My Fujifilm JPEG Journey

Hidden Church – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T200

I didn’t always shoot JPEGs. I used to shoot RAW. Now with Fujifilm cameras I am a JPEG guy, and I’m inspiring many others to shoot JPEGs, too.

This is my journey.

I learned photography in the film era just before digital photography became a big thing. I didn’t like digital photography in those early days—I could spot a digital picture pretty easily. I resisted buying a digital camera for about 10 years. Technology changes quickly, and digital camera technology advanced to a point that it made sense for me to jump in. I’ve been primarily shooting digital for a little over 10 years now; I still shoot film, although since using Fujifilm cameras I’ve shot a lot less of it.

When I started in digital photography, I took the advice that is often given to newcomers: shoot RAW. JPEGs are terrible, so if you’re serious, shoot RAW. I didn’t initially heed this advice as the learning curve for RAW editing software is steep, but I quickly learned a tough lesson. I was in Sedona, Arizona, at Red Rock Crossing at sunset with a clearing storm, photographing the iconic Cathedral Rock with the Oak Creek in the foreground. It was incredible! I shot it with the camera set to JPEG. Later, when I reviewed the pictures on my computer, I discovered that the JPEGs were simply awful! I tried to “fix” them in software, but it was simply a missed opportunity. That’s why you shoot RAW.

One of the problems with RAW is that it can take a lot of time to edit, or really develop, the images. Some pictures can be quick, but some can take hours. I once had a particular brand of camera with a unique three-layer sensor, and it would often take 30 minutes to an hour or more to get a finished picture from a RAW file. It was painfully slow! I spent a lot of time sitting at the computer editing pictures. I tried to find shortcuts to speed up the process, but editing still took up a significant chunk of my time.

Blue Mountain Lake – Flathead Lake, MT – Fujifilm X-T30

My first Fujifilm camera was an X-E1 that I purchased used. I immediately loved it, but I did not understand how great the JPEGs were. I was still a RAW shooter. I did some RAW+JPEG with that camera, and I was impressed that the JPEGs actually looked pretty good. Several months later I purchased a Fujifilm X100F. While shooting RAW+JPEG on the X100F, I began to notice that the straight-out-of-camera JPEGs looked an awful lot like the RAW images that I had spent time post-processing. It was a lightbulb moment.

I began to experiment with the different JPEG settings and I realized that I could achieve in-camera different looks that I liked. I’m not 100% sure where the term “recipe” came from—if it was something that I invented or if someone else came up with it first—but I began to create film simulation recipes (sets of JPEG settings) for my X100F. The very first recipe was simply called “Acros” and I published it on August 27, 2017. It was the fifth post on this blog. My “Classic Chrome” film simulation recipe was published later that same day. I stopped shooting RAW and relied entirely on camera-made JPEGs.

I thought it truly amazing that high-quality pictures that looked like post-processed RAW images could come straight-out-of-camera. It felt good to not spend hours and hours sitting in front of a computer editing pictures. What was most meaningful to me is the time that shooting JPEGs saved me. Suddenly I had a lot more free time, which I spent on two things: my family and photography. My family life improved while my photography simultaneously became significantly more productive. It may seem like hyperbole to state that it changed my life, but it really did!

Time went on and my film simulation recipes were noticed by others. They spread by word of mouth, and more and more photographers began to use them. The more that I experimented, the more creative I got with the settings. I began to get requests to create different film looks. I collaborated with others on some settings. People began to create their own recipes, sharing them on social media. Film simulation recipes are now more than just JPEG presets, they bring people together, the foundation of community.

The way that the world is being captured today is in part through the filter of the film simulation recipes on this website. People across the globe, from new-to-photography to experienced-pro, are using these settings. I’m honored and humbled to influence photography in this way. I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that these recipes have had an impact on their photography, either rejuvenating their passion or saving them time (or both).

Forsaken – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V

When I was in Photography 101 in college, my pictures weren’t as good as some of my classmates, and I wondered if I’d ever amount to anything as a photographer. Through various photographic failures that I’ve endured over the years, I wondered if I should keep pressing forward. When I began this blog three years ago, I wondered if anyone would even read it. There’s no need to wonder anymore, except perhaps to where all this might lead.

I don’t consider myself an influential photographer, but there’s no doubt that I’m influencing photography. The stigma attached to the camera-made JPEG is changing (in part) because of me. The aesthetic of today’s pictures is (in part) the recipes from this website. My reach on this website is worldwide and the audience much larger than I could have ever dreamed.

I still primarily shoot JPEGs, but I discovered along the way that film simulation recipes are much easier to create when you can reprocess RAW files, either in-camera or with X RAW Studio. Instead of strictly being a JPEG-only photographer, I use RAW+JPEG, but I still only use camera-made JPEGs. That’s what works for me.

Really, it’s about finding what works for you and your photography. RAW might work best for one person, RAW+JPEG for another, and JPEG-only for another. There’s no right or wrong way to do things. There’s advantages and disadvantages to each. Nobody should say that everyone should do things one way, or put people down for doing it different than them.

For myself and a growing group of photographers, using film simulation recipes on Fujifilm cameras is the preferred method. I’m a JPEG guy, or, really, RAW+JPEG. I get the pictures that I want straight-out-of-camera without the need for editing, except for minor cropping and occasional small adjustments, which I do on my phone. You won’t find me sitting at a computer fiddling with files. There’s no need to. That’s why I love Fujifilm JPEGs.

20 comments

  1. Khürt Williams · September 21

    We have many options as photographers. We can shoot JPEG only. We can shoot raw and JPEG, use the JPEG for social media, then dump it and keep the raw only. We can shoot raw only and spend hours getting it it the way we want it including removing things the camera can’t or we can keep it as it. Or in seconds we can slap a software filter on the raw file using Adobe Lightroom, or Capture One, etc. This last one takes as much time as shooting a JPEG image.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 21

      There’s no right or wrong way, for sure! If someone finds what works for them, that’s great!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ines Newell · September 21

    Pretty😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sivert Almvik · September 21

    I shoot RAW+jpeg. Storage is cheap. If mess up the jpeg, I can save it from the raw-file.

    And with the raw, I can easily and quickly run the image through multiple of your recipes if I want to change the look and feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 21

      That’s a great advantage of RAW+JPEG: you can reprocess the exposure through multiple recipes if you want.

      Like

  4. Miroslav P · September 21

    Man, you are great! The site is great also!
    I am not a pro, and creativity is not part of me. I am just a guy with a camera, trying to shoot some things around me.
    I shoot JPEG+RAW, but almost never use RAWs. Pantax was brand with great colors, but Fuji and your site move the game of shooting photos few levels up.
    Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 21

      I appreciate your kind words! I’m just glad to be helpful to others. Glad that you like the recipes!

      Like

  5. georgesimpsonart · September 21

    Absolutely have influenced me. Cant remember the specific youtuber linking Fuji X Weekly but thats when i clinched buying one

    Ive always thought film could be easier and digital less clinical without laboured edits.

    Never tried RAW with success. I dont get the depth of edits it requires. I do edit JPEG a little…but thats another influence from seeing Sean Tucker use an iPhone (Darkroom, but i have android so Snapseed).
    Often only a few small adjusts, like shadows for exposure, toning or more grain, and instagram borders. Actually, these kind of options appear on later models except the specific bordering format. Sometimes exposure is just a bit off due to dynamic range limitation too. So one day i will upgrade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • georgesimpsonart · September 21

      Also, the RAW editor on x-e1 has no preview whilst changing settings. I might use an in camera one if it did sometimes. Just to slightly adjust a recipe for specific situations like backlighting.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 21

      I’m glad you found this website! I’m happy to be helpful. I like the way you put it: less clinical digital without labored edits. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  6. Francisco G · September 21

    I came from Canon, shooting just Raw. I started with Youtube tutorials that said “always use raw” and I blindly followed and got used to spending so many hours editing. I didn’t even know the JPEG’s were processed! I thought you would always need to spend that time editing.

    Then I arrived at Fuji thorugh my XE-3 and, at first, the images were so different from what I was used to that I disliked them, at least the color ones. I saw some “recipes” of other photographers but was never completely happy with the result. Then somewhere on the internet someone mentioned how you tinkered with WB shift, and how that changes everything. I took a look and ever since I don’t want anything else.

    I now do almost no edits, just small fixes if needed, very few “improvements”. The image “beauty” is straight out of the camera.

    Whenever I shoot raw now (or some other camera, like my phone), I cringe at the colors, and despair just by thinking of all the time I’ll need in the editing “room”. I was able to create some presets but, as always, they’re really hit or miss.

    I’ve also recently started shooting film and it’s impressive how unimpressed I am with the end result, regarding colors and tone. My digital “work” is almost the same, so there’s no special awe when I look at my Kodak Gold 200 photos (nevertheless, I love film due to the complete experience).

    All of this just to say that your recipes completely changed my process and made it so much more enjoyable. I never loved taking pictures this much. There’s something special when you look at a picture straight out of camera and you already see it “beautiful” and “finished”.

    Keep doing your great work, the community needs you!
    Best regard,
    Francisco
    @chico.jpeg

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 21

      Thank you so much for the comment! I appreciate reading your story. I’m glad to be helpful to your photography. I’m honored to have had a hand in making photography more enjoyable for you. You have some nice pictures on your Instagram!

      Like

  7. Mark C · September 21

    enjoyed this particular writing. I shoot JPEG+RAW, because I just like having a RAW file to play around with, and, as someone commented earlier, storage is cheap.
    I would argue that you have a tremendous influence in photography, especially in the Fuji world. I enjoy your work and hope you can keep going for many years to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. oli · September 21

    Even if the paths are different – the experiences and the conclusions are similar. Fuji has also changed the path of my photography.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 22

      The experiences and conclusions are what matter most, right? I appreciate the comment!

      Like

  9. Cestbibi · September 22

    I seize the opportunity of this post to thank you for your hard work with the recipes, you have been an inspiration and a source of information about better understanding the great advantages of using the Fuji system at its full potential. Tweaking the settings in camera and refining the recipes is a never-ending source of entertainment and joy. I personally go RAW+JPEG as I regard the Raw file as the “archive” (if you ever want to edit in a future different way) and the jpeg as the “finished”product. I think this is the beauty and genius of the system. There’s something liberating in thinking beforehand which style you want, sticking to it and getting the result straight out of camera. I honestly believe that working with voluntary constrains actually increases your creativity. Keep the good work !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 22

      Limitation improve art, absolutely! I appreciate your feedback and kind words. I’m just glad to be helpful to you and your photography.

      Like

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