Tutorial: The black & white film effect

Finish old film look effect

In 2014 most of us use digital cameras which do not give a “film” look. Giving your photograph an old black and white look can add to the story that the image tells. Sure there are a lot of apps which can create a black and white effect – some cameras even have it built in. I prefer to create the effect in Photoshop because it gives me much more control over the image and enables me to create the true film look. To have full control over the image you will need to shoot in RAW mode and use a low ISO - A high ISO will produce a lot of grain, so we want to have as little as possible to allow us to manipulate the image with greater accuracy. If the grain it too much it will simply look superimposed rather than the natural film look we are going after ( Remember, we are going for the 60′s B&W type look so we still want the image to look good).  This will be quite a short tutorial so lets get started.

Firstly, this is original, unedited picture just for reference:

original, unedited picture


Step one – opening the image in Photoshop RAW

I am showing the method from Photoshop RAW. If you do not shoot in this mode already i highly recommend that you start to.

Right click on image, open with Photoshop – this will open the RAW image editor.

Step two – basic settings

Locate the menu on the right hand side and put these settings in:

  • While balance – leave “as shot”
  • Exposure – do not not change unless needed
  • contrast – 20%
  • highlights – 30%
  • shadows – minus 40%
  • whites – 50%
  • blacks – minus 40%
  • Clarity – 25%
  • saturation – minus 100%

Creating old film effect in Photoshop camera raw


Step 3 – Detail

just above the adjustment bars there is a horizontal menu with small square icons. Location to the third one along – this is where we can make detail adjustments. Put these setting in:

  • Amount – 50%
  • Radius – 1.0
  • Detail – 50%
  • Masking – 0%

Adding detail to old film effect


Step four – adding extra effects

Locate to the seventh tab along the horizontal menu. This is where we are going to be adding the subtle grain effect. Put these settings in for a non intrusive grain:

  • Amount – 25%
  • Size – 100%
  • Roughness – 40%

Adding effects to create old looking picture.


Step 5 – Open into a PSD

At the bottom right you will find a button called “open image” – click it:

Open into a PSD


Here is the final Result!

Finish old film look effect

 If you want to see new tutorials as the come please follow me on Google plus, twitter or Facebook, located on the right hand side.

Please comment below:



Photographer and writer for jhphotographer.co.uk

Latest posts by johnhoward (see all)