• Price When Reviewed: 125 . 26 . 255 . 51

  • Pros: Accurate replications of many real-world techniques. Updates underlying algorithms.

  • Cons: Few worthwhile additions in new release. Photoshop interface needs overhaul.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

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Digital Film Tools’ 55mm is a collection of plug-ins that replicate the effects of real-world camera and film processing techniques. Version 7.0 adds 12 new filters, and gives the previous set of around 25 a tune up.

As before, the set is available in two versions: a less expensive release for Photoshop (as well as other image-editing tools) and a pricier edition for After Effects and other editing and compositing applications. Both have the same filters, but with the AE set you can keyframe an impressively high number of the parameters over time.

The new tools focus on creative colour effects, though there’s a couple of very useful clean-up tools for colour fringing.

Chromatic Aberration gets rid of a specific type of fringing by removing distortion from individual colour channels. Defringing removes the effects of overloaded video or still camera CCDs. Both are very effective, though slow. The manual does a great job of explaining when to use one and not the other – and overall the documentation is top notch.

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The headline creative effects are Three Strip and Two Strip, which recreate the look of early colour films and were developed under the direction of the visual-effects supervisor of The Aviator, which used them extensively. The output is near perfect.
Unfortunately, the other effects are less impressive. The likes of Old Photo, Pencil, Color Infrared, and X-Ray can be found in many other plug-in collections, and Digital Film Tools’ version offer nothing unique. Edge Glow applies quite convincing outline, but it’s not as subtle as GenArts’ Sapphire.
The AE version is well integrated into the AE Effect Controls palette, but its Photoshop window (shown left) is dated and needs large tabs rather than radio buttons to make changing between controls easier.
Whether 55mm will appeal depends on whether you value real-world accuracy over creative possibilities. If you do, 55mm is still the best tool around, though this update is disappointing.
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