How to Make Photos Look Like a Film Using VSCO Features

Many people have been getting into film photography recently, and it’s not hard to see why. There’s something special about the gritty, old-fashioned look that you can only really get with a 35mm film camera. Shooting digital can be expensive and time-consuming, but don’t worry.

Here we are going to explain some useful tricks that will enable you to obtain a film look on your mobile images using VSCO


Many photographers are returning to film because of the unique colors that different types of film stocks can provide. To apply different color grades to your digital photo, you have to download one of the best VSCO photography apps. There are a number of free and paid filters available that can help you turn your digital photo into an antique-style image. But which filters will give you the best film look? Out of the options below, pick a few.

  • A4: This pre-set, created to resemble vintage sepia-toned analog video, will increase whatever dynamic range you come across.
  • A5: The colors in the shadows are deep blues, with bright highlights.
  • A6: This filter is perfect if you want a minimalistic edit with lots of contrast and deep vibrance.
  • KP1: Kodak Portra 160 gives you creamy highlights and deep, rich blacks, giving your photos a beautiful, high-contrast look.
  • KP4: This filter is perfect for various skin tones.
  • KP9: This filter is a great way to add some unique colors with purples and greens.

VSCO Lightroom Presets 

I think the Kodak Portra series stocks are great for skin tones and color corrections. If you’re a fan of the film like I am, you probably already know everything about these three stocks, but in case you don’t know, each number represents the ISO.

  • Kodak Potra 160 Series: This stock is great for bright light conditions because it has creamy, warm highlights and purple-ish shadows with a slight hint of green.
  • Kodak Potra 400 Series: With its deep, warm highlights and sunny brown shadows with a touch of gold, it is sure to make your photos stand out.
  • Kodak Potra 800 Series: This one is grainier, but it’s perfect for darker environments because the ISO has to compensate for low-light scenarios.

Shadows and Highlights

Although digital cameras have a large dynamic range, this actually makes it harder to take pictures that look like they were taken with film cameras. This is because older film cameras have a smaller dynamic range, which causes highlights and shadows to appear more faded. To create a similar effect, you can bring your dark tones and shadows up while bringing your highlights down.

Tips & Tricks:

  • The preset will usually change the tone in some way and it is normally a good idea to select a preset first before changing any of the tone settings.
  • Strong Shadows & Highlights (High Contrast): Energetic, dramatic, happy, focused, hot.
  • Soft Shadows & Highlights (Low Contrast): Calm, relaxed, melancholy, tired, cold


The most important thing to remember when trying to make digital photos look like film is not to forget about grain density. If you’re not a fan of adding grain to digital photos, that’s okay. However, it can help add depth and texture to your picture. Digital photos often look significantly different due to the lack of noise and grain unless they are shot at a high ISO. Although shooting at a high ISO can add some texture to your photo while you are taking it, adding grain in post-editing will allow you to keep a high-quality version of your photo as well as a “film version”.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Grain is usually applied subtly to color images. To get an aggressive look, push the effect until it looks too strong, then dials it back. There are no set rules for this.
  • To see the effect of the graining tool in better detail, pinch the screen to zoom in.
  • The size of the grain in your image will affect its visibility. The grain in your image will be more visible on larger screens or if printed. The editor’s phone screen is a good representation of how the photo will look on other phone screens.

Lower Clarity

A lower level of clarity is often a by-product of older film cameras. This is because older film cameras usually don’t have the best optics. By reducing the clarity of a photo, you can give it the unpolished quality often found in film photos. Lowering the clarity of your digital images is a great way to make them look more vintage and film-like. It takes a developed eye to use it just right.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Use your fingers to zoom in on your image to see the clarity tool’s effect on details more clearly.
  • You don’t want to over-clarify your images, as they can look harsh when you use this tool too much.
  • You can return the slider to 0 position by tapping it twice.
  • You can create a vintage look by decreasing the clarity of the image.

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