Film grain looks like digital noise


in my opinion the film grain emulated by the film pack looks like digital noise and not real film grain. Real film grain is pre-defined by the chemical properties of the film stock. It looks like bubbles that are filled with colors.

The emulation looks just as if I shot with a very high ISO. Especially the film grain emulation adds a lot of color noise that is characteristic for digital sensors.

When I scan negatives I usually apply noise reduction to reduce color noise but grain remains. I cannot achieve the same look using filmpack.

What are your views on it?

Example of real grain:

Filmpack emulation:


My point of view is: film grain is film grain. What’s the point in faking it artificially? What’s the point in driving the sensors to high sensitivity at low or lower or super-low noise, just to add film grain in post? If I want film grain, I shoot film.
Also, just try a vintage lens, maybe 20, 30 years old. These things, no matter if Nikon or Zeiss as brand label are much softer than today’s lenses. In your second picture (front of a scooter?) I find it hard to believe that very sharp edge under the part with the lights is shot with film, the edge is too sharp in comparison with the grain.
I’m simply no big fan of artificially added disadvantages to images. It’s like painting rust spots on a carbon car body of a sports car to make it look more vintage.


It’s your point of view but not an answer to the question. Filmpack is supposed to provide the same “look” a using film, and it is not in that case.

In short I just said artifically generated grain remains artificially.


grains in FilmPack have been scanned on films and are not digital or fake.
Don’t forget that it corresponds to the film we used (we are located in Europe and there are differences with same films in Aia or USA) and the development we made which has a great influence on results.

@anthonysikorski real grain and filmPack comparison you do doesn’t seem to be done on same film, was it ?


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Hi there, I understand your concern, I have seen this too, but in my opinion there are only two grain simulations that do what we see in your test image and these are Kodak EliteChrome 400 and Kodachrome 200. I believe these two grain layers were scanned too much “in focus”. But this can easily be mitigated by dialing back intensity and/or size. Just a bit less intensity should be enough to get rid of that color noise which, indeed, does NOT show up in any of my personal film scans. Especially Kodachrome200 is way to huge and focussed when applied in 24x36 format. This could be a bug btw.

Being a Lightroom user, I attenuate this (if necessary) with LR’s color noise reduction.

As a side note, @JoJu indeed doesn’t answer the question but he’s correct that applying this size of grain on such a detailed digital file doesn’t make sense and would be impossible if it was a real film scan. It looks like Kodachrome200 grain but hugely blown up and there are details that far exceed the resolution of the emulated film. When I apply grain, I always check for this kind of inconstistencies: if needed I use a lens blur tool to soften the original file a bit.

I don’t agree with him that applying grain doesn’t make sense. It’s about aestetics, not about technology.
Sometimes nostalgia is overhyped, like all those “faded prints” looks for instance, but a well-exposed film, shot with a great camera by a great photographer, well lit, well developed has intrinsic aestetics to it that are deliberate and beautiful. That is timeless, and I don’t see why, because of technologic progress, it would be pointless to be inspired by these aestetics and apply similar techniques to our work. All depends on what you’re looking for.

If you’re interested in more technical details about scanning film grain I can share an in-depth paper on the subject. It’s not mine and I don’t have a original link so I guess I shouldn’t publicly share this, so PM me if interested, I’l share a link to it on my Box account.


Actually I found a solution. Film grain can be selected independently from color rendering.

For natural results I select BW film grain (Kodak T-Max 400) for color photos.

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