The Film Simulation Challenge




Back in the analog days, I would load film into the camera, and I was stuck with whatever was in the camera until the very last frame was exposed. The most common options were 12, 24 or 36 exposures, and frequently the roll of film that I loaded was either 24 or 36 exposures. Once the film was fully exposed, I could then change to another film if I wanted, or load another roll of the same. What I appreciate about this is that you know what you’re going to get, the strengths and weaknesses of the film, and your photographic vision is tuned into that. You look for picture opportunities that best fit what the film is good at.

With digital photography, it’s easy to make the exposure first and think about the end result later. If you don’t like how it looks one way, it’s simple to change it to another look. You might even post-process one frame to have several different aesthetics and decide later which version you like best. There’s nothing wrong with this technique, but I personally find it better to consider in advance the finished photograph, and do what you can to get as close as you can to that finished picture in-camera.

One way that you can practice this using your Fujifilm X camera is to load it with “film” and force yourself to capture a predetermined number of frames with that film before changing. The film in this case is a film simulation recipe, programming into your camera in advance the one that you want to use. You tell yourself that you’ll capture 24 or 36 exposures with those settings, then, when you’re done with those frames, consider if you want to use another “film” or shoot a second “roll” of the first one. I call this the Film Simulation Challenge.

Back when I shot a lot of film, I would consider three to five good pictures from one roll of film to be average. If I got more than five good pictures from 36 exposures, that was a good day for me. If I had less than three, it wasn’t a good day, unless one of those frames was especially good. The idea with the Film Simulation Challenge is that from each “roll” of “film” that you capture, you share three to five (or more if you had a good day) of your best photos from that roll. Share it on your blog, share it Facebook, share it on Instagram, share it somewhere. You can use the hashtag #filmsimulationchallenge if you’d like. You can link to Fuji X Weekly if you want (you certainly don’t have to), or post a link to it in the comments. The purpose of this is to practice photographic vision in a fun way, while also sharing the joy of shooting with Fujifilm X cameras.

You can consider yourself officially challenged. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do, which films you choose and the pictures that you create. Best of luck in this challenge! I’ll be doing the Film Simulation Challenge, too, and I’ll share the results periodically on this blog.


  1. James · August 2, 2019

    Hi Richie,

    I did this when I discovered your recipes some months back and it has brought me great joy with my photos outside of my portfolio work. It has allowed me to fully slow down and consider each shot the way I do with my landscapes. Best of all, no post-processing work and more time behind the camera. I called mine JPEG Weekly.

    It’s nice to see a similar initiative and I look forward to everyone’s photos.

    I am now currently working on the first issue of a free monthly PDF zine I’m calling SOOC A Celebration of Fujifilm JPEGS and very excited about it. I would love your images to be part of the first issue and the readers of your blog are encouraged to submit for consideration. Regular, series-based content would be great.

    • Ritchie Roesch · August 2, 2019

      Wow, that’s awesome! Can’t wait for the magazine, it sounds great. Is there a link you can share?

      • James · August 3, 2019

        Still currently working on the first issue Richie. End of August will be the day it’s ready. Still creating and looking for content. If you’re keen to send a series of images through I’d be glad to include them in the pilot issue. Let me know.

      • Ritchie Roesch · August 3, 2019

        Sure! Just let me know where to send them. My email is

  2. Photo A Day · August 2, 2019

    Excellent challenge. My problem is I like Acros so much I never want to change!

    • Ritchie Roesch · August 2, 2019

      It’s perfectly ok to use only one. There’s a lot to be said for consistency.

      • James · August 3, 2019

        Great! I will be in touch shortly.

  3. alczer · August 2, 2019

    Never liked switching settings. I shoot with one set up for months. And I shoot my children a lot that is why I choose settings based on Pro Negs and that’s why I don’t like any settings when shadows are more than +1. By the way I never shoot any film but I noticed they have less contrast than Fuji X cameras with shadows set to +1 and higher. I might be wrong 🙂

    • Ritchie Roesch · August 2, 2019

      A lot depends on the film, lighting and development. Slide film tends to have a narrow dynamic range with deep shadows. Negative film usually has a lot more latitude, but it also depends on how it’s printed or scanned. For example, you can use contrast filters when printing to control how deep the shadows are. When I used to print my black and white pictures in the darkroom, one thing that I would do is make a test print to find “maximum black” which meant finding the darkest area of the frame and making sure that it printed deep black and not dark grey. So it depends on different factors, and the film used is one of them, and how it was handled is another.
      Using just one setting ensures consistent results, which is a good thing.

  4. Paul · August 3, 2019

    This is exactly what I do. I even made a little spreadsheet with qvrandomizer to choose one of the recipes for me. Then I go out and shoot that day with this one preset.

    • Ritchie Roesch · August 3, 2019

      Awesome! That’s actually pretty incredible.

  5. jacobwixyahoocom · August 3, 2019

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Sir!
    I was curious on how you make the pictures you show us look like actual polaroids in design. With the name of the photo towards the bottom and what camera used?
    Thanks friend!

    • Ritchie Roesch · August 3, 2019

      You are welcome! As far as how the photos are displayed on this website, it’s how WordPress programmed it, can’t take any credit for that. Glad that you appreciate it, though.

  6. Tim matson · August 3, 2019

    This question goes back to your post of vintage lenses.
    (Just ordered xt30) Do you recommend particular adapter for takumar m42 screw mounts
    to fuji xt30? At BH suggestion I ordered velafxm42.

    • Ritchie Roesch · August 3, 2019

      Honestly, my adapters are cheap ones from China that I bought on eBay for very little money, and they work well, do exactly what they’re supposed to do. I’m not at home right now, but I can tell you the brands of them (assuming the brand is printed on them somewhere) later when I have a chance. I’ve owned them for a few years now, but can’t recall the brands off the top of my head.

      • tim matson · August 3, 2019

        Thanks Richie! I’m game for the learning curve whatever it may bring, and
        very psyched to work and play with the new xt30… decided to save $
        and use my existing lenses hence the adapter and also to accentuate that old spotmatic

      • Ritchie Roesch · August 3, 2019

        I love using old lenses on my X-T30, the camera is well designed for it. And it’s a great way to save money, as you said.

      • tim matson · August 3, 2019

        Regarding your vintage lens experiments, my favorite was the Zeiss Flektogon 20mm
        m42 screw in, which I used way back when for maybe 75% of my shots, many
        in books I did. Lost it shooting a flood, and can’t bring myself to risk buying
        one on eBay from Ukraine etc. And very pricey! Love to see if you could access and use one
        for site!

      • Ritchie Roesch · August 3, 2019

        That one isn’t cheap but would be great to own. I bet you miss it. Tell me more about the books.

      • tim matsom · August 9, 2019

        Just got the xt30… and using my old takumar 24mm 3.5. scary learning curve ahead.
        noticing some of your recent shots featuring vintage lenses, have high iso’s…reason?
        can I use say 400 or so like some of my old films were..or even 25/64/100…?

      • Ritchie Roesch · August 9, 2019

        The high ISOs are a result of the available light. I remember when I considered ISO 400 to be high ISO, and more typically I was using ISOs of 25, 50, 64 and 100. The great thing about modern digital cameras like the X-T30 is that you can get good results at ridiculously high ISOs, and unless you’re printing bigger than 16” x 24” it almost doesn’t matter which ISO you use. It’s really quite amazing, something that seemed impossible not very long ago.

      • tim matson · August 9, 2019

        yes, I am looking forward to experimenting with higher iso’s….so much to learn!

      • Ritchie Roesch · August 9, 2019

        You are welcome!

  7. fragglerocking · August 3, 2019

    Might have to have a go at this 😊

  8. tim matson · August 3, 2019

    Most notable for photography is Pilobolus (Random House 1978). Alas, out of print.
    Plus others mostly about country ponds and a few other topics including home brew, some in print,
    some not, can be found at
    Or on Amazon and other resellers, used.
    & Yes, I do miss that Flektogon!

  9. zirpo · August 6, 2019

    First of all thanks for all these recipes. I am a hobbyist and do own my x-t20 less than one year. As I am now on vacation I was seeking for a “vacation” recipe to shoot straight jpeg on the family trip. Somehow I landed here 🙂 I like the idea of the challenge, I adapted it to my situation, so I am changing the recipe (yours, Kevins, Jamies) on a daily basis. Possibly this will help to determine “my style” and I will be able to create an own recipe .-)

    • Ritchie Roesch · August 6, 2019

      I’m glad that you found the blog and the recipes are working well for you. I’m very happy when others invent their own settings that work for them, and I am happy when my settings work for others. It’s kind of like we’re all in this thing together, and we’re all helping others become better. It’s really cool.

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  18. Khürt Williams · November 10, 2019

    Hi Ritchie, the challenge is great, and I love the intent, but it seems that WordPress Reader is not playing ball.

    Only your posts appear under

    Nothing appears under

    I know I have completed three rolls for the challenge, and I can see that others have as well. It seems that the only way to see what others are doing for the challenge is to return regularly to this blog post and look for links back.

    It’s a shame.

    • Ritchie Roesch · November 10, 2019

      That is indeed a shame. Not sure why WordPress is doing that. Definitely feel free to share your links here.

      • Khürt Williams · November 10, 2019

        I am linking back to this post but I’m unsure how many others who are doing the challenge are. I miss the opportutiy to learn and see with different eyes. 😔

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