Film Magic for Digital Cameras
The Color Slide Effect

Traditional Color Slide Film

To this day, color slide is the standard film for most commercial photography projects. Slide film offers the rich colors and punchy contrast that magazines and advertising media demand. However things continue to change, and the increasing quality and dropping prices of digital photography will soon shift the balance.

  • the standard film for commercial photography
  • very good color saturation
  • slightly higher contrast improves definition
  • very unforgiving to under/overexposure
  • E6 Processing required - professional photo lab


The Digital Color Slide Effect:
Punchy color and contrast is the general description for the look of color slide film, and this is an easy effect to duplicate digitally. The following example shows a case where the exaggerated image tone gives the image a new style.

original photo

saturated slide film effect


The Formula:

1. increase color saturation (optional)
To further exaggerate the color, increase the saturation by a few percent. This is optional as you will already see stronger color from step 1.

sample: saturation +15


2. Sharpen (optional)

before sharpen

after sharpen

sample: sharpen filter


3. add monochrome noise (optional)
If you choose to add noise/film grain, try the "monochrome" noise option. In my opinion, this monochrome noise looks similar to the nice grain structure of some slide films.

sample: add 3% monochrome noise


4. adjust brightness/contrast
Increase the image contrast by a small amount - experiment with moving the brightness - also a slight amount. There is no perfect formula, trust your eye! You will see the colors already start to get more vivid with the slight increase in contrast.

sample: contrast +10, brightness -5



click image to show before and after

Practical Tips :

  • If the original image looks a bit flat, this is a good way to make it more "snappy"
  • To get the effect of faster films, use a bit more noise and contrast