Fujifilm X100F Dynamic Range Settings

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Autumn At Mill Creek – Bountiful, UT – FujiFilm X100F Astia @ DR200 – captured on a sunny afternoon with strong highlights and deep shadows.

Fujifilm X cameras, including the X100F that I own, have three Dynamic Range settings: DR100, DR200 and DR400. Let’s explore what these setting are and what it means for your pictures.

To begin with, it’s important to understand that the X-Trans sensors found inside Fujifilm cameras are actually made by Sony. Once upon a time digital camera sensors would increase the energy pumped into them to make the photosites more sensitive to light in order to increase ISO. At some point Sony figured out that doing so was unnecessary, that the camera, even in very dark areas, was recording a lot of information. Thus, the “ISO-less” sensor was born.

An ISO-less sensor, which modern Sony-made sensors are, increases ISO by simply increasing the luminosity levels with software. You can try this at home by capturing an exposure at ISO 6400 and a RAW exposure at ISO 200 underexposed by five stops, then brighten the underexposed file in software to the correct exposure. You’ll notice that the the two files now look the same.

In other words, the camera is actually capturing every shot at base ISO and increasing the brightness after the exposure for whatever ISO was selected. You are completely unaware, and it is automatically done, even to RAW files. That’s why they call it ISO-less.

What this means is that there are a lot of details that can be pulled out of the shadows of your RAW files. The highlights can clip rather sharply and there isn’t a lot of room for error, but you have tons of room in the shadows. It’s best to underexpose to protect the highlights and increase the luminosity in post.

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Vibrant Forest – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F Velvia @ DR200 – contrast from back-lit trees are handled well, with shadows that are strong but not devoid of details.

 

That’s great for RAW shooters, but what about those who prefer JPEG? Fujifilm built into their cameras the Dynamic Range settings, which allows the benefits of the ISO-less sensor to be applied to JPEGs.

Have you ever wondered why base ISO on Fujifilm X cameras is ISO 200? It’s actually a software trick. The real base ISO on the sensor is ISO 100 (which is available as an “extended ISO”), but the camera applies a curve in software to pull more details out of the shadows, essentially underexposing the scene and then increasing the luminosity of everything (except the highlights) to maximize the dynamic range. This is also why some people claim that Fujifilm “cheats” with their ISOs.

The Dynamic Range settings don’t mean anything to RAW files, but they have a big effect on JPEGs. They allow you to retain shadow details and prevent clipped highlights.

The default setting is Dynamic Range 100 (DR100). This is the standard Dynamic Range option and it cannot be turned off (except by selected extended ISO 100). Dynamic Range 200 (DR200) is next, and if it is selected the minimum ISO is 400 (instead of ISO 200). The third option is Dynamic Range 400 (DR400), and if it is selected the minimum ISO is 800. There is also an option to let the camera auto-decide which Dynamic Range setting to use.

The reason that the minimum ISO increases is because the camera is increasing the luminosity in the files (except for the highlights) to an equivalent of that ISO. The good news is that there really isn’t an image quality difference between ISO 200 and ISO 800, so there should be no hesitation using ISO 800 if you want a larger dynamic range.

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Autumn Forest Light – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F Astia @ DR200 – sunlight created deep shadows, but they are handled quite well by the camera.

A lot of people keep the Dynamic Range set at the default DR100, and that’s fine for them. I think it works well in low contrast situations. For normal everyday use I prefer DR200 because it does a great job of capturing the dynamic range of most scenes while not looking flat. DR400 is a good option for scenes with a large dynamic range (it seems nearly impossible to clip highlights), but if there isn’t enough contrast in the scene your images will look flat (but contrast could be added in post-processing).

Which Dynamic Range setting is best and which you should choose depends on the situation. I don’t think DR100 is strong enough, and you are more likely to experience clipped highlights and deep black shadows with it selected. DR400 seems too strong, but if you plan to post-process the JPEG this gives you the most latitude for editing (then again, if you are going to post-process, why not shoot RAW?). DR200 seems to be the “just right” option that delivers results similar to what I’d achieve if I had edited a RAW exposure.

That’s putting it simply because there’s a lot more to it than that. Each scene has to be judged individually. If the light is even and there’s little contrast in the scene perhaps DR100 gives you the best look. Each Film Simulation has different amounts of contrast, so maybe DR200 works good for one and DR100 or DR400 works best for another. And it also depends on what exactly you’ve got highlights and shadows set to within your Film Simulation.

There are a lot of moving parts and things to consider when determining which Dynamic Range setting to select. There are many variables that might make you adjust it. I find myself using DR200 most of the time, and occasionally adjusting it up or down if I need to.

In conclusion, the Fujifilm Dynamic Range settings are a great way for JPEG users to take advantage of the large dynamic range capabilities of the X-Trans sensor. It has no effect on RAW, you will have to apply your own curves to pull out the shadow details if you are a RAW shooter. It’s a neat trick that Fuji uses to elevate their out-of-camera JPEGs to a level beyond that of other camera brands. It’s just a matter of figuring out which settings are best for each situation.

Update:

A reader contacted me to explain how I got this wrong, that the Dynamic Range settings only protect highlights and don’t effect shadows. That’s true, but because highlights are protected, I’m exposing a little more than I would otherwise, making the image a little brighter, including shadows. My exposure compensation is typically dialed between +2/3 and +1-1/3, situation specific, which would give me blown highlights without DR. So while the Dynamic Range options don’t directly increase the dynamic range within the shadows, they indirectly do.

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Fujifilm X-T30 – New Feature: D-Range Priority

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Since my Fujifilm X-T30 arrived last week, I have been trying out all of the different new features, and over the coming days I will be sharing with you my findings. Today I will discuss D-Range Priority. This new feature first appeared on the X-H1, then the X-T3, and now the X-T30. I’m sure it will be included in all future X-Trans cameras, such as the X-Pro3 and X100V, which might be released before the end of the year. I wasn’t sure exactly what D-Range Priority is, how it works, or how to best use it, so I was eager to try it out. And I made some interesting discoveries.

The manual doesn’t give a lot of information on what exactly D-Range Priority is, except that it reduces contrast when activated. When you select D-Range Priority, you no longer have control of the Dynamic Range (DR) setting, Highlight and Shadow. You get what you get, which is a lower-contrast image. There are three D-Range Priority options: Weak, Strong and Auto (as well as Off). I’m not sure exactly how this might effect RAW, as (thanks to Fujifilm’s excellent camera-made JPEGs) I haven’t post-processed a RAW file in over a year (with the exception of using the in-camera RAW conversion to reprocess some images). For the JPEG shooter, D-Range Priority applies a flat curve to help control blown highlights and blocked shadows in high-contrast scenes.

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D-Range Priority Strong

The best way to think about D-Range Priority is an extension of the Dynamic Range settings. You have DR100, DR200, DR400, and now D-Range Priority Weak and D-Range Priority Strong. D-Range Priority Auto selects either Weak, Strong or Off, whatever the camera thinks it should be. I haven’t tried Auto, so I can’t comment on how well it does or doesn’t work. The only times that you’d want to use D-Range Priority are those rare circumstances when DR400 isn’t enough, and you need to squeeze a little more dynamic range out of the camera (again, this is for JPEGs, as you could make these same adjustments yourself from an underexposed RAW file in software).

The first D-Range Priority test that I conducted can be seen below. I captured a scene with a little bit of contrast in it and applied the two D-Range Priority options. As you can see, the DR100 version could use a little boost in the shadows, but D-Range Priority Weak is slightly too flat and D-Range Priority Strong is much too flat. This is a case where using DR200, or simply adjusting Shadow down a notch, probably would have been sufficient.

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DR100

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D-Range Priority Weak

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D-Range Priority Strong

I did another test, this time with a higher contrast scene. This is a case where you might actually benefit from D-Range Priority. The first image shows what DR400 looks like (Pro NEG Hi, with Highlight and Shadow at 0), the second shows DR400 with Shadow and Highlight at -2, the third shows D-Range Priority Weak, and the last image shows D-Range Priority Strong. You might notice that D-Range Priority Weak has only subtly less contrast than DR400 with Shadow and Highlight set to -2. There’s a clear difference between using DR400 and D-Range Priority Strong, but you can almost achieve D-Range Priority Weak by using DR400 and setting Shadow and Highlight to -2. I can’t imagine you’ll encounter all that many situations where DR400 isn’t enough, but you might and Fujifilm has given you the option to go beyond it when you need to.

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DR400

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DR400 with -2 Shadow & -2 Highlight

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D-Range Priority Weak

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D-Range Priority Strong

I wondered what exactly the camera is doing when I select D-Range Priority. As I said, the DR setting, Shadow and Highlight are no longer adjustable when D-Range Priority has been activated. I didn’t find the answer, but I do have a theory. I believe that Fujifilm programmed a very flat tone curve that it applies to D-Range Priority images. It’s the same curve whether you use the Weak or Strong option. For D-Range Priority Weak I believe that it is applying this flat curve to a DR200 setting, and for D-Range Priority Strong it is applying the same curve to a DR400 setting. There’s no option to adjust Shadow or Highlight because the curve has already been set. That’s what I think is going on, but I have no proof. It’s just a theory.

Whatever the technical mumbo-jumbo might be, the practical aspect of D-Range Priority is that in very high contrast scenes, this setting might help you achieve the look that you want in-camera. I did one final test, where I used some very normal settings and made an image that’s not particularly good, and I also used D-Range Priority to create a more usable (but perhaps still not very good) image of the same high contrast scene. This is the type of situation where this new option is beneficial. It’s not something that I suspect anyone will use every day, but it’s good to know that it’s there when you need it, however infrequent that might be.

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“Normal Settings”

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D-Range Priority Weak

Click here to buy the Fujifilm X-T30 at Amazon.

See also:
Fujifilm X-T30 – New Feature: Eterna Film Simulation
Fujifilm X-T30 – New Feature: B&W Toning
Fujifilm X-T30 – New Feature: Color Chrome Effect

Thoughts On Samsung’s 108 Megapixel Sensor + How It Relates To Fujifilm

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We Will Deliver – Rosamond, CA – Nokia Lumia 1020

Samsung announced (in conjunction with Xiaomi) that they have made an 108-megapixel 1/1.33-inch camera sensor that will soon be found inside of cellphones. At first glance it sounds absurd. What kind of image quality could it possibly have? How ugly will it be above base ISO? How much resolution do you really need for social media posts? But there are some interesting innovations that might someday be applied to Fujifilm cameras, so let’s take a closer look.

How this new sensor directly relates to Fujifilm is that it’s an ISOCELL Plus sensor, which requires a materiel developed by Fujifilm, and only Fujifilm has this material. What Samsung did with it is develop a sensor that has less “cross talk” between pixels, which improves color accuracy, dynamic range, high-ISO capabilities and fine-detail rendering. Essentially, it allows smaller pixels to perform similar to larger pixels. You can put 108 million teeny-tiny light sensitive sensor elements on a small sensor with ISOCELL Plus, and it will perform similar to 108 million larger-but-still-quite-small light sensitive sensor elements on a little bit larger sensor without this technology. Whether the lens will be able to resolve that much detail, as it will need to be a heck-of-a-sharp lens, remains to be seen, but if it can, that would be quite the leap in cellphone camera technology.

I used to have a Nokia Lumia 1020 cellphone, and the phone itself wasn’t especially great, but the camera, with a 41-megapixel 1/1.5-inch sensor and Zeiss lens, was surprisingly good. Well, sort of. It had a very narrow margin, as you needed to stay close to base ISO, and the dynamic range was small, but in the right situations it delivered stunning pictures that you’d never guess came from a cellphone. I have no idea if Xiaomi’s phone with the new 108-megapixel sensor will be similar or not, but it might be, and it might even be better.

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Energy – Tehachapi, CA – Nokia Lumia 1020

Aside from ISOCELL Plus, the other interesting innovation from Samsung with this sensor is quad-Bayer array. Instead of the typical two green, one red and one blue Bayer square arrangement, this has a four green times two, four red and four blue square arrangement, with the four pixels of the same color next to each other in a square. The idea is that the four same-color pixels can be merged through software into one pixel, turning the camera into a 27-megapixel traditional Bayer array. Why wouldn’t Samsung use larger light sensitive sensor elements and set the megapixel count at 27? Why do this weird tiny-pixel quad-Bayer pixel-merge thing? Well, it allows software to do some interesting tricks. For example, it can capture up to four independent 27-megapixel exposures simultaneously and blend them together, extending dynamic range, reducing noise, and/or increasing high-ISO capabilities. Or, if the dynamic range doesn’t need extended, and the noise doesn’t need to be reduced, and the ISO doesn’t need to be increased, it can produce a very large fine-detailed full-resolution picture.

Slowly the technological advancements of the small sensor world trickle up to larger sensors, and someday a version of ISOCELL Plus and pixel-merge could very well be found in Fujifilm cameras. What might this look like? If you were to take this same Samsung chip and increase it to APS-C size, it would have roughly 216-megapixels, and would deliver a pixel-merged 54-megapixel image. I’m sure, however, that there would be a reduction in noise performance, dynamic range and high-ISO over current X-Trans sensors, and, even with the excellent Fujinon lenses available, the question of whether that much detail can be resolved would still need to be answered. What I see more likely to happen is sensor elements being used that are twice as large as those on the tiny Samsung chip, and an APS-C sensor with 108-megapixels produced, which could be pixel-merged to 27-megapixels. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe a quad-X-Trans array is possible. Essentially, it might be feasible to have nearly identical resolution as X-Trans IV, but with improved dynamic range and high-ISO capabilities, and the option for full-resolution 108-megapixel pictures when the ISO is under a certain amount (say, ISO 640). It’s still questionable whether or not Fujinon lenses can take advantage of that much resolution, but even if it is “only” able to produce resolution equivalent to 50-megapixels, that’s still double what it is now. If ISOCELL Plus and pixel-merge ever do come to Fujifilm X, it could very well be a game-changer type of thing. Or perhaps the required processing power and heat dispersion are too difficult to overcome, and it never makes its way to larger sensor cameras. Time will tell.

My Fujifilm X-T30 Kodachrome 64 Film Simulation Recipe

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Kodachrome Slides – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Kodachrome 64”

Kodachrome 64 is probably the most requested film that people have asked me to create a recipe for. Kodachrome has a long history, with the first successful version debuting in 1935 (film simulation recipe here). In the early 1960’s Kodak replaced that version of the film with Kodachrome II and Kodachrome X (film simulation recipe here). In 1974 Kodak made the final version of Kodachrome, available in ISO 25 and ISO 64 (and later ISO 200) versions. This Kodachrome was discontinued 10 years ago. Kodak also discontinued the chemicals to process Kodachrome, and nine years ago the last roll was developed. This film simulation recipe is meant to mimic the aesthetics of Kodachrome 64.

In the early 1970’s there was a movement to end Kodachrome. The process to develop the film was toxic and complex. Kodachrome is actually a black-and-white film with color added during development, which you can imagine isn’t a simple procedure. Instead of discontinuing their most popular color film, Kodak made a new version that required a less-toxic (but still toxic) and less complicated (but still complicated) development process. This appeased those who wanted the film gone, but the new version of Kodachrome was not initially well received by photographers, many of whom liked the old version better. William Eggleston, for example, who used Kodachrome extensively in his early career, wasn’t a fan of the new version, and began to use other films instead.

The photography community did come around to Kodachrome 25 and Kodachrome 64. Due to Kodachrome’s sharpness, grain, color, contrast and archival characteristics, this film was a great all-around option that worked well in almost any circumstance. The film became incredibly popular, and was found on the pages of many magazines, including National Geographic, which practically made its use a requirement. Steve McCurry was perhaps the best known photographer to extensively use this era of Kodachrome. He said of the film, “It has almost a poetic look with beautiful colors that were vibrant and true to what you were shooting.”

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Onaqui Wild Horses – Dugway, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Kodachrome 64”

I shot many rolls of Kodachrome 64, and a few rolls of Kodachrome 25. My favorite was Kodachrome 64 because it had a little more contrast and was slightly more saturated. It was a sad day for me when Kodak discontinued it. I was just getting into digital photography at that time, and in retrospect I wish that I had paused on digital and shot a few more rolls of Kodachrome. Kodak has hinted that they might resurrect it, but I would be surprised if they actually did because of the complex development process.

When I decided to attempt a Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe for my Fujifilm X-T30, I did some experiments, and after a few tries I thought that I had it figured out. Excitingly, I snapped many frames with these settings, but then I figured that I should consult some actual Kodachrome 64 slides to make sure that it matched. It didn’t. Kodachrome 64 looked different than how I remembered it. I was close, but not close enough, so I went back to the drawing board. A handful of experiments later I got it right, which is the recipe that you see here.

Of course, the issue with all of these film simulation recipes that mimic actual film is that one film can have many different looks, depending on how it was shot, under what conditions, how it was developed, and how it’s viewed, whether through a projector or light table, a print (and how it was printed), or a scan (and how it was scanned and perhaps digitally altered, and the monitor). There are a ton of variables! Kodachrome looks best when viewed by projector, no doubt about it, but that’s not how Kodachrome is seen today, unless you own a projector and have some slides. While I don’t think that this recipe will ever match the magic of projected Kodachrome, I do think it’s a close approximation of the film and it deserves to share the famed name.

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Mayhem – Tooele, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Kodachrome 64”

I have Grain set to Weak, but I feel that when using this recipe at higher ISOs Grain should be set to Off. While I chose DR400, in low-contrast situations DR200 is a good Dynamic Range option. For X-Trans III cameras, which obviously don’t have Color Chrome Effect, this recipe will still work and will appear nearly identical, but it will produce a slightly different look. To modify this recipe for Kodachrome 25, I suggest setting Shadow to +1, Color to -1, Grain to Off, and Sharpness to +3.

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: +1
Shadow: +2
Color: 0
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpening: +2
Grain Effect: Weak
Color Chrome Effect: Weak
White Balance: Daylight, +2 Red & -5 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +1 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X-T30:

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Shopping Cart Car – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Traffic Lamp – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Red Tricycle – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Hay Stack – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Pony Express Trail – Faust, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Wild Horse Country – Dugway, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Wild Horse Grazing – Dugway, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Lonely Horse – Dugway, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Wild & Free – Dugway, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Onaqui Horses – Dugway, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Spotted Green – Dugway, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Grassland – Dugway, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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In The Dust – Faust, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Roar Forever – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Jon In The Backyard – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Big Wheel – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Evening Tree – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Look Up To The Sky – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Lavender Bee – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Lavender Sunset – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Sunset Leaves – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Sun Kissed Leaf – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Summer Tree Leaves – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Jar of Coffee Beans – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Beans To Grind – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Sugar Dish – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Morning Coffee – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Processed by Kodak – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Fujifilm Full Frame Reflections

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Morning Coffee – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

As I was sitting on the coach, sipping my morning coffee, with Transatlantic’s epic Kaleidoscope album playing in the background, my thoughts drifted to Fujifilm and sensor sizes. This might seem like a strange line of thought for the environment that I was in, but sometimes that happens. You are probably aware that Fujifilm makes mirrorless cameras with APS-C sized sensors and medium-format sensors, but they skipped right over full-frame. I began to consider why this was and wasn’t a good strategy, and what the consequences might be for it. What should Fujifilm consider for future sensors? What can they do right now?

The reason why I believe Fujifilm jumped into the APS-C market to begin with was because, with the intended market and available technology ten years ago, APS-C made the most sense. There was a demand for high-quality, mid-budget, retro-styled mirrorless cameras intended for advanced enthusiasts. It was an under-tapped market, and Fujifilm even surprised themselves with the success of their X series. Fujifilm made the right products at the right time and sold them at the right price. Full-frame wasn’t practical for them at that time and they wouldn’t have experienced the same success if they had gone that route instead.

A lot of people were surprised when Fujifilm decided to skip full-frame and jump head-long into medium-format. The argument was that the full-frame market was overcrowded, and it was better to be #1 in a small market than #5 or #6 in a large market, because you can always grow the small market. That strategy seems to be working, as not only did Fujifilm quickly set themselves as the leader in the medium-format market, but they’ve been growing it at a rapid pace. By all indications, Fujifilm GFX has been a smashing success.

Should Fujifilm consider making a full-frame line? They’re well established in the APS-C market, they’re currently king of medium-format, so why not go full-frame? Wouldn’t they be successful there, too? There are a lot of questions that can be asked, and surely Fujifilm has asked themselves these questions, yet they insist that they will not make a full-frame camera line.

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Magic Beans – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

In my opinion, X-Trans IV (and even X-Trans III) cameras already deliver full-frame image quality, but in a smaller package. For example, the Nikon D700, which is a 10-year-old full-frame camera, doesn’t compare to the modern Fujifilm X camera, which produces better image quality pretty much across the board. If you compare it to a five-year-old full-frame Nikon D610, the two cameras are pretty close in image quality. If you compare it to a new full-frame camera, the full-frame camera wins. The big difference is resolution. There was a time not long ago that conventional wisdom stated 24-megapixels was overkill. Now if you’re not close to 50-megapixels, you don’t have enough. Sony just announced a 61-megapixel camera, and APS-C cannot compete with that. Full-frame also has a dynamic range and high ISO advantage, but that gap has narrowed, and it’s not nearly as big of a difference as it once was. It’s still an advantage for full-frame, but modern Fujifilm X camera aren’t far behind at all. To summarize, Fujifilm’s recent X cameras have better image quality than 10-year-old full-frame, as good as five-year-old full-frame, and not as good as the latest full-frame, which most significantly have a resolution advantage. Remember, it wasn’t very long ago that cameras like the D700 and D610 were touted as pro gear capable of capturing amazing pictures, and modern Fujifilm cameras are just as good as those, if not better.

Unless Fujifilm uncovers a need within full-frame that other brands are overlooking and they believe they can fulfill, I really don’t see them making a new line of cameras and lenses. Fujifilm is going to focus on X and GFX, both of which are doing pretty well. But there is a way that they can close the gap a little between the two systems. This wouldn’t require too much development or expense on Fujifilm’s part to create. What they can do to appease those who want full-frame but won’t go medium-format, without actually creating a new system, is to put a larger sensor, perhaps an APS-H sized sensor, in an already existing APS-C camera. Sigma did something like this with their Quattro cameras, so it’s not completely unheard of.

APS-H sensors are about 15% larger than APS-C. They fit in-between APS-C and full-frame. If Fujifilm took the X-Trans IV sensor and increased the size of it to APS-H, they would suddenly have a 30-megapixel camera with identical image quality to their 26-megapixel cameras. They could put it in an X-H1 or X-T3 body. My guess is that most Fujinon lenses would cover the bigger sensor, and only some of them won’t have full coverage, which isn’t a huge deal. For those lenses that don’t fully cover the sensor, the camera can be programmed to automatically crop it to 26-megapixels. By increasing the sensor size a little, Fujifilm could offer a higher megapixel option without sacrificing image quality and without creating a new system.

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Coffee Beans – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

While 30-megapixels doesn’t sound like a huge jump (because it’s not), it would allow slightly bigger prints or deeper crops. It’s not a large leap, but it is a leap nonetheless. Looking ahead to future sensors, which are likely to have more resolution while maintaining or improving image quality, it’s not improbable to think that a future X-Trans V APS-H sensor might have 36-megapixels, and that 40+ megapixels aren’t out of the question within the next five years. In this way those who are attracted to the high resolution offerings of full-frame, who can’t afford medium-format, might consider staying with Fujifilm instead of switching brands.

I’m not suggesting in the least that Fujifilm should abandon APS-C for APS-H. I’m merely suggesting that to close the gap a little (and it would definitely be a little) between APS-C and medium-format, where they hypothetically could have a full-frame camera but don’t, they should consider offering one or maybe a few camera models with a little larger sensor. It seems like they could add them to already existing models, such as the X-H1, X-T3, X-Pro3, X100V (the latter two cameras are coming soon), without too many modifications, and without increasing the cost all that much. Whatever would be the easiest camera to put it in, they should give it a try and see how it does. Heck, do it to the X-H1 and call it the X-H2. I think it would attract some who like the idea of Fujifilm X but wish the sensor was larger, and it might keep those itching for full-frame Fujifilm from jumping ship because it’s not happening.

The coffee was good but soon the cup was empty. The music ended with what’s probably the best Nights in White Satin cover I’ve had the pleasure to hear. I’m very happy with the Fujifilm X system as it stands today, yet I know that it will only get better as technology advances. Fujifilm has a history of making good business decisions, and whatever they decide to do or not do is probably going to work out well for them. As for me, I will be using the tools that I have to the best of my ability to create my art.

Travel: Sedona, Arizona, in Color

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Warm Rock & Blue Sky – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

A couple of weeks ago I passed through Sedona, which is an incredibly beautiful town in northern Arizona. Sedona is surrounded by amazing red rock formations. The place feels like it should be a national park, but it isn’t. It’s a tourist town, and people come to see the rocks. It’s the subject of many photographers’ attention. You’ve likely seen pictures of Sedona in magazines and calendars. I had the chance to stop in Sedona in the early afternoon for lunch while travelling between Phoenix and Flagstaff. I didn’t stay for nearly long enough, only to eat and capture a handful of pictures. Sedona is one of those places you want to see over and over, and I wish that I lived closer to it so that I could photograph it more often.

Some would say that the middle of the day, when the sun is high in the sky, is a terrible time for landscape photography. The golden hour is when you should be out with your camera. While it’s true that around sunrise and sunset is a great time for photography, anytime can be a good time. Just because the sun is high, drenching the scene in harsh light, doesn’t mean that one can’t capture a decent picture. Today’s cameras, such as the Fujifilm X-T30 that I used for these photographs, have a great dynamic range latitude, and can handle the bright highlights and deep shadows surprisingly well. While it’s best to attempt to capture a subject in the best light possible, if that’s not practical you do the best you can with the light you have.

Something that I did have going for me were clouds. I prefer a partly-cloudy sky over an endless blue sky for landscape photography. Even an overcast sky can sometimes be more interesting than a cloudless one. Clouds add interest to the scene and can sometimes have a positive effect on the light.

I hope that you enjoy these color photographs of Sedona, Arizona!

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Dead Tree & Red Rock – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Hint of Red on a Green Hill – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Green Shadow & Highlights – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Illuminated Rock – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Red Rock Behind The Treetops – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Red Rocks of Sedona – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Red Rock Formations – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Clouds Behind Red Rocks – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

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Light Red & Dark Green – Sedona, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & 90mm

Review: Fujifilm X-T30 – Better JPEGs?

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Is this camera for me? That’s the number one question those searching the web for camera reviews are hoping to find the answer to. Usually you wait until the bottom of the article to find the reviewer’s opinion. To save you time, I’m placing my answer to the question right at the top: the Fujifilm X-T30 is indeed the camera for you! Or, really, any of the X-T00 series, which also include the X-T10 and X-T20. These cameras combine the right design, features, usability, image quality, build quality, size, weight and price to be appealing to anyone, no matter your skill level. This could be a great option for a beginner’s first interchangeable-lens camera, and this could be a great option for a pro’s take-anywhere camera or backup body. This series is the Goldilocks of cameras, and it is no wonder that it’s Fujifilm’s best-selling line. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s move onto the rest of the review.

The Fujifilm X-T30 is a mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera with design inspiration from classic film-era SLRs. It has an APS-C sized 26-megapixel X-Trans IV sensor. The advantage of X-Trans, aside from not being susceptible to moire pattern distortion, is that it contains more green-light sensitive sensor elements (which is where luminosity information comes from) than an equivalent Bayer-pattern sensor with the same pixel count. Because of this, X-Trans has a slightly higher apparent resolution, a larger dynamic range, and better high-ISO performance than a Bayer-pattern sensor. Of course, “slightly” is the key word in that last sentence, but every bit counts, so it’s worth mentioning for those who might not know. X-Trans takes more processing power, and the big challenge that Fujifilm has faced is heat dispersion. This new X-Trans IV sensor, which is back-side illuminated, runs cooler, and that allows Fujifilm to crank up the speed of the camera. Quickness is the advantage the new sensor.

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I want to make my point-of-view for this review clear, which is probably a little different than most. I’m an experienced Fujifilm user and a JPEG shooter. That’s the lens from which my opinions are coming through. There are things about the X-T30 that other reviewers might focus on that I won’t, and there are things that I will talk about that might not get much attention from others. You can expect this review to be a little different than many others that you’ll find on the internet. Hopefully this will be useful to some of you, as I suspect there are others with a similar point-of-view as myself.

This last weekend I went to Moab, Utah, and made almost one thousand exposures with the Fujifilm X-T30. I kept about 25% of the pictures. The time it took me to post-process the trip, from reviewing to editing to transferring to storing the images, was less than three hours total. That’s actually quite amazing, and it’s all thanks to Fujifilm’s wonderful in-camera JPEG engine. Before using Fujifilm cameras, I used Sony and Nikon for a little while and shot RAW. With those cameras it would have taken me a minimum of eight hours to finish post-processing that amount of exposures. Five years ago I had a Sigma Merrill camera that would have taken me eight hours to finish only half of the exposures! I’m thrilled with all of the time that I save by using Fujifilm and shooting JPEGs.

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Red Mesa – Castle Valley, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Red Rock Castles – Castle Valley, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

One thing that I have noticed with the X-T30, and I have not seen much discussion on this, is the improved sharpening that the camera is applying to JPEGs. Fujifilm has programmed a better sharpening algorithm into the X-T30 than the X-T20. On X-Trans III cameras, such as the X100F, X-Pro2 and X-T20, all of which I have used, I felt that +2 was the highest Sharpness setting that one should use, and even at +2 there were occasionally artifacts and weird side-effects of over sharpening. Eventually I settled on 0 as my standard Sharpness setting for those cameras. On the X-T30, which has the new X-Trans IV sensor and processor, I can go all the way to +4 Sharpness, and I’m not experiencing artifacts or weird side-effects. Besides that, the amount of sharpening that’s being applied at each setting is slightly more heavy-handed on X-Trans IV than on X-Trans III. For example, at +1, it’s noticeable to my eyes that the X-T30 is applying a slightly stronger amount of sharpening to the file than the X-T20, yet without negative consequence. The outcome is a crisper, more detailed picture. I wonder if this stems from the collaboration between Fujifilm and Phase One.

Between the improved sharpening and the extra 2-megapixels of resolution, JPEGs from the X-T30 appear more crisp, rich and detailed than those from the X-T20. There’s a noticeable difference. I saw it but didn’t say anything about it to my wife (who is the actual owner of the X-T20), and when I showed her some of the pictures that I had captured with the X-T30, she spotted it pretty quickly and commented, “This is more clear than what I get with my camera, like I’m actually there!” The out-of-camera JPEGs from the X-T30 remind me of post-processed RAW files from a Sigma Merrill captured at low ISO, which is saying a lot if you know anything about the Sigma Merrill cameras. I would bet that the JPEGs from the X-T30 can hold their own against post-processed RAW files from older full-frame cameras like the Nikon D610, or even newer full-frame cameras like the Canon 5D IV. I’m not going to do any side-by-side comparisons, but simply state that I believe the X-T30 delivers fantastic JPEGs that go beyond anything from any other APS-C camera (except for the X-T3, which it is equal to since they share the same sensor and processor).

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Horse & Girl – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Massive crop from the above photo. I printed this crop and it looks surprisingly good.

So far I have only made a few prints from X-T30 exposures, but I do believe that 24″ x 36″ prints will look great even when viewed up close, and 40″ x 60″ prints will look good at a normal viewing distance but will show a some softness and pixelation when viewed up close. It seems like, if you use ISO 800 or less, set Sharpness to +4, set Noise Reduction to -4, use a sharp prime lens and don’t crop, the sky is the limit for printing sizes. The photographs from the X-T30 look great even when you pixel-peep.

While Fujifilm has clearly improved sharpening on the X-T30, I don’t feel the same about noise reduction, specifically at the higher ISOs. At ISO 3200 and below there’s no difference in noise between the X-T20 and X-T30, but above that there is, and I prefer the X-T20 when it comes to high-ISO color photographs (for black-and-white it doesn’t matter). In fact, I don’t really like ISO 12800 for color images on the X-T30 (which I found usable on the X-T20) as there are blotchy colors that just don’t look good. However, for grainy black-and-white photographs I find that ISO 25600 is good on the X-T30, which I didn’t find usable on the X-T20. My opinion is that high-ISO has worsened by one stop on the X-T30 for color photographs and improved by one stop for black-and-white.

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Bolsey Brownie – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – ISO 25600

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Church Seats Empty – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – ISO 12800

The X-T30 has several new JPEG features, including D-Range Priority, B&W toning, Eterna Film Simulation and Color Chrome Effect. They are all good tools for better achieving your desired look in-camera. I don’t know if any of them are particularly useful to the RAW shooter, but for the JPEG shooter you might appreciate these new features. I will give a short synopsis of each, but you can click on the links above for a more detailed explanation.

D-Range Priority is essentially a step beyond DR400. It produces a flat image to help combat high contrast scenes. The options are Weak, which might remind you of DR400 with both Shadow and Highlight set to -2, and Strong, which is appropriately titled. In very harsh lighting situations, this allows you to maximize the dynamic range of the sensor for your JPEGs beyond anything Fujifilm has offered before. It works, but it requires the right situation to work well. I’ve actually used it more than I thought I would, but it is definitely an every-once-in-a-while type thing.

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Green Tree On Red Cliff – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – D-Range Priority Weak – captured in harsh midday light.

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Clouds Over Canyonlands – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – toned +1 warm

The ability to tone your black-and-white images, either warm or cool, is a highly welcomed feature. I love it! It’s something I suggested awhile back, and now Fujifilm has included it on the X-T30. This is one of my favorite new features of the camera!

Eterna is the lowest saturated and lowest contrast color film simulation option on the X-T30. It’s the antithesis of Velvia. It has a lovely quality to it, but requires the right subject and light to be effective. I’m looking forward to experimenting more with it.

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Eating Crackers – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Eterna

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North Window Arch – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Color Chrome Effect Strong

Color Chrome Effect, which can be enabled for any film simulation, deepens the shade of bright colors so as to retain tonality. It’s intended for highly saturated scenes and pairs well with Velvia. There are two options, Weak and Strong, and they’re both pretty subtle, especially Weak. It’s a neat trick, but it’s not a big difference maker for many photographs.

For those who use camera-made JPEGs, the X-T30 is a better camera than the X-T20. Between the improved sharpening and the new features, I appreciate the results more on this camera than the old model. It’s not a night-and-day difference, but there is indeed a difference! Since the image is whats important, I’m thrilled with the upgrade. Fujifilm already had the best JPEG engine in the business with X-Trans III, and X-Trans IV is even better.

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Dead Desert Tree – Moab, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Rock Castles – Castle Valley, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

There are, of course, other changes, some of which are improvements and some are not. The focus joystick on the X-T30 is nice sometimes, but so is the D-Pad on the X-T20. I’m still undecided which I prefer, but I’m leaning towards the D-Pad. The best setup is both a joystick and D-Pad, but you’ll have to go with a higher-end model, such as the X-T3, to get that. The location of the Q button, which is now on the thumb grip, is also nice sometimes, and not so nice other times. I have accidentally pushed it more than I can count, but on the flip side it’s easy to find without looking.

What everyone has been talking about regarding the X-T30 is focus speed. It’s fast! It’s much quicker in dim-light situations than the X-T20. Fujifilm has improved focus tracking and facial recognition, as well. The X-T30 is undoubtedly better at auto-focus, but I never found the X-T20 to be lacking in this department. If your subject or style requires super quick auto-focusing, the X-T30 is the camera for you. If not, then the improved auto-focusing is more gee-whiz than anything that’s especially practical.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the X-T30 and X-T20 is video capability and quality. The X-T30 is a highly capable video camera that can be used by serious videographers. I’m not a video guy myself, so this upgrade doesn’t matter much to me, but for those who might use this camera for video, it’s a pretty big deal. If that’s you, you will definitely want to choose the X-T30 over the X-T20. I made a short test video just to demonstrate the quality.

There’s a lot more that I could talk about. I could discuss all of the different menu changes. I could give a rundown of everything on the stat sheet. I could add some graphs that show this or that. However, that’s not my style, so I won’t bore you. I want to give you my impressions of actually using the camera. In real world use, the Fujifilm X-T30 is an impressive little camera. Is it as good as the X-T3? No, but it’s not very far from it, and yet in a smaller, lighter and less expensive package. Is it better than the X-T20? Yes, in most regards, it is better, but is it worth the upgrade? If you already own an X-T20, unless you just need the improved video or auto-focus capabilities, I would not recommend upgrading. Use the money for a new lens or a photographic adventure instead. Are you trying to decide between the X-T20 and X-T30? If you rely on camera-made JPEGs, need super fast auto-focus, or shoot a lot of video, the X-T30 is the camera to get, otherwise save yourself a little money and buy the nearly as good X-T20.

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Desert River – Dead Horse Point SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Water & Stone – Moab, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

To conclude, the Fujifilm X-T30 is a rare Goldilocks camera that anyone could be happy using. It’s not perfect, as no camera is, but it is very good. It has a lot of attractive features and delivers beautiful images. It’s a great example of just how far camera technology has come! The X-T30 has a very reasonable MSRP of $900 for the camera body. I have no doubt that it will be successful for Fujifilm, just as the X-T10 and X-T20 were before it. If you decide to buy the X-T30, I’m sure you’ll be quite happy with it. You can purchase the Fujifilm X-T30 from Amazon by clicking here, which helps to support this website. I hope that you found something in this review that has been useful to your camera purchase decision.

Below are example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using the Fujifilm X-T30.

Color

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Balance Rock Evening – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Castles To The Sky – Castle Valley, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Red Hill – Castle Valley, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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River Colors – Moab, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Fresh Neighborhood Snow – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Snowfall In Downtown Park City – Park City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Castle Spire – Castle Valley, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Rock Balanced – Arches NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

B&W

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Monochrome Mesa – Castle Valley, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Two Pots – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Collecting Rain – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Piano Wire – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Microwave – Moab, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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It’s Lit – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Storm Beyond The Frozen Lake – Echo Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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White Tree – Moab, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

My Fujifilm X-T20 Fujicolor Pro 400H Film Simulation Recipe

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Taking Out The Trash – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

Fujifilm Pro 400H is a color negative film that was first introduced in 2002 (originally named NPH400). It’s a popular print film that has survived the digital era, as Fujifilm continues to manufacture Pro 400H to this very day, while many other films have seen the chopping block. It’s a fine-grain (for ISO 400), natural-color, versatile film that’s especially good for weddings and portraits. I have used it a couple times myself, although not anytime recently. I do remember some of the idiosyncrasies of the film. Interestingly, the “H” in the name stands for “high speed,” which is the designation that Fujifilm gave to all their ISO 400 films.

I’ve tried in the past to create a Pro 400H recipe for Fujifilm X cameras, but I was never happy with the results. In fact, you might recall that I suggested Fujifilm include this as a new film simulation in future cameras. Recently a Fuji X Weekly reader, Mauricio, shared with me his settings for Pro 400H, and he asked my thoughts on it. I was able to try it out and I liked it! His settings were indeed close, although I felt it needed some tweaking to better mimic the film.

Anytime that you are attempting to recreate the look of a certain film with a digital camera, there are variables that make it difficult. How was it shot? How was it developed? Was it printed, and how so? Was it scanned, and how so? Those are common challenges, plus more. With Pro 400H, there is an additional challenge: the film can look much different depending on the light and exposure. There are several distinct looks that can be achieved using the film, and it’s not possible to recreate all of those aesthetics with a film simulation recipe. Despite all of the challenges, I do feel that I was able to create a look that is in the ballpark of the film, thanks to the help of Mauricio.

There were several compromises that I had to make. I tried many different things to get the aesthetics as close as I could. For example, the film is known for cool blueish shadows and a warm pinkish highlights. Split toning is not possible on Fujifilm X cameras. I could get the shadow color cast more accurate but at the expense of the highlight color, or I could get the highlight color cast more accurate but at the expense of the shadow color. The white balance shift that I settled on, which is the same one that was suggested to me in the first place, isn’t spot-on accurate for the shadows or highlights, but it’s a nice middle ground that’s close enough to both to be convincing. What you get is a cool color cast showing through in the shadows and a slight red color cast showing up in the highlights. The light and exposure of an image will change the look of it in a similar fashion to the actual film, although not completely the same. It’s as close as I could get it.

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Holiday Decor – S. Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

Fujifilm Pro 400H film has a huge latitude in the highlights. You can overexpose it by three stops easily (maybe four) and get a good print. In fact, a lot of people purposefully overexpose the film because the colors turn pastel and the images become more warm and vibrant. The X-Trans III sensor has a lot of dynamic range, but it cannot hold up to a three stop overexposure. I found that DR200 is a good setting in many circumstances, but in high-contrast scenes, DR400 might be a better option. I used DR200 for all of the pictures in this article, but some might have benefited from the higher dynamic range setting. I think in high contrast scenes, in order to prevent clipped highlights, if you aren’t going to select DR400, perhaps set highlights to -1. I debated on whether +2 or +3 is the best setting for shadows. I think a +2.5 option would be most correct, but unfortunately that doesn’t exist. My recommendation would be to use +2 in higher contrast scenes and +3 in lower contrast scenes. I used +3 for all of the photos here.

Another setting that I debated on was color saturation. I settled on +4, which I think is the most correct for simulating slightly overexposed Pro 400H. An argument could be made that +3, +2 and +1 are also correct, depending on how the film was exposed and handled. If you think that +4 is too saturated for your tastes, simply find the color setting that works best for you. Pro 400H is definitely a tough film to make a recipe for. I think these settings are going to be your best bet for achieving a look straight out of camera that mimics the film’s aesthetic. Even though I captured these photographs using an X-T20, this film simulation recipe is compatible with all Fujifilm X-Trans III and IV cameras.

PRO Neg. STD
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: 0
Shadow: +3
Color: +4
Grain: Weak
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: 0
White Balance: Auto, +2 Red & +1 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +2/3 to +1 (typically)

Example photographs, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs captured using my Fujifilm X-T20 Fujicolor Pro 400H Film Simulation recipe:

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Red Chairs In Snow – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Up From The Snow – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Second Day of Winter – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Frosted Trees & Winter Sun – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Cold Neighborhood Morning – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Some Lady’s Book Store – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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TV Fiasco – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Pierre’s Miniature Bakery – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Christmas Decoration – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Faith – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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FED 5c Rangefinder – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Bolsey Behind Bars – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Fake Grass In A Box – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Lavender & Twine – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Pentax & Fujifilm – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Three 35mm Film Canisters – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Vase Arm – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Red Fire Hydrant – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Neighborhood Window – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Dead Rose Bush Leaves – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Frozen Leaf – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Moon Rise Over The Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Snow Dusted Peak – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Mountain & Cloud – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Brick Wall Boy – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Car Play – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Girl By The Window Light – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

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Green Night Shed – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Pro 400H”

My Fujifilm X-T20 Kodak Ektachrome 100SW Film Simulation Recipe

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Ektachrome was a line of color transparency (slide) films made by Kodak that used the E-6 development process. Some people preferred it to Kodachrome because of the faster ISO (100 vs 64 or 25), more saturated colors and easier development (although Kodachrome had finer grain, a larger dynamic range and didn’t fade as easily). A lot of National Geographic photographs were shot on Ektachrome back in the day.

There were a number of varieties of Ektachrome produced over the years, and I’ve used five of them myself. My favorite was Ektachrome 100VS (VS = “very saturated”), which was Kodak’s attempt at Fujifilm Velvia. Occasionally I used Ektachrome 100SW (SW = “saturated warm”), which was introduced in 1996 and produced vivid photographs with a warm color balance. Kodak stopped production of Ektachrome 100SW in 2002 and all Ektachrome film in 2012. Just a few months ago a brand new Kodak Ektachrome film was released, although I have not tried it yet.

A Fuji X Weekly reader, Ilya Struzhkov, took my Kodachrome II recipe and made a simple modification: he used Velvia instead of Classic Chrome. He shared the results on Instagram and I immediately felt like the images had a Kodak Ektachrome 100SW aesthetic. I had to try it out myself! Sure enough, the results looked a lot like the film: saturated colors (not as much as Velvia but more than most films), a warm color balance, and shadows that easily turned black. It’s amazing that this one change to the recipe could transform it from 1970’s Kodachrome to 1990’s Ektachrome.

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The title of this film simulation recipe says “Fujifilm X-T20” but it can be used on any X-Trans III or IV camera. In fact, at the bottom of this article you’ll find some Fujifilm X100F examples. The only other change I made (besides Velvia instead of Classic Chrome) is that I set sharpening to 0 instead of +1 on the X-T20, but it’s set to +1 on the X100F. That’s just how I set up the cameras, and there really isn’t much of a differences between 0 and +1 sharpening, so either one is fine. Because the settings are essentially the same as my Kodachrome II recipe, it’s super easy to toggle between the two when out shooting. Really, it’s just brilliant!

Velvia
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: +1
Shadow: +2
Color: -1
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: 0
Grain Effect: Weak
White Balance: Auto, +3 Red & -4 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +2/3 (typically)

Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs using my Fujifilm X-T20 Kodak Ektachrome 100SW Film Simulation recipe:

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Light Dust of Snow – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Frozen Fall – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Frosty Leaf & Grass – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Sandstone Peaks – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Evening Moonrise – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Zion Sun – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Evening On The Cliffs – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Amanda & Ritchie – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Still Water & Rocky Shore – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Old Dry Lavender – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Boots – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

Fujifilm X100F:

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Autumn Tree Below Bridge Mountain – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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View From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Sandstone Trees – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

See also: My Fujifilm X-T20 Aged Color Film Simulation Recipe

RAW Doesn’t Make You Better

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Canyon Pinion – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

I read something yesterday that bothered me. A really talented photographer, who has a blog that I like to read sometimes, posted an article stating that the number one thing you can do to improve your landscape photography is to shoot RAW. His argument was, essentially, that post-processing is a necessary aspect of photography, so you might as well fully embrace it and start with a RAW file. I get that if you plan to significantly manipulate your photographs you should probably use RAW because a JPEG is limited in how far you can take it before it begins to degrade. I disagree that post-processing is always or even usually needed, and I don’t think anyone should feel like they must fully embrace it. Edit if you want, or save yourself a bunch of time and strive to get the look that you are after using the options found in your camera. Most of the time it’s possible to get the look that you want straight out of camera, no editing necessary.

Fujifilm cameras are especially great at JPEG processing. Using the different film simulations, which can be significantly customized, and the dynamic range options, it’s possible to get polished images straight out of camera that resemble edited RAW photographs. In fact, while I do some light post-processing occasionally, most of the time I do not edit my photographs whatsoever. I don’t need to! Fujifilm cameras save me so much time because they can produce really nice pictures that don’t require editing, such as the two in this article.

In the early days of digital photography, cameras had a narrow dynamic range, were not particularly good at anything above base ISO, were spotty at white balance, and weren’t programmed to make JPEGs any better than mediocre (at best), so RAW was indeed necessary. Even just 10 years ago camera-made JPEGs weren’t especially great, although on most camera brands they had improved significantly. There was a time when the “you must shoot RAW” argument was valid. It’s not 1998 or 2008 anymore, and almost all cameras are capable of making nice JPEGs. Some cameras are better than others, and that’s why I shoot Fujifilm, but almost any camera make and model manufactured over the last five or so years can make a good JPEG if you take the time to program it to your liking.

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Storm Over San Luis Valley – Alamosa, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

I’d much rather spend an extra moment setting the camera to what I want before capturing the image than sitting at a computer later fiddling with a RAW file. I’d rather let the camera do the work for me in the field so that I don’t have to at home. My photography doesn’t suffer for it. You wouldn’t know that my photographs are camera-made JPEGs if I didn’t tell you. I don’t know about you, but I already spend too much time sitting at a computer, so the more I can reduce that the better off I am.

Shooting RAW doesn’t make anyone a better photographer. Use RAW if you want, but it’s just a tool to achieve the results that you’re after, just as the JPEG processor in your camera is a tool to achieve desired results. Use the tool that works best for you. Don’t think that you must shoot RAW because someone doesn’t understand how to get good results without it. If the person who wrote the article took the time to set up their camera in the field, I’m sure that they could create the images they want without the need for Lightroom or Photoshop. It’s fine that the person didn’t, but I think it’s unfair to suggest that RAW is necessary for “better” photography. It’s untrue that you must embrace post-processing to create great photographs, because which format you choose has no bearing on your talent.