Lightroom is one of, if not the, most powerful post-production tools for photographers. Whether it’s changing contrast or making localized adjustments, Lightroom can do it all. But it’s not always easy to get all of your settings just right, even when you already know what sort of aesthetic you have in mind.
Enter presets, a wonderful solution that will improve the look of your images while shaving hours off your editing time. With a single click (or three), you can have your image looking just how you want, aside from a minor adjustment or two.
Thankfully for you, we have seen and used a lot of presets in our time. Now we’re taking our knowledge and rounding up the best Lightroom presets the internet has to offer. When combined with our favorite Lightroom shortcuts, these preset collections should shrink your post-production time so you spend less time in front of your computer and more time behind your camera.
Of all the presets in the world, VSCO’s are without a doubt the most ubiquitous. VSCO offers convenient packages at decent prices and the quality is solid across the board. Each of the nine collections VSCO offers is based around a particular theme. Like many of the other preset collections we’ll be listing, VSCO’s presets are based on analog film stocks, ranging from early 60’s Polaroids to the latest iterations of Kodak’s Portra lineup. Alongside the individual film stocks in each collection, many of which include multiple variations, VSCO also supplies a toolkit with additional preset options, such as fading, grain, and highlight recovery.
VSCO Film packs start at $59 a piece and come in two variations: Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw. The version you choose will depend on what post-production program you use to do your editing. If you choose to buy multiple film packs at once, you will receive a discount, as well — a nice treat to ease the strain on your wallet to gather up all of the presets.
Mastin Labs might be the new kid on the block, but it hasn’t taken long for it to become a household name. Created by photographer Kirk Mastin, Mastin Labs is a collection of presets designed specifically to replicate the look of common analog film stocks. The goal of Mastin Labs is to allow photographers to shoot a hybrid style, where their digital images can look almost indistinguishable from images they may have captured on film with an analog camera. That said, you don’t have to shoot film to enjoy the results of Mastin Labs’ presets.
Currently, Mastin Labs offers four different collections, available for both Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw: Kodak Portra, Kodak Portra Pushed, Ilford, and Fujicolor. As the names allude to, each collection features a handful of presets meticulously crafted to emulate the look of each preset’s namesake. What Mastin Lab lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. As you can see on Mastin Labs’ website, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the film photograph and digital photograph using the preset.
Each preset pack starts at $99.
If the analog-inspired looks of the three previous companies do not fit the bill, maybe something a little more generic will get the job done. Enter Sleeklens. Unlike Mastin Labs, VSCO, and Rocket Rooster, Sleeklens focuses on creating preset collections based around specific photography genres. For example, they offer an architectural collection, as well as a newborn collection.
One of the unique aspects of Sleeklens’ offerings is the collection not only include presets, but also customized brushes designed to work alongside the presets. It’s a nice addition few other preset makers choose to include.
To see a full list of Sleeklens’ collection, head on over to the Sleeklens shop. You can purchase collections a la carte starting at $30 a piece or buy all of the collections together for $260.
Prolost is most known for its video-related content, but it also has a soft spot for still photographers. In addition to its After Effects preset collections, Prolost also offers a few Lightroom preset collections.
There are three presets in total, not counting the free dehaze preset, which one could argue is made redundant by Lightroom’s recent addition of the dehaze tool. The first is a collection of monochrome presets, the next is a unique collection that gradually adds certain aesthetic features to images, and the last is a large collection of light leak overlays inspired by light leaks found on old, analog cameras.
As is to be expected, the Prolost presets have a very cinematic feel, with great tonality and unique color grading. Prolost’s preset collections start at $30. For more detailed information on each of the packs, head on over to the Prolost store.
Between the three collections, RNI not only has the most offerings in terms of various film stocks, but also offers far more alternate looks—slightly varying versions of the same film stock that replicate the different aesthetics achieved through expired film or alternative development techniques.
Another bonus of RNI is that it’s not only available for Photoshop and Lightroom, but also Capture One. This makes it a great option for photographers who aren’t in the Adobe-sphere. They also offer a trifecta of mobile apps and are working on video presets if you’re into cinematography as well.
To find out more information and snatch up RNI’s All Film 4 collection, head on over to the shop.
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