Updated February 2020
What's the Difference Between Filters, Presets, Actions, and Overlays?
Filters, presets, actions, and overlays can all enhance your photos, but they do inherently different things. Choosing the wrong one can produce a different look than you want and set you back in the editing process. Also, many editing tools are exclusive to either Photoshop or Lightroom, so it’s important to have a basic understanding of compatibility before combining tools.
Actions are prerecorded sets of multiple software commands, that play one after the other, to make specific changes to an image. Actions can be stacked, so that one is run after the other, in order to create more dynamic edits. Actions are typically complex and because of this, the use of actions saves a user large amounts of time from having to make each change individually in order to achieve a desired outcome. Our actions are compatible with Photoshop CS6 or CC, along with Elements versions 15 and later.
Presets, often referred to more specifically as Lightroom presets, make global changes to an image. On average, our presets change 30-50 settings. Tool presets are a type of preset that can be stacked and should be applied alone or after using a general preset. Tool presets change one preset setting but keep all other previous changes constant. Tool presets are also known as post-add presets. Layer presets are a type of preset that create a solid mask or layer over an image. They can also be stacked and should be applied alone or after using a general preset. Layer presets don't change any general preset settings.
Our presets were designed for use with Adobe Lightroom Classic CC versions 5.0 and later, Adobe Lightroom CC, and Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw (ACR) – a free plug-in for Photoshop CS6 and later (Including Photoshop CC and 2020). Presets can be synced with mobile devices using the paid subscription version of Adobe Lightroom CC or installed directly into the free Lightroom mobile app using DNG files. Our featured image was edited with one-touch using the "Afternoon Sun" preset from our Brixton Film Earthy Moods Collection.
Luxe On The Farm Presets, Photo by Iza Lyson
Brixton Film Cinematic Film Presets - Photo by Melissa Richard
How do filters compare with presets and actions? Filters often change basic settings like exposure or color tone. They cannot be modified and are often integrated into specific programs like Instagram or smart phones. Presets and actions provide much more advanced editing changes and control versus filters. They are also more individualized, which makes them more adaptable to the unique features of photos.
Overlays consist of an image (.jpeg or .png) that sits on top of your original image as a layer, in order to enhance your image. The layers are often blended by the user to create a realistic composition. Compatibility includes Photoshop, Elements, Gimp (including the free version), Affinity Photo, and any other editing program that allows for layers. This does not include Adobe Lightroom.