I Was Never Meant to Like the Provia Film Simulation + Other Fun Film Sim Facts

Oak Autumn – Pine, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4 – Provia film sim – “KodaNeg VC” recipe

I’ve never really cared for Fujifilm’s Provia film simulation. I mean, it’s alright, but I like most of the other options better, and I wondered why they made it the “standard” film simulation. It doesn’t much resemble real Provia film—why even call it Provia?—yet it is front-and-center on all Fujifilm models.

I Recently stumbled across a fascinating article that helped me better understand why I don’t like Provia, and why the other film sims look the way they do. Exibartstreet.com translated and summarized an interview of two Fujifilm managers who discussed at length the different film simulations found on Fujifilm cameras (the original interview articles can be found here and here, and is two years old). I now have a little better understanding of Fujifilm’s philosophy behind the creation of their profiles.

Truck Stop Cross Process – Bowie, TX – Fujifilm X100F – Provia film sim – “Cross Process” recipe

Specifically to Provia, I discovered that I was never supposed to like it. It wasn’t designed for me. “When it comes to Provia,” one of the Fujifilm managers stated, “photographers that started with film find it hard, but photographers that only shoot digitally find it just right.” Well, I started with film; I don’t know if I’d describe it as “hard” but it is far from “just right” for me personally. “Provia aims at the greatest common denominator that makes you feel ‘beautiful’ at a glance.” In other words, they weren’t trying to mimic any emulsions, but create a profile that looks nice to those who have only ever shot with digital cameras. “In my personal opinion, I would like to change the name ‘film simulation,'” the Fujifilm manager said. “Film simulation is not film imitation.”

Diving into the interview, we discover that Velvia was, in fact, modeled after the film of the same name, but digital sensor and processor limitations have made it difficult to reproduce the film’s aesthetic; however, beginning with X-Trans III, Fujifilm has been able to get closer. Enabling Color Chrome Effect allows you to achieve the appropriate color depth.

Wind from the West – Hammond, OR – Fujifilm X-E4 – Astia film sim – “CineStill 50D” recipe

The Astia film simulation looks so much different than real Astia film. “We often receive comments that ‘reproducibility is different from Astia of silver salt,'” the manager explained. “The reason for this is that ‘the image quality design is not aimed at silver salt Astia.’ You may wonder what it means to bear the name of Astia even though it is different, but it is not completely unrelated. In fact, both film and digital are aiming at the same place. In other words, the film simulation ‘Astia’ was developed to bring it closer to the ‘ideal Astia’ that the development team aimed for when developing the silver salt film Astia.” Put more simply, the film simulation is the aesthetic that Fujifilm would have produced with the film if they could have.

Classic Chrome was modeled after an unmentioned slide film… they can’t say Kodak.

Pilot – Cordes Lakes, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 – Classic Chrome film sim – “Kodachrome 64” recipe

PRO Neg. Std and PRO Neg. Hi were not modeled after any specific emulsions, but are for faithful color reproduction. “The main difference is the tone curve. PRO Neg. Hi is adjusted to tighten the shadows and tighten the highlights. On the other hand, the color design is the same.”

The Eterna film simulation was modeled after Eterna motion picture film. Regarding Eterna Bleach Bypass, “This setting is equivalent to ‘half of the silver remaining’ on film….”

Coastal Blooms – San Simeon, CA – Fujifilm X-E4 – Classic Negative film sim – “Pacific Blues” recipe

“Classic Negative is a very special kind of film simulation, designed so that the appearance of colors changes depending on the brightness. Therefore, I make adjustments so that dark tones are cyan, and bright tones are magenta. Classic Negative… was originally ‘Superia.'” It’s clear that this film simulation was carefully crafted to closely mimic Superia film. “To tell you the truth, I feel that Classic Negative was a little too bold.” I think Fujifilm should consider going “too bold” more often!

There’s a heck-of-a-lot more said in the interview that’s quite fascinating. I think Fujifilm doesn’t want its users to interpret “film simulation” as “film imitation” because not all of their film sims are intended to mimic film. Some are, and some are not. But, even the ones that are not, the digital side teamed up with the film side to assist in designing all of the film simulations—including Provia/Std—and I think their careful attention to detail and vast film experience translates into profiles that can be made to resemble film, even if the film sim was never intended to. Still, the film simulations that are, in fact, modeled after film are my favorites.

Which Film Simulation Recipes, When? — Part 4 (X-Trans II)

Hummingbird Feeder Along a Wall – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”

Part 1Part 2Part 3

When should you use which Film Simulation Recipes on your Fujifilm X-Trans II camera? With so many recipes to choose from, it can be difficult to know what recipe you should select in a given situation, and this article is intended to help you with that. If you haven’t read Part 1, it’s important to do so because it explains what exactly we’re doing—the backstory—which is imperative to understand. There’s a video to watch in that article, too. Take a moment right now to hop on over to Part 1 (click here) before continuing on with this post, if you haven’t viewed it already.

One thing to note about X-Trans II cameras is that not all of them have the Classic Chrome film simulation, including the X100S, X20, and XQ1. Unfortunately, if you have one of those models, this list is slightly less useful to you, although I hope you still find it helpful. For those with an X100T, X-E2, X-E2S, X-T1, X-T10, X30, X70, or XQ2, this list is fully compatible with your camera.

Like Parts 2 & 3, I set out to recommend seven recipes, one for each C1-C7 Custom Preset, that don’t share the same white balance type or, if they do, they also share the same shift, because X-Trans II cameras cannot remember a White Balance Shift within the C1-C7 Custom Presets. If two recipes share the same white balance type but not the same shift, then when you switch presets you must remember to adjust the shift, too. That can be inconvenient and frustrating, so my best solution is to program recipes that use different white balance types and/or share the same white balance type and shift. The user experience is much improved, but you might not be able to program all of your favorite recipes at the same time, which is the one downside to doing this. It was a difficult task, but I think I came up with a good set for you.

Let’s take a look!

C1 — Classic Kodak Chrome — Golden Hour

Purple Mountains – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”

The Classic Kodak Chrome Film Simulation Recipe is a great option for sunrise or sunset photography, or pretty much anytime of the day or night. This is my current favorite recipe for X-Trans II cameras—I shoot with it often, more than all of the other X-Trans II recipes combined. This is my top allrounder choice! Almost no matter the subject, situation, or light, this is the recipe that I go with. Classic Kodak Chrome uses the Auto white balance type; if I wasn’t concerned about white balance type, I’d go with this recipe or Ektachrome 100SW whenever the sun is low to the horizon.

Alternatives for “golden hour” photography:

Ektachrome 100SW

C2 — Kodak Portra 160 — Midday

An Arizona Autumn – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Kodak Portra 160”

Whenever the sun is not low to the horizon, my top-choice for daylight photography is the Kodak Portra 160 recipe, although it is good for “golden hour” too, and can be used anytime the sun is out. This is one of my favorite X-Trans II recipes, and is especially good for portrait photography, or whenever you want warm Kodak-like negative film colors. Kodak Portra 160 uses the Daylight white balance type; if I wasn’t concerned about white balance type, this or any in the “alternatives” list would be good options.

Alternatives for “midday” photography:

Kodachrome II
Kodachrome 64

Portra v2
Color Negative Film


C3 — Fujichrome Slide — Overcast

A Yellow Trumpet Blossom – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Fujichrome Slide”

I really like the Fujichrome Slide recipe, but it’s not my first option for overcast conditions. It does well enough, but I’d go with Classic Kodak Chrome instead (which is already in the C1 custom preset slot). Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of good options for dreary days that don’t use a white balance type that’s already taken for another category. Fujichrome Slide uses the Fluorescent 1 white balance type; if I wasn’t concerned about white balance type, I would consider Winter Slide or Porto 200 as better alternatives.

Alternatives for “overcast” photography:

Winter Slide
Porto 200
Kodacolor 200
Jon’s Classic Chrome

C4 — Kodak Color Negative — Indoor

Morning Coffee – Glendale, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Color Negative”

The Kodak Color Negative Film Simulation Recipe is pretty versatile and does well in a number of situations—indoor is just one of them. It uses the Incandescent white balance type; if I wasn’t concerned about white balance type, I’d still choose it, but Agfa Optima would be a good alternative.

Alternatives for “indoor” photography:

Agfa Optima
Classic Chrome

C5 — CineStill 800T — Nighttime

Night Synergy – Centerville, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 – “CineStill 800T”

The CineStill 800T recipe for X-Trans II cameras is my absolute favorite nighttime option, period. If it’s after dark and I’m photographing artificial lights, this is the recipe I’m using. CineStill 800T uses the Kelvin white balance type; if I wasn’t concerned about white balance type I’d still use this one.

Alternatives for “nighttime” photography:

Scanned Negative

C6 — Lomography Color 100 — Wildcard

Freedom – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Lomography Color 100”

In Parts 1-3, this category is called Alternative Process; however, for X-Trans II there’s only one recipe for that category—Cross Process—and it uses a white balance type that’s already taken. So I changed the rules a little, and called this category Wildcard instead, which is simply a recipe that’s included just because. Lomography Color 100 can produce good results in a number of situations, including golden hour, midday, shade, and indoors. It’s good for landscapes, street, and portrait photography. However, it has a little different aesthetic than the other recipes in this list. Lomography Color 100 uses the Shade white balance type; if I wasn’t concerned about white balance type, I’d choose Cross Process instead.

Alternatives for “wildcard” photography:

Cross Process
Yosemite Velvia
Kodak Platinum 200

C7 — Monochrome Red — B&W

Jonathan with a Smile – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Monochrome Red”

The Monochrome Red Film Simulation Recipe is an excellent option for black-and-white photography. It’s especially well suited for blue-sky landscapes, but it does pretty well in other situations, too. It uses the Fluorescent 1 white balance type and shares the same shift as Fujichrome Slide, so both can occupy a slot in the C1-C7 custom presets simultaneously; if I wasn’t concerned about white balance type, the Monochrome recipe is a pretty good alternative—you really can’t go wrong with either.

Alternatives for “B&W” photography:

Faded Monochrome

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Review: TTArtisan 27mm F/2.8 — A Cheap Fujinon Alternative

TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 on a Fujifilm X-T5

The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR is my favorite lens for Fujifilm cameras. The problem is that it’s also my wife’s favorite lens, and between the two of us we only have one copy. When she’s using it, I typically go with the Fujinon 35mm f/2 instead, which is a really good lens, too, but I like the 27mm just a bit better. The other problem is that the 35mm lens, while small, is bigger than my 27mm pancake, and it doesn’t fit into my travel camera bag (I have it set up where my Fujifilm X100V and Fujifilm X-E4 with the 27mm fit really nicely into a little camera bag—the 35mm lens is just a tad too big). When TTArtisan recently announced their inexpensive 27mm f/2.8 autofocus pancake lens, I thought maybe this could be a good solution to my problem.

The TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 feels well built. There’s mostly metal in the construction, and at 0.2 pounds, it’s definitely lightweight. It has an aperture ring, with f-stops from f/2.8 to f/16, and third-stop clicks in-between. It has 6 elements in 5 groups, and 7 diaphragm blades. 27mm is full-frame equivalent to 40.5mm, and is pretty close to what they eyes see. The minimum focus distance is about 13.5 inches. It accepts 39mm threaded filters—the lens came with a tiny hood that screws into the threads. The rear cap has a USB dock for firmware updates. Overall, the lens looks and feels pretty good.

TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 on a Fujifilm X-T5

I really like the manual focus ring. It has the right amount of give, and the amount of focus change per turn is great. I like this lens better as manual-focus than autofocus. Why? Autofocus is loud and slow. Fujifilm’s 27mm isn’t their quickest or quietest, but the TTArtisan is noticeably noisier and slower (I tried it on an X-T5 and X-E4 with the same result on both). It reminds me a lot of Fujifilm’s 18mm f/2 pancake. I said of that lens, “Autofocus is the slowest I’ve experienced in a Fujinon model, outside of macro lenses that have a long range to cycle through. It’s also the loudest.” The TTArtisan’s autofocus performs very similarly. My wife has been around cameras and lenses nearly as much as I have—she shoots with a Fujifilm X-T4. A couple days ago I was playing around with the TTArtisan 27mm and she happened to be nearby, and she asked, “What’s that noise?” I answered, “This new lens, it’s trying to focus.” Her response was, “I’m sorry.” Maybe I just got a bum copy, or maybe they’re all that way—either way, it was a bit disappointing, but not completely unexpected for cheap gear.

The other aspect of the TTArtisan 27mm that’s similar to the Fujinon 18mm is size, as they’re pretty close to the same dimensions—the TTArtisan is just barely smaller. I said in my review of the 18mm, “Whereas the 27mm is a true pancake, the 18mm f/2 is only sort-of one, as it’s a little on the large size for this category. Think of it more of a Japanese pancake than an American flapjack, or maybe it’s a short stack.” It’s definitely smaller than the 35mm f/2, though, and it passed the fit-test in my travel bag. So when my wife is using the Fujinon 27mm, I can choose to attach the TTArtisan 27mm or the Fujinon 18mm to my X-E4, and it will still fit alongside my X100V.

What about image quality? There’s some strong vignetting that never fully goes away—by f/8 it’s extraordinarily minimal, but at f/2.8 it’s very pronounced. You can use the vignetting creatively, or stop down… it’s not too bad at f/4, and definitely not a big deal by f/5.6. It’s pretty sharp in the center at all apertures, but a little soft in the corners wide-open. I think the lens is optically best at around f/8, but certainly acceptably good at all apertures—even f/2.8. Bokeh (which is the quality of the out-of-focus areas of an image and an overrated aspect of image quality) is alright—not bad, but not my favorite, either; can be slightly “swirly” at f/2.8 when close-focusing. I didn’t notice chromatic aberrations or anything like that, but it might be because the camera is fixing it automatically. There is some noticeable barrel distortion. Lens flare is mostly well controlled, and sometimes kind of interesting (I’ve yet to decide if I like it or not). Overall, image quality from the TTArtisans 27mm isn’t as good as the Fujinon 27mm, but still pretty good.

Hanging Garden Light – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/3.2 – Upcoming recipe

The TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 is only $160, which is an extremely good price. If the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 is out of your budget or you’re having a difficult time finding a copy, this is a pretty good alternative. If you can afford the Fujinon model, I recommend that instead because it’s better; however, the TTArtisan is pretty good yet very affordable. For those on a tight budget, I don’t think you’ll find a better pancake lens for your Fujifilm camera.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 Autofocus  Amazon

Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR   Amazon   B&H

Example photos, captured with the TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 lens, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs:

Early Morning Lamp – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @ f/2.8 – “Superia Xtra 400
Night Blossoms – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/2.8 – “Superia Xtra 400”
Autumn Leaves on a Green Bush – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/4 – “Nostalgia Negative
Lemon Bowl – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/4 – “Superia Xtra 400”
Dark Coffee – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/2.8 – “Timeless Negative
Western Boots – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/2.8 – “Superia Xtra 400”
Cowgirl Boots – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/2.8 – “Kodak Tri-X 400
Illuminated Branch – Buckeye, AZ Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/5.6 – “Pacific Blues
Rose in the Garden – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/5.6 – Upcoming Recipe
Afternoon Bougainvillea – Bcukeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/4 – “Pacific Blues”
Blue Sky Bougainvillea Blossom – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 27mm @f/6.4 – Upcoming recipe

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Nostalgic Neg. Is Basically Eterna (Sort of…)

One of the two images above is Nostalgic Neg. and the other is Eterna. Can you guess which is which?

The Nostalgic Neg. image is made using the Timeless Negative Film Simulation Recipe. The Eterna image is modified to resemble the Timeless Negative recipe.

Let’s look at another set.

I bet you’ve figured out which is which, but if you haven’t, in the train picture at top the left is Nostalgic Neg. and the right is Eterna. For the set above, the Eterna picture is left and the Nostalgic Neg. is right.

What’s different between the two? There’s quite a bit different between out-of-the-box default Nostalgic Neg. and Eterna, but Eterna can be made to look quite similar to Nostalgic Neg.—this was just a quick experiment, and with some more time and work, I could probably get it even closer. Nostalgic Neg. has a little more contrast, a lot more vibrant colors, and is slightly warmer than Eterna. With some modifications to make the two appear similar, though, it seems that the biggest difference is that Nostalgic Neg. is slightly warmer and more vibrant in the shadows, and yellow is rendered a little more deeply; otherwise, you can almost match them identically.

So what does it take to create faux Nostalgic Neg. with Eterna? I’m still fine-tuning it, but I believe that, using Eterna, reducing Highlight by -1, increasing Shadow by +1.5, reducing Dynamic Range by one or maybe two spots, adjusting White Balance Shift by +2 Red and -1 (or maybe -2) Blue, increasing Color by +6… this obviously means that Color has to be a negative value (at least -2) on Nostalgic Neg. in order to match it. This is all still a work-in-progress, but it does mean that a fairly close faux Nostalgic Neg. recipe for X-Trans IV is possible, and in the process of being created. If you feel as though you’re missing out on Nostalgic Neg.—don’t fret!—if your camera has Eterna, it can, to an extent, mimic it—stay tuned for a Film Simulation Recipe!

Let’s Get Festive — The SOOC Holiday Special!

Join me next week for a very special SOOC broadcast! On Thursday, December 8, at 8:30 AM Pacific Time, 11:30 AM Eastern, Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry and I, plus a number of guests, will get festive live on YouTube, as we finish our discussion of the Kodak Ektachrome 100SW Film Simulation Recipe (don’t forget to upload your pictures by December 6th—click here). We have several fun surprises planned, so this is an episode that you won’t want to miss! I hope to see you then!

For those who don’t know, SOOC is a monthly live video series, with each episode focused on a different Film Simulation Recipe. It is a collaboration between Tame Your Fujifilm (Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry) and Fuji X Weekly (Ritchie Roesch). SOOC is a fun and educational experience where we not only talk about Fujifilm camera settings, but also answer your questions and give tips and tricks. Basically, we’re trying to help you master your Fujifilm camera, with a focus on simplifying your photographic workflow.

If you missed the last broadcast… due to technical difficulties, it’s been divided into Part 1 and Part 2, which you can find below. Also, I’ve included the last Viewers’ Images slideshow (your pictures!) at the bottom, in case you missed that, too.

Creative Collective 035: FXW Zine — Issue 13 — December 2022

The 13th issue of FXW Zine is out, and if you are a Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective subscriber, you can download it now!

What’s in the December issue? The cover story is about nighttime street and urban photography in Phoenix, Arizona, with a Fujifilm X100V. There are 29 pictures, including the cover, across 20 page.

If you haven’t joined the Creative Collective, consider subscribing today to get access to bonus articles and the FXW Zine—not just this issue, but the first twelve issues, too!

Subscribe to get access

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