A couple of weeks ago I downloaded a photo editing app called RNI Films. It’s got a ton of different film simulation presets, including Negative (color and black-and-white), Slide, Vintage and Instant. With one touch you can transform your digital image into something that resembles analog film. It sounded like an app that I would appreciate, so I gave it a shot.
The RNI Films app is free to download. It comes standard with quite a few different film presets, but you can add more for a price. I believe to unlock everything is around $20, which is cheap but kind of unnecessary as it comes with a lot in its basic package. I did purchase one film pack for $4 to get a certain film simulation that I thought I’d like.
The different film presets seem accurate. I have personally used some of the different films that they are attempting to simulate, but many of them I have not. I don’t think it holds up in comparison to Alien Skin Exposure, which, as far as accuracy is concerned, is tops. But for a free or cheap cellphone app, it’s quite good. You get a look that appears analog instead of digital and seems reasonably close to actual film stock. Using this app, I think that you could convince some people that you shot film when you didn’t.
One issue that I have with RNI Films is that there are too many choices. I wish that I could keep a dozen that I really like and get rid of the rest. It takes forever to flip through each preset one-by-one, so it’s important to remember which ones I want to use and where they are located. The process is very slow going if you are browsing.
I don’t see a good way to incorporate this app into a regular workflow. I shoot Fujifilm because their JPEGs are good, which allows me to achieve the look that I want with less time and effort. I have created a bunch of different film simulations that I can use in-camera, and most of the time I don’t have a need to post-process. I believe creating the look that I want in-camera is more authentic than using software to manipulate an image. Sometimes, though, it is not practical (or it might even be impossible) to achieve the desired results straight-out-of-camera, so an app like RNI Films could be a good option for quickly and easily getting the right look. I see this as being helpful occasionally, and remaining unused most of the time.
Where I have found this app to be the most fun is re-imagining photographs while waiting. If I’m at the post office standing in line I can open up the app and create a slightly different version of one of my pictures. If I’m at the auto shop waiting for the oil change to get done, I can re-imagine one of my pictures there. Wherever and whenever I find myself with time to kill, I can open up the RNI Films app on my phone, pick one of my pictures and run it through some film presets. Maybe I’ll create something that I like, maybe I’ll prefer the original version better. You don’t always get better results with this app. Most often you just get a different result, which may or may not be as good as the original. But it’s fun to see how different film presets change the look of an image.
The photographs below show the before-and-after from using this app. For a few of the images I prefer the RNI Films version, while the rest I think the original version is better. I didn’t document which presets I used because I was lazy. I just found the ones that I thought would work for the photograph at hand, and went from there. Obviously what I feel would work best for me and my pictures might not work best for you and vice versa.