Fujifilm Monochrome, Part 2

Monochrome Wasatch Mountain

Dramatic Silver Mountain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

In my last post I suggested that Fujifilm should make a monochrome camera like the Leica M10 Monochrom. I wasn’t planning to say anymore about it, but the response I received from that article compelled me to type out this one. The majority of those who replied, either in a comment under that post, via Instagram, or through email, said that they would consider buying a black-and-white-only camera if Fujifilm made one. Some of you had great ideas for it. There’s a chance that someone at Fujifilm reads Fuji X Weekly, so I’m writing this with that in mind.

I had suggested that, if Fujifilm did make a monochrome camera, it should either be in an X-Pro3 or X100V body, and they should call it “X-Pro3 Acros” or “X100V Acros” after their film and film simulation of the same name. It was pointed out to me that it doesn’t have to be in those bodies. It could be in a cheaper body, such as the X-T200, and since it doesn’t require any special sensor, just one without a color filter array, and would have a stripped down menu, the camera could potentially be made affordable. The less expensive the camera is, the more copies it will sell. Of all the body suggestions that I received, the X-E3 was the most popular choice for a monochrome camera by Fuji X Weekly readers.

Someone had an interesting idea for a feature on a monochrome camera: color filters. The X100F has a built-in neutral-density filter, so why couldn’t a monochrome camera have built-in yellow, red and green filters (and perhaps blue)? Click a button and the filter of choice is applied. That made me wonder: is it possible to have a color filter array that can be turned on and off? With the click of a button, perhaps the X-Pro4 can become a monochrome camera, and with another click it’s back to normal. That would be cool! It might be completely impossible, but I’m sure someone smarter than I can figure it out.

49452013198_fa08a72936_c

Bountiful Peak – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

The second largest response that I got from my last post, not far behind the “I want that” replies, is, “would a monochrome camera even produce better results than what I can already get with the Acros film simulation?” My initial response was, heck yes! You get a big bump in resolution. But then I was shown two different YouTube videos that do blind tests between the Leica M10 Monochrom and the Fujifilm X-T3 (here and here), and it changed my mind. I did the blind test in both videos, and I was surprised by the results. In the first blind test, which compares the Leica with the Fujifilm and a Sony A7 III, the author uses the Monochrome film simulation, and not Acros, on the X-T3. Even so, the camera that I blindly picked as I looked at the pictures was the Fujifilm. I watched the blind test part twice before making up my mind and viewing the reveal. In the second video, which compares the Leica against another Leica monochrome camera and the Fujifilm and actual film, the author uses both the Monochrome and Acros film simulations. There were five pictures to choose from, and a few looked very close so it was more difficult to pick a favorite. I was surprised that the one I picked was the X-T3 with the Monochrome film simulation. Again, I watched the blind test part twice before deciding and viewing the reveal.

I’m not sure how much stock one can put into YouTube videos, where it’s difficult to really appreciate the pictures. Even so, I made two conclusions: Fujifilm cameras are especially great for black-and-white photography and I need to shoot more with the Monochrome film simulation. I use Acros on my X-T30, but it’s about time that I create a recipe using the Monochrome film simulation, which is apparently better than I gave it credit for.

Would a Fujifilm monochrome camera be awesome? Yes, it would! Would it be better at black-and-white than your current Fujifilm camera? Probably, but not by a big margin, that’s for sure. Perhaps if you print very large, that’s when the monochrome camera would be advantageous. I would still buy one if Fujifilm made one, but it’s good to reaffirm that Fujifilm is already superb at black-and-white photography, and I’m not missing much by not owning a monochrome-only camera.

In closing, I’m very curious what your results are with the blind tests. If you watched the videos, please let me know in the comments what your results were. Which camera made the best black-and-white pictures in your opinion? Thanks!

26 comments

  1. Jamie · January 28

    There’s no doubt I would probably buy one but I’m so happy with the Acros my X-T2 produces that it may not really be necessary for me at least!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Antonio Mozeto · January 28

    Hi there…I do not know if I can do this right here and the way I am doing it…I do have Fuji camera – X100T – but recenty I bought a Lumix LX100II and since then I am using it for various types of shots including landsacape shots. It has several film simulation, including 3 types of monochrome, but as I shoot mostly in b&w what I do is the following – for which I would appreciate hearing you all -: I shoot under EXPRESSIVE mode (very vivid and contasting colors) and them I work the shots on Silver Efex Pro and Lr… If I can show you all one example of such picture I display it below.
    I just checked and I think thre is no way attach a picture here… How can I send it?…Instead you can have a look in my site http://www.antoniomozetophotography.com. Thanks to you all !…antonio

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 28

      Your site and photographs are beautiful! I’ve used Nik Silver Efex plenty before, it’s a great software for B&W. I don’t currently use it, but it is easy to recommend. Glad you found something that works well for you. Thank you for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Crable · January 30

      Antonio,
      I too, went to your site. I agree with Ritchie, you photographs are terrific.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marc Beebe · January 28

    What I saw in those comparisons is just what anyone should expect to see: you can’t tell much about a >2MP image on a <2MP computer screen. The variations between offerings could easily be accounted for by the exposure handling, rather than any dedicated monochrome function.
    A monochrome-only camera might have an artistic niche, but in practical sense it isn't going to be worth a separate purchase compared to desaturating a colour image. It would be different if the only sensor choices were <5MP, but they aren't. In terms of digital viewing we "throw away" most of what the camera sees anyway.
    And now thanks to you I have to test the Lumix for B&W shots. I've tried out its 4 monochrome settings (2 of which are just a mess) and found them all lacking, even compared to desaturating colour.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Roby Ferrero · January 28

    Thank you for continuing on this interesting topic.

    The most brilliant idea would be to be able to switch from one filter to another, and to color. At this point, you could pay over $ 500 for the camera of the century!

    The idea of ​​making a monochrome of a lower segment, preferably X-E, is also interesting. But would it be convenient for the corporate image?
    It might seem that they themselves do not believe so deeply in the project, if not downright their users. I believe that a monochromatic must first be a flagship. But that’s a personal opinion. Eventually it can be X-100, as it is unique. You can discuss which sensor to use, being a monochrome. After all, the X-100 line passes from one sensor to another.

    As difficult as it is to evaluate the tests on a video, it is clear, from my point of view, that Leica climbs to the first place, indeed, it was already on the top step of the podium 🙂

    It is not even surprising that Fujifilm is better than Sony. So much so that the question does not concern only the resolution or the perception of sharpness.
    If it weren’t for enlargement, the most important factor is the appearance of an image. Then if you pass from a sooc to an elaborate Raw the speech can be still different.

    Leica wins, yes, but why? I don’t think it’s exclusively a question of sensor and processor. His Leica power gets it from the transparency of his lenses; they are the only optics with which it seems to see through the glass of a window, clean is meant. This is thanks to their naturalness. Even the most noble brands, such as Carl Zeiss, however extraordinary, do not get the same naturalness. All the other goals in the world are more mixed. Except for some other Germans. But it’s always my personal opinion.

    So it is difficult to understand who to give credit to from one factor to another. So much so that when I mount a Leica on my X-pro2, it seems to have inserted the turbo.

    The monochromatic simulation is excellent, probably better than Acros, in that it is more classical, but it is not said that it always goes better than Acros; it’s a bit like the talk of more or less colored filters to be used in black and white.

    If I were Mr. Fujifilm, I would call my camera Classic.

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 29

      Thank you for your interesting and thoughtful response! Leica lenses are indeed special. Lenses are just as important, if not more important, than camera bodies.

      Like

  5. Khürt Williams · January 29

    It’s nice to dream, but from a business perspective, this would be impractical for Fujifilm.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Philippe Debeerst · January 29

    If I want monochrome, then I shoot film (Tri-X by preference)…
    But yes, my X-pro2 delivers good b&w but not as good as real film does, that’s why the darkroom survives!

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 29

      I would probably shoot b&w film again if I had a good lab setup at my house. Maybe someday.

      Like

  7. Quan · January 30

    I recall about 2 years ago, I read an article about a fellow who offered a service to remove the color filter from your X-Pro1 for a fee. I don’t remember the name or the cost, but the sample images were stunning. If I can find the article I will post. Keep in mind that you can achieve an equivalent effect of removing the color filter by using more pixels to compensate for the loss of resolution caused by having to demosaic the color filter. So a 20-something megapixel monochrome sensor might be equivalent apparent resolution of a 40-something megapixel color sensor. We’re headed in that direction, and Leica is already there.

    About the idea of a switchable color filter array: I’m not sure how this could work. If the filter array is any distance from the sensor, the light coming through each pixel color filter on the array can disperse into neighboring pixels. Thus I don”t know how you could switch it mechanically, being RIGHT ON the sensor, without damaging the sensor. It works for electronic ND filters because a ND filter doesn’t have a dispersion issue.

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 30

      I looked into having the color array removed. It’s a couple of grand, more expensive than a brand new camera. Well above my budget.
      The way that I imagine a color filter array that can be turned on and off working is more like this: there is no array, but somehow the software can determine the color, perhaps based on wavelength or depth penetration. Like I said, I’m not smart enough to figure this out, but I know that someone is, and it would be cool if they did. Thank you for the comment!

      Like

      • Quan · January 30

        Hi, I don’t know if you’ve seen this site:
        https://www.maxmax.com/shopper/category/9510-fuji-monochrome
        Keep in mind that these prices appear to include the camera although you’ll have to call them if you want to convert your existing camera, to get the price. I still can’t find the original article I read, but I’ll keep looking.

        Like

      • Ritchie Roesch · January 30

        That’s the place I found. I paid $300 for my X-T1. To buy a monochrome converted one, it’s over $2,000, which is shocking. I’d prefer Fujifilm to make one that costs brand-new that price or less.

        Like

  8. Quan · January 30

    It’s possible the prices are just old. My guess is that those are the original prices, like, when those models were current. Given how little demand there must be for this service, I’d imagine that they do most business over the phone. It might be worth it to give them a call for current pricing.

    Like

  9. Roby Ferrero · January 31

    Perhaps these are the RAF files of the article quoted by Quan.
    In any case, they are RAFs from X-Pro1 sensor modified to monochrome.

    I had downloaded them for testing. I don’t know why, I don’t understand, but the files need a black and white conversion to have them neutral.

    The perception is of greater resolution and acutance.

    Here the link to download them. Out of curiosity I added the Jpeg of my tests.
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/uiske2ra9tqwboe/AADOJjWCeDhnW8I08KO4qnj1a?dl=0

    Liked by 1 person

  10. dforce · January 31

    Wow, I didn’t knew that the JPEGs are so much off between the XTrans sensors. For me the X-T1 looks so much superior. I love the tones and everything. There is much more color and vibrancy to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · February 2

      They can be made to look alike, but straight out of the box there’s a noticeable difference.

      Like

  11. Pingback: My Fujifilm X-T30 Dramatic Monochrome Film Simulation Recipe | Fuji X Weekly
  12. Pingback: Shrinking Camera Market: What Fujifilm Should Do In 2021 & Beyond | Fuji X Weekly

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