totally rad replichrome review

I was recently contacted by one of my favourite creative companies, Totally Rad. You can imagine my excitement when they asked me to test out their newest product, Replichrome. I had already heard about the product, and was wondering if it might find a place in my workflow in the near future.

Before I dive into this review, I should mention that I am a repeat Totally Rad customer. I've been using their original Lightroom Presets for processing both RAW and JPG images for several years. I use Rad Lab for playing around in Photoshop, and I love their PicTapGo app for quickly and easily making my mobile photos prettier. So I'll be quite forthright and let you know that this is a company I believe in, and these people make products that make my workflow easier and more fun.

Replichrome, their newest offering, is a collection of Lightroom presets that can be applied to your photos to emulate the timeless look of film.

For those not familiar with Lightroom, it is an Adobe program that works in tandem with Photoshop, but can also be used on its own. It helps you organize, cull and edit your images, among a host of other things. Within its develop module (the part of the program where you do your editing), it allows you to create presets which, like Photoshop actions, apply a series of changes to your photo in one click. You can create presets yourself, which I do, and you can also purchase presets.

When creating their collection of Replichrome presets, Totally Rad did some serious research. From their website:

To develop Replichrome, we collected the most popular film stocks in the world, then shot that film in every lighting condition with every camera we could get our hands on. Next, we scanned our film at some of the best labs in the country, on both Noritsu™ and Frontier™ scanners (because true filmophiles know that makes a difference!) Using that test data, we developed presets that are truly accurate with all cameras, in both Lightroom and ACR.

This rather intense infographic shows you a more detailed breakdown of their research process.

In lieu of a dry, text-only review, I've created a small collection of gifs to show you some fun examples of how Replichrome can be used to process your photos. For each example, I've included the original, unedited image, my usual processing style, and then my chosen mix of Replichrome edits. The images are a mix of personal photos and client work.

First of all, Replichrome can be very subtle. You'll see in the first few images below that it can be used to just add a little hint of warmth and dimension, and give the photo a slightly more old school feel.

Within the presets are a wide selection of iconic film stocks from both Kodak and Fuji. There are also options to choose each film type as they would be affected when scanned by both Noritsu and Frontier scanners. The differences between scanners are subtle, but definitely discernible. By choosing your stock and scanner type, you can control the amount of film grain and colour tones that shape your images.

One thing I really enjoy about Replichrome is the soft quality it gives to skin.

Another great feature is the "tweaks" collection of presets, which allows you to further customize the tone, colour, grain and density of your images. I find these presets function really well when you're working with darker images.

Lastly, perhaps my favourite collection of presets is the black and white selection. 

The gif below shows my own basic black and white processing, then "customized with Replichrome" shows a new preset I've created based on a Replichrome stock that I adjusted to my taste. The other examples show a few other Replichrome black and whites that I didn't adjust. I think they're lovely on their own.

Here is a final example of the same black and white presets on a differently lit image.

I believe Replichrome would best serve photographers with a strong working knowledge of Lightroom. While Totally Rad's Original Lightroom Presets would benefit those who are just familiarizing themselves with Lightroom, Replichrome is not as immediately intuitive and requires not only a good understanding of lightroom, but also a basic knowledge of film types. Of course, anyone could install Replichrome and start playing around and probably achieve some great results, but I do think more photographers with the aforementioned knowledge sets would find the most significant benefits.

I've already started bringing Replichrome into my workflow. In fact, I just edited about six months' worth of personal photos using only Replichrome presets. I am gradually integrating Replichrome into my professional processing as well. In order to not make a jarring change to my current processing style, I've been creating hybrid presets by applying Replichrome presets and adding some of my own favourite adjustments, then saving those changes in turn as new presets.

In conclusion, I think the work that Totally Rad has put into Replichrome is beyond impressive. It really does emulate film beautifully. If you love the look of film but prefer the practice and ease of digital photography, this would be well worth the investment.