Fujifilm X100F – Digital Teleconverter + High ISO

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I talked about how the Digital Teleconverter on the Fujifilm X100F adds versatility, and I talked about how great the camera does at high-ISO photography, but I never talked about how these two things do together. I’ve noticed some things about using the Digital Teleconverter at high-ISOs that I’d like to discuss.

Does the Digital Teleconverter limit how high you can go on your ISO settings? The answer is simple: yes. But it’s actually a little bit more complicated than that, so let me dig a little deeper.

I’ve already discussed exactly what the Digital Teleconverter is, and I don’t want to spend much time rehashing that, but basically it’s a digital zoom (zoom-by-cropping) that receives some smart upscaling and sharpening to make the file appear to have more resolution than it actually does. It’s a software trick that allows you to print larger than you might otherwise be able to. You can do this yourself with software on your computer, or you can let the X100F do it for you (which is the Digital Teleconverter).

I’ve also discussed that the practical high-ISO limit on the Fujifilm X100F is 12800, which is very high. Yes, some cameras with larger sensors can go a stop or so higher, but ISO 12800 is way up there, much higher than I ever imagined ISOs going even just 10 years ago.

When using the 50mm Digital Teleconverter (16 megapixel crop) setting, ISO 12800 doesn’t look all that usable. If you want soft and grainy looking black-and-white images, you can get away with ISO 12800 using Acros and the 50mm option. I’ve produced acceptable results this way. However, for the most part, ISO 6400 seems like a more practical high-ISO limit for this situation.

When using the 75mm Digital Teleconverter (12 megapixel crop) setting, anything above ISO 6400 doesn’t look all that usable. ISO 6400 looks alright for soft and grainy looking black-and-white images using Acros. For the most part, ISO 3200 seems like a more practical high-ISO limit for the 75mm Digital Teleconverter.

You might have noticed a trend, and that’s a one stop loss for the 50mm option and a two stop loss for the 75mm option. It’s not that the camera is performing worse, it’s that you are looking much more closely at the exposure (because of the crop). You can more clearly see the degradation in image quality that happens at the higher ISOs. It’s kind of like pixel-peeping–you don’t notice certain things when viewing normally, but they become obvious when you zoom in.

If you use the Digital Teleconverter along with auto-ISO, pay careful attention to the ISO that the camera is selecting. You may need to set it yourself (very quickly and easily done via the knob on top of the camera). My recommendation is to go no higher than ISO 6400 with the 50mm setting and no more than ISO 3200 with the 75mm setting. You can get away with higher sometimes (especially if it’s only for web use), but for best results keep the ISO a little lower than you otherwise would.

Fujifilm X-E3 Thoughts

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Fujifilm X-E1 & 15-55mm Lens

I’m trying to avoid talking about gear other than the Fujifilm X100F on this blog (because this site is about the X100F), but some of you know that my introduction to Fuji was with an X-E1, so I have been asked to share my thoughts on the X-E3. This new camera, which is the fourth generation in the X-E line, will be shipping soon.

I love the X-E line, and I loved my X-E1. It was a great camera that reignited my passion for photography like no other camera, with perhaps the X100F as the only exception. It was a joy to use. I particularly liked pairing it with vintage lenses. I was sad to let it go.

What’s great about the camera is the user experience. I was reminded of the film days, and shooting with a Canon A-E1 (one of the greatest cameras ever made, by the way). I appreciated the process of creating photographs with it. Image quality was great, too.

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Snake River Fog – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

The only reason that I gave up the X-E1 is because, after I purchased the X100F, I stopped using it. It was a shame watching it collect dust on a shelf. I didn’t expect that the fixed-lens camera would downright replace it, but it did.

So what about the X-E3? Well, it’s a tad smaller than the previous X-E versions. It has the same 24-megapixel X-Trans III sensor found inside the X100F. It has better auto-focus. It has Acros and film grain simulation. It has the ISO dial and focus joystick. It has a touchscreen and a simplified back.

The camera is an improvement over the previous models, I’m sure of it. There are definitely some advantages. I’m not sure that I would like the touchscreen, especially since many of the physical controls were moved to that–I can see it being both positive and negative.

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The Tetons and the Snake River, 2017 – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

Here’s the deal: the X-E3 is 90% the same camera as the X-E2s, which is 98% the same camera as the X-E2, which is 95% the same camera as the X-E1. Each new generation is an improvement over the previous, but not by huge margins. The X-E3 over the X-E2s is the largest change from one model to the next, but it’s still not a massive jump. The X-E3 would seem significantly different than the X-E1, but that’s to be expected considering how many models they are apart.

If you purchased the X-E3 you will certainly be happy with that decision. You won’t regret the camera! If the MSRP is a stretch for your budget, consider one of the previous models instead, which can be found for not much money (you can find the X-E1 with a lens for under $300). I think you’ll enjoy any camera from the X-E line. If I were purchasing an interchangeable lens camera, I’d choose one of them.

Are the X-E3’s improvements enough to justify the higher cost? Maybe. I think if you routinely print poster-sized prints, or you shoot straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, or you shoot a lot of moving subjects, you may find the higher price of the X-E3 worth it. If you have an X-E1 with a lot of clicks on the shutter and you’re not confident that it will last you another couple years, perhaps it might be time to upgrade. Otherwise I’d strongly consider a previous generation X-E instead.

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Barn By The Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

 

 

Fujifilm X100F @ Yellowstone National Park, Part 2 – Monochrome Photographs

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Dying Tree At Grand Canyon Rim – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

Part 1 – Color Photographs

I learned plenty from this one-day trip to Yellowstone National Park. One thing is that a heck-of-a-lot of people visit this place from all over the world. The park was down right crowded from the west entrance all the way to Old Faithful. Even the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was packed with people.

Since summer break was well over and it was a Thursday, I figured we’d have the park almost to ourselves. I was way off! I talked briefly with some people while waiting for Old Faithful to erupt who have visited the park numerous times, and this was actually considered a small crowd for Yellowstone based on their experiences. I’d hate to come in the peak summer season!

You really get a sense that you’re on top of an active volcano while in Yellowstone. All of the geothermal activity is a big clue, but you can also tell that you are inside the caldera by observing the rim, which you can spot throughout the park. The place feels a bit unsettling, like it could blow at any moment. Hopefully the big eruption is many millennium away.

Old Faithful was alright, but the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was breathtaking! It was our favorite sight in the National Park. A definite must-see! The Dragon’s Mouth was my favorite geothermal spot. I would have liked to see more of the geysers and such, but the weather didn’t cooperate.

This was my first real travel adventure with the Fujifilm X100F, and it didn’t disappoint. It fit nicely into my jacket pocket, so it was always with me yet never in the way. The dark-grey sky made high-ISO a necessity, and the camera had no issues with that. When I wanted to zoom (but didn’t want to walk out in the rain), I used the Digital Teleconverter. I used the fill-flash several times. Despite no weather sealing, the camera got plenty wet several different times and it handled that like a champ, no worse for the wear.

The photographs in this post are all out-of-camera JPEGS using Acros Film Simulation. I love the Acros settings, and I feel like I get film-like results with it. It saves me tons of time not having to post-process my files. My workflow has been greatly simplified and quickened by the Fujifilm X100F, yet I’m not compromising on results. Enjoy!

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Hebgen Lake – West Yellowstone, MT – Fujifilm X100F

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Mountain Obscured – West Yellowstone, MT – Fujifilm X100F

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Meadow & Mt Haynes – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Firehole Falls – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Lodgepole Pines – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Faithful Steam – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Old Faithful Erupting – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Old Faithful Geyser From Old Faithful Lodge – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Faithful Crowd – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Bear & Fish – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Family At Kepler Cascades – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Kepler Cascades Monochrome – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Yellowstone Lake – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Pines On The Lakeshore – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Steamy – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Hot & Muddy – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Rising Steam – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Mud Puddle – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Mud Volcano – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Dragon’s Mouth – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Photographing Lower Falls With A Phone – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Lower Yellowstone Falls Monochrome – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Grand View of Grand Canyon – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Roadside Raven – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Thin Crust – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Beryl Steam – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

Fujifilm X100F @ Yellowstone National Park, Part 1 – Color Photographs

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Lower Yellowstone Falls – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

I had an opportunity recently to visit Yellowstone National Park for the first time. Well, I went once when I was a young child, but I don’t really remember anything from that trip. My wife and kids had never been at all, so it was a new experience for us all.

The drive from our house (in the Salt Lake City, Utah, metro area) to our campsite near West Yellowstone, Montana, is a four-and-a-half hour trek according to Google Maps. It managed to take us nearly seven hours to get there with all of the stops we made (food, gas, restrooms and a crying baby).

Although we stayed two nights, we only had one day in the National Park. People advised me that two days is kind of a minimum for a Yellowstone visit. While that is certainly good advice, one day is all that I could dedicate, so one day is all we had.

This trip had been planned for a few months. We purposely chose to visit in September because several people noted that the crowds are smaller, the weather typically decent and the wildlife plentiful at this time of year. I don’t know if any of that proved to be true.

We arrived in Yellowstone National Park in the morning. We were greeted by a line of cars also trying to get in. We discovered that, even though this was technically the off-season and not a weekend, it can still get quite crowded inside the park.

The original plan was to stay on the west side of Yellowstone and really take our time exploring the geothermal sites. However, it was a rainy and cold-ish day, so we had to scrap our plans. Thankfully we downloaded an app called GyPSy Guide to Yellowstone National Park, which cost a few bucks but was completely worth it. It really helped us figure out where to go and what to see, and made the car ride more entertaining and educational.

We ended up driving all the way around the South Loop. It rained pretty heavy at times, and sprinkled the whole day. Due to the elements, we couldn’t spend very much time outdoors and didn’t go very far down any trail. We would have seen a lot more if the weather was better. Heck, we didn’t see hardly any wildlife at all.

This wasn’t a photography trip. This was a family getaway. The only camera gear that I brought with me was a Fujifilm X100F. The conditions weren’t great. If I had more time I would have at least carried a tripod with me. I was mostly shooting at high-ISOs. Because I didn’t venture very far down any path, I relied on the Digital Teleconverter a lot instead of zooming with my feet.

If this had been primarily a photography trip, I would have been somewhat displeased with the images captured (there are a few good ones). Since photography wasn’t the main objective–simply the icing on the cake–I’m happy with what I came away with.

These photographs are all out-of-camera JPEGs. I used Classic Chrome for most, and Velvia for a few. Check out Part 2, which features black-and-white images, plus some more details of the trip. Enjoy!

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Frostor – Ashton, ID – Fujifilm X100F

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Chicken Shrimp – Ashton, ID – Fujifilm X100F

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Give Me Some Tots – Ashton, ID – Fujifilm X100F

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Hebgen Lakeshore – West Yellowstone, MT – Fujifilm X100F

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Jonathan At Madison River – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Grand Prismatic Spring – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Excelsior Geyser Crater – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Excelsior Blue – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Bubbling Blue – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Along The Midway Geyser Basin Walkway – Yellowston NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Disappearing Walkway – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Jon Waiting For Old Faithful – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Goofy Siblings – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Crowds Watching Old Faithful – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Kepler Cascades – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Isa Lake Lily Pads – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Large Lily Pads – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Hot Water & Mud – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Dead Trees Near The Hot Spring – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Green Blades – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Getting Off The Holiday Bus – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Tourists At Lower Yellowstone Falls – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Umbrella At Grand Canyon – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

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Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

One Month, Two Months…

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Today marks two important dates.

First, Fuji X Weekly, which is my Fujifilm X100F journal (and the blog you are reading at this very moment) is exactly one month old today. This particular post is #20, which is far more content than I had anticipated publishing within the first 30 days. There have also been more readers (that’s you!) than I expected, so thanks for visiting!

Second, I’ve owned my Fujifilm X100F for exactly two months today. Yes, it was July 19 that it arrived in my mailbox. I’ve captured a lot of pictures with it, so it seems like I’ve had it for longer. In reality, it’s still new and I’m still fine-tuning the settings and my process.

One thing that has come up regarding Fuji X Weekly is navigation. How does one find his or her way around this blog? It’s pretty straight forward, but not necessarily obvious. From the homepage you can scroll and scroll and scroll through every post. That’s not particularly convenient if you are trying to find something specific.

If you look up at the very top-left you’ll see three horizontal black lines. If you click on that you’ll find links to the homepage and an about page (which also contains contact information, if you’re looking for that), as well as a search box. If you know exactly what you are looking for, the search box is a great way to find it.

If you look up at the very top-right you’ll see four horizontal black lines. If you click on that you’ll find another search box (because you can’t have too many), as well as links to the most recent posts, monthly archives and the most popular posts. This is a good place to find whatever it is that you’re looking for.

I didn’t include these things (the search box and links) directly on the front page because I didn’t want to clutter it up. My last blog was a mess with links and boxes everywhere, so I wanted this one to be much more simple. The kiss method (“keep it super simple”) applies to blogs just as much as it applies to composition, gear choice and life in general.

5 Essential Elements of Photographic Vision

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Photographing Lower Falls With A Phone – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

There are a lot of people that will tell you that you need photographic vision, but very few will explain what it means. You can search the web endlessly, but you won’t find a whole lot that lays it out simply and coherently. So let me pause from my regular Fujifilm X100F posts and briefly explain this important concept.

“In order to be a successful photographer, you must possess both vision and focus, neither of which have anything to do with your eyes.” –Kevin Russo

“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” –Ansel Adams

Photographic vision is a vivid and imaginative conception. Within that definition are three (of five) essential elements of photographic vision: Clarity, Creativity and Conception. Capturing and Composing are the fourth and fifth elements. Let’s take a look at each.

1. Clarity

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Black Conduit – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

In order to have photographic vision, you must see in your mind’s eye what it is that you want to create before opening the shutter. You must pre-visualize the finished photograph. You must have vivid clarity. This might be a brief moment before the shutter opens or this might be something you’ve thought about for days, weeks or even years in advance.

Great photographs are very rarely happy accidents. Almost all worthwhile pictures took some thought and planning to create. The more clearly you can see in your mind what it is that you want to capture, the more likely you are to accomplish it.

2. Creativity

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Lines & Shadows – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Some people seem to be naturally creative. If that’s not you, don’t fret! I believe that creativity is something that can be learned and fostered. The more you allow yourself to think outside the box and look at things from different angles, the more creative you’ll become.

You have to relax. You have to keep an open mind. You have to use your imagination. Try to channel your inner child. This all might sound cliché, but the only barrier to creativity is yourself. Your rigid self. The self that says words like “no” and “can’t” and “shouldn’t” and other negative things. Think positive and throw all the so-called rules out the window.

3. Conception

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Man In The Straw Hat – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Your photograph begins as a concept. You have an idea. You begin to see that idea vividly in your mind’s eye. As the thought forms, you begin to consider other ways to look at it. Your creativeness takes the concept to new places. This is a vivid and imaginative conception.

Speak some message through your picture. Show your unique perspective. You have something important to say. Photographs are a form of nonverbal communication, and they all say something. The stronger the communication, the stronger the image. Make your concept as clear as practical in your pictures.

4. Capturing

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Ilford Harman Technology – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

The next step in photographic vision is to capture the image on film or a digital sensor. You’ve come up with a creative concept that you can clearly see in your mind. Now is the time to make it a photographic reality.

There is a lot to this, of coarse. You must consider gear and settings and lighting and composition and everything else. You have to know how to put what’s in your mind into something tangible. If you don’t know how, then perhaps you should learn. There are so many resources available on the internet and at the library–it’s all at your fingertips if you put in a little effort to learn. And oftentimes learning-by-doing is a good approach because, after all, practice makes perfect.

5. Composing

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Sitting Large – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Composing probably reminds you of composition, but that’s not what I mean. Composition can be found in the previous principals. Instead, think of a symphony composer, putting everything together, placing consideration on even the smallest details. In the case of photographic vision, composing means taking account all of the little details, including editing. Especially editing.

Editing means post-processing your files if they require manipulation to fulfill your vision, and knowing how much manipulation is enough. It also means editing out the lesser exposures, deleting the bad ones and not including the mediocre ones with a body of work. It’s knowing when the vision or execution of the vision wasn’t good enough. Composing means knowing when to take it from the top and try again.

Horsing Around With The Fujifilm X100F

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Learning To Ride – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

My nine-year-old daughter loves horses. She’s been enthralled by them since she was a toddler. Her equestrian interest seems to grow each year.

We don’t own a horse, although my daughter would love it if we did! We don’t have any horse property, so it would be impracticable for us to own one or care for one. Besides, horses can be expensive!

What we decided to do for her this year, as an extracurricular learning activity, is have her take some horse riding lessens, including how to care for a horse. We found a nearby stable that offers this sort of thing. She’s only had one lesson so far, but she loved every minute of it! She was really in her element.

I took my Fujifilm X100F camera along to capture her first lesson. I wasn’t allowed full access (in other words, I had to stay behind the fence), so the camera’s Digital Teleconverter came in handy. I used my Classic Chrome recipe to capture these out-of-camera JPEGs. The X100F is great for family snapshots. It just seems to effortlessly capture good photos.

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Her Dream To Ride – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Horse Riding Country – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Riding Lessons – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Trotting – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Equestrian Training – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Girl On A Horse – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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A Girl & Her Horse – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Walking The Horse – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Putting Away The Reins – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

And here are some other horse photographs (not related to my daughter’s riding lesson) that I captured while at the stables during that same time:

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Animal Control – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Ready For A Rider – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Eye Am Ready – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Spotted – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Horse Skirt – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Fujifilm X100F & High ISO

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Bowling Shoes – Kaysville, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ ISO 12800

When it comes to high-ISO performance, digital camera technology has taken photography to a place that was impossible or nearly impossible not very many years ago. What used to be a fast film-speed is now just another ISO that looks like all the others.

I started photography in the age of film, and I studied film photography in college. It makes me sound old, but I remember when my high-ISO option was ISO 400 film! And if I was feeling daring, I might push-process that film to ISO 800 or (gasp!) ISO 1600 on a rare occasion. Only a couple of times did I dare try ISO 3200, and the results were super grainy.

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Departures – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ ISO 12800

Nowadays ISO 400 seems closer to base-ISO than what most would consider high-ISO. Even ISO 1600 doesn’t seem all that high. Photographers routinely use ISO 3200 and higher. If you told me 20 years ago that this was going to be the case in the future, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.

All of this is truly amazing, and I wanted to lay out this context, because it’s easy to forget just how far this has come. Any camera that is capable of great results at ISO 1600 and higher is something that we should marvel at! And pretty much all cameras available today are capable of this.

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Tabasco – Tooele, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ ISO 10000

The Fujifilm X100F, which has a 24-megapixel APS-C X-Trans III sensor, is capable of producing excellent high-ISO results well above ISO 1600. One reason for this is that there are more green sensor elements than a traditional Bayer sensor (55% vs. 50%). Luminosity information comes from green (while red and blue are for color information), so X-Trans cameras have a little more high-ISO headroom.

I have found that there is no practical discernible difference between ISO 200 (which is the base ISO) and ISO 800 on the X100F. There is a small increase in digital noise with each ISO stop increase above ISO 800; however, ISO 3200 is difficult to distinguish from ISO 800 (or ISO 200 for that matter) without a side-by-side comparison. ISO 6400 still appears great, but by this point the noise has become a little more obvious. ISO 12800 is a bit on the noisy side and noticeably softer, but it still looks good and I have no hesitation using it when I need to.

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Sitting & Relaxing – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ ISO 12800

Interestingly enough, ISO 12800 on the X100F reminds me a lot of ISO 1600 on my first DSLR from a decade ago. One of the biggest improvements in digital camera technology over the last ten years has been high-ISO performance.

There are cameras that go well beyond the ISO 12800 practical high-ISO limit of the X100F. But the high-ISO performance of this Fujifilm camera is truly amazing, all things considered. Ten years ago it would have seemed impractical and twenty years ago it would have seemed impossible. Yet here we are today, with good looking ISO 12800 right at our fingertips!

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48 – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ ISO 12800

I’m sure camera makers will continue to improve high-ISO performance throughout the coming years and decades. People will scoff that you could “only” get good results through ISO 12800 on the X100F. So what? You use what you have to the best of your ability and don’t worry about the rest. Do you think it really matters in the long run if you can’t shoot at ISO 25600 or ISO 51200? I’m personally happy to get good results above ISO 400, which wasn’t always an easy task in the days of film photography.

The photographs in this article were captured using the Fujifilm X100F. All are out-of-camera JPEGs using Acros or Classic Chrome. The camera can add faux film grain (Acros does this automatically, while Classic Chrome is either toggled on or off), and all of these have grain in additional to the digital noise.

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The Tortilla Maker – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ ISO 12800

Photoessay: Street Feet

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Stepping – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

There are certain photo series that I’m actively working on, such as abandoned businesses in color (entitled Space Available), that are purposeful personal projects. Then there certain photo series that are more by happenstance, not created on purpose, where I notice a common thread among images. This series, Street Feet, falls into the latter category.

I had no intentions of this becoming a project. I didn’t try to make a series. It just sort of happened. I just subconsciously did it, and didn’t even notice that I had done so until reviewing my street photography images. I saw a pattern. I realized that I was creating these related pictures.

Street Feet is pretty straight forward: street-style black-and-white photographs of people’s feet. You can’t see the full body because I was photographing the lower extremities. Sometimes it’s a closeup of someone’s shoes, while other times the view is broader.

I used a Fujifilm X100F to capture these images. My Acros Film Simulation recipe was used for every picture, and the Digital Teleconverter was utilized for many. These are all out-of-camera JPEGs. Enjoy!

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Walking Man – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Walking Away – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Together – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Skateboarding – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Going Somewhere – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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One Step At A Time – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Siblings At City Creek Mall – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Outside The Elevator – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Walking Shoes – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Fujifilm X100F Advanced Filter: Toy Camera, Part 1

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There’s a feature on the Fujifilm X100F called “Advanced Filters” that has some JPEG options that aren’t really anything advanced. These are not intended for the professional users, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t fun to play with.

One of these Advanced Filters is Toy Camera, which is supposed to make an effect like using a Holga or Diana camera and cross-processing slide film. There’s not a whole lot you can customize or change within Toy Camera, so you get what you get.

The effect is kind of interesting, but not something you’d want to do often. Also, it wouldn’t be difficult to replicate the look using Nik Analog Efex, Alien Skin Exposure or VSCO. It’s nice that the camera will do it for you, but you have to really like how the camera produces it.

I’m not in love with the look myself. I mean, I like the vintage camera and cross-processed look, especially when it comes from an actual vintage camera and actual cross-processed slide film, but the Toy Camera effect on the X100F just doesn’t quite do it for me. I think that Fujifilm could improve this feature significantly by making it more similar to the Film Simulations.

For this experiment I used the Toy Camera Advanced Filter for the first time. I set the aspect ratio to 1:1 because when I use an actual Holga camera I shoot the 120 film in square frames. I gave myself 12 exposures to try it out on, figuring if I shot a roll of 120 film with a square format I’d have 12 exposures. These are the “best” of the twelve:

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Epic – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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Pumpkin Coffee Lid – Woods Cross, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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Bucks – Woods Cross, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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– South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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Coffee Shop Smile – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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Green Leaves & Red Berries – Kaysville, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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Red Post In Concrete – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

Fujifilm X100F: 8-Bit JPEG or 14-Bit RAW?

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After writing Digital Film – Why I Shoot JPEGs With the Fujifilm X100Fone piece of feedback that I received was in regards to bit-depth. JPEG produces an 8-bit file while RAW on the X100F produces a 14-bit file. Why wouldn’t I want more bit-depth? Why would I ever choose 8-bit over 14-bit?

You may be confused about what exactly all this bit stuff is about, so let me briefly explain. Computers use a language comprised of a series of zeros and ones, which is known as binary code. A “bit” is a single digit, either a zero or a one. An eight digit string of zeros and ones would be 8-bit (JPEG files are 8-bit). Likewise a fourteen digit string of zeros and ones would be 14-bit (RAW files are typically 12, 14 or 16-bit). For every dot (or square, really) in a picture there are three separate strings of zeros and ones stored, one for each color channel (red, green and blue).

The entire photograph is stored this way. It’s a seemingly endless string of zeros and ones. Literally thousands of strings of zeros and ones. If you put all of those numbers together in software, it makes an image that can be viewed. An 8-bit file is significantly smaller than a 14-bit file.

More is always better, right? Well, it depends. A larger file contains much more information than a smaller file. You have a larger amount to play with. But it also takes up more memory, which will effect storage and software speed.

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Bicycle Blue – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Because a 14-bit file has a lot more information, it can hold up better to manipulation. If you are going to be making significant adjustments to your pictures, you’ll probably want as much information as you can get. An 8-bit file can handle some editing, but it’s not difficult to push it too far, and the image will begin to degrade. Banding is a common side effect of this.

8-bit is capable of recording more colors than the human eye can perceive. It can handle smooth gradations. If you don’t significantly alter your 8-bit files, there are no practical advantages to 14-bit. It’s only when you try to change the data too much after the fact (adjusting color and luminance) that 14-bit comes in handy.

My Fujifilm X100F captures an exposure in 14-bit whether in RAW or JPEG format. After the exposure, if I save in JPEG, the software processes the 14-bit file and throws away 6-bits of data, information that has been deemed unnecessary. It compress the file to 8-bit. It’s the same as if you edited the RAW file on your computer and saved the finished image in JPEG format.

The reason that a lot of people choose 14-bit (RAW) over 8-bit (JPEG) is because their cameras don’t make very good JPEGs, so they have to post-process their pictures. They’re going to be manipulating the files a bunch, so more bit-depth comes in handy.

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Hair & Lips – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

The Fujifilm X100F is capable of creating excellent JPEGs that rarely require any manipulation. It’s pretty incredible, yet it’s sad, considering where digital technology is today, that most cameras make substandard JPEGs. Your camera doesn’t have to be bad at JPEGs, and thankfully Fujifilm bucks the trend by committing to JPEG quality. Other camera makers should follow suit.

There are people who will swear that 14-bit is superior to 8-bit, and will scoff at those who think 8-bit is plenty good. I have seen where a single RAW file is edited and then converted to a TIFF (which retains all the data) and a JPEG (which throws away some of the data). It’s the same picture, just one is 14-bit and one is 8-bit. Then a massive crop is made from each file and the two are compared side-by-side. The person will proclaim, “Look, the TIFF is better!” And I look at it and don’t see any difference. “Maybe, just maybe, there is a little more shadow detail,” I say to myself. Maybe.

But nobody looks at images that closely. And nobody in real life compares two versions of the same image side-by-side. If you placed an enlargement on a wall and asked viewers to determine if it had been printed from an 8-bit JPEG or a 14-bit TIFF, nobody could answer correctly outside of a lucky guess. And, perhaps more importantly, nobody would care.

A larger bit-depth is only advantageous if you will be manipulating your images. If your camera makes junk JPEGs, then you’ll be doing just that. But if your camera makes great straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, then you won’t be editing the files, and there is no advantage to the larger bit-depth. And that’s why I don’t really care about bit-depth when it comes to the X100F.

Leaf Shutter & Flash & X100F – Oh, My!

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The Fujifilm X100F has two built-in shutters: electronic and mechanical. The electronic is a silent focal-plane shutter and has a maximum speed of 1/32,768. The mechanical is a nearly silent leaf shutter and has a maximum speed between 1/1000 and 1/4000, depending on the aperture. You can choose one or the other or have the camera automatically choose which it thinks is most appropriate for the situation.

When I purchased my X100F I didn’t think that the leaf shutter would be a big deal. I don’t do a whole lot of flash photography. I figured it would be a rarely used feature. Boy was I wrong!

A leaf shutter works more like an iris. There are blades, similar to aperture blades, inside the lens that open and close. It opens from the center outward. For this reason you can sync it to the flash at much higher shutter speeds. A traditional focal-plane shutter (which is found on most cameras) rolls across the frame, and doesn’t pair particularly well with flashes.

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The Joy of Fishing – Huntsville, UT – Fujifilm X100F w/Flash

Leaf shutters are typically found on expensive medium-format gear. You rarely see them on other cameras. The exception is that Fujifilm has included leaf shutters on their X100 series, such as the X100F.

The Fujifilm X100F has a great built-in flash. There is a hotshoe should you want to add an external flash, but the fill-flash is more than adequate for most pictures. And Fujifilm has programmed the camera to perfectly balance the built-in flash with whatever lighting is available.

It’s truly amazing! The camera almost never gets it wrong. It just seems to know the perfect amount of light to add to the scene. The results are very natural looking. The pictures don’t scream that a flash was used.

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Man In The Straw Hat – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F w/Flash

I wasn’t much of a flash-photography guy, but now I am. I find myself frequently using the built-in flash on the X100F. The flash and the leaf shutter are key features of this camera!

It makes anything from family snapshots to portraits to back-lit scenes to dim-light situations a breeze to shoot. Any setting with unwanted shadows can be made better by using the flash built into the camera.

There are many things to love about the X100F. The retro look. The classic controls. The film simulations. The camera’s exceptional ability to balance fill-flash with the rest of the frame is perhaps the best part of it. And it is all made possible by the leaf shutter.

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Let’s Roll The Moon Across The Sun – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F w/Flash

Trip To The Treehouse – Visiting The Treehouse Museum With My Kids

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Silly Face – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

There’s a fun place in Ogden, Utah, for young children called the Treehouse Museum. The idea behind the museum is that kids 12 years old and younger can become a part of a story through interactive and educational exhibits. It’s like learning through play.

My kids absolutely love going to this place! They have a blast. And when it’s time to go home they don’t want to leave.

Last week I took my young kids to the Treehouse Museum, and I also brought along my Fujifilm X100F. It’s not a great place for photography because the light is dim and mixed, but the camera handled it like it was no big deal. The fill-flash is just incredible, made possible by the leaf shutter. The compact size meant that the camera didn’t get in the way, which is critical when you are trying to keep tabs on a toddler. For family snapshots, nothing beats the X100F!

I used Classic Chrome Film Simulation for these photographs. All of them are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. Enjoy!

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Joy At The Rodeo – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Bull Riding – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Castle Calligraphy – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Going Down – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Playing Medieval – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Royal Chair – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Looking Over The Menu – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Working Behind The Counter – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Acting President – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Fujifilm X100F – The Best Aperture

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Permanently attached to the front of the Fujifilm X100F is a Fujinon f/2 23mm Super EBC Aspherical lens. It’s an excellent 35mm (equivalent) prime, but, like all lenses, it’s not perfect.

I’ve owned many different lenses by different brands over the years. One thing that I have learned is that every lens has its sweet spot. There is an aperture where the lens is at its peak performance.

Ever since my X100F arrived two months ago, I’ve been trying to figure out just where the lens is at its best and worst. I wanted to know its strength and weakness so that I can maximize the one and minimize the other. I discovered pretty quickly where the “worst” apertures are, and that’s f/2 and f/16.

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Man In The Straw Hat – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ f/4

Not that f/2 is necessarily a bad aperture, but it is indeed noticeably softer than the others. Not just at the corners, but center sharpness, too. It lacks the crispness at f/2 that one expects from a Fujinon lens. But I’ve used plenty of other lenses, primes and zooms, that were just as soft if not softer. So just because it’s a soft aperture for this lens doesn’t mean that it’s an aperture that should be avoided. In fact, Fujifilm actually calls this softness a “feature” in the manual, so perhaps it is something you might find useful for some images. You can also find some chromatic aberrations at f/2.

Things get better as you stop down. There’s significant improvements by f/2.8, although there is still some noticeable corner softness. By f/4 the lens is crisp all over.

I noticed diffraction when the aperture is smaller than f/8. It’s not really pronounced until smaller than f/11. The smallest aperture is f/16, and I would avoid it because the diffraction is pretty obvious.

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Ilford Harman Technology – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ f/4

My opinion is that the sweet spot on the Fujifilm X100F lens is at f/4, including the intermediate stop on either side (f/3.6 and f/4.5). At this aperture the lens is corner-to-corner sharp, and at its sharpest in the center. It produces lovely images, and bokeh, while not heavily pronounced, is still very nice.

I would also say that image quality is excellent between f/2.8 and f/11, and I freely use these apertures without thinking twice about it. I don’t go higher than f/11. I do sometimes go lower than f/2.8, albeit not often.

The lens on the X100F is excellent. If it were an interchangeable-lens camera and the lens could detach, I imagine that you’d proudly use it often. Like all lenses, it has its strengths and weaknesses, and you get the most out of it if you understand what those are. With this lens, the strengths are many and the weaknesses few. Still, if the situation allows, keep it around f/4 and you’ll see the best that it can do.

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Train Watching – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F @ f/4

Digital Film – Why I Shoot JPEGs With The Fujifilm X100F

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I don’t shoot RAW with my Fujifilm X100F. I rely on camera-made JPEGs.

Wait! Don’t click the X in the corner! Let me explain.

Those who shoot JPEGs have been unfairly stigmatized. It’s kind of crazy. You will find on message boards, social media posts, and in the comment section of websites this argument that RAW is for pros and JPEG is for amateurs.

And it’s not true. Or not completely true. But it’s touted as if it’s common knowledge.

There are many professional photographers who don’t use RAW. Perhaps they don’t have time to mess with it (constantly off to new assignments or their photos are needed immediately). Maybe their clients demand straight-out-of-camera JPEGs (think photojournalists). Or they simply like the look of their camera-made JPEGs (mostly, this is Fujifilm users). Whatever the reason, there are many pros that prefer JPEGs over RAW. No, really, this is a fact.

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And vice versa. There are plenty of amateurs that shoot RAW because someone on the internet said that they should. They don’t know what they’re doing or why, but they’re doing it anyway because they don’t want to be thought of as amateurish.

So if professional photographers are using JPEG and amateurs are using RAW, what does this do for that argument that RAW is for pros and JPEG is for amateurs? It shows that it is poppycock–empty words by people who try to make themselves seem superior.

“But, really, you should learn how to use RAW,” someone is saying in their heads right now. If that’s you, here is something you should know: I’ve been shooting and editing RAW files for a decade. I’ve shot tens of thousands of RAW exposures. I know all about RAW. I might even have more experience with it than you. So stop.

It’s ridiculous that I have to qualify this before I even begin to type the rest of this article. But if I don’t, everything else that I want to say will be dismissed. People will tune out.

Digital Film

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Sitting Large – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

It’s been well known for several years now that Fujifilm has the best JPEG engine in the business. Yes, Canon and Nikon both make good JPEGs, but there is just something about those from Fujifilm cameras–that Fujifilm look!

With the X100F, Fujifilm has elevated the camera-made JPEG to a whole new level. They made several significant improvements. They added a new monochrome setting and film grain. This is a big deal!

Before I get ahead of myself, I want to talk a little about how Fujifilm rethought the whole camera-made JPEG concept. They approached it differently, and it shows in the results.

You are probably well aware that Fujifilm was a popular film manufacturer well before digital photography was big. They still make film. The soul of the company is analog film photography.

Fujifilm took their knowledge and experience with film and applied it to their digital cameras. They designed and programmed that analog soul into their modern cameras.

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Hair & Lips – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Instead of traditional JPEG settings, Fujifilm made Film Simulations, which mimic the look of different 35mm films. My favorites are Acros and Classic Chrome. They even have fake (yet convincing) film grain as an option. They tried to make their JPEGs look less digital and more film-like.

You can see this in how they process digital noise. It looks completely different on Fujifilm cameras. They did their best to make the noise look less digital and more organic, more like film grain.

Fujifilm also came up a neat little trick for maximizing dynamic range. Basically, the camera underexposes to prevent clipped highlights, then increases the shadows and midtones to the appropriate level. It’s very seamless, but the results are far superior to the narrow dynamic range found on typical camera-made JPEGs.

Because of things like that, Fujifilm JPEGs are better than everyone else’s. I call it Digital Film.

RAW Because You Have To

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KeyBank Building – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Let’s face it, the reason that almost everyone who shoots RAW does so is because they have to, and not because they want to. Their cameras make JPEGs that aren’t good enough. If their JPEGs didn’t stink so bad, they’d certainly rely on them. But since they aren’t reliable, people choose RAW format instead.

But camera-made JPEGs don’t have to stink. Your camera could be programmed in such a way that the strait-out-of-camera JPEGs look like how you would make them look if you shot RAW and post-processed them on your computer. The technology exists. Camera makers just haven’t included it in their products.

If the JPEGs produced by your camera matched the look of your post-processed RAW files, why would you continue to shoot RAW? Why wouldn’t you save a whole ton of time and money and shoot JPEG instead?

The Fujifilm X100F is the first camera that I have ever used that I feel produces JPEGs that match how I would edit my RAW files. It creates in-camera the look that I want. That’s why I don’t shoot RAW. That’s why I am now a JPEG only guy.

Consistency

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Lightning Strikes Antelope Island – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F

When I shot film (I still do occasionally), and I shot a lot of it, I had my go-to options. I used Velvia 50, Ektachrome 100VS and 100SW, and Kodachrome 25 and 64 for color. I used Ilford Delta 100 and 400 for black and white. I used plenty of other films over the years, but those were my main options.

When you shot film, you exposed a whole roll of it, typically 24 or 36 exposures. All of the images you captured had a consistent look because they were captured using the same film. When you embarked on a project, you used the same film for the entirety of that project.

Even thinking long term, my images had a consistent look because most were captured with one of a handful of different films. Over the course of years, even decades, there was a uniformity to the look of my pictures.

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Ilford Harman Technology – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

That’s a lot harder to accomplish digitally because there are so many options and ways to customize each image. For example, Alien Skin Exposure X2 has over 500 one-click presets that can be heavily customized. With so many choices, it takes some serious discipline and restraint to stick with just a few. Creating and applying an undeviating style to your RAW workflow is something that’s rarely realized.

I think it’s better to have a consistent look that you can easily recognize. Especially within projects. It shouldn’t be all over the place. It looks incoherent if its inconsistent.

By shooting JPEG and relying on the Film Simulations found in the X100F, I can get back to the consistent look that I achieved as a film shooter. I have a few custom recipes that I use, and because of that there is a uniformity that my pictures lacked for a long time.

Authenticity

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Haugen – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

There’s been a lot of controversy lately with photographer’s use of Photoshop. Some very big names have shown up in the news. There’s been many debates on how much editing is too much. It’s all subjective, and so the line will always remain grey. Besides, people have been manipulating pictures since the early days of photography.

But there is a point when a photograph loses its authenticity. Its not hard to move from photography into graphic design or digital artistry. Photography is less believable now than it used to be.

I get asked often, “Is that how it really looked? How much did you Photoshop this?” People look at photography as a mix of reality and fantasy. They don’t take it at face value anymore. It lacks truth, it lacks authenticity.

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Man In The Straw Hat – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

It’s like the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I think people are tired of being fooled and tricked by pictures that have been heavily manipulated.

Many news outlets have begun requiring that only straight-out-of-camera JPEGs be submitted. There have been too many examples where some photograph in a big story turned out to be significantly edited. Now many news outlets want only what the camera captured, no manipulation please! This is to save the integrity of the genre, which has lost significant credibility.

Shooting JPEGs allows you to answer, “This is how the camera captured it. I didn’t use Photoshop or any other software. This is straight from the camera unedited.” This isn’t for bragging rights. There is value in creating authentic pictures, and this is becoming more true every day.

Conclusion

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Yashica Rangefinder & Fujicolor – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Several weeks ago I was asked to photograph for someone, and he needed the pictures immediately. He paid me a higher premium for this service. I made my exposures and, using the screen on the back of my X100F, deleted the ones that weren’t good. After I was finished I uploaded the pictures directly to his laptop. From the moment that I arrived to the delivery of the finished pictures was about an hour–photoshoot completely finished and check in my hand.

As I was driving away, I thought that this is how it should be every time. In the past I would have spent a day post-processing the pictures. But since the straight-out-of-camera JPEGs look so darn good, I felt more than comfortable delivering them to the client unedited. And this person contacted me twice afterwards to tell me just how pleased he was with the pictures. “They were perfect,” he said.

I save so much time and money by not shooting RAW. There are plenty of good reasons to choose JPEG instead, all of which I laid out above. All of the photographs in this article that were captured using the X100F are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. I just wish that there wasn’t such a stigmatic attitude towards it. But times are changing, and technology is advancing, and I think that the lowly camera-made JPEG will see new life in the upcoming years.

What Film Simulation Should Fujifilm Create Next?

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The Wonder of Film Photography – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

Fujifilm uses Film Simulations instead of traditional options for their JPEG settings. They use their vast experience with film to make their digital images look less digital (than other camera brands). Choose between Provia, Astia, Velvia, Acros and others. Essentially you are mimicking a film look with your camera-made JPEGs. If you shoot RAW, you can approximate this in post.

On the Fujifilm X100F my favorite Film Simulations are Acros for black-and-white and Classic Chrome for color. I use several of the other options occasionally, but I would be perfectly happy using only those two.

Fujirumors has said that Fujifilm is developing (or “investigating”) the next Film Simulation. Today Fujirumors asked what the next Film Simulation should be. What film should the Film Simulation emulate? By the way, if you don’t visit Fujirumors regularly, you should start doing so today–there’s a ton of useful information found there.

I thought it was an interesting question, so I’m going to explore it a little here.

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Kodacolor – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

The Film Simulation options that Fujifilm has included in their current camera lineup are pretty darn good. They can be manipulated to simulate all sorts of different films. For example, if you wanted a look similar to Fujicolor Pro 800Z, you could start with Pro Neg Hi, increase the saturation by one and add a strong grain effect. You might have to shift the white balance slightly cooler. That would get you in the ballpark.

So I would want a Film Simulation that couldn’t be approximated by simply adjusting a few settings on a current option. And most films can. For instance, Classic Chrome is a great starting point for several Kodak films.

At the top of my list would be Fuji Velvia Cross Processed. It’s a fun experiment if you’ve never cross processed film. In the case of Velvia, which uses the E-6 process, you develop it using the C-41 process instead. The results are bold with high contrast, shifted colors and pronounced grain. It just looks cool and vintage.

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Ax & Ladder – Boron, CA – Fujifilm Velvia 50 Cross Processed

Another that I would like to see is Fuji 400H Overexposed. People would purposefully overexpose 400H film a couple of stops because the colors would turn pastel with a low-ish contrast. It just looks beautiful.

How about Acros Push Processed? It would have lots of contrast and grain. You can get close to achieving this by setting highlights and shadows to the maximum level and adding a strong grain effect, but it doesn’t quite get the look right. The contrast is a little wrong and the grain (the look of it) is a lot wrong. That’s why I suggest a whole new Film Simulation for this.

If Fujifilm does indeed develop a new Film Simulation, it’s unlikely that they’ll add it to the X100F. They could add it via a firmware update, and in the past they’ve done just that with a few cameras (when Classic Chrome came out). I really hope that they do.

Most likely it will only be included on cameras with the X-Trans IV sensor, whenever that happens, because each new Film Simulation has coincided with a sensor update. So the X100V (or whatever they call the next generation X100) most likely will have it, and those who really want it will have to spend a bunch of money to upgrade.