I resisted presets for a long time. With a history working as a retoucher, I mistakenly thought presets were just shortcuts or quick fixes for people who didn’t know how to retouch properly. What I have come to learn is that presets are just another way to create your personal style or aesthetic.
One problem with presets, that I do not have a workaround for yet, is that they work best when appleid at the RAW stage. What this means is that if you are committed to that look for all of your retouching that comes after. If you were to say commit to a vey heavy faded preset with intense colour shifts and then spend a day performing localised dodge and burn, it is much harder to change back to a more normal or different look. So as a bit of forewarning, if you know your file requires heavy and complex retouching form the outset, perhaps think about whether you want to “burn in” a colour presets at the raw stage. Sure there are ways to add presets to a psd or tiff after your retouching, but you do not have the latitude that RAW files have and you will get a different result form the presets.
I have tried VSCO films, both the app and desktop Lightroom Plugins, as well as Mastin Labs and a handful of miscellaneous presets sold by photographers, but nothing ever really stuck, not until I tried RNI Films.
RNI Films, like some of the other preset companies base their presets off of real film stock. RNI Films also uses it’s own camera calibaration profiles which to me means you would get a more consistent result across camera brands/models as you are starting from a more consistent starting point.