Fujifilm has included on X-Trans III and IV cameras four Acros Film Simulation options: Acros, Acros+Y, Acros+R, and Acros+G. I’ve been asked a few times to explain the differences between these options. On my Acros Film Simulation recipes I never mention which one to use, I only say to use any or all of them, so that has left some confusion on what’s the best choice. Which Acros Film Simulation should you choose?
With real black-and-white film, you can use colored filters to manipulate the shades of grey. Since there are no colors, the film interprets colors between black and white. You can change how the film interprets the color, and what grey you get, by using different filters. Take a look at the graphic below to see an explanation of how different color filters change the grey on black-and-white film.
You cannot use colored filters on your X-Trans camera to achieve this same effect, so Fujifilm has given you three “filter” options for Acros: +Y, which simulates the use of a yellow filter, +R, which simulates the use of a red filter, and +G, which simulates the use of a green filter. You might notice that, in black-and-white film photography, there are more options than you are given on your X-Trans camera, but at least you have some choices.
While these different “filter” Acros options simulate the look of using filters, the actual results aren’t a 100% match. The manipulation of grey is not nearly as pronounced as using colored filters on film, and it’s not exactly the same shift, either. One thing that can help achieve desired results is using the white balance shift in conjunction with the different Acros options. It takes a little extra thought to figure out how adjusting the color balance will change the way the film simulation interprets the color in grey, but it can be worth the effort.
To help you understand what the different Acros Film Simulation options are doing to different colors, I made an image in color and re-processed it in-camera using all four Acros choices. Take a look!
The differences between the different Acros Film Simulations might not seem immediately obvious, but take a closer look. Notice that the red paint is a little lighter and the blue paint is a little darker in the Acros+R image. However, in the Acros+G image the red paint is darker and the blue paint is lighter. These small manipulations in the shades of grey are what the different Acros options provide.
How do you use this information in a practical way? When should you consider using the different Acros Film Simulations? When would you want to change the shade of grey of a particular color? It’s really difficult to give generalized answers to those questions because what works for one person and one photograph may not work for another. You really must think in grey and consider how contrast will work in an image, and how to best achieve that using the different Acros options.
A common example of when Acros+R might work well is in landscape photography where the sky is a deep blue. You can turn the sky dark grey or even black, which will create dramatic contrast against clouds or a snow-capped peak. Acros+R will lighten reds, so sometimes in portraits it can lighten a face, but it can make lips blend in, which might be bad. Acros+G, which darkens reds, can sometimes work well for dramatic portraits.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing the most appropriate Acros Film Simulation for a particular circumstance. You have to know what each one will do, and decide what shade of grey you want the different colors to be, in order to make the right selection. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but it’s not too hard to figure out with practice. My suggestion is to try them all in different situations, and study the differences closely to better understand what each one does.