Last Updated on February 2, 2023
What Are the Presets?
These presets help to make those digital raw photographs look like they are real Kodak Portra films when they are pushed in development. Pushing is the effect that allows you to shoot at higher ISOs while also adding color casts and contrast to the film images.
If you have Portra films, that is one thing, but matching the digital can become time-consuming when it comes to tweaking curves and sliders. This is where the new presets such as Mastin Labs can be so helpful in achieving that closer look in much shorter time.
How Does Mastin Labs Compare with VSCO?
For one, Mastin Labs has Portra 800 + 2 and 160 + 2 presets; VSCO does not. VSCO does, however, have a Portra 400 + 3 whereas Mastin labs does not. Another important thing to note is that Mastin Labs does not have that varied look that VSCO has become known for. VSCO has all of their “+” alternative looks presets.
The grain profiles for Mastin Labs tend to all be the same for each of their presets and aren’t applied by default. What does this mean? You get a choice between 35mm and the medium format levels for grain that can be applied separately. There is no offering for changing from 160 to 400 to 800, though.
How They Look
Most people tend to buy a preset because of the looks that they give, not for any of the extras that they include. VSCO, starting with the 01 film pack and progressing to the 07, have taken the time to perfect their process. The presets, as such, have improved by quite a bit over time.
But when it comes to general quality and accuracy compared to real film, Mastin Labs tends to be miles ahead. When you compare them directly, the results can be somewhat more difficult to compare and contrast. In some images, there is a minimal difference. Yet in others, the contrast can jump out drastically.
A Few Takeaways From Mastin Labs vs. VSCO
The first is that Mastin will give you a trio of film emulations in each pack. Each of them has a one-click adjustment option as well as 35mm or medium-format film grain options. That is in addition to all of the crop presets that will help match actual film dimensions.
VSCO, meanwhile, gives you a ton of different film emulations in each pack. That means more variety from the very beginning, though they tend to require extensive tweaking to get them exactly as you want them to be.
VSCO will also give you quite the versatility on images. It caters to a much broader range of preferences and styles than the Mastin Labs offerings. Mastin has a clean-cut look, usually resulting in a happier, tweak-free initial result. Mastin Labs is plain and simple, coming out looking good on film.
Mastin presents also tend to preserve the details within the images. You get richer blacks and more brilliant whites while maintaining dimension and depth. VSCO images can look flat from time to time in comparison.
Mastin’s presents will also work with both ACR and Lightroom. They have presets for Nikon, Canon, and the Fuji X-series users as well. When including a second shooter for professional events, there is no need to tweak images to match in post-processing.
Though it can go ignored when comparing presets, it also helps that there is excellent customer service through Mastin. Getting critiques, answers to questions, and support can help generate a better understanding of the different presets. The options are much more abundant compared to VSCO, making it easier to get desirable answers for Mastin Labs than VSCO.
Simply put, Mastin Labs has the closest film emulation presets available on the market today. Despite the advances in digital, film is most certainly not dead and has that timeless look that digital simply cannot hope to match. For those needs, Mastin Labs is the superior choice when compared to VSCO. The latter certainly has its benefits, but for clearer, crisper presets and simpler-to-use presets, Mastin Labs is the better choice for both amateurs and professionals alike.