the history. Using the program as a standalone, the picture is saved using the Save As option in the file tab. The program acts similar to Photoshop at this stage by asking you what file quality you'd like to save the picture in.

It's possible to batch process a selection of pictures by clicking on the Batch Process button in the file tab. A small window opens up where you can select the pictures to process, choose the film simulation, choose the file format and quality and select the save destination. You can also add your own suffix to the pictures which is a neat touch.

Conclusion

OK, so there's no denying that DxO Filmpack 3 is a good program if you enjoy giving the look of film to your pictures. It's obvious that a lot of time and energy has gone into recreating film types from the past. However, programs like this one begs a few questions: Are we stuck in the past? What's wrong with a clean digital image? Why do we spend hundreds or thousands of pounds on superior sensors only to cover the results up with grain? One important point to remember is that as time goes on, less people will use film and even remember it, so does it warrant this amount of investment?

But let's look to the present. and as it stands DxO Filmpack 3 produces lovely results. It's very extensive giving you a lot of bang for your buck. The workflow is intuitive and easy to use. We like the speed of the application although working through Photoshop, we found that starting the program and processing took a bit longer than using it as a standalone.

If you've invested in a lot of digital equipment but want to hold on to the glory days of film or you think that your pictures need that little bit extra, DxO Filmpack 3 could be exactly what you're looking for. There are extras that can warrant upgrading for current users of Filmpack 2, notably the film grain, custom settings and batch processing. For the price, you may consider having DxO Filmpack 3 as something different to try on your pictures, especially if you have one that needs a little something but the usual channels simply aren't working.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Value for money 4.5

Entry Tags

software, program, film, plugin, black and white, colour, dxo, plug-in, film pack, standalone, dxo labs, filmpack 3, filmpack, DxO Filmpack 3, emulsion

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Your Comments

11 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Peter Jones

I simply could not get FP3 to work as a plug-in.  Also, the default output format is jpeg, and cannot be reset to tif.  You have to do this with every image.  So much for ‘professional’ software!

I have DxO 6, which is excellent.  I have FP2 which is OK, but I prefer NIK and Topaz plugins.

9:09 pm - Monday, September 19, 2011

#2 George Kara

Respectfully, this is one of the least informative reviews I have seen in a long time.  It is simply parroting the companies promotional material.  The blog didn’t even attempt the most basic of testing.  For example comparing a preset to an actual film shot of the same subject.  This makes me concerned that you are compensated for creating an infomercial masquerading as and independent review.

9:23 pm - Monday, September 19, 2011

#3 Cyril Le Roux

Peter, I’m with DxO and am interested in your comment about the default to TIFF. Could you please describe the behaviour that you would like to see?

10:19 am - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

#4 John

I think you’re all missing the point… to use it seriously:

#1 don’t apply grain unless you really want to

#2 understand what it really is is a large bunch of preset (tried and trusted!) looks for photos which you can choose between, rather than trying to create a look yourself with a lot of sliders. In that sense it’s an excellent product. I believe the majority of people seriously using it, myself included, see it this way.

John

5:12 pm - Thursday, September 22, 2011

#5 Peter Jones

In response to Cyril Le Roux, when using the stand-alone version of FP3 the default output format is jpeg.  Ideally I would prefer the default to be tiff.  Failing this, perhaps a tick box to change the default to tiff, a selection that is remembered from session to session.

I haven’t been able to try out the FP3-CS5 plugin because it won’t work.  Am I alone with this problem?

5:48 pm - Thursday, September 22, 2011

#6 Cyril Le Roux

Peter,

Your comment makes sense, a few other customers have mentioned it too. What would you think if the file format was automatically set to the format of the entry image? If you open a tiff, it automatically saves as a tiff, if it’s a jpg, it defaults to saving as a jpg.

As for FP working as a plugin in Photoshop, we’re investigating issues where images larger than 14-18Mpix can cause memory problems on 32bit OS. It’s mainly seen on WinXP and Vista. On these 2 systems, activating the 3GB switch has been helping a number of customers. I’m describing below what it entails but this requires some technical skills so please bear in mind that you’d be doing it at your own risks.

The procedure is about identifying the following line in the boot.ini file:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS=“Microsoft Windows XP Professional” /fastdetect

and add a /3GB switch as shown below.

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS=“Microsoft Windows XP Professional 3GB” /3GB /fastdetect

There are plenty of resources on the internet about how to activate that switch on other operating systems if you’re not using XP Pro.

Reboot and try again…

Let me know how it goes.
clr

8:44 am - Friday, September 23, 2011

#7 John

I use it in a DXO raw processing flow, so can have any output format I like. Although I don’t have an interest in TIF 99% of the time, so usually ends up as JPEG.

9:08 am - Friday, September 23, 2011

#8 Peter Jones

Thanks CLR.  I agree with your first para. - tif to tif and jpg to jpg will do just fine.

I have investigated 3GB switches.  I occasionally make registry changes using regedit but your idea seems a bit hairy according to reports I have read.  In any case I am on XP Home, and a 3GB switch does not seem to be an option.  Would I be right in thinking that Win7 may offer a solution?  If so, I am due an OS upgrade soon!

Peter

2:32 pm - Monday, September 26, 2011

#9 Cyril Le Roux

The reason why this issue is not seen on Win7 is predominantly because most of the Win7 install base is running on 64 bit systems. If your processor is 64 bit then adding some memory and upgrading the OS should definitely help, if not completely eradicate this issue. (I’m not implying here that FP is running on 64 bit, but 64 bit systems give FP the best RAM memory environment).

As for the tiff->tiff and jpg->jpg behaviour, I’m looking into whether it can be added to an intermediary version.

8:09 am - Tuesday, September 27, 2011

#10 Simon Dewey

How does it compare with Alien Skins Exposure?

10:44 am - Sunday, October 16, 2011

#11 JVH

It is NOT about past rather about aesthetics in final stage of creative process.

... AKA ::: Andreas Gursky, Rhein II (1999), $4,338,500, November 8, 2011, Christie’s New York. ... This image was photographed on film just like many other sold in six figure number.

11:14 pm - Monday, March 12, 2012