Analog Efex Pro, part of the DxO Nik Collection, has some great vintage film effect presets, but you don’t have to use them exactly as they are provided. It’s very easy to customise and adapt these presets to give exactly the kind of look you want.
This isn’t something specific to Analog Efex Pro. It’s the way presets work across every image effects tool. Preset are simply saved combinations of tools and settings which you can modify yourself once the preset has been selected.
What’s a little different about Analog Efex Pro and some other effects programs is that you can choose which filters and effects to use, rather than seeing every possible filter for every image. It does simplify the workspace.
In these screenshots I’ve used Analog Efex Pro’s split screen before-after view so that you can compare the original image (left) with with edited version (right).
1. Classic Camera 5 preset
There are a large number of preset effects in Analog Efex Pro, organised into categories. I’ve chosen the Classic Camera 5 preset in the Classic Camera category, simply because it seems to suit the vintage feel of this picture of a steam locomotive. It’s a good starting point, but I can make some adjustments to make the picture a bit more to my liking and show some of the Analog Efex Pro tools at the same time.
2. Analog Efex Pro Basic Adjustments panel
When I apply this preset, the toolbar over on the right side of the screen shows that four tools were used to create it, so let’s look at each in turn to see what it does and how it contributes to the picture. First up, is the Basic Adjustments panel, and this is used for practically all presets and effects. There’s one slider here which is especially useful. The Detail Extractor slider is like an cross between a Dehaze, Clarity and HDR tool, which brings up shadow detail and gives images real ‘punch’. Time and time again I’ve found this a brilliant quick fix for images with contrast issues. In this panel, I’ve also reduced the Saturation slightly for a more faded look.
3. Analog Efex Pro Dirt & Scratches panel
Dirt and scratches (and textures) can give a tactile, distressed patina to vintage images, but it’s easy to overdo them. The Analog Efex Pro Classic Camera 5 preset does use the Dust & Scratches tool, but at a setting of zero percent, so it has no effect. You can experiment with different textures, though, by using the drop-down menu to choose different categories and using the Strength slider to adjust the effect.
4. Analog Efex Pro Lens Vignette panel
Applying a lens vignette (corner shading) effect might sound like a cheap trick that could easily lose its novelty value but, done subtly, it neatly ‘frames’ the subject in the picture and increases the overall tonal contrast. The Classic Camera 5 preset has a fairly strong vignette applied as standards, but if you open the Lens Vignette panel you can adjust the strength of the effect and alter its size and position by moving the vignette gadget on the image.
5. Analog Efex Pro Film Type panel
Analog Efex Pro’s Film Types are interesting. They are organised into four separate categories – Warm, Cool, Subtle and B&W Toned – and their effect is somewhere between split toning, gradient maps (as used in Photoshop) and LUTs or profiles. Each one gives images a different color rendition, and it’s worth trying out a few of them to see how the feel of the image changes. And don’t overlook the film grain controls underneath. These aren’t exactly obvious in their function. By default, the Grain per Pixel slider is set to its maximum value of 500, which actually gives no grain at all. To start adding grain, move the Grain per Pixel slider to the left, and use the Soft-Hard slider to change the appearance of the grain.
6. Back to Basics, and Control Points
The point about all these adjustments in Analog Efex Pro is that you can carry on changing them right up until the point when you Save the image. So after experimenting with the Dirt & Scratches, Lens Vignette and Film type panels, I can go back to the Basic Adjustments panel to adjust the settings to suit my new ‘look’. For example, I think this picture will now look better with more Contrast and more Detail Extraction. This pushes the sky tones to the point where they ‘clip’ around the locomotive’s chimney, but there is a solution – the Basic Adjustments panel also offers Nik Control Point adjustments, so I can add a control point to the area of overexposed sky and reduce the Brightness (Br) slider.
07. B&W Toning effects
Now after all this I might decide I prefer this image in black and white to color, and that’s easy to do too. I can swap to the Film Type panel and choose one of the Film Types from the B&W Toned category. Film Type no. 1 from the second row gives a good sepia-toned effect, but it’s too strong – so to fix that, I simply adjust the Strength slider. The image stays in black and white, but the saturation of the toning effect is reduced.
Free Analog Efex Pro presets
When you adapt existing presets in Analog Efex Pro or create your own effects from scratch, you can save your adjustments as new presets – or even export them and share them with others.
Why not download and try out these presets I created a while back? They are free to download and they are small data files, so only take a few moments.