Rebecca Lily Pro Set III – Review
Note: This is a slightly updated version of my review that I posted a long time ago. When I transitioned my blog from Wordpress to Squarespace not all of my photos transferred correctly because of the Wordpress theme that I was using.
The background story
If you are a frequent visitor to my blog(s), or a follower on one of the social networks, you’ll know that use both film and digital cameras. For film I use either a Hasselblad 500C, a Zeiss Ikon, or a Leica M3. For digital I use exclusively a Leica M240. In the past I used a Canon 5D Mark III with lots of Zeiss glass. Both mediums have their own quirks, advantages and disadvantages. There are endless blogs exploring and advocating for each of them, however, this is not the objective of this post. Personally, I like the look and characteristics of film. I therefore aim to achieve a “film look” when editing my digital files.
Photography is my hobby, my creative outlet that allows me to take my mind off my day-to-day job. I am by no means a pro photographer, simply a hobbyist. I take photos on the weekends, during the week while commuting, and when I am on vacation with my family. I love sharing the things I see and experience while commuting or traveling with others. I do license some of my images though from time to time for personal or commercial use.
Another important disclosure (IMO), I don’t get paid for any product reviews. All the software and equipment I use I have purchased with my own money (hence an empty wallet). In fact, this is my first product review, and hopefully many more to follow.
Over the last two plus years I spent countless hours over books and in front of the computer learning about post processing, Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, VSCO, etc., etc., etc. I’ll admit that I tried probably every single photo editing software, including the soon to be extinct Apple Aperture. At the end of last year I got hooked again on film photography. This happened thanks to two fellow photographers, but also due to the fact that I started editing my photos with the VSCO presets in Photoshop CS6. If you are familiar with Photoshop CS6, or any other version of Photoshop, you’ll know that you can easily spend countless hours on editing one single image. A layer here and there, dodge and burn, levels, curves etc. I soon realized that I spent more time editing the photos than actually taking them with my camera, and focusing on getting the photo right upfront.
My introduction to presets by Rebecca Lily
Earlier in the year I purchased the Leica M240 and it came with a complementary version of Lightroom 5. (Well, maybe I purchased a really expensive version of Lightroom 5 and it came with a complementary Leica M240.) I played around with Lightroom for a day or two, but I just couldn’t fall in love with it. I read on several blogs how great it is for quick editing, however, I didn’t like it at all. I specifically disliked how the Leica M240 files looked when imported them and applied some of the included presets. Eventually, I was able to get them to a point where I liked them, however, it took several editing steps and a lot of time/effort. I even went a step further and purchased Capture One Lite when it went on sale. Neither Lightroom nor Photoshop really made me fall in love with the Leica M240 files. Capture One on the other hand was easy to use and it only took a few mouse clicks to get the results I liked. It made me “fall in love” with the raw files of the M240. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t edit every single image I take. I try to keep my editing to a minimum and frequently I leave my photos as-is, straight out of camera jpegs.
For certain photos I love to achieve a “film” look to keep them consistent with the ones that I take with my film cameras. I was looking for a simple solution, a one minute fix, that would allow this. While Capture One made me fall in love with the M240 raw files, it still only gave me a digital look and not the film look. In my opinion, for digital Capture One is the best editing program that I currently have and use.
I knew though that at least two fellow photographers were frequent users of Lightroom and I always marveled at how beautiful their (edited) photos, also taken with a Leica camera, looked. They even raved about the fact that it only took them a mouse click or two. Intrigued, I reviewed their blogs to find out their secrets, and relatively quickly learnt that their secret was Lightroom presets by Rebecca Lily. So I took the plunge, yet again another plugin, and purchased Rebecca Lily’s Pro Set II for Lightroom.
As it turned out, I was not let down for taking the risk/plunge. Rebecca’s presets are very easy to install in Lightroom and editing photos with them is very! easy to do. In fact, for the majority of my images it is simply a “one click” exercise. Even better, I can achieve a consistent look across all my images and I get close to that desired film look that I have been trying to achieve. If I need to make a few more tweaks, for example to highlights or shadows, I can utilize the tools that come with the presets. Rebecca’s presets have actually made me a Lightroom user and I haven’t touched Photoshop, or Capture One in a while. I now spend less time in front of the computer and more time outside taking photos.
Pro Set III – beta test
In early July I was offered the opportunity to beta test Rebecca’s upcoming Pro Set III for LR4/5 on my images and to review it on my blog. Following is an overview of Rebecca’s Pro Set III, my review, as well as samples edited with the beta and final version of the Pro Set III.
Pro Set III – product overview
The final version of Pro Set III includes:
– 125 presets (60 color, 21 black and white, 44 tools)
– 23 out of the 44 tools are tailored for Lightroom 5
– Both the Lightroom 4/5 and ACR 7/8 versions of the presets
– Presets can be applied to both raw and jpg version of an image
– Presets categories: Black & White, Bright Color, Deep Color, Mid Color and Pastel
– Tools examples: Grain, Clarity, Tones, Highlights and Shadows Saves, Tint
Pro Set III – download and installation
After checkout on Rebecca Lily’s website, an instant download link will be provided along with installation and usage instructions. Importing the presets/tools into Lightroom is relatively simple, and only takes a few minutes. You’ll find the presets/tools in the left panel in the develop tab.
Pro Set III – my review
The biggest selling points of the presets and tools, in my opinion, are the “ease of use” and stunning results achieved after applying the presets only, even before fine-tuning the photos with the included tools.
My workflow has literally simplified to 1) importing my photos into Lightroom, and 2) selecting one of the presets to see the effect instantaneously. Within a matter of minutes I can see which preset works best with my photos. Even better, rarely do I need to make any additional adjustments, or I can simply try different strengths/versions of each preset. Once I have found the preset that works best, I can simply apply it to multiple photos.
As mentioned, the presets are divided into five distinct groups, namely:
-Black and White
A huge bonus, in my opinion, is the fact that the pro set III includes both the Lightroom 4/5 and ACR 7/8 versions. VSCO for example is limited to Lightroom or ACR version only, i.e. you have to buy them separately (pay twice) if you want them for Lightroom and ACR.
I have tried and applied the presets to different types of photos (i.e. cityscape, street, landscape, indoor, people) and there is a perfectly matching preset for each included in the Pro Set III.
Following are a few samples of the different presets included in the Pro Set III. I also highly recommend checking out Rebecca Lily’s own blog (www.poemswithoutwords.com), or the customer gallery on Rebecca Lily (www.rebeccalily.com).
The “original” is a jpeg version of the respective raw file, prior to any color or exposure adjustments/editing. The only editing that I may have applied to the original is cropping to keep the view the same as the final version. Click on the individual photos to see a bigger or higher resolution version.
The majority of the “edited” photos are “one-click” edits, i.e. I only selected the preset and didn’t perform any additional adjustments, aside from cropping. Yes, I could have refined the exposure and made other minor tweaks, however, my goal was to show how great the presets work by selecting the presets only and limiting the additional adjustments.
I am trying to show you a glimpse of what is possible. At the end of the day it all comes down to personal taste/preference.
As you can hopefully tell, the presets were very carefully designed by Rebecca, with a lot of attention to detail. If you are an Adobe photo editing software user (Lightroom or Photoshop), in my opinion, there is currently no better product on the market that is as easy to use, affordable, and achieves stunning results in only a few “clicks”. You’ll achieve a consistent look across all your images and the hours you’ll save in post processing you can spend outside working that camera. Added bonus is that you get a set that works both in Lightroom and ACR.
Other products by Rebecca Lily
In addition to the Pro Set III, you can also purchase additional presets, tools and actions. Even better, if you are looking for your own and unique “signature” style, Rebecca also offers a “signature color service”.
Where and how to buy
Rebecca Lily (www.rebeccalily.com)
Note, valued clients receive a 20% discount at checkout.
Additional details about Pro Set III
Following is a list of the different presets included in pro set III. Each preset has a base (I) version, as well as two additional versions (II and III) that strengthen the effect.
Black & White