I'm finally getting a break to look at the Skyline Essentials Bundle, which is 4 preset packs; Essentials, Classic, Film Fun and Film X-Process. Skyline also have 2 Signature series presets, 1 from Colin Prior, and the other from John G. Moore, both well known landscape photographers. I've met John on the tradeshow circuit as he demos for Adobe and Hasselblad. He's also the person who introduced me to these presets. It's easy to jump to the conclusion that I'll just say nice things because of this (not to mention that I didn't pay for them). Fortunately I don't have to rely on friendship for this, because the presets themselves are excellent for a number of reasons. Firstly there's tonnes of them, and secondly, it's a measly £14.99 for the bundle, discounted from the usual £28. Think value here, they're certainly not cheap. John's also organised a discount on both Signature Series, so they're £6.99 each instead of £9.99.
The first pack is, in essence, a tool kit. If you're read my work at all you'll know I advocate using building block presets to get to a look quicker than wanging about with sliders. By hovering over a preset name and looking at the Navigator window, you can see the effect instantly, saving a lot of time choosing the right setting. This first pack allows exactly that, along with some looks. There's also presets for Local Adjustments, things like a better skin soften (the default one tends to saturate skin), exposure settings and a sweet orange skin desaturation for fake tan!
The second pack is Classic Presets. This pack looks at emulating photographic Masters like Bailey & Newton, as well as emulating the look of a range of Movies, like Clockwork Orange or 300. There's a huge range of looks here, making it a must have set.
Pack number 3 is the Film Fun pack. Here we have a range of film emulations. I'd say classic, but I'm not sure I've heard of Kojak, Muji, Agpha or Milford brand films.. ahem. As well as looking like the (properly named) brands, there's options for differing contrast for that film look. I think perhaps the Reala one should be a little warmer, but as you can't assume a base white balance, it's probably better to leave it as is. Roll on the day when we can have relative presets. I also await the Delta 3200 Preset! Rather than go on about what's not there, what is there is excellent, and is much cheaper than other products doing the same looks. At the end of the day, film presets will always be subjective to the creator, and in reality differing developers would give differing looks from the same film. These though are really useful.
The 4th set is a Cross Process set. Again I'm a fan of Cross Process, even from back in the film days when I destroyed a load of slide film in my local C41 lab! Not really, but I did play about with it a lot. Fortunately there's no guessing what the final image will look like with digital. There's a huge range of toning in this set, with probably a far great range of colour than you would get with film. Any aspiring lookbook photographer will find a tone to suit them here.
The first of the 2 signature sets is by Colin Prior. The Presets are named for the crop that you need to apply, and the looks are based on those crops. With the Velvia like colours that are applied, this set should sate most Landscape photographers. Colin is an exceptional photographer and well known for his panoramic work, which may explain why there's such a mix of crops required: 6:12, 6:17, 3:1 etc.
The final set is that of my buddy John G Moore. I don't know if I should say anything. I mean he's a solid Scots bloke with a love of Irn Bru and all, but if I've something bad to say, it could be dangerous. I'm kidding of course. If you're not following John on Google+, you should be. While well known as a landscape photographer, John also demos for Hasselblad. It's hard to bring a landscape to a tradeshow, so fortunately John excels at shooting pretty girls. With that in mind, this set is a mix of landscape and portrait presets. There's a good range in the choices, including probably my favourite presets in the whole set, B+W Gritty and the Landscape Colour preset.
All in all, this is a pretty comprehensive bundle. Bearing in mind that there are film emulation packs out there for $99+, this whole bundle for £14.99 is a no brainer bargain. If you use presets at all, you'll find this treasure trove quite useful. If you're anti presets, then move along, nothing to see here. Generally speaking I find packs of presets with large amounts of presets to be splashes of glory in the midst of humdrum. These are certainly better than that. In fact, the Skyline Essentials Bundle is far more premium than the price belies.
The true test of any preset is 'Will I keep using it?'. I can certainly see myself using a range of these again in the future.