With the start of the new year I decided that I wanted to rethink my Fujifilm film simulation settings and make new recipes with each option. I wanted to start with Provia, not only because it’s the “standard” option on Fujifilm X cameras, but also because I’ve been asked many times to create a film simulation recipe that uses Provia as the base. I do have a film simulation recipe that uses Provia, but it’s definitely not for everyone. This one could actually be someone’s standard recipe on their camera.
I’ve never been a fan of the Provia film simulation on Fujifilm X cameras, partly because the film simulation looks very little like the film that it derives its name from. Curiously, Provia film actually more closely resembles the Astia film simulation and Astia film more closely resembles the Provia film simulation (although neither are close to being an exact match). I don’t think Fujifilm ever considered making the Provia film simulation resemble the film that it was named after or really any film, they just wanted to use the trademark name for their standard setting. The Provia film simulation is designed to give generally pleasing results to the masses. Some people love it, but I personally find it to be the least interesting of the color options available.
While I never intended to mimic the look of any specific film with this recipe, I think that it fairly closely resembles Agfa Optima 200. If you are looking for an Agfa Optima recipe, look no further! Agfa made many different films over the years. They were never as big as Kodak or Fujifilm, but they weren’t that far behind, either. Agfa Optima 200 was a color negative film that was introduced in 1996, replacing AgfaColor XRS 200, and was discontinued in 2005. I never used this film myself, but I have seen it in person and on the internet plenty of times, so I have a good idea of what it looks like. Even though I didn’t intend to recreate the look of a film with this recipe, the fact that it happens to resembles one is a very happy accident. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
I’ve found that this particular film simulation recipe looks best when using an ISO between 1600 and 3200. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use a lower or higher ISO, because I certainly do, but for some reason that ISO range seems to produce the most pleasing result. I have flirted with the idea setting the ISO range to be between 1600 and 3200, but I have yet to do that. This recipe says to set ISO to Auto up to ISO 6400, but please don’t feel like you have to set it to that just because that’s what settings I typed out. As always, choose what works best for you and your photography.
Dynamic Range: DR100
Noise Reduction: -3
Grain Effect: Weak
White Balance: Auto, -1 Red & -1 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +2/3 to +1 (typically)
Example photographs, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs made using this Provia film simulation recipe: