Vintage effect

Any effect which gives the look of an old photo, including sepia toning, photo borders, paper patterns and textures and anything else which gives a distressed, ‘aged’ look.


An effect where the edges of the picture are darker than the centre. It was common with old lenses and it’s become associated with a vintage look. It’s considered a lens aberration these days, though photographers often like to add a vignette effect deliberately.

Toy camera effect

A deliberately low-quality image effect that mimics the retro look produced by cheap old film cameras. Pictures have added contrast and colour saturation and strong vignetting at the edges of the frame. Some toy camera effects add a colour shift to simulate old and out of date film.


Overlays used by some image effects software to simulate dust and scratches on a negative, paper textures or other ‘distressed’ surfaces.

Light leak

Old and cheap film cameras have poor seals and badly-fitting backs that may let light through on to the film inside. This produces pale streaks across the image or at the edges and has become associated with an ‘old camera’ look. Some programs now replicate light leaks digitally in a variety of colours, patterns and orientations.

Gum bichromate

An old chemical printing process which uses gum and chemical bichromates to produce prints from negatives. It produces images with a particular visual appearance and can be replicated, after a fashion, using software. ON1 Photo RAW has a Gum Bichromate effect preset, for example.


Film grain is caused by the random clumping of silver halide grains (black and white) or dye clouds (colour film) – the individual grains or colour spots are too small to see. Film grain looks very different to digital noise – many photographers use film grain simulation filters and tools.


Another word for borders applied digitally to a photo, either as a compositional aid to enclose the picture, for example a black keyline, to simulate the look of negatives or prints, or (in the worst case) to produce a pretend wood or metal frame.


‘Analog’ film comes in three main types: colour transparency (slide) film, colour negative and black and white negative. It also comes in many sizes, from 35mm through medium format roll film to large format sheet film. Smaller formats than 35mm are still available, such as 110 and 126, but are less popular now.

Film simulation

Image settings on some cameras which attempt to recreate the colours and tonal quality of classic films. Fuji offers Velvia, Provia and Astia film simulations to replicate its films of the same name. You can choose these in-camera if you shoot JPEGs, or apply them later to RAW files.


Room set aside for film development and printing, typically equipped with a ‘wet’ area with running water, an enlarger for making prints and blackout materials to produce complete darkness.