I mentioned before that the main reason I’m buying the new Fujifilm X-T5 is for the Nostalgic Negative film simulation. That’s crazy, right? $1,700 is way too much money to spend on a new film simulation, isn’t it? Am I crazy or just plain stupid?
The Nostalgic Negative film simulation hasn’t received the fanfare of Classic Chrome or especially Classic Negative. Not even as much as Acros or Eterna. Maybe about as much as Eterna Bleach Bypass. Maybe. I think it’s because of poor marketing strategies by Fujifilm.
Nostalgic Negative was introduced by Fujifilm about a year-and-a-half ago on the GFX100S. I know that some people use film simulations and shoot straight-out-of-camera on GFX, but it is a much smaller percentage, I think, than the X system. I don’t know the numbers, but (just throwing something out there) if 20% of Fujifilm X owners use Film Simulation Recipes, the number of GFX owners is maybe 5%. So Nostalgic Negative is something that, for the most part, GFX owners don’t even care about. Besides, I’m pretty sure that GFX models sell a lot fewer copies than X series cameras, so the number of people actually using this film simulation on a GFX100S is pretty small. The next camera to get Nostalgic Negative was the GFX 50S II—kind of the same story. The first X camera to get Nostalgic Negative was the X-H2S, followed very quickly by the X-H2. Interestingly, this film simulation isn’t found anywhere in the promotional material for those two cameras. Yes, they have Nostalgic Negative, but it’s clear that Fujifilm didn’t think it would be a selling point for those two models. That makes sense, since these two “flagship” cameras aren’t intended for or marketed to long-time Fujifilm photographers, but for those with other camera systems (Canikony) looking to make a change. I suspect that many of those buying the X-H2S and X-H2 are generally less aware of, and less open to using, film simulations and recipes and such.
That brings us to the Fujifilm X-T5, the first X series camera where Fujifilm is actually promoting the Nostalgic Negative film simulation… barely. It’s mentioned in the promotional material, but without much fanfare, and not stated as a new feature, or with a good explanation of what it’s intended to resemble and what makes it special.
According to Fujifilm, the Nostalgic Negative film simulation is based on “American New Color” photography of the 1970’s. They studied photographs by William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld and Richard Misrach in order to create it. Eggleston and Sternfeld largely shot on Kodachrome—II and X in the early 1970’s, 25 and 64 in the late ’70’s—while Shore shot mostly Kodacolor, and Misrach shot a lot of Vericolor. All of those are Kodak emulsions, but with different aesthetics. These four photographers had different styles and different darkroom processes, and they each had a unique look; the commonality that Fujifilm found was an “overall atmosphere based on amber.” That’s a basic explanation of what Nostalgic Negative is. While not mentioned by Fujifilm, I think this film simulation might be closer to aesthetic of Saul Leiter than the ones Fujifilm stated they studied. Saul Leiter used a whole bunch of different films over the years, including Kodachrome and Anscochrome, but apparently he didn’t mind using generic drug store brands, either. Nostalgic Negative is a divergent approach for Fujifilm, I think, in that it isn’t intended to mimic a certain emulsion (or the “memory color” of a specific film stock), but instead tries to mimic the “memory color” of a certain decade (the 1970’s), or perhaps elicit a nostalgic emotional response.
The Fujifilm X-T5 is the cheapest camera with Nostalgic Negative. It’s the 5th camera to get it, and at $1,700, it’s somehow the cheapest! I don’t think this film simulation will really “catch on” until it’s available on a more affordable body. And this is where I think Fujifilm goofed. If they had introduced Nostalgic Negative on the X-T5, and followed it up with an X-T40, X-S20, X100VI (or whatever it will be called), X-Pro4, and X-E5 in the coming couple of years, it would be a selling point. People would be super-excited about it right now. But because Fujifilm first put it on four models that are expensive and where the users aren’t as eager about film simulations, it lost a lot of its luster. Nobody’s really talking about Nostalgic Negative anymore. While I don’t think I’ll appreciate this film simulation as much as Classic Negative, Classic Chrome, Eterna, or Acros, I do believe it has the potential for some very interesting recipes. I look forward to trying it. Heck, I’m spending $1,700 just for Nostalgic Negative—that’s crazy! Or dumb. It could go either way.
What about you? Are you excited for Nostalgic Negative? How much would you spend for it? If Fujifilm offered it as a paid firmware update for your X-Trans IV camera, would you buy it? Let me know in the comments!
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Interestingly, as a side note, if you look closely at the promotional statement by Fujifilm about film simulations on the X-T5, you’ll see this statement: “Reproduce the classic colors and tones that Fujifilm are known for, or add an artistic flair and start to Build Your Legacy.” First, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it should be “is” and not “are”—after all, Fujifilm is known for reproducing classic colors and tones; for “are” to be correct, you’d need a conjunction, such as, “Reproduce the classic colors and tones that Fujifilm and Fuji X Weekly are known for….” Maybe they initially penciled that “and Fuji X Weekly” part in there, and erased it at the last minute, forgetting to change the “are” to “is” by accident. Second, Build Your Legacy seems to be Fujifilm’s new catchphrase for Film Simulation Recipes. It’s been a Fujifilm trademark for a few years, but I hadn’t seen it used in conjunction with film simulations. I wonder if Fujifilm has something up their sleeves that they’ll announce later. Perhaps it is even related to their upcoming app? I’m not sure, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on.