21 October 2018
Author: Michal Szklanowski
Really Nice Images is a small, but instantly recognisable analog film simulation brand from UK. With products targeted for both professionals (RNI All Films 4 Pro for Adobe Lightroom Classic / Adobe Camera Raw) as well as analog film simulation apps (RNI Films, RNI Flashback and RNI Colibri) the company managed to capture hearts of both amateur and professional photographers, who above all value analog quality of their photos. RNI products have been benchmarked against some of their competitors, and usually reviewers preferred analog aesthetic of RNI simulations ver other companies’ filters.
RNI didn’t sit on their laurels, but since a couple months they have been actively working on a new breakthrough product, using new functionalities, which were recently released in Adobe Lightroom CC). Along with spring 2018 release of Adobe Lightroom CC RNI brought a new experimental product, that deeply integrates with Lightroom CC, both on desktop and on the mobile. It is called RNI Films CC – 01.
What is after all the difference between the existing RNI All Films product, targeted for classic line of Lightroom, and the new CC product? The goal remains the same – to deliver aesthetically pleasing analog film simulations to the leading photography product. But how it is achieved – changes totally.
RNI Films CC – 01 works only with CC line of Adobe Lightroom products – that is Adobe Lightroom CC, Adobe Lightroom CC classic and Adobe Lightroom CC mobile as well as Adobe Camera Raw inside Adobe Photoshop. t doesn’t work with perpetual license Adobe Lightroom 6.x line of products, they are using legacy standard of plugins.
To understand the unique value RNI Films CC – 01 delivers to Lightroom CC set of tools, you will first need to grasp the difference between profiles and presets. Back in March 2018, Adobe re-introduced creative profiles in Lightroom CC. Creative profiles are essentially algorithms which take the RAW data from the camera, and by applying some transformations to it create an RGB image (something naked eye can experience). Prior to March 2018, Lightroom offered a number of built-in camera-specific profiles, but they were hidden and not very much used. In the new version Adobe brings a number of creative profiles used to process RAW images (6 basic profiles + 34 artistic profiles) as well as makes both camera profiles and creative profiles a first-class citizen in the application.
Profiles are very powerful tools, which can go beyond what user can do to a photo in Lightroom. Profiles can use additional image transformations, such as color space alterations, color grading and so on, which are otherwise not available for Lightroom user. Consider profile a starting point for you edits, it sets the initial tone of the photo, and then you can start to use Lightroom creative tools to further adjust it. The user is in control because they can set the intensity of the profile to suit their likes.
Some profiles are only available for RAW files, while the other profiles can be used with both RAW and JPEG / HEIC files. RNI Films CC – 01 Profiles and Presets can be used for both.
We need to make it very clear from the beginning. The prerequisite to use RNI Films CC – 01 is having an active one of Adobe Photography plans, or Adobe Creative Cloud plan. For my tests, I started a free trial of Adobe Lightroom CC Photography Plan, that includes access to desktop Lightroom CC tool, online photo disk space and synchronisation service, as well as full access to Lightroom CC Mobile – some features in mobile app only with when you have active subscription.
Installing RNI Films CC – 01 is quick and easy. The films are packaged in a zip file, which is saved locally after the download is finished. Use File > Import Profiles & Presets menu option and point to the zip file. Lightroom CC will take care of the rest. RNI Films works with both PC and Mac version of Lightroom CC.
One new and very powerful feature that becomes instantly available is the fact, that profiles are automatically synchronised to the Lightroom CC mobile, if you have it installed on your smartphone or tablet. I have tried it with iPhone and iPad and it worked flawlessly but I’m pretty sure that the profiles and presets are also synchronised to the Android devices as well.
RNI Films CC – 01 includes the following Lightroom CC profiles:
as well as the following presets:
Once installed, RNI profiles find their permanent place of residence on the Develop toolbar (right side of Lightroom CC screen). Profiles chooser and browser is available on the top of the toolbar, while presets are available at the very bottom.
At first, you will likely expand the profiles section, by clicking on the right-hand side arrow. This will reveal Favorite Profile chooser dropdown. This is a simple dropdown, which allows you to quickly choose between profiles you have previously favourited in the profile browser. By default, all standard Adobe Raw profiles are on the list (6 color profiles and one monochrome).
After clicking on Browse button, panel expands showing profile browser:
Adobe smartly groups profiles by sections. The top sections present all the Lightroom CC built-in profiles. Adobe Raw, Camera Matching and Legacy are only visible, if you are editing RAW file format. Artistic, B&W, Modern and Vintage sections are artistic profiles and they are visible for both RAW as well as JPEG / HEIC images. The three dots menu on the top allows you to select, whether profiles should be shown as a mere profile names list, as a thumbnails grid, or large size previews.
Third party profiles, eg. RNI, are shown on the bottom. To try out the profile, just hover-over it with a mouse, Lightroom will immediately apply the profile to a picture and you can see it in full screen. To return to the previously selected profile, just remove the mouse cursor from the profile thumbnail. To add profile to the favourites list, click on the star icon displayed in the top right corner of profile thumbnail. To remove it from favourites, click the star again.
To apply the profile, click on it once. This will replace previously selected profile with the current profile. Please notice, that for a given image, only one profile can be applied at a time (because profile specifies the algorithm of developing an image from RAW pixels).
For this particular portrait image (stock image courtesy of RNI), I chose Fujifilm Natura. It nicely bumps up the contrast, accentuates skin tones and makes skin a tiny bit warmer and shiner, compared to the standard Adobe Color profile. It also smoothes out skin artefacts, also a very welcome effect for portraits.
Once RNI profile is applied, a slider appears. This slider allows you to control the amount of profile intensity, that is applied to the RAW image. By default, it is set to 100. You control its value between 0 and 200. For this particular image I felt that 100 is a bit too strong, so I set it to 50.
Then I tried to go overboard and bumped up the intensity of the profile to 200, and ended up with an overdone, very contrasty image, but please notice the skin tones are still nicely preserved. And the eyes are really telling the story.
Note that despite the profile change, none of the adjustment sliders are touched. Adjustments work completely independently from profile, those two features complement each other to deliver the final effect.
For completeness, I also have to mention that all these changes to the original image are non destructive, they are saved in the XMP file that accompanies the image (in modern formats like HEIC – XMP metadata can be even embedded inside the image file).
Let’s move to presets. Presets are working differently from profiles. Presets are applied on the image processed with the given profile, giving it additional adjustments. They work best on RAW images, but you can also use them on HEIC/ JPEG images for pleasing result. Presets are essentially nothing more than saved combinations of Lightroom CC adjustments, which can be applied to the different images to recreate the same artistic effect.
Presets pane can be invoked by clicking on the Presets button in the bottom section of Adjustments panel. Presets pane appears on the left of adjustments pane, and it’s not without a reason, as you will quickly see.
I will skip explaining pane mechanics, which works essentially the same way, like profiles browser, with one notable difference – presets are always presented as a list, it’s not possible to change the view to thumbnail view.
For this particular image I applied RNI profile with analog film simulation of Fuji Natura – but applied only 50% of the intensity. With presets tab and RNI preset section expanded, I can now freely choose from a number of presets provided by the vendor.
You will quickly recognise that some film simulations might come in several variations – eg. Muted, HC (High Contrast) or Grain. Although you can easily mute image colours, increase contrast or add grain in Lightroom, RNI says that using those film simulation variations will give you more authentic analog look and feel, because they were created based on the original negatives.
Second thing you should notice is that when you hover-over any preset name, and the preset is temporarily applied to the image, the corresponding sliders in the adjustment section move their positions. If you trace it, you can very easily see what exactly is particular preset doing to the image. Eg. if I just apply Fujifilm Natura 1600 preset, it does the following changes to the image, in addition to applying different color theme:
Don’t get confused – all changes applied by RNI profiles or presets are rather subtle. For striking differences, you have to amplify the adjustments proposed by the preset. I would clearly not recommend to do so, unless you want to achieve a very particular artistic effect. RNI know their craft and you can be sure that any of the profiles they propose will produce balanced, aesthetically pleasing result. So if you apply any further changes, do it gently, otherwise you can ruin the analog balance the RNI Films are bringing.
As it was mentioned in the beginning of this review, RNI Films profiles and presets, once added to Lightroom C desktop, will be automatically synced to the Lightroom CC mobile, should you have this app installed. It would work for both iOS and Android devices (for the purpose of this test iPhone 8 is used).
Essentially, the experience when it comes to profiles and filters is the same. Once you load the image into the Lightroom CC, you can pick either profiles or presets from the sidebar.
This particular image was shot by me using built in Lightroom camera app, which saved a RAW DNG file into the Lightroom library. I thought, applying a vintage Polaroid 690 profile and preset will give it timeless look.
I also applied Polaroid 690 preset and then realised that it makes the image a bit too flag in the highlights – the whole sky looks like a single color shade – you don’t see the usual luminance gradation. Therefore I decided to play with the luminance curve tool, available under Light section.
Curves tool does the wonderful job. I am able to restore some details in the sky gradation, while preserving the mid-tones and the shadows. My job is done here.
RNI Films CC – 01 is a very interesting proposition for people that seriously want to experiment with analogi film simulations on both desktop and mobile. It allows you to continuously work on the image, changing from your mobile phone or table to a full sized desktop device, apply all the edits in the non-destructive fashion.
The tool with its price – $48 is certainly not coming for free, but based on my experience it is the money well spent. And once you buy it, all the future updates of this product you will receive at no further cost. And, as I said at the beginning of this article, RNI is a very well recognized brand on the film simulations market and many professional photographers use it every day – so you can hardly go wrong if you choose RNI for your creative workflow.
Desktop screenshots were made on Lightroom CC version 1.4, running on Mac OS X High Sierra. Mobile screenshots were made on Lightroom CC mobile, running in iOS 12 public beta 9, on iPhone 8. Author thanks Really Nice Images for providing a test version of the product for the review.
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