You might have a favorite Film Simulation Recipe, but when the light changes you’re disappointed with the results. This is a pretty common problem, and not unique to Fujifilm or even a new issue to photography. This happens because many of my recipes are modeled after or are inspired by analog film, and this is a long-time film problem.
With a few rare exceptions, film is either daylight balanced (usually around 5500K) or tungsten balanced (typically 3200K)—one for use in daylight, and the other for use in artificial light. If you encountered light outside of the temperature that the film was intended to be shot in, you would either accept the results or use a color correction filter (described in this article) to fix the imbalance. Many Film Simulation Recipes have this same issue: they’re intended to be used in a specific light condition, and outside of that they might not produce the best results.
When shooting film, your best option is to use the correct film for the situation; with recipes, I think this is also the best solution. Sometimes this isn’t practical, and so you could use color correction filters (both with film and film simulations), although carrying around a bag full of filters isn’t an especially convenient option. With digital, you have an added solution: adjust the white balance, which is essentially the digital equivalent of using color correction filters. For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the first option, which is selecting a Film Simulation Recipe that does well in the light situation that you find yourself shooting in.
With over 250 Film Simulation Recipes on this website (and the Fuji X Weekly App), it can be hard to know which ones perform best in which light. In this article (and hopefully additional articles in the future), we’re going to compare how 10 recipes perform in various light conditions. It should be enlightening, and hopefully you’ll have a better understanding of when to use which recipes.
Before we jump into it, I think it’s important to briefly discuss Kelvin. The measurement of the temperature (warm or cold) of light is called Kelvin, and the scale is pretty large, ranging from 0 to 20000—the lower the number, the warmer the light, and the higher the number, the cooler the light. The typical temperature of a candle flame is 1900K. Artificial light (incandescent lights, halogen bulbs, fluorescent tubes, etc.) is usually between 2800K and 4300K, depending on the specific bulbs being used. “Golden Hour” light (sunrise and sunset) is around 3500K. Morning and afternoon sunlight (outside of golden hour) is typically between 4500K and 5000K, while midday sunlight is typically 5600K. Overcast sky often ranges from 6000K to 9000K, and shade can be 8000K to 10000K. Your camera’s white balance is designed to “balance” these temperatures so that white is white—a warm light will need a cool white balance, and a cool light will need a warm white balance.
With that prerequisite understanding, let’s take a look at how 10 different Film Simulation Recipes handle various Kelvin temperature light conditions.
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