Film Magic for Digital Cameras
The Color Negative Effect

Traditional Color Negative Film
Until digital photography took over, hundreds of miles of color negative film was shot every day by people all over the planet. With its distinctive orange hue, color negative is the standard film accepted and processed by all "instant" photo labs.

  • the standard mass consumer film
  • relatively low grain
  • holds detail well
  • very forgiving to under/overexposure
  • colors somewhat muted
  • slightly low contrast
  • C41 processing - supported by most photo labs


The Digital Color Negative Effect
The quality of color negative film might be described as "slightly soft". In most respects, digital photos are very similar to color negative film. They both hold a good amount of detail, with some cameras producing slightly lower contrast images. (This is actually good starting point for photo editing. ) Every camera is differant however, and technology is changing all the time..

the formula
Most people would rather not try to emulate the muted soft-contrast look of color negative, but if for some reason you do here is the forumula:

1. reduce contrast
Reduce the image contrast by a small amount - you may need to counter by increasing brightness an equal amount.

2. reduce color saturation
Reduce the color saturation by a small amount, so that you can notice only a very slight grain.

3. add noise (optional)
If you choose to add noise/film grain, be sure to use "color noise" option - this odd looking noise adds to the color negative look.

Practical Tips:

  • This effect may be helpful if the original picture is a bit too bright and contrasty.
  • To get the effect of faster films, use a bit more noise and don't reduce as much contrast, or even add a little.