Mastin Labs Presets {When to Use Which Ones} | For Photographers

Since discovering the beauty and depth of film, I have been absolutely obsessed with shooting it. But there are certain situations where digital definitely comes in handy, like fast moving children, low lighting, and lets be honest here, film is expensive. But when I do shoot digital, I want to it look as much like film as possible and they way I achieve that is by editing with the hands down BEST film emulation presets out there, Mastin Labs. Recently, the great mastermind behind Mastin Labs, Kirk Mastin {loved by all hybrid shooters across the globe}, came out with the highly anticipated present that emulates one of the most popular and loved film stocks, Fuji 400H. I would like to also mention that prior to the Fuji 400H preset release, he was already wooing photographers with his Portra pack of presets, which emulates the other popular film stocks, Portra 160, Portra 400, and Portra 800.

Once his Fuji 400H film preset was released, a slew of questions concerning what the differences were between the Fuji and Portra starting pouring in and whether it was worth it to get both. My answer? YES! Why? Well in my experience, based on the type of light I am given, I will edit with difference presets to get the look I am shooting for, which also applies to what film I am shooting. To help visualize when I use which presets based on the lighting, I have three examples below. Each one shows, when each preset is preferred based on the light scenario and/or time of day.

Note: These opinions are based on personal preference and what I find most accurate when matching films scans. 


SUNSET AKA GOLDEN HOUR

fuji.jpg

PORTRA 400

PORTRA 800

FUJI 400H


WINNER: FUJI 400H PRESET

In this example, was what I would call a photographer's dream lighting scenario. It was about one hour prior to the sun setting on a cloudless day and warm lighting was pouring through the trees. In this lighting scenario, I hands down prefer the Fuji 400H preset as the Portra presets have too much contrast and luminance leaving me with a loss of details in the shadows and the highlights.

 


SUN IS PAST HORIZON

PORTRA 400

PORTRA 800

FUJI 400H


WINNER: PORTRA 400

For this shot, the sun had already set, but there was just enough light where I could boost my ISO to continue shooting until almost twilight. If you have ever shot at this time of day, all of sudden tones go from warm to VERY cool within a few minutes.  If I had increased the white balance warmth to get to the skin tone I wanted with Fuji 400H, I was going to lose the cool tones of the water and grey jacket. So instead, I switch over to Portra as it does an excellent job of giving warm skin tones without making all of the colors warmer. For this shot, my preference is Portra 400 as the Portra 800 over does it alittle for me on the skin tone warmth and saturation.

 

CLOUDY

800.jpg

PORTRA 400

PORTRA 800

FUJI 400H


WINNER: PORTRA 800

In this shot, I immediately went to the Portra presets over the Fuji 400H for the same reasons as I mentioned above in the shot where I preferred the Portra 400. The differences here in why I ultimately chose Portra 800 are alot harder to see right off the bat. The main reason why I chose Portra 800, was because I just couldn't get the skin tone to the warmth I wanted with Portra 400. The other is that the magentas were a little too dull in my opinion on the Portra 400. Look closely at the brides lips and pink flowers. IMHO, they are a tad warmer and pop more with the Portra 800. Honestly I think you could go either Portra 400 or Portra 800 in this picture based on preference.

Hopefully this has helped you to visualize the differences between the Portra and Fuji presets and why I highly encourage and feel like there is a place for both when editing. Same rings true when shooting film.

Also, if you are struggling in matching your scans or want to learn more about film, I offer Skype mentor sessions, which you can apply for here.

Since Mastin Labs is super awesome and amazing to work with, they are paying me a few dollars when you purchase presets! To check them out, click here.