Why Film Simulation Recipes are BETTER than default Film Simulations

Autumn in a Mountain Meadow – Flagstaff, AZ – Fujifilm X100VFujicolor Superia 100

I get asked sometimes a very fair question: why use Film Simulation Recipes when Fujifilm’s factory-default film simulations are just so darn good?

Fujifilm has, in my opinion, the best JPEG output of any brand. Their film simulations are significantly influenced by Fujifilm’s vast experience with analog film, and it should not surprise anyone that they look good without any modifications. However, Fujifilm does provide a number of tools to customize and fine-tune the straight-out-of-camera results, which I believe makes them even better.

For those who don’t know, Film Simulation Recipes are settings for Fujifilm cameras that produce certain aesthetics, often modeled after classic film emulsions. I have published over 300 of them, which you can find on this website and the Fuji X Weekly App. Recipes are intended to be shot as JPEGs (or RAW+JPEG, if you prefer), and produce out-of-camera pictures that don’t require any editing, or perhaps minimal post-processing if you like. They appear as though they were edited, or even film-like. This saves a lot of time, hassle, and possibly money. It opens up photography to those who don’t know how to RAW edit, or don’t have the desire to learn, or maybe don’t even have access to editing software. This also makes photography more enjoyable to folks (like me) who have RAW-edited for years but don’t care much for it, and would rather be doing other things (like capturing more pictures!).

Golden Light in Abandoned House – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – Fujicolor Reala 100

Many photographers who own a Fujifilm camera never dive into the menu to adjust the JPEG parameters. They keep it on Provia/STD and at factory defaults, which is 0, Off, or Auto. Or maybe they try the other film simulations, but they still keep everything else set to the default settings. It’s completely understandable. The results are already good, and, besides, the options can seem overwhelming and confusing. Film Simulation Recipes, which takes the guesswork out of the various options, improve upon the standard film sims, but also provide some variety. If you only ever use the default options, you are limited to (for example) a maximum of 10 looks for color photography (11 if you have the latest GFX model with Reala Ace), but there are over 300 Film Simulation Recipes, so (depending on your camera model) you could have hundreds to choose from. You can find the Recipes that produce aesthetics that best match your style and taste.

This is in no way intended to put down factory-default film simulations, or those who use them. My intention is to simply compare a default film sim photograph with a Film Simulation Recipe. Maybe you like the non-Recipe picture better, and that’s ok if you do. There are so many other Recipes to choose from, and I bet at least one would produce a look that you like more than the default film sim—for example, there are 80 Recipes in the Fuji X Weekly App that use Classic Chrome, so if you don’t like the Recipe I chose for this article, there are 79 others that could possibly be a better match for you.

Some Film Simulation Recipes are drastically divergent from the default film simulations, and some are only subtly altered. Many are intended for certain light situations (sunny daylight or artificial light, for example), while Auto White Balance is the factory standard. There’s no one single “right” Recipe or even a perfect film simulation. What matters is finding what works best for you and your photography. That could be a collection of Film Simulation Recipes, it could be a default film sim, or it might be shooting RAW and editing with the software of your choice, or any combination thereof or something different entirely. There’s no right or wrong way. For me, it’s shooting straight-out-of-camera JPEGs using Film Simulation Recipes.

Below are examples of factory-default film simulations compared to Film Simulation Recipes.

Provia

Default Provia/Std

Velvia

Default Velvia

Astia

Default Astia

Classic Chrome

Default Classic Chrome

PRO Neg. Hi

Default PRO Neg. Hi

PRO Neg. Std

Default PRO Neg. Std

Classic Negative

Default Classic Negative

Nostalgic Neg.

Default Nostalgic Neg.

Eterna

Default Eterna

Eterna Bleach Bypass

Default Eterna Bleach Bypass

Find these Film Simulation Recipes and about 300 more on the Fuji X Weekly App! Consider becoming a Patron subscriber to unlock the best App experience and to support Fuji X Weekly.

10 comments

  1. manbulu98 · 18 Days Ago

    yeah like if you gonna spend maybe hours in front of the computer to edit your RAW files, might as well spend that time to go setup recipes in your camera and straightaway go out and shoot !

    • Ritchie Roesch · 18 Days Ago

      It does take a moment to program some Recipes into the camera. I’ve done it so much that I’m really quick and can probably do it blindfolded, but for someone who doesn’t have much or any experience, it might take a little time to get it all set up. But I think it’s worth the time, and it will save that person time later.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Mark S · 18 Days Ago

    I always shoot RAW + JPEG and very often work with the RAW files (not for hours–it can be done pretty quickly), but I love the JPEG files my X-T5 produces, too, and the recipes are great fun. Very much appreciate them.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 17 Days Ago

      My “worst” time with RAW was when I shot a lot with a Sigma Merrill camera. It was easily 20 minutes per picture! With Pentax, Nikon, Sony, and Samsung (remember when they made mirrorless cameras?), it was never nearly as long with that, but I still would budget two hours of importing/culling/editing/exporting for every one hour of shooting. Sometimes it was more, sometimes it was less. That’s with using Alien Skin Exposure and/or the Nik collection to speed things up. I’m so happy to not be doing that anymore. Now, with Film Simulation Recipes, I can import/cull/crop/export-to-cloud an hour of shooting in 15-20 minutes.

      I’m so glad that you like the Recipes! Thanks for the comment!

  3. Mel · 17 Days Ago

    Fantastic read and also comparison. I still wish Fuji gave us more custom presets tho, 7 (or is it 8?) just isn’t enough

    • Ritchie Roesch · 17 Days Ago

      Most Fujifilm cameras have 7. A couple have four. The Bayer models had just one. The newest cameras (excluding the X-S20)—beginning with the X-E4—have a sneaky bonus eighth slot.

      • Vasile Guta-Ciucur · 15 Days Ago

        I find 7 slots for v4 sensors to be enough, but for v5 only 9 slots would satisfy me 😛 – I can’t get enough of Nostalgic Negative based recipes.

      • Ritchie Roesch · 13 Days Ago

        I would love if Fujifilm added another few slots… make it 10! 😀

  4. Olaf Uckermann · 15 Days Ago

    What a great blog! As an old blogger in the 2000s, I also had six blogs and it was really time-consuming, but you know that. Thank you for creating such a site for us Fuji photographers and the matching app is awesome. Before I found Fuji-X-Weekly, I set up something very similar using (Microsoft Lists) and it works great.
    At least I’m excited to see what new great recipes are coming and also one or two blog posts.
    Kind regards,
    Olaf

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