Core | Color V2.0 Lightroom Presets


Core Color V2.00 Lightroom Presets

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These are not gimmicks, these were not rushed to make money. These are the looks I designed for myself after being totally happy with all the other film simulations out there. After constant requests by readers and followers, I’ve taken a great deal of time to package these looks up into something that can be incredibly powerful and useful in every situation for any style of photography.

This is a product I am very excited about and it has dramatically changed the way I edit. It has made me faster and I’ve also learned a great deal about tone control, color harmony, and grain while making these, and I think you can learn a great deal from these presets as well by opening them up and seeing how they work.

Since these are my regularly used looks they do change over the years and I will roll out updates regularly for those that have purchased them.


Latest Update What’s New In Version 2.0:

Mostly these looks have been refined and organized. I’ve completely overhauled Core I. And I’ve done a lot of tuning on the Aged looks to give them a little more of a film vibe. I’ve moved the Sepia looks into their own sections, updated and improved them, and have added new Color Elements.

New Look 2b – Film – Core II.3 – Aged C2+R+


40+ Total Color Presets

The Core color preset package took over two years to create with each color meticulously designed, tuned, and tweaked on various camera systems to produce a unique analog film look.

The goal was to build enough presets and tools to provide versatility so that the looks are useful in any situation, from the traditional landscape, street, and portraits, to faded Instagram, looks with a complementary color grade.

Color harmony played a very important role in the designs and the colors are tuned and shifted to create a more pleasant balance between tones.

Some looks are inspired by popular film looks like Kodak Gold, Kodak Ektar, or Fujifilm 400H, and several of the looks are designed for night shooting in mixed lighting conditions.

As a whole, this pack is designed for high contrast and punchy colors, but you can also turn up the exposure and get some calmer images with some of the Aged looks.



7 Base Core Looks

Each look has a base look with variations, an aged look, and some have alternate looks for better compatibility with different camera systems.


Core Looks I – IV

Designed primarily to produce nice skin tones no matter the camera brand and two variations were produced to help with this. C1 and C2.

Initially, I designed these looks with Fujifilm and Sony cameras, then I started shooting Nikon and Canon more so I made alt C2 looks that can help with the base colors of those cameras. They do not reverse engineer Nikon colors, so just consider the alt looks that can be used for any brand as well. Fujifilm or Sony sometimes have more electric greens or Sony can sometimes have more vibrance in the warmer tones, and the alt C2 looks to help readjust these colors to be more pleasant on Nikon cameras, giving back some colors and taking away others.

If you’re shooting on Sony, Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Panasonic, or Fujifilm, between the C1 and C2 looks with the different versions of each look, you should be able to find looks that work for your camera without any problem.

You’ll see a lot of options for the Core II and Core III looks since these are the looks I use when doing lens reviews where I’m shooting more with people.

Variations – Each look has at least two variations, some up to three. These keep the same core look, but they have been altered for different lighting and environmental condition.



Core Looks V-VII

Designed without protecting skin tones you’ll find that the reds and yellows are shifted more. This is useful in environments without people or in strong lighting conditions.

These are primarily what I use for street photography, especially at night.





7 Different Grain Styles

Fine Grain, Light Grain – Crips, Light Grain – Soft, Medium Grain – Crisp, Medium Grain- Soft, Heavy Grain – Crisp, and Heavy Grain – Soft.

Crisp was designed to protect the edge sharpness and details in the photos. This is great for photographers that want to preserve sharpness, while still adding a slightly dithered feel to the image. The Crisp grain setting is also very useful at high ISO values where the image has already lost detail from digital noise. Noise reduction only removes so much of this digital noise so a Crisp grain pattern on top will help mask any artifacts without reducing the details further.


Soft is designed to soften the edge sharpness. For photographers that want a more natural analog grain pattern. The Soft grain setting is much closer to the real thing.


6 Color Grade Sets

Split-tone or now called Color Grade effects add complementary colors to further style or age the images.


Aged I-IV – have some shifted colors to add a little color to the image if needed.

Sepia I – III – are sepia color grade.

Cooled I – II – cooled color grades for a more cinematic look.

These grades can all be used by themselves or stacked with the Core Looks.


The Core Look

The base Core looks have a higher contrast with deeper blacks and colors.


The Aged Looks

The Aged looks are slightly faded and some of the colors are shifted to simulate a mild old or expired film look, but without losing contrast and saturation.



Making The Presets – The Challenges

The challenge was to create presets that looked great on any of the different camera brands.

Sony, Panasonic, and Fujifilm both take a more natural realistic approach to their RAW colors while Canon and Nikon are more styled. While the presets work great on any camera, some have been given alternate looks to work with the different systems which are labeled C1 or C2.

The curves, both the luma curve and the RGB curves, needed to be tuned to produce more depth and tonality to the colors for a more analog, less digital look.

The color curves were heavily manipulated to add some stronger colors in the different tonal ranges. Some looks, like the Core II have cooler colors in the shadows with more warm colors in the highlights which is a popular look in cinema.

To add the final touches, even the grain presets have been meticulously designed to give as much of an analog look as possible. There are several different ways of tuning the grain by adjusting the roughness, the size, and the amount and different formulas produce dramatically different results.


Different Lenses

If you’re using modern lenses, the looks come set with pretty high contrast and saturation by default because they have been designed around older retro lenses or less expensive lenses that tend to not have a lot of contrast or saturation. If you’re using very high-end lenses that produce a lot of contrast & saturation, you may find that you need to reduce the contrast or saturation sometimes.

Right now the contrast and saturation are set to be more versatile so they also work well with JPG shooters. I personally would like to make them even punchier, but then they would lose their versatility. So if you like punchier images, increase the Contrast and Sat by 5 or 10 points.


Naming Convention

The letters and numbers are used to organize the looks.

Core I – Core VII has different base formulas with some alternate tunings for different environments and lightings.

Aged – Aged looks have lifted blacks and often have a little extra red added into the shadows.

C1, C2 – Colors are tuned to find a happy medium between the different camera brands. This allows photographers that shoot on different cameras to still find looks that work for them.

+R – Extra Red was added to the image.

Warm – The image is colored slightly warmer. This only happens once on the Core III set. Core III set is inspired by Kodak Ektar and this was an alternate take at mimicking the film stock with creative liberties taken.

Cool – The Imaged is slightly cooled.

Retro – New to V2.00 that I’m experiencing with. It has a very heavy shift with almost an expired film vibe.



New Sepia Looks

These have completely changed in V2.00

Sepia presets are very difficult to get right and I spent a great deal of time trying to get a new sepia look. I felt like something like this was missing from the presets and there needed to be a few looks that weren’t just film-like simulations.

I took a few of my favorite looks and made a Sepia variant. These basically strip out a lot of colors leaving only the warmer colors, and there are some color grading filters that push things into a bit of a Sepia feel.

There are a few different versions of the Sepia looks.

Casual – Sepia I – IV – These looks are a little calmer with lower saturation. I use these often during the day and they are especially great when shooting street photography.

Cine Night – Sepia I – IV – Cine Night are sepia looks with very aggressive characteristics. Typically at night, a scene may not have a lot of saturation and these looks compensate for that with very strong colors with some strong Color shifts. These were designed really to only be used at night since they are a little too aggressive for daylight use.



Important Tips

Because these looks have some pretty aggressive color curves, it’s pretty important to get the WB adjustments right especially when dealing with skin tones. These are mostly calibrated to the people in my life who are Asian and Caucasian. The first thing I almost always do is a minor adjustment to WB.

The colors will be shaped and work differently depending on the exposure. There is a bit more color contrast in the shadows than in the highlights, so brighter images will often have a slightly calmer feel, darker images might have a bit more punch.

When dealing with in-camera profiles, these do stack very well with some profiles but they can dramatically change skin tones, so again just adjust WB to get it right.

With Fujifilm I often use these on top of Classic Chrome set in Lightroom when shooting RAW and sometimes even on top of Classic Chrome as JPGs. I’ll also occasionally use them with Astia.

With Nikon I’ll sometimes use them with Camera Standard or sometimes with the Portrait looks to find different blends.

But for years, and almost all the samples above, I’ve been using them with either Adobe Color or Adobe Standard. But you can just experiment, to build your own workflow.


What Looks work well in what situations?

The first half of the pack I designed to work well with people and casual situations Core I – Core III.

I only build Core V – Core VII when I started shooting a lot more street photography, especially street photography at night. For night street shooting I often jump straight to those later looks first.

Some of the early looks work very well stacked with some in-camera profiles. Like Core, III works great with the Portrait profile on Nikons even at night.



Current version: v1.10

Those who purchase presets will be automatically added to an email newsletter where they will receive updates when changes occur. These looks will continuously change with updates and tweaks as cameras and technology change.


2a – Film – Core I.1 C1 – Desaturated red primaries slightly
2a – Film – Core I.2 – Aged C1 – small tweaks
2a – Film – Core I.2 – Aged C2 – small tweaks
2b – Film – Core II.1 C3 – Added for now as a work in progress as a possible replacement for C2.
2b – Film – Core II.1 C3 – Small tweaks
2b – Film – Core II.2 C3 – Small tweaks
2b – Film – Core II.2 Sepia – New Look
2c – Film – Core III.1 – C3 – Shifted Blue Primary
2c – Film – Core III.4 Sepia – New Look
2d – Film – Core IV.1 – Desaturated blues, lowered contrast overall.
2d – Film – Core IV.3 Aged – Small Tweaks
2e – Film – Core IV.4 – Sepia – New Look
2e – Film – Core V.1 – Alt – Small Tweaks
2e – Film – Core V.1 – Warmer – Small Tweaks
2e – Film – Core V.1 – Small Tweaks
2f – Film – Core VI.1 – Alt – Small Tweaks
2f – Film – Core VI.3 – Sepia – New Look
2g – Film – Core VII.1 – Small Tweaks

Elements Reworked

All the Split Toned Elements have been reworked for the major update that came with Lightroom in 2020.

If you are working on an older version of LR, some of these updates will not work correctly for you and you should stick with V1.00.



2a – Film Core I.1 – This look has been totally rebuilt.

Most of the Aged looks have been heavily adjusted.

All New Sepia Looks.

6 New Color Elements.

New Light Grain


How To Install

Unzip file. Right-click in the preset panel in Lightroom. Click Import.

If you use an older version of Lightroom that uses lrtemplate files email me and I can send presets converted for that, but you will lose some of the color grade effects. I do try to keep these backward compatible, but some looks do take advantage of the new color grade tool.

The latest V2.00 update will not work with the older Lightroom versions because I use new Color Grading tools.


How To Update

Download the new presets. Right-click in your preset window and import new ones. You can click directly on the new zip file when importing.

These will load without overwriting your older presets so you can keep what you like from them while making the transition into these new looks.