Is it time to ditch the Fuji film simulations? We review the Dehancer movie emulator

Fujifilm is widely considered the king of film simulations and for good reason. Anyone who has owned a Fuji camera over the last decade appreciates the variety of great movie recipes that can be created in camera and no doubt has their own simulations that they love to use. But is there a better way to give your photos a vintage look? In this review of Movie Dehancer emulator, we will find out.

What is the Dehancer?

Dehancer Film Emulator is a plug-in that works with a variety of film and video editing programs, including Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, Affinity Photo, and DaVinci Resolve. It gives the user the ability to quickly and easily apply dozens of different film emulations to their photos, and includes many classic film positives and negatives from companies such as Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, Ilford, etc. In this review, I’ll focus on using Dehancer for still photo editing, and for complete transparency, I’ll mention that Dehancer contacted me and asked for this review. However, they had no influence on the content or my conclusions and will see this review along with the rest of the Fstoppers community.

User interface

Dehancer’s user interface is extremely simple and easy to navigate. Once the plugin is installed in your favorite program (I used Capture One for all the photos in this review), it’s as simple as right-clicking the photo, selecting “Edit With” and choosing Dehancer. The Dehancer window will open automatically and give you the option to apply your favorite emulation and many other adjustments. The interface is very well laid out and it is easy to preview many emulations as you edit your photo. On the left side of the window, there is a grid of thumbnail previews showing the effects of each film simulation, and clicking on a thumbnail will apply the simulation to your photo. Previewing different emulations is quick and easy.

On the right side of the window, there are more tools that let you fine-tune your look with options like color temperature, black point, halo, bloom, vignette, and more. One of my favorite options is the “Film Grain” menu, which allows the user to apply grain to an image with a variety of ways to refine the look. Grain can be applied as a positive or negative film, which provides even more options for refinement since the grain of positive film is much more subtle. Users also have the option of creating a list of favorite presets, which is much easier than searching through the entire library of over sixty.

However, there are a few things missing from the dialog window. There’s no histogram, which would be a huge plus, and no ability to adjust basic settings like exposure, shadows, highlights, contrast, etc. For this reason, I found myself making basic exposure adjustments in Capture One before opening the file in Dehancer, and while that’s not a major issue, it would be easier to adjust those settings directly. in the plugin, even though it is technically a plugin.

Real world test

I tested Dehancer using footage I took during two recent on-location shoots. First, I took some behind-the-scenes photos during a recording session. The session took place at Milkhouse Studies in Huntington, New York, and since the studio was in an old farmhouse, there were plenty of great photographic opportunities. I then captured footage from a gig at Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club in New York City during a centenary tribute concert for bassist Charles Mingus and used the Dehancer presets as part of my editing process.

To be frank, I never thought of using film simulations for my professional work, as I considered them more or less a novelty to use for fun and family photos. I guess you can attribute this to my semi-old-school mentality, but I usually create my own looks when I’m retouching, mostly grading colors, or creating whatever colors and tones I want in my studio. My experience editing these two batches of footage using Dehancer’s film emulations helped change my perspective on this issue.

Either way, I found I could use the simulations to take a great photo and make it look great. I was happy that I didn’t have to spend a ton of time creating a unique look for each image, but with just one click I could preview and figure out if that was more or less where I wanted to go. The ability to fine-tune each preset also helped get the images exactly where I imagined them and made the whole process quick and rewarding.

Is it time to ditch the Fuji film simulations?

Before my fellow Fuji fans get upset, the short answer is obviously no. But, after a few days of testing Dehancer, I came to some conclusions. More importantly, I realized that I preferred applying emulations in post rather than shooting in simulation mode with one of my Fuji cameras, for several reasons. First, I like the ability to preview many sims to see which one I prefer rather than having to choose an in-camera sim before firing the shutter. Second, the workflow is so easy and fast that it didn’t add tedious time to my editing process.

I found, however, that the looks of Fuji films, especially Reala and Provia, seemed a bit heavy when it came to color cast. I haven’t found this to be true with the Kodak and Agfa presets, and I think Dehancer has some work to do on their Fuji emulations in particular.

Finally, there will always be times when I want to avoid editing altogether and choose to use Fuji’s exceptional built-in film simulations. But, having a huge variety of emulations at hand definitely makes me less adept at using camera options in the future.

Conclusion

As I mentioned, I used to think of movie simulations as more or less a novelty, but using Dehancer made me believe in emulations as part of my professional workflow. In my real-world test which included challenging lighting situations, I found the results very pleasing and appreciated the ability to easily edit photos to create a variety of great looks. In the future, I’m sure I’ll use Dehancer more as part of a well-rounded workflow.

About Debra D. Johnson

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