After hundreds of hours of research, calibration & testing, I’m thrilled to share my free pack of Lightroom presets, the NATE CAM Starter Pack. This pack is a free download and gives you both Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw files for 10 different Lightroom presets inspired by the same film aesthetic as VSCO Cam.
What is VSCO Cam? VSCO Cam is a popular mobile photography app available for iPhone and Android. If you don’t already use it, I would encourage you try it out and purchase some of their outstanding preset packs (NOTE: I’m not affiliated with VSCO in any way - just a fan). Mobile photographers like VSCO Cam in large part due to the beautiful presets it offers. Their filters feel more professional and more refined than the filters in Instagram (which are just awful, honestly). So when you see people on Instagram tagging their posts with #VSCO, this means they used the VSCO Cam app to process their photo.
Of course, it would be impossible to create an exact replication of VSCO cam filters in Lightroom. Why? Well, for a numbers of reasons, including the proprietary, self-contained nature of the VSCO Cam app and the nature of raw conversion inside of Lightroom. So if you want VSCO Cam filters, you can only get those from VSCO.
As of now, though, VSCO does not produce VSCO Cam mobile apps equivalent filters for Lightroom. So if you shoot RAW using a DSLR, like me, you have to convert the raw file to jpeg, load it into your mobile device, and then apply. This workflow is cumbersome, and can produce a ton of image degradation along the way (vs. an “All RAW” workflow).
The NATE Cam Starter Pack lets you have an all RAW workflow and achieve a beautiful, stylish film aesthetic. These filters are my own, original works, built from scratch inside Lightroom. They are not endorsed by or affiliated with VSCO. They simply combine my expertise in Lightroom with everything I love about emulating film aesthetics inside Lightroom.
With that said, let’s get to the free download!
What's Inside This Pack
Inside this pack are 10 original presets. For each preset, there’s a version for Lightroom and a version for Adobe Camera Raw, along with instructions, in a ZIP file. Here’s what’s inside:
- SP-01 – Warm & Muted (compare with A4)
- SP-02 – Clean & Blue (compare with A5)
- SP-03 –Clean & Green (compare with A6)
- SP-04 - Clean Pastels (compare with HB1)
- SP-05 – Gritty Pastels (compare with HB2)
- SP-06 – Warm and Moody (compare with M5)
- SP-07 – Cold and Faded (compare with T1)
- SP-08 – Classic B&W (compare with B1)
- SP-09 – Rich B&W (compare with B5)
- SP-10 – Faded B&W (compare with X1)
Here are some examples of how I've used this preset pack with my own photos, along with a short description of how each preset impacts photos:
E-Chrome | $59
CLASSIC • NATURAL • MOODY
Capture the aesthetic of classic analog film, with gorgeous skin-tones & nostalgic colors.
K-Chrome | $59
BOLD • VIBRANT • SLIDE FILM
Unlock the rich-textures & natural vibrance of famous slide films, like Kodachrome.
SP-PRO | $59
STYLISH • CLEAN • VERSATILE
Take the stylish, clean aesthetic of the starter pack to new levels, with pro-grade results.
Once you've completed the download process, please follow the instructions in this video to install and begin using in Lightroom & Photoshop:
How to Use These Filters
Lightroom is a powerful, full-featured photography tool for professionals. I’ve tried to use that to my advantage in creating these filters. I think this makes these filters much more usable in a professional photography workflow than you could ever achieve inside a mobile app.
While these filters will work on both RAW and JPEG images, I strongly encourage photographers to always shoot RAW (preferably 14-bit). By shooting RAW and using these filters within Lightroom, you’ll be able to take full advantage of these presets and the editing capabilities of Lightroom.
A lot of photographers have told me that they want to use these filters to help learn how to better use Lightroom (which is awesome), but they tell they have trouble seeing which settings are changing in Lightroom.
So here’s a tip. To see where most of the “magic” is happening, go to the “Tone Curve” panel, and click the “Channel: RGB” selector. Then click one of the color channels. Using channel specific color curves gives me the ability to make very nuanced changes that would be impossible in any other module.
The module itself is not very easy to manipulate, so I’ve built my own tools for manipulating curves that would otherwise be impossible to create in Lightroom.
(You can learn exactly how I design these presets and learn to make your own through my Lightroom Masterclasses on the Store Page).
VSCO Cam & VSCO Film
VSCO separately offers a line of professional film emulators for Lightroom, called VSCO Film, which I use and have written about extensively and which I highly recommend. A lot of people have asked me a variation on the question: “Which VSCO Film preset looks like my favorite VSCO Cam preset?”
The answer according to VSCO is that you can’t really compare the two, and that there aren’t really equivalents. They encourage users to "play around" until you find something that you like. My experience has been that this is in fact the case – there is no direct equivalent between VSCO Cam and VSCO Film.
Q. How do I install these?
A. Watch the installation video:
Q. Does this work in Mac & Windows?
A. Yes, this will work on both Mac & Windows platforms, as long as you have a somewhat recent copy of Photoshop or Lightroom. If you have a MAC, the installation process will be easier, as I've included an installer that does all the work for you.
Q. Does this work in Lightroom for Mobile?
A. Technically there is a way to get these to work on Lightroom Mobile, but it takes a lot of manual work for you to set up.
Q. What's the difference between this NATE Cam FREE starter pack, and the PRO version?
The "Starter Pack Pro" version adds a number of highly-requested features – such as custom RAW calibration profiles, intensity control, and easier-to-adjust curves – that help you improve results and give you greater control over your style. You can learn more here.
Q. I tried opening the preset files and it didn't work.
A. You can't directly open the preset files, you have load them in from Lightroom, or move them to the proper directory. Please carefully read the instructions.txt file included.
Q. When I tried loading the files into Lightroom, Lightroom said it couldn't read this type of file. Help!
A. You probably accidentally tried loading in the files from the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) folder. These are a different file type and won't load properly into Lightroom. Try again, and make sure you are loading from the correct directory.
Q. Will these filters work with my specific camera brand?
A. If Lightroom supports your camera, then these filters will work. The free starter pack, however, does not make full use of the RAW capabilities of Lightroom, so you may see significant variance between camera models. You can upgrade to the PRO version of the Starter Pack to take full advantage of RAW using my custom camera profiles (as well as unlocking some other useful benefits).