Presets – Lightroom 3 Grain

A couple of weeks ago, Adobe released a beta version of Lightroom 3. Among the new features is a grain effect that people have been asking for to simulate film grain. So I figured what better candidate for a new preset then some grain effects. They’re pretty straightforward and there’s 3 versions of the effect from Light, to Medium to Heavy. I purposely left off any black and white, lomo, or cross-process settings (which is the type of photo we see this effect being added to) because I figure you’ll apply those settings to your photo first and then add some grain at the end. Also, before you have a look at them though, you should realize two things:

1) The grain effect really needs to be zoomed into 100% to see best. You can see it at lower zoom levels but don’t make any judgment calls on it until you see it at 100%.

2) On a personal note, I’m actually not that into the “grain” look. Its not something I used to like in film and I typically tried to avoid it. Plus, I spend a lot of money on lenses to get sharp images, so adding grain back in doesn’t do much for me. But hey, I totally get that A LOT of people really like this effect. Its been on the hot list of requests for quite some time now.

So enjoy and please leave a comment to let me know what you think. Thanks!

• Click here to see a sample of the preset.
• Click here to download Matt’s Grain Presets
• To Install the Presets just unzip them to your desktop. Then right click in your preset panel and choose Import and choose the file you unzipped. MAKE SURE YOU UNZIP THE PRESET ZIP FILE FIRST. DO NOT TRY TO IMPORT THE ZIP FILE AS THE PRESET.

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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20 Comments

  1. Anyone know of any other ‘Published Services’ (other than flickr) that are out or in the works for LR3? Hoping to have one for Picasa, Adobe’s own Photoshop.com, or Kodak Gallery.

    Thanks,
    Mike

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  2. Does anybody have a problem in importing pictures into LR3 beta? The progress bar just gets stuck and if I try to close LR, it brings up a message that a task is in progress but nothing is being imported. Not sure if my problem description is helpful here.

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  3. Matt;
    I’m with you…I graduated from RIT and spent most of the time working in film to minimize grain. There can be no earthly reason to put it back in digital files.
    I certainly don’t want my digital files to look like they were shot with Tri-X and processed in D-76…
    MikeG

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  4. tajp,

    yes i have experienced the same issue with the importing. I just X’d out of it at the progress bar and it was fine. but yes it did stick the whole time I was making develop changes and exporting. I chose to X it when i was done, but you can do it in the beginning i found. I also found that after using LR3 beta, LR2 froze on initializing when i launched it after and i had to restart the puter.

    I sure hope Adobe could find a way to hook up LR with photoshop.com

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  5. Ditto on both points made so far in this thread. Import stuck at 33% and would not budget. Also agree on the idea of adding grain back into a photo. I shoot at lower ISOs to minimize noise, and sometimes add noise reduction software where it is needed. So now I’m going to add analog-style “noise” to the image? I don’t think so.

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  6. Matt, Your lens has nothing to do with grain. That is a film, format and developer set of issues. Sharpness can be somewhat determined by grain, but it is not solely the issue. I thought that you might have had some real grain type illustrations that you were modeling here with the presets.Grain like other aspects of image creation can be used both wonderfully and dreadfully. I’ll download them and have a look.

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  7. In reply to Eric Neilsen’s post,

    I think those of us in the real world of Photography and the Art of Photography, all know that in today’s digital world adding grain is more of an effect. Back in the day of film your lens did have much to do with grain. the sharpness of a lens determined the sharpness of grain of the film. anyone who has understanding of working in a dark room knows that when you focused the negative, you used a “Grain Focusing” device to ensure your negative was focused on the paper. If you had soft grain you had a soft print.

    I also believe that the majority of us who visit this site “as a Guest” know that Matt is referring to “I spend a lot of money on lenses to get sharp images, so adding grain back in doesn’t do much for me. But hey, I totally get that A LOT of people really like this effect.”. That his taste in HIS photography is sharp,crisp grainless images. I agree, but I also agree that in some cases where its more of an artistic decision, having the look of higher speed film grain in a BW is really cool also. It’s all about taste and artistic vision, which is individual choice.

    I think we need a preset that takes posts and makes them sound more friendly and less confrontational…
    :)

    We are all guests when we visit this site, we should be thankful for it and for the people who provide their time,links,tutorials and knowledge they share with us all.

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  8. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for putting the time in to create this presets. Much appreciated! I have to agree with you, I don’t see any reason to use these, but I’m going to download them just in case I get an epiphany one day and want to use them. :-)

    Thanks,

    Dennis

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  9. Eric,
    Yep, I know its not related to the lens. I guess what I was getting at is that grain and noise is something that makes my photo look not-sharp. I spend a lot of money on my lenses to make my photos look sharp so making them not sharp is not something I want to add to my photos.

    Thanks.
    – Matt K

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  10. Hey Matt,

    I’m with you, I just don’t see the purpose of adding grain when I go to so much trouble to keep it out. Can’t ever see using these on any of my images.

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  11. don’t think of it as media / process / image / technique / lens imperfections; think of it as “retro”, a throwback to the old days…

    I LOVE the smell of hypo in the morning…

    ;)

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  12. So Lightroom2 tips are pretty much history now…
    And I just got LR2.

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  13. Hi Ron, I have been involved in the real world of photography for over 40 years, and while your choice of lens will change the sharpness of the shot your grain is solely determined by the actual film and chemistry and the action of the chemistry on the exposed film.

    Using a grain focuser has nothing to do with what the grain is, only how it is focused through another lens which will have as much or more affect on how the grain is rendered in the final image.

    Grain can be used to both add sharpness, and reduce detail and it is the loss of detail that I think you’re really talking about Matt. Ron, I don’t think that a little criticism is going to make Matt shut the site down, and it might also help. As for “being with some one” on the subject of grain or not? This is a long running issue in photography and is not what this is about. There are many that do use it or you would not have seen Adobe put it in here. And for those that do use it, they might have a specific look that they are after; an old favorite combination or a look that they admire. I was looking to see if Matt had included a few specific examples of those combinations or were they simply a look that was being offered.

    And I ask this, do you go shop for a meal from a source that admits to really not liking to cook the food you like? NO. It’s great that they have a site like this and that Adobe is trying to include new stuff from an old media, but we’re all looking for creative answers to our vision.

    best regards to Matt,

    Eric

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  14. Eric,

    thats correct, higher iso gives you more grain, just as it gives more noise in digital. liquid developers and temperature can increase it as well and make it larger. just as over developing in LR can increase noise. an inferior lens will give you soft edges to grain and produce a soft image in both film and digital. so a sharp image with fine grain is achieved by using expensive optics with wider f/ and good glass. this way you can use the lowest iso for the shot at hand and have sharper finer grain/noise. but i can see the possibilities of hiding the added noise of higher iso in digital with a grain effect that could be more acceptable to some, since its been a common look since Kodaks begining and possibly since glass plates.
    The grain look will have its place, but its not an every shot thing for me either. It does look better than PS add grain filter, thats for sure. :)

    thanks for using the preset…lol

    Ron

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  15. Whew! Thanks guys. I understand everything you said Eric, but my point about lenses still stands. I know you think I implied that the lens affects the grain and that’s not what I meant. I just meant that I go through great lengths to get sharp images (spending more on lenses is an example). For me personally (and to a lot of other people out there), grain takes away from that. Regardless of the technical explanation of what grain really is and film chemistry and how it can be used bla bla bla, it makes a photo look less sharp. That’s all I was sayin’
    :)

    Thanks,
    Matt

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  16. I love grain. I grew up with TriX, and used P3200 and Delta 400 for years. In digital it is an effect and I use Silver EfexPro when I need an effect. It is a wonderful app. that matt recommended some time ago if my memory is correct. Silver Efex Pro is far more about B&W than just grain. It is a LR2 plug-in.

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  17. Captain Spin, Silver Effects Pro has a nice interface and has some looks that you can dial in as does Vuescan for doing film scans; including CI for film developer combinations.

    I use severals paths to add grain of which Real Grain by Imagenomic is one. With todays software options for getting your images processed, the integration of noise reduction, both color and luminance and the adding of grain needs to be carefully done with output intent always kept in mind.

    It should be pointed out though that plug ins in LR don’t currently allow for the non destructive in put, so while it may be convenient, it could just be done in PS.

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