Fujifilm Frontier Scanners & Dynamic Range Priority

I received an email earlier this week from Anders Lindborg with an interesting discovery he made. You might remember that Anders is the creator of the Kodak Tri-X 400 film simulation recipe, as well as the Fujicolor Pro 160NS and Fujicolor Pro 400H recipes, which are actually much more than just recipes—they’re a new way to approach using recipes on your Fujifilm camera. Needless to say, I was intrigued!

“After reading the information on Fujifilm’s subsites about how they develop their film simulations for the 999th time,” Anders wrote, “I had a small revelation. The base for the simulations are professional photos scanned with their Frontier scanner with corrections applied, so apparently that scanner plays a major role in the final look. I googled around for a bit and found a PDF version of the software manual for the Frontier SP-3000. Here are the really interesting parts:
1) The image settings in Fuji’s cameras are more or less exactly the same as those found in the image correction settings in their Frontier scanner software;
2) There is a correction called Hypertone that turns out to be exactly the same thing as the dreaded D-Range Priority (DR-P) modes;
3) A bit of further research revealed that almost all Fujifilm associated photo labs used the Frontier scanner since the early 90’s and the recommended method was fully automatic mode which included both white balancing as well as Hypertone—both on auto.”

After reading this, I dug around the internet for articles on Fujifilm’s Frontier SP-3000 scanner. I immediately recognized Fujifilm’s “color science” in the photographs I found. There was a distinct similarity between the images that I was seeing, which were scanned negatives, and the pictures from my Fujifilm X cameras. Another tidbit I found was a remark that negatives scanned using the Frontier scanner have a similar aesthetic to negatives printed on Fujicolor paper, which makes sense, because you’d want the digital images to closely match the prints. All of this is to say that, based on these discoveries, I believe Fujifilm’s JPEG programming is heavily influenced by their scanner technology, which was heavily influenced by their photographic paper. This was a surprise to me, although it shouldn’t have been because it is very logical.

The similarities between Hypertone and D-Range Priority are interesting. I’ve written a couple articles that discuss D-Range Priority (here and here), but I’ve always thought of it as a “use only in extreme circumstances” kind of feature, and not a particularly useful tool for everyday photography. But if it was commonly used by photo labs around the world (as Hypertone), maybe it should be more commonly used now (as DR-P)?

It’s one thing to theorize about these things, and a whole other thing to put it into practice, so I created two different “recipes” that utilize D-Range Priority (which I will share in future articles). I wanted to see if this feature could be left on for extended shooting and produce good results, or would the results be flat and uninteresting? Here are a few pictures captured with each recipe:

Recipe 1

Tall Grass – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E4
Peach Tree – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E4
Summer Tree – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E4
Northstar – Orem, UT – Fujifilm X-E4
Arrow & Cones – Sandy, UT – Fujifilm X-E4

Recipe 2

Brownie on a Shelf – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E4
White Rose of Summer – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E4
Last Red Rose – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E4
Big Grass Leaves – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E4
Suburban Reeds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E4

D-Range Priority Weak is very similar to using DR400 with Highlight and Shadow both set to -2. When you compare the highlights and shadows of pictures captured with D-Range Priority Weak and those captured with DR400 with Highlight and Shadow both set to -2, you’ll notice that they’re nearly identical. What is a little different—subtly different—are the mid-tones. Anders observed, “I noticed that DR-P, just like its predecessor Hypertone, also applies a slight mid-contrast boost.” There is an advantage to using D-Range Priority Weak over DR400 with Highlight and Shadow reduced to their lowest option, but it is subtle. Another note is that D-Range Priority Weak requires a minimum ISO of 320 while DR400 requires a minimum ISO of 640.

If you use D-Range Priority Auto, the camera will almost always select DR-P Weak, and only DR-P Strong if there is a bright light source, such as the sun, in the frame (like Big Grass Leaves above). D-Range Priority Strong produces a very flat image, and it only looks good if there is a lot of contrast in the scene. Anders noted that both Hypertone and DR-P can produce “weird” results if applied too strongly, but the camera seems to do a good job of knowing when to use which DR-P option. D-Range Priority Strong requires a minimum ISO of 640.

“You have to be really careful with the exposure compensation when using it,” Anders advised. “A bit too much or too little can quickly kill the whole photo. I tried to keep it at 0 most of the time and only use Fujis recommendations for correct exposure.” I found this to be true, too, and rarely needed to go beyond +1/3 or -1/3 exposure compensation.

D-Range Priority is only found in Fujifilm X-Trans IV cameras. Using D-Range Priority Weak or Auto seems to be an effective strategy; DR-P Strong is more useful in extreme circumstances. Those who created this feature (and the other JPEG options) were influenced by Frontier scanners, and the programmers likely intended D-Range Priority and White Balance to be set to Auto. Of course, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do anything, and I’m certainly not afraid of doing things outside-the-box (as you know). D-Range Priority is something that I shouldn’t have ignored so much, because it is more useful than I originally thought. I’ve created two film simulation recipes to take advantage of DR-P (and I’ll probably create more down the road), which I’ll publish very soon.

Thank you, Anders Lindborg, for making this discovery and sharing it with us!

Let me know in the comments which recipe—1 or 2—above you are most excited for.

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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.

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

Standard Provia vs Provia/Standard

Clearing Clouds Over Winter Ridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – “Standard Provia”

A couple days ago I published a new Film Simulation Recipe: Standard Provia. This recipe is the first in a new series, in which I attempt to customize each film simulation to optimize the aesthetic that Fujifilm intended—in other words, make a nice-looking recipe that is similar to yet better than the stock look of a film simulation. Provia is Fujifilm’s standard film simulation (that’s why they call it “Provia/Standard” and even abbreviate it “STD”), but it’s one of my least favorite. Sometimes, because I don’t get excited over it, I force myself to use Provia, hoping that it will improve my feelings about it.

The Provia film simulation doesn’t look like Provia film. In fact, it’s probably closer to Astia film, although it’s definitely not an exact match for that, either. There’s something that is “not right” about it to me, but I think it’s just my personal tastes. There are a lot of people who love the Provia film simulation and use it all of the time.

After I published my Standard Provia Film Simulation Recipe, I received feedback from several of you that I should have included a comparison with default Provia/Standard. So here it is! The Provia/Standard images have all of the parameters set to 0 or Off except for Noise Reduction, which is -4. Dynamic Range is DR200 and White Balance is Auto 0R & 0B. It’s basically factory Provia. These were all captured on a Fujifilm X-Pro3. Let’s take a look:

Move the bar left to reveal the default Provia/Standard image, and move it right to reveal the “Standard Provia” recipe image.
Move the bar left to reveal the default Provia/Standard image, and move it right to reveal the “Standard Provia” recipe image.
Move the bar left to reveal the default Provia/Standard image, and move it right to reveal the “Standard Provia” recipe image.

The most notable difference you might notice is that my recipe has less red, with a cooler/greener color cast that is more like typical of Fujicolor film. My recipe also has more contrast and saturation, and, in my opinion, looks better, as I find the default settings to be too flat. If you are looking for a “standard” recipe that utilizes Provia, I believe that my Standard Provia recipe is a good option.

What do you think? Do you like the default Provia/Standard settings better, or do you prefer my “Standard Provia” recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Fujifilm X-Pro1: A 10-Year X-Trans Legacy

A Worn But Working 10-Year-Old Fujifilm X-Pro1 in 2022.

The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is 10 years old!

Let’s drop a beer can into Mr. Fusion, jump into our DeLorean, activate the time circuits, make sure the flux capacitor is fluxing, blast a Huey Lewis tune on the tape deck, and see what happens when this baby hits 88 miles per hour! Yes, we’re headed back in time to understand why the Fujifilm X-Pro1 was a crucial camera that changed photography.

The first stop on our time-travel trip is 1988. The Washington Redskins defeated the Denver Broncos 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII. Sonny Bono was elected mayor of Palm Springs, California. George Michael’s Faith was the top hit song in America. Oh, and Fujifilm introduced the world’s first completely digital camera, the FUJIX DS-1P.

This first all-digital camera captured 0.4 megapixel images and stored them on a removable memory card—as many as 10 pictures! While this doesn’t sound like a significant achievement, it was a pivotal moment in the advancement of digital camera technology. One year later, the same year that Back To The Future Part II played in theaters, Fujifilm released the world’s first commercially-produced digital camera, the FUJIX DS-X. Fujifilm would continue to develop (pun intended) it’s digital camera technology throughout the 1990’s, making several important innovations, and even collaborating with other brands, such as Nikon.

Despite Fujifilm’s pioneering advancements, digital camera sales were slow, primarily due to the poor image quality of the early sensors plus the very high costs to buy. Meanwhile, film sales went through the roof! A billion rolls of film were sold in 1999, and even more were sold in 2000, which was the absolute pinnacle of analog photography. If you were a Fujifilm manager during those two years, and you’re seeing tons of money going into the digital camera department yet not much financially to show for it, and film sales seemed to be on a trajectory towards the moon, what would you do? It’s understandable, then, that Fujifilm did what it did: double-down on analog and pull back from digital. But the timing was awful, because film sales hit a wall, and in 2003 began to fall off a cliff, while digital sales rose sharply.

Although Fujifilm scaled back from digital, they didn’t abandon it. In fact, in 2000, Fujifilm introduced the S1 Pro, a Nikon SLR retrofitted with a 3-megapixel Super-CCD sensor. Fujifilm invented this new sensor type, which claimed to produce double the apparent resolution of a traditional Bayer sensor while simultaneously increasing dynamic range. There would be four models of these Nikon-turned-Fujifilm DSLRs—the last one, the S5 Pro, was discontinued in 2009, after disappointing sales. Mostly, though, following the fall of film, Fujifilm turned their attention to digital point-and-shoots, a fairly profitable segment at that time. They also turned their attention to non-photographic opportunities, including pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, among others things.

Around the time that Fujifilm was discontinuing their DSLR, they began to work on something new. Pocket point-and-shoot cameras were popular, but not with professional photographers, due to poor image quality and basic controls. What if Fujifilm made a high-end pocketable camera aimed specifically at the professional crowd? It took over two years for this idea to be realized—the Fujifilm X100 was released in March 2011, giving birth to the X-series. This camera had a rangefinder design with retro controls, harkening back to the glory days of film, and a 12-megapixel APS-C sensor. A Bayer sensor. Not Super-CCD, which was abandoned with the S5 Pro. And not X-Trans, which hadn’t been invented yet. This was also the first camera ever with a hybrid electronic/optical viewfinder.

If the X100 had been a flop, the X-series would have ended there. Thankfully, the camera was generally well received, and it sold a lot of copies. I know that I wanted one. I remember seeing it in a photography magazine and being captivated by it. I couldn’t afford the $1,200 price tag, so I didn’t buy it, but I would have if I could have. It was a camera you wanted to own!

What I said in the last paragraph—”if the X100 had been a flop, the X-series would have ended there”—isn’t actually true. The X-Trans sensor had been in the works for five years and was almost ready when the X100 was released. Work began on the X-Pro1 back in 2010, and it was decided that it would be the first camera to carry the new sensor. Whether the X100 was a flop or success had no bearing on the release of the X-Pro1, but its success most certainly helped the X-Pro1 to sell well, too.

What made this new X-Trans sensor unique? How was it different than Bayer? What was the point of it?

Fujifilm had been experimenting with different sensor concepts since the 1990’s. They tried many different things to get the most resolution, sharpness, and dynamic range from the low-megapixel sensors of the time, and that’s where the Super-CCD technology came from. Fujifilm continued to experiment, and, inspired by the randomness of silver halide, decided to test a “random” color filter array. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of computing power to interpret the data, and that was the biggest hurdle that had to be overcome, since processing power wasn’t plentiful back then.

X-Trans was a complex solution to what Fujifilm recognized as a problem, but most didn’t. The randomness of the color filter array made it less susceptible to moire pattern distortion, so an optical low-pass filter wasn’t needed. This did two things: produce sharper pictures with the appearance of more resolution, and the ability to better distinguish noise vs. signal. The latter was the most important of the two side effects. Since noise and signal could be more easily differentiated, Fujifilm could control it better, and get improved high-ISO results, as well as better shadow details. This is why Fujifilm’s noise is rendered differently than other brands, and has more of a film-grain-like appearance. Also, the extra green pixels in an X-Trans sensor produces more luminosity information, which improves dynamic range, high-ISO performance, and fine detail rendering.

Blooms Despite Adversity – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Punchy Velvia

Is there a difference between Bayer and X-Trans? Of course there is! It’s not immediately obvious at low-ISO, as many of the benefits are extremely subtle, but as the ISO increases the differences become more obvious. It’s not a night-and-day distinction, but there is definitely a divergence if you look close enough.

Fujifilm announced the X-Pro1 in January 2012 and began shipping it in March, which means that the camera is 10-years-old in 2022! The X-Pro1 was similar to the X100, but larger and with some design changes, and with the ability to swap lenses. Plus, it had the new 16-megapixel X-Trans sensor. Between the rangefinder styling, retro controls, hybrid viewfinder, and new sensor, Fujifilm made people take notice! The camera just grabs your attention.

It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops, though. The X100 and X-Pro1, plus the X-E1 that followed, all had problems, and were called sluggish and quirky in camera reviews. Many of the issues were fixed with firmware updates over time, but it took time to iron out the wrinkles. Some issues weren’t Fujifilm’s fault, like RAW editing software having trouble handling the X-Trans files. Fujifilm actually intended the in-camera JPEG processor, which utilized Film Simulations (profiles created from Fujifilm’s extensive experience in film), to be a serious tool that photographers would utilize. When Fujifilm expressed this, they were scoffed at by the photography “experts” of the time, because, you know, real photographers shoot RAW, and only amateurs shoot JPEG. The response was so loud that for awhile Fujifilm stopped suggesting photographers should shoot JPEG, and put less effort towards promoting their in-camera processing.

Pink Roses – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Color Negative Film

Despite what the so-called experts thought, many of those with Fujifilm cameras began to realize that the JPEGs were actually pretty good. In September of 2014 Fujifilm announced the Fujifilm X100T, which had a new Film Simulation called Classic Chrome. It was intended to mimic the aesthetic of documentary-style pictures found in magazines. Classic Chrome was an instant hit, and it brought a new awareness to Fujifilm’s JPEG engine.

My journey into the world of Fujifilm began with a used X-E1 in the summer of 2016. Actually, let’s get back into our DeLorean and head even further into the past. In the summer of 1998 I took an epic trip with some friends to the New England states, and I borrowed my dad’s Sears 35mm SLR to photograph the journey. When I returned home and got the pictures back from the 1-hour photo lab, they were awful! I couldn’t have screwed up the pictures any more than I did. That fall I enrolled in Photography 101 in college so that I could learn to take a decent picture, and I ended up falling in love with photography. This was at the pinnacle of film. I was not a fan of the digital photography revolution because I didn’t like how digital pictures looked. In my opinion, film was much superior, and so I stubbornly stuck with it. Around 2010 I purchased my first digital camera, a Pentax DSLR, because it was inexpensive and because I could use the lenses from my Pentax SLR with it. I soon discovered why digital photography had surpassed film—it was much more quick and convenient—but I still preferred the look of film. While I continued to shoot both film and digital, I jumped from brand-to-brand trying to find a digital camera that I liked. After Pentax I tried Samsung. Then Sigma. Then Nikon. Then Sony. In 2016 I purchased the X-E1, and was instantly thrilled by the experience of the camera. Finally, a digital camera that I could love! One year later I bought an X100F, the fourth iteration of the original X100.

I configured my X100F to shoot RAW+JPEG, and after fiddling with the RAW files, I noticed that the post-processed RAW pictures didn’t look a whole lot different than the straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. I realized that with a few small tweaks in the camera settings I could make them match even more closely. That was the birth of my “Film Simulation Recipes” (camera settings that produce a certain look, often modeled after classic film stocks and analog processes). The popularity of Film Simulation Recipes has grown and grown—exploding over the last two years—and with it has seen a significant increase in those shooting JPEGs with their Fujifilm cameras. Film Simulation Recipes save you time by eliminating the need to edit (or, for some, reducing the amount of editing needed), while making the process more enjoyable. It is Fujifilm’s vision come true, although I doubt they envisioned exactly where this whole thing has gone.

Not Filed – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Kodachrome I

Over the last decade Fujifilm has continued to innovate, leaping various hurdles, to improve and grow the X-series. Fujifilm has doubled-down on in-camera processing, and the stigma of shooting JPEGs has softened significantly. Even though much progress has been made, and the brand-new cameras are absolutely incredible, there’s still a lot of love for the original models. There’s a special quality to them, even if they’re slower, more quirky, lower resolution, and with fewer options.

While I started with an X-E1 (I’ve actually owned two), I’ve mostly used the newer models. Knowing that the X-Pro1 was approaching the 10-year mark, and loving the X-Pro series design, last year I purchased a well-used but still perfectly functioning X-Pro1. I wanted to use the X-Pro1 in 2022 as a way to celebrate the importance of this model in photography.

Let me pause here for a moment. Digital technology advances quickly. Most people aren’t still using a 10-year-old cellphone or television. Most people aren’t using a 10-year-old camera, although certainly some are. In the film era, it wasn’t uncommon to use the same camera for decades or even a whole career. In the digital era, a lot of people “upgrade” their camera gear every two or three years. While most aren’t still shooting with a camera from 2012, some are, and they’re probably thinking pretty seriously that it’s time to upgrade to the latest model. The X-Pro1 is a 10-year-old camera that not only are some people still shooting, there are actually people searching it out so that they can use it, even though they have newer models. In 2022, the X-Pro1 is a desired camera! This speaks to the genius of those who designed it—the camera itself is art, and it is a very capable tool for creating art, even after a decade.

Diesel – Park City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Ektachrome

Now, let me explain more directly exactly how the Fujifilm X-Pro1 changed photography.

While Fujifilm has been making cameras since 1948, and digital cameras since the late-1980’s, their DSLRs, while innovative, were Nikon bodies with Fujifilm innards. Buying one of these DSLRs was buying into the Nikon system. There were some advantages to buying the Fujifilm version, and there were also some disadvantages, so it was an odd market that Fujifilm found itself in. Basically, Fujifilm was hoping to convince Nikon owners to buy the Fujifilm version of Nikon’s camera, or else convince those from other brands to switch to Nikon, except the Fuji-Nikon and not actual Nikon. And there were no aftermarket products to sell, which is where the money is made. Fujifilm’s attempt to be in the professional camera market was halfhearted and failed, so with the writing on the wall, Fujifilm regrouped.

After the failure of the S5 Pro, the X100 was Fujifilm’s first attempt to capture the attention of professional and advanced enthusiast photographers, but right on its heels was the X-Pro1 with the brand-new X-Trans sensor. This was an interchangeable-lens model, which was important because selling lenses is where the real profit is. It was highly advanced: mirrorless (a fairly new concept at the time), hybrid viewfinder, new sensor type. But it was also retro: rangefinder style with no PASM dial anywhere. It was something new yet absolutely a classic. It was simultaneously modern and nostalgic.

Storm Building Over Mountain Ridge – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro1 – “Kodachrome II

The X-Pro1’s success allowed the Fuji-X line to continue, and all of the cameras that followed are thanks to the original model. If the X-Pro1 had flopped, Fujifilm would have exited stage left, and there would be no X-Pro3 or X-T4 or X-E4 or any other X-series camera today. I likely wouldn’t have purchased an X-E1 in 2016 and I definitely wouldn’t have bought an X100F in 2017, because the X100F wouldn’t exist. If not for the X100F, I wouldn’t have made Film Simulation Recipes, I wouldn’t have created the Fuji X Weekly App, and you wouldn’t know the joys of using these recipes. There are literally tens of thousands of photographers worldwide—from first-camera newbies to experienced professionals with recognizable names—who are capturing the world through the colors and tones of Film Simulation Recipes. If not for the X-Pro1, this would never have happened. If you shoot with Film Simulation Recipes, you can, in part, thank the X-Pro1 (or, more specifically, the team that made that camera a reality). Because of it, far more photographers are relying on camera-made JPEGs today than they otherwise would, which saves them time and makes their photographic process more enjoyable.

The X-Pro1 is an important camera in the photography continuum, but it is more than just a display piece. The X-Pro1, a decade after it was announced, is still a quality tool for capturing the world. It’s a camera I used in 2021, and it’s a camera I’ll continue to use in 2022, and likely the years to follow. My copy is a little worn, but, as long as it continues to work, I will still use it. I have many Fujifilm cameras, but I have a special place for the X-Pro1 both in my heart and in my camera bag. That’s a legacy worth noting!

What about you? Do you own a Fujifilm X-Pro1? What was your first Fujifilm camera? Which Fujifilm cameras do you currently own? Which Film Simulation Recipe is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Available Now: The Fuji X Weekly App Update!

The big Fuji X Weekly App update is available right now!

If your phone or tablet didn’t automatically update the App, be sure to manually update it right away. Depending on your device and how you have it configured, it’s possible that you might have to delete the App and reinstall, but most people shouldn’t have to do that in order to update it. Hopefully for most of you it happened automatically already, and you’re good to go. The App update is in both the Google Play Store for Android and the Apple App Store for iOS.

What’s in this “big” update? Plenty! Some of the things are for everyone, and some of the things are only for Fuji X Weekly App Patrons. Let’s talk about the improvements that are for everyone first, and then we will get to the good stuff that’s for Patrons.

View Sample Pictures Larger

Normal size pictures.
Tap to view pictures larger.

This is a pretty straightforward improvement: tap on a picture to view larger, and tap again to return to normal size. One request that I’ve received many times is the ability to enlarge the sample pictures in each recipe. Now you can! Of course, you can view them even larger (and see more of them) on the website—there’s a link at the bottom of each recipe.

Sort by A-Z, Z-A, Newest-to-Oldest, & Oldest-to-Newest

Before this update, you could only sort the recipes either alphabetically A-Z or chronologically Newest-to-Oldest. Now I’ve added Z-A or Oldest-to-Newest as options. If you know the name of the recipe and it begins on or after the letter N, sorting Z-A might make it quicker to locate. Or if you know that a recipe you are looking for was published awhile ago, sorting Oldest-to-Newest might make more sense. This should make it a little easier and quicker to locate what you are searching for.

Now, to the good stuff!

All of the improvements mentioned below are available for Fuji X Weekly App Patrons. The best App experienced is reserved for Patrons, so if you are not one, consider subscribing today! Simply tap the Gear icon in the App, and then select Become a Patron.

Filter by White Balance or Dynamic Range

There are two new Filter options: White Balance and Dynamic Range. Some users will benefit from Filter by Dynamic Range, but Filter by White Balance is huge! If your Fujifilm camera is older than the X-Pro3, you cannot save White Balance Shift within C1-C7 Custom Presets, and each time you change Presets, you have to remember to adjust the WB Shift. It can be a little annoying. However, for each White Balance type, the camera will remember one WB Shift, so if each of your C1-C7 presets uses a different White Balance type, when you switch Presets, you won’t have to adjust the WB Shift. For many, this is a game-changer!

Favorite with Colored Stars

One really great upgrade is Favoriting with colored Stars. Before, when you tapped the Star to Favorite a recipe, it came in one color (yellow). But now you can choose between five different colors: yellow, red, green, blue, and purple. The benefit of this is that you can use colored Stars to organize recipes. Maybe yellow represents the recipes currently loaded into your camera, red represents the recipes you want to try next, and green represents the ones you tried in the past and really liked. Or maybe yellow is your favorite portrait recipes, green your favorite landscape recipes, and blue your favorite street recipes. Use the colored Stars to categorize the recipes however is meaningful to you. This is a great organizational tool, and, for some, this makes the App a significantly better experience.

Blank Recipe Cards

If you’ve ever created your own film simulation recipe, or if you’ve found some elsewhere that you like (perhaps on the Fuji X Weekly Community Recipes page, such as AstiAmore in the example above), you can now add them to your App! A new feature is blank recipe cards that you fill out. You can even add your own pictures from your camera roll! At some point down the road the idea is that you’ll be able to export, import, and share these custom recipes; however, that ability isn’t in this update—with any luck it will come before summer. Several of you have asked for blank recipe cards, and now you have them! This is a great new feature that many of you will really appreciate.

There’s one other thing that I want to mention: if you tap the Gear icon in the top-left of the App and look way down at the bottom, you will see Shop The Latest Fujifilm Gear. These are affiliate links to B&H and Amazon. If you are shopping for some new gear and you happen to think about it, I’ll be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase using my links. It’s a simple way to support Fuji X Weekly that doesn’t cost you anything.

Below are even more images of the new and improved Fuji X Weekly App!

I want to give a special thanks to Sahand Nayebaziz for all his hard work on this App update! Without him, not only would the App not be nearly as good as it is, but there wouldn’t be a Fuji X Weekly App at all. Thank you so much, Sahand!

No Edit Photography: 7 Tips To Get The Film Look From Your Digital Photos

An unedited JPEG from a Fujifilm X100V using my Xpro ’62 recipe.

Digital photography is convenient. You can review your pictures immediately after they’re captured—no waiting for rolls of film to come back from the lab. You can manipulate the images as much as you’d like in software to achieve any aesthetic that you can dream of. You can get extremely clean, sharp, bright, and vibrant pictures with extraordinary dynamic range that just wasn’t possible in the film era. Perfect pictures are prevalent today—a wonder of contemporary photography, no doubt.

Sometimes I think that digital photography is too good, too flawless, too sterile. Perfect pictures can be perfectly boring. Pulitzer-Prize winning author John Updike stated, “Perfectionism is the enemy of creation.” I think that statement is true in multiple aspects. For example, if you are working hard to create perfect pictures, you will not create very many images. I think, also, that creativity is rarely born out of perfectionism. Creativity is serendipitous. It’s not calculated. Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) wrote, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

With film photography, mistakes happen fairly frequently. You don’t know what you have until you have it sometime later. There are a lot of variables that can affect the outcome, which are sometimes out of your control. Occasionally you accidentally and unknowingly discovery something extraordinary. There’s a lot of uncertainty, and when you fortuitously stumble upon something interesting, there’s a lot of joy in that. Film photography is imperfect—it has flaws—and, because of that, it is rewarding. This is one reason why there’s a resurgence of interest in analog pictures.

Film photography is inconvenient. The serendipity of it is fascinating, but I prefer the instant reward of digital. I’m not patient enough anymore for analog. Don’t get me wrong, I shot film for many years. I prefer how film looks, but digital is more consistent, convenient, cheaper (after the initial investment is made), and quicker, so I choose digital. But what if it is possible to get the best of both worlds? What if you could get the “film look” from your digital camera? What if you could do it without editing. Straight-out-of-camera. No Lightroom or Photoshop needed. Would you try it?

The Film Look — What Is It?

Captured on Kodachrome 64 color reversal film.

What exactly is the so-called film look? That’s actually a difficult question to answer, because one film can have many different aesthetics, depending on how it was shot, developed, scanned and/or printed, and viewed. There have been hundreds of different films available over the years, each with unique characteristics. Film can have so many different looks that it could take a lifetime to try and describe them all.

Most simplistically, the film look can be defined as a picture that looks like it was shot on film, but really the answer is more elusive than that. The best way to understand it would be to look at pictures captured with film. Find prints from the 1990’s or 1980’s. Photographic paper (and film, too) fades over time, so the further back you go, the more likely it will appear degraded. Maybe that’s something you prefer? There are as many different film looks as there are tastes, and there’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all answer to what exactly film looks like.

Captured on Elite Chrome 200 color reversal film that has faded.

The biggest difference between film and digital is how highlights are handled. With film, there’s a gradation to white that’s often graceful, but with digital it is much more abrupt. Shadows can also sometimes be more gradual and graceful with film than digital, but definitely not to the same extent as highlights, and definitely not always. Another difference is that film grain is usually considered more beautiful and artful than digital noise. With film photography, there are sometimes surprises that stem from gear (or film) imperfections that don’t typically happen naturally with digital capture. Beyond that, digital images can be effectively manipulated in post-editing to resemble film photographs, especially in the era of Lightroom presets and software filters.

There are two responses that I expect to receive. First, someone will say, “Shoot film if you want the film look.” Nobody is going to argue against that, but this article is not about merely getting the film look—it’s about getting the film look from your digital camera, because digital is more convenient. Second, a person will argue, “I can easily get this look with software, so why bother doing it in-camera?” Getting the look straight-out-of-camera saves time, simplifies the photographic process, and makes capturing pictures even more enjoyable. There’s no right or wrong way to do things—I’m just discussing one method, which you may or may not appreciate. If you enjoy post-processing, that’s great! I personally don’t enjoy it, so I go about things differently, which works for me.

1. Shoot A Fujifilm Camera

Fujifilm X-E4.
Fujifilm X-T30.
Fujifilm X100V.

Step One to achieve the film look from your digital photos without the need to edit is to buy a Fujifilm camera. Which one? It doesn’t matter. If you already own one, you can skip ahead to Step Two.

Why do you need a Fujifilm camera? Why not a Canon, Sony, or Nikon? Because Fujifilm has, in my opinion, the best JPEG engine in the industry. They’ve used their vast experience with film to give their digital cameras an analog soul. In other words, Fujifilm has made it easier than any other brand to get a film look out-of-camera. Could you do it with another brand? Sure—I created JPEG settings for film looks on Ricoh GR cameras. You can do something similar with other brands, but, in my experience, Fujifilm gives you more and better tools to do this. The best brand for achieving a film look that doesn’t require post-processing is Fujifilm, so that is why you need a Fujifilm camera.

I’ll recommend the Fujifilm X100V or Fujifilm X-E4, both of which I own and use often. I also own a Fujifilm X-T30, Fujifilm X-T1, and Fujifilm X-Pro1, and those are very capable cameras, too. Additionally, I’ve shot with a Fujifilm X100F, Fujifilm X-Pro2, Fujifilm X-T20, Fujifilm XQ1, Fujifilm XF10, Fujifilm X-T200, Fujifim X-A3, Fujifilm X-E1, and Fujifilm X-M1. It doesn’t matter which model you buy, but, if you can afford it, I would go for one the newer models (X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, or X-T30 II), because they have more JPEG options, and it’s possible to get more looks out of those cameras. Don’t worry if a new camera is out of your reach, as there are many quality used options that are affordable.

2. Use Film Simulation Recipes

Film simulation recipes are JPEG camera settings that allow you to get a certain look straight-out-of-camera. They’re basically a customization of the stock film simulations that come with the camera, adjusted to achieve various aesthetics. I’ve published over 175 film simulation recipes for Fujifilm cameras, most based on (or inspired by) classic film stocks. They’re free and easy to use. I even created a film simulation recipe app for both Apple and Android! If you have a Fujifilm camera, you should have the app on your phone. Film simulation recipes go a very long ways towards achieving a film look in-camera. Programming a recipe into your camera is kind of like loading a roll of film, except that you can capture as many frames as you wish on each roll, and change the film anytime you want. 

There are a lot of wonderful options to choose from, including Kodachrome 64, Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Tri-X 400, Fujicolor C200, Fujicolor Pro 400H, AgfaChrome RS 100, and so many more! There are nearly 200 of them on this website, plus some more on the Community Recipes page. No matter your Fujifilm X camera, there are some great film simulation recipe options for you to use. I even have a number of unusual recipes, like Cross Process, Expired Slide, and Faded Negative, intended to mimic some alternative analog aesthetics. The three example pictures above are unedited (aside from, perhaps, some minor cropping), just to give you a brief taste of what recipes look like.

3. Use Diffusion Filters

10% CineBloom.
5% CineBloom.
5% CineBloom.

As I already mentioned, the biggest difference between digital images and film photographs are how highlights are handled (and, to a lesser extent, shadows). Diffusion filters help with this. They take the “digital edge” off of your pictures by bending a small percentage of the light that passes through the filter, which causes it to be defocused. The images remain sharp, but a slight haziness is added, especially in the highlights, which produces a more graceful gradation to white.

There are various types of diffusion filters by a few different brands. I recommend Black Pro Mist filters by Tiffen or CineBloom filters by Moment. You want the effect to be subtle, so I suggest a 1/8 or 1/4 Black Pro Mist—I used a 1/4 in the picture at the very top of this article—or a 5% or 10% CineBloom, which I used in the three pictures above; however, I have seen some good results with the stronger options (1/2 Black Pro Mist and 20% CineBloom). A slight effect from a diffusion filter in the right situations can subtly improve a photograph’s analog appearance.

4. Shoot With Vintage Glass

Fujifilm X-T1 & Pentax-110 50mm f/2.
Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi-Pentax Takumar 55mm f/2.2.
Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi-Pentax Takumar 55mm f/2.2.

I love using vintage lenses on my Fujifilm cameras, because they often have flaws that give pictures character. Some of the charm of analog photography stems from imperfect gear—that serendipity I mentioned earlier is often from flawed glass. Modern lenses are precision engineered and meant to give you perfect pictures. But they can be too good and too sharp. They’re great if you photograph test charts, but vintage lenses often have seemingly magical qualities that make real-world pictures better, and definitely more film-like. A lot of time you can find these old lenses for pretty cheap, but you do need an adaptor to attach them to your Fujifilm camera.

If you don’t want to buy used gear and adaptors, a great alternative is to get yourself some inexpensive manual lenses, like the Pergear 50mm f/1.8, 7artisans 50mm f/1.8, and Meike 35mm f/1.7. There are, of course, lots more manual options like these, many of which have flaws and character similar to vintage lenses, except that they’re brand-new and don’t need adaptors. Manual lenses are trickier to use, especially if you don’t have much experience with them, but I find them to be a rewarding, delivering wonderfully imperfect photographs.

5. Don’t Always Nail Focus

With digital photography, you have many tools to make sure your focus is spot-on; if you are unsure that you precisely nailed it, you can immediately review the image and zoom in to make sure, and retake if necessary. With film photography, not only are the focus tools much more limited, you don’t even know if you got it exactly right until the film comes back from the lab. If you study classic photography, you’ll notice that many iconic pictures didn’t spot-on nail the focus. You’ll even notice this in old movies and television shows, too. It was common, and nobody cared. It has become a small part of the film look.

Worry more about composition and storytelling, and less about getting perfect focus. In fact, my recommendation is to not review the LCD after each shot to check. Take the picture, and if you got focus perfect, great! And if you didn’t, don’t let the imperfection bother you, but celebrate that a little softness can be a part of the analog aesthetic. A little blur is not always bad, especially if the picture is otherwise interesting or compelling.

6. Use Higher ISOs

One of the big differences between digital and film is that film has lovely silver grain while digital has ugly noise. Grain can be ugly, too, but digital noise is generally regarded as undesirable, and usually it is, while grain is general regarded as artful. Fujifilm has programmed their cameras in such a way that the noise has a more film-grain-like appearance than other brands. It’s definitely not an exact match to any film grain, but it’s certainly better than typical ugly noise. So why not incorporate it into your pictures?

A lot of photographers are afraid to use high ISOs. Back in the film days, I remember that ISO 400 was considered to be a high-ISO film. Some people thought you were nuts if you used an ISO 800 or 1600 film. ISO 3200 film was only for the most daring, or for use under extreme circumstances. Early digital cameras were pretty bad at higher ISOs, too, but camera technology has made incredible progress, and now cameras are pretty darn good at high ISO photography. I routinely use up to ISO 6400 for color photography, and even higher for black-and-white. Those ultra-high ISOs just weren’t possible or practical 10 or so years ago. Now combine high-ISO photography with Fujifilm faux grain (found on X-Trans III & X-Trans IV cameras), and the pictures begin to appear a little less digital and a bit more film-like.

7. Overexpose and Underexpose Sometimes

Transparency film often requires a very precise exposure because there’s very little latitude for overexposure or underexposure. Negative film often has a much greater latitude—generally speaking it can tolerate more overexposure than underexposure. Each film is different. But here’s the thing: you don’t know if you got it right until later when the film is developed. In the moment you don’t know for sure if the exposure is really correct. With experience you can get pretty good, and exposure bracketing can help (not something you want to do all of the time because you’ll go through your film too quickly), but it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll end up with a few overexposed or underexposed frames. Sometimes this can affect the aesthetic or mood of the image, and by chance your picture is actually more interesting because of your mistake—that analog serendipity again. If you discover something you really like, you might even begin to do it on purpose (like overexposing Fujicolor Pro 400H by several stops).

Your digital camera has many great tools to help you get the exposure perfectly correct, which is great. And if you don’t get it right, you can know right away, and capture another exposure if need be, or fix it later by adjusting the RAW file. However, purposefully not getting the exposure just right, whether by overexposing or underexposing, is a good way to mimic the film experience, and sometimes you’ll get an unexpected result, which can be a very happy accident. I wouldn’t do this all of the time, but occasionally it is a fun and fruitful exercise.

Conclusion

An unedited JPEG from a Fujifilm X100F using my Fujicolor Superia 800 recipe.

Step One, which is using a Fujifilm camera, and Step Two, which is using film simulation recipes, are the most critical of these seven tips. You could use Ricoh GR cameras instead of Fujifilm, but I definitely recommend using Fujifilm. Step Three through Step Seven are optional, and they aren’t necessarily intended to be used all together or all of the time, although you certainly can if you want. Pick a couple of them—perhaps diffusion filter and vintage lens or high-ISO and underexposure—and see what results you get.

There are two things that I’d like for you to get out of this article. First, you don’t need software or editing apps to achieve an analog aesthetic. You can do it in-camera. All of the pictures in this article are unedited (except for some minor cropping). This saves you a whole bunch of time, and you might even find the process more fun. Second, I hope that this article inspires you to try something new. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Mistakes can be highly rewarding, and you might even discover something extraordinary.

A few more example photograph:

Vintage Color recipe & 1/4 Black Pro Mist filter.
Fujicolor Pro 400H recipe & 1/4 Black Pro Mist filter.
Kodacolor VR recipe – 5% CineBloom filter.

Find these film simulation recipe and many more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!

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The Kodachrome 64 Moment!

Moment published an article, Why I Never Shoot RAW—Fujifilm Simulations, Recipes, and More!, that includes many of my photographs and even some of my words! I encourage you to check it out! Moment, you might remember, had partnered with me to give away CineBloom filters. I’m extraordinarily honored for the opportunity to collaborate with them on these projects, and I hope that we can work together even more in the future!

There is a mistake in the article that I’d like to point out. Check out the image below:

Caption reads: “Using Kodachrome 64 Recipe.”
This picture was captured using real Kodachrome 64 film.

The picture above was supposed to be an example photograph of the actual film, which I captured over 20 years ago using real Kodachrome 64 film shot on a Canon AE-1 camera. So it is film, and not a film simulation. A couple other mistakes are found in the recipe itself: Dynamic Range should be DR200, and Noise Reduction should be -4. But, you know, it’s always alright to “season to taste” a recipe, so maybe that is how they prefer those settings.

I’m super happy to have been included in this writeup! I’m stoked that Moment found this recipe to be a valuable resource to the photography community—so valuable, in fact, that they were eager to share it with their customers on their website. Honestly, I’m flattered. Thank you, Moment!

Why I Never Shoot RAW—Fujifilm Simulations, Recipes, and More!

New GFX-50S II Coming Soon

Original GFX-50S

According to Fujirumors, Fujifilm will be releasing a new GFX-50S II medium-format camera in the second half of 2021 (most likely, sometime in the fall). Fujifilm loaned me the original GFX-50S camera earlier this year, and at that time I said Fujifilm would likely be replacing the GFX-50S with a new model soon. Sure enough, they are!

What Fujirumors has so far reported on the new version is that it will be in the same body as the GFX100S, which means that it will also have IBIS, it will have the same sensor as the GFX-50S and GFX-50R, and it will cost only $4,000 (and $4,500 when bundled with the upcoming GF35-70mm lens). That’s stunning!

Even though it’s an older sensor, I really appreciate how the GFX-50S renders pictures, particularly in shadows. I don’t mind that the camera won’t include a brand-new sensor. What I hope is that it includes a new processor, preferably the one inside the GFX100S. If the GFX-50S is a GFX100S, except with an “old” 50-megapixel sensor instead of a new 100-megapixel sensor, for only four thousand dollars, that’s unbelievable! It will be a hit, I have no doubts about it. I might have to get one myself.

It should be mentioned that, for most people, there’s not a big advantage of GFX over Fujifilm X. Yes, GFX produces lovely pictures that are a pixel-peeper’s dream, but unless you print very large, crop really deeply, and/or need that extra dynamic range in the shadows, Fujifilm X cameras will serve you very well for a whole lot less money.

What Will the Next Fujifilm Sensor Be?

According to Fujirumors, the next Fujifilm APS-C camera will be the X-H2, which won’t be released until early 2022, and it will have a new sensor that’s capable of 8K video. Not a whole lot else is known about it at this point. What will the new sensor be? What specs will it have? Absolutely nobody outside of Fujifilm has any idea, so it’s a fun opportunity to wildly speculate. To be clear, I have no inside information. This isn’t a rumor. What I’ll discuss below is a bad guess at best. I just thought it would be fun to talk about the possibilities.

The assumption is that the next sensor will be X-Trans (X-Trans V), which is logical—most likely it will be. I don’t know what would differentiate X-Trans V from X-Trans IV. The theory is that because Fujifilm has been developing sharper lenses with more resolving power, they’re preparing for a higher-resolution sensor (in fact, they’ve said as much). But how much more? 28-megapixel? 30? 32? 36? 50? Nobody knows, but don’t be surprised if it’s 36-megapixels. Unless you crop steeply or print largely, that extra resolution won’t do much for you. I personally wish that Fujifilm would focus less on megapixels and focus more on other advancements, but that’s just my opinion.

It’s possible that the new sensor inside the X-H2 won’t be X-Trans, or at least not a Sony X-Trans. Fujifilm has partnered with Samsung to create the ISOCELL technology that Samsung uses in their cellphone cameras. In an oversimplified explanation, ISOCELL allows pixels to more accurately capture light, which means that smaller pixels act more like larger pixels. Samsung uses ISOCELL in conjunction with Pixel Binning (“Tetracell”), a technology that uses a group of pixels to act as a singular larger pixel for improved dynamic range and high-ISO performance. This technology allows tiny cellphone sensors to perform better than they should. Why can’t this be applied to larger sensors? Remember when Samsung used to have a highly-acclaimed 28-megapixel APS-C sensor before their NX camera line went suddenly defunct? Maybe Fujifilm and Samsung will partner to bring some of Samsung’s innovative sensor technology to Fujifilm cameras.

I’d be surprised if Fujifilm included a Sony Bayer sensor in the X-H2, but it’s possible. Anything is possible. More likely, if Fujifilm were to move on from X-Trans, the sensor would have to have some unique marketing aspect to it. Fujifilm X cameras are the only cameras with X-Trans sensors, and all other current cameras use Bayer (except for some Sigma models). X-Trans has some advantages and disadvantages, but more importantly it’s unique, which Fujifilm takes advantage of, both in terms of technology and marketing. There’d have to be something especially special about a non-X-Trans sensor for Fujifilm to suddenly abandon what has brought them this far.

Now imagine this: a Fujifilm X-H2 with a 144-megapixel ISOCELL and Pixel Binning sensor, that “normally” captures 36-megapixel images, with the option to capture 144-megapixel images in good light and 9-megapixel images in very low light. That would stir a lot more attention than an ordinary 36-megapixel Bayer sensor, and would also have some advantages over it. It would certainly make headlines!

The way it would work is that under most conditions the camera would capture a 36-megapixel image that would perform, in dynamic range and high-ISO, similar to the 26-megapixel X-Trans IV sensor. When the ISO is set to 320 or lower, the camera would have the option to capture a full 144-megapixel image (with the limitation of DR400 not available). Of course, Fujifilm lenses, while exceptionally sharp, cannot resolve that much detail, so you’d likely get details more in line with 50-megapixel cameras (maybe more, maybe less, depending on the lens). The camera would also have the option at higher ISOs—perhaps ISO 3200 and above—to capture extraordinarily clean 9-megapixel images (and perhaps 1080p video). I know that 9-megapixels are hardly anything to get excited over, but think of this as being sort of like the Sony A7S, which has only 12-megapixels, but is highly regarded for its low-light capabilities. So, yeah, the picture might only have 9-megapixels of resolution, but it was captured at ISO 25,600 and looks as clean as ISO 800. Maybe pixel-shift could even be incorporated into this somehow.

There would be a whole host of issues if Fujifilm incorporated Samsung’s technology into the X-H2, most notably the RAW files. I don’t think my suggestion is likely, but since anything is possible, I thought that I’d wildly speculate, and this is as wild of a speculation as you’ll likely find on this topic. It will definitely be interesting to see what Fujifilm comes up with, and as soon as I know something, I’ll be sure to share it and my ideas about it with you.

Fujifilm X-T1 (X-Trans II) Film Simulation Recipe: Jon’s Classic Chrome

Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch – “Jon’s Classic Chrome”

I handed my Fujifilm X-T1 to my 11-year-old son, Jonathan—gave him a brief tutorial on how to use the camera, and let him have at it. My XF10 Classic Chrome film simulation recipe was programmed into the X-T1; to my surprise, Jon made a few small adjustments to it. He increased Dynamic Range to DR400, moved the White Balance Shift to +4 Red, and set Sharpness at 0. I’m not sure why he made those specific changes, but the results are pretty good, and I’m very proud and impressed by the pictures that he captured with the X-T1 using his settings!

My opinion is that this recipe has a ColorPlus feel to it. It could be close to Kodacolor, Portra 400, or Ultramax—it definitely has a Kodak color negative vibe; however, I think Fujicolor C200 might also be in the neighborhood. Whatever film it might be close to, it’s got a great analog-like aesthetic that’s easy to love. Great job, Jon!

Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch – “Jon’s Classic Chrome”

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: +1 (Medium-High)
Shadow: +2 (High)
Color: +1 (Medium-High)
Sharpness: 0 (Medium)
Noise Reduction: -2 (Low)
White Balance: Auto, +4 Red & -4 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 3200

Exposure Compensation: +2/3 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured by Jon on my Fujifilm X-T1 using his Classic Chrome film simulation recipe:

Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch
Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch
Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch
Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch
Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch
Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch
Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch
Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch
Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch
Fujifilm X-T1 – Farmington, UT – Photo by Jonathan Roesch

See also: X-Trans II Film Simulation Recipes

Find Jon’s Classic Chrome film simulation recipe on the Fuji X Weekly app!

Sepia: The Forgotten Film Simulation

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No Credit Tires – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2 – Sepia

Sepia is Fujifilm’s forgotten film simulation. Despite being included on every X camera since the original X100, very few people use it. Some photographers mock the Sepia film simulation, calling it gimmicky or amateurish. It’s even been the butt of jokes. There seems to be no love for it. I believe that the Sepia film simulation is misunderstood and underappreciated, and it deserves more respect.

You might be surprised to learn that actual sepia is a byproduct of cuttlefish, and it’s been a part of photography for over 150 years. Sepia is used for its archival properties. When black-and-white photographic prints are given a sepia bath, it stabilizes the silver, which slows the aging process. It also stains the paper, producing a brownish-red tone. The longer the paper sits in a sepia bath, the stronger the sepia tone will be. Some photographers would leave their prints in the bath for a long time, producing a pronounced tint. Many years ago when I printed my own black-and-white pictures in a darkroom, I would only give my pictures a quick dip in sepia, which would produce a very subtle warm tone. Sepia has both form and function in the photographic process.

The majority of black-and-white photographers used sepia, although many preferred a short bath for subtle effect; however, some wanted the full sepia aesthetic with it’s pronounced warm tones. There have been different eras in photography when a strong sepia stain was in vogue. You can change the emotion of a black-and-white photograph by toning it, so it’s no surprise that a warm tone would be popular. Even when it wasn’t popular, there were still some photographers who would purposefully use sepia for artistic effect.

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Snow on Rudy Drain – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Fujinon 35mm f/2 – Sepia

Even though film photography is much less prevalent now, sepia is still being used today in analog black-and-white printing. It’s unnecessary in digital photography, but Fujifilm has provided an easy solution for simulating the effect: the Sepia film simulation. Specifically, it mimics the look of a black-and-white print that’s spent some time in a sepia bath. Some might call it “old timey” in appearance; yes, sepia has been used in photography for a very long time, yet it is still being used today. Maybe it’s not so gimmicky and amateurish after all.

You know that I love to create film simulation recipes that produce straight-out-of-camera results which mimic analog aesthetics. I have created many different color and black-and-white recipes for Fujifilm cameras, and in the process used all of the different film simulation options that Fujifilm provides on their cameras, except for one: Sepia. This is the first time that I’ve used the Sepia film simulation as the basis for a recipe. I love the feeling that these settings produce in an image; there’s a certain emotional response to Sepia that’s not found in the Acros or Monochrome film simulations. I invite you to try these settings for yourself, and perhaps you’ll discover a newfound respect for the lowly Sepia film simulation.

Sepia film simulation recipe for the X100V, X-Pro3 and X-T4:

Sepia
Dynamic Range DR400
Highlight & Shadow: +3
Grain: Strong, Large
Color Chrome Effect & Color Chrome Effect Blue: Off
Clarity: +2
Sharpening: -2
Noise Reduction: -4

Example photographs:

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Sepia Sun – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Broken Barrier – Kaysville, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Espresso Yourself – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V

Sepia film simulation recipe for X-Trans III plus X-T3 and X-T30 cameras:

Sepia
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight & Shadow: +3
Grain: Strong
Color Chrome: Off or N/A
Sharpening: -2
Noise Reduction: -4

Example photographs:

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Lens in the Window Light – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm f/2

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Chair Light & Shadow Abstract – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Night Pump – Centerville, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

Sepia film simulation recipe for X-Trans I & II plus Bayer cameras:

Sepia
Dynamic Range DR200
Highlight & Shadow: +2
Sharpening: -1
Noise Reduction: -2

Example photographs:

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Cup of Beans – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Selfie – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Suburban Pond in Winter – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

See also:
Film Simulation Recipes
Review: Fujifilm X-T30
Review: Fujinon 35mm f/2
Review: Fujinon 90mm f/2
Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There's a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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Fujifilm X100V New Feature: HDR

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There’s a new feature on the Fujifilm X100V called HDR, which is an abbreviation for High Dynamic Range. You’ve probably heard of HDR photography. It was all the rage 10 years ago, but often looked terrible. Well, software has improved, and people are being more tasteful with their edits, and you likely see HDR pictures frequently and don’t even know it. I’ve never been a big fan of HDR photography, and I had very little interest in this new Fujifilm feature, but I thought that I’d try it anyway.

What is HDR? It’s the combination of a series of pictures, some overexposed and some underexposed, to maximize dynamic range. It prevents clipped highlights and blocked shadows. Fujifilm has other tools to deal with this: Highlight and Shadow adjustments, different Dynamic Range options, and D-Range Priority. HDR is now another option. You can select HDR 200, HDR 400, HDR 800 or HDR Plus.

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Bright Flowers – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – HDR 800

On the X100V you have to go to the Drive menu to access HDR. One thing that I really appreciate about HDR on this camera is that you can select all of the different JPEG options except Dynamic Range (with HDR Plus you also cannot select Highlight, Shadow or Clarity). In other words, HDR becomes the Dynamic Range setting, and you still have everything else. You can also reprocess in-camera the RAW HDR file, but only as an HDR image. Cool!

Let’s take a closer look at the HDR options on the X100V, and also compare it to DR400 and D-Range Priority.

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DR400

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D-Range Priority Weak

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D-Range Priority Strong

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HDR 200

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HDR 400

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HDR 800

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HDR Plus

The only pictures where the shadows appear significantly different are D-Range Priority Strong and HDR Plus. Otherwise shadows are similar, and HDR doesn’t seem to affect it much. However, highlights are greatly affected by the different HDR settings. In the pictures above, there’s a big difference in how the sun is rendered.

You might also notice some similarities between some of these different settings. Let’s compare a few:

DR400 vs. HDR 400

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DR400

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HDR 400

D-Range Priority Weak vs. HDR 200

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D-Range Priority Weak

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HDR 200

D-Range Priority Strong vs. HDR Plus

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D-Range Priority Strong

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HDR Plus

You might notice that D-Range Priority Weak and HDR 200 look very similar, as does DR400 and HDR 400, as well as D-Range Priority Strong and HDR Plus. Why? D-Range Priority Weak and HDR 200 are both based on DR200, so it makes sense that they would appear similar to each other. HDR 400 is based on DR400, so it’s logical that they would seem similar, as well. HDR 800 is like DR800 if such a thing existed. Both D-Range Priority Strong and HDR Plus are basically the same as HDR 800 with lighter shadows.

I don’t see a benefit to using HDR 200 or HDR 400, as you can achieve the same thing with your different Dynamic Range options. I did find HDR 800 useful for maximizing the dynamic range of the camera in harsh-light situations. HDR Plus isn’t really any different than using D-Range Priority Strong, so you might as well use the D-Range Priority setting if you really need it.

Here’s another example of the different HDR settings:

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HDR 200

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HDR 400

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HDR 800

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HDR Plus

The picture above illustrates when HDR Plus could be beneficial, but you might as well use D-Range Priority Strong instead. You could achieve the same thing as HDR 200 and HDR 400  by using the Dynamic Range settings. HDR 800 is the only one that you cannot mimic by using other settings, but the difference is pretty small between it and HDR 400.

HDR Examples

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Light Flower – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – HDR 800

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Tiny Library – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – HDR 800

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Chopstix – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – HDR 800

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Jurassic Park – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – HDR 800

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Window Light on the Wall – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – HDR 800

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Lunch – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V – HDR 800

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Health Parking – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – HDR 800

Back in the day, HDR photographs were notorious for halos and cartoonish renderings, but I didn’t find any of those issue on the X100V. The camera does a decent job of aligning hand-held shots. The new HDR feature far exceeded my expectations (which were admittedly pretty low). However, it turns out that HDR on the X100V is not especially useful. It also slows down the camera considerably as it captures a series of pictures and combines them. Besides that, it doesn’t always work well.

HDR Bloopers

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How many legs?

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An extra wheel and no driver!

If there’s anything more than very minor movements within the frame, you’ll get weird artifacts from the combination of pictures. Even if there’s no movement, but you are not very still when you capture the pictures, you can get blur from poor alignment. I had just as many busts as I had successes when using HDR because of alignment problems and artifacts from movement. Maybe there’s a way to artistically use this?

Conclusion

HDR was not a feature that I was especially excited about on the Fujifilm X100V, yet it turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected. After playing around with it for a few days, I concluded that it’s not an especially useful tool. HDR 800 is the only selection that has a practical application, and the conditions have to be pretty extreme for it to be beneficial. While you can get good hand-held shots, you’re better off using a tripod, and don’t even think about using HDR if there’s anything more than very slow movement in the scene. While I think Fujifilm did a descent job in the programming, there’s plenty of room for improvement, and it’ll need to be made better before it’s a feature that will be used frequently. It’s good to have HDR as an option on the X100V, but I’m confident that I’ll rarely use it.

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

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My Fujifilm X100V Kodachrome 64 Film Simulation Recipe

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Evening at a Pond – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X100V “Kodachrome 64”

The Fujifilm X100V has some new features, including Clarity and Color Chrome Effect Blue, that my X-T30 doesn’t have, despite sharing the same sensor. The more JPEG options that I have, the more accurately I can create in-camera looks. My hope is to revisit some of my film simulation recipes, and create what I hope are more accurate versions using the new features. The first one that I revamped is my Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe.

Many people love my Kodachrome 64 recipe, but not everyone. The biggest complaint that I’ve heard about it is that the reds aren’t vibrant enough. I don’t disagree with that, but there are always compromises when recreating looks in-camera because the tools available to me are limited. Of course, what Kodachrome 64 looks like depends on how you’re viewing it, whether projector, light table, scan, print, and how so. You can find some vastly different looking pictures that were captured on Kodachrome 64. For this revamped recipe, I spent some time studying the Kodachrome slides that I captured many years ago.

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Red Lights & Rain – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V “Kodachrome 64”

While I feel that this is an improved Kodachrome 64 recipe, it’s still not perfect. Those who disliked how reds were rendered on the old recipe will certainly like this one better, but is it 100% exactly like the film? No. I think +2 Color might be too much, but +1 Color doesn’t render reds and yellows vibrant enough. If you prefer +1 Color, feel free to do that instead. There’s a little less contrast with this new version. Both of the Color Chrome Effects, the lower Dynamic Range setting, and Clarity add contrast, so I changed Highlight and Shadow to compensate. The X-T4 has .5 Highlight and Shadow adjustments, and I would set Shadow to +0.5 if I were using these settings on that camera (I hope that Fujifilm updates the X100V and X-Pro3 to allow this, too). I think it would be acceptable to use +1 Shadow, but I felt that was a tad too much, so I set it to 0. Despite not being perfect, I do feel that this version is a little more accurate to actual Kodachrome 64 film.

If you have an X100V, X-Pro3 or X-T4, I invite you to try this new-and-improved Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe. Be sure to let me know what you think! Here are a couple pictures comparing the two versions of this recipes:

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Original Kodachrome 64 recipe.

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New Kodachrome 64 Recipe.

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Original Kodachrome 64 recipe.

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New Kodachrome 64 recipe.

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: 0
Shadow: 0
Color: +2
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpening: +1
Clarity: +3
Grain Effect: Weak, Small
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Weak
White Balance: Daylight, +2 Red & -5 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: 0 to +2/3 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this new Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X100V:

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White Horse by a Stream – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Horses in the Grass – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Curious Horse – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Country Tires – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Yellow Flowers, Blue Sky – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Wishful Day – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Beer & Board – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Road Bicycling – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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All the World’s a Sunny Day – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Orders & Pickup – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Red, White & Blue Day – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Flag Up Close – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Reeds by the Water – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Evening Reeds – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Landscape Flowers – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Handlebar – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Kodak Colors – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Half of an Orange – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Ground Beans – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Pallets – Centerville, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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IHOP – Centerville, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Cupcake – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Sitting on Concrete – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Spring Snow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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

Fujifilm X100V Black    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X100V Silver   Amazon   B&H

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There's a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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Film Simulation Review: Light & Shadow with Ilford Delta Push-Process

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Chair & Pillow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Photography is about light. Without light there are no photographs. Great photographs require great light. What “great light” is depends on the picture and circumstance, and what’s great for one image might not be for another. Great light can be found anytime of the day or night if one looks hard enough for it.

This series of pictures demonstrate the play of light and shadow in an image. It features instances of bright highlights and deep shadows together. It’s the contrast between illumination and the absence of it. I needed a dramatic film simulation recipe to capture these pictures. I knew that it would need to be black-and-white because these pictures aren’t about color, but light and shadow. Color would only be a distraction to the point. But which black-and-white film simulation recipe should I choose?

There are several options for dramatic black-and-white that I could have chosen, including Dramatic Monochrome, Monochrome Kodachrome, Agfa Scala, Ilford HP5 Plus, Ilford HP5 Push-Process, X100F Acros, X-T30 Acros, Acros Push-Process, and Tri-X Push-Process. Any of those recipes would have worked, but each would have produced a different result. Some have more contrast, some less. Some have a greater dynamic range and others a more narrow. Some are brighter, some darker. Some have more grain and other less. I could have picked any of them and gotten interesting results, but I went with Ilford Delta Push-Process instead, partially because I had been using it for other pictures during this time. It turns out it was a good choice, because it seems to have the right contrast, tones and grain for this series. Sometimes luck plays a role. What I know now is that the Ilford Delta Push-Process recipe is a great option for dramatic light situations like these, and I will choose it again for similar situations in the future. I captured these pictures on a Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached to it.

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Suburban Shadows – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Seat Back Shadow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Chair Details – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Girl Ghost – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Sunlight on the Kitchen Floor – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Don’t Step Into Darkness – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

See also: Film Simulation Reviews

Classic Chrome for Those Who Don’t Have It (X-Trans I)

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One of these two pictures is Classic Chrome and one is PRO Neg. Std. Can you guess which is which?

Classic Chrome is probably the most popular film simulation created by Fujifilm. It is the most common starting point for my film simulation recipes. It was introduced by Fujifilm beginning with the X-Trans II sensor, so those who have X-Trans I cameras or older Bayer sensor cameras don’t have it as an option. The X100, X100S, X-E1 and X-Pro1 all lack Classic Chrome.

I’ve been asked many times how to replicate Classic Chrome for cameras that don’t have it. I figured it out! And it’s not what you might expect. It’s not the advice that I have been giving out over the years, which was based on Astia. I figured that Astia with the contrast turned up and color turned down would be close, but I was wrong. It’s difficult to get the contrast correct when using Astia, and with Color set to -2 it’s still much too vibrant. Turns out PRO Neg. Std is the film simulation required to mimic Classic Chrome. Shocked? I was. It was literally the last color film simulation that I tried.

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One of these two pictures is Classic Chrome and one is PRO Neg. Std. Can you guess which is which?

My experiments were conducted on my Fujifilm X-T1. Using Classic Chrome, I set Color, Highlight, Shadow and Sharpness at 0, Dynamic Range to DR100, Noise Reduction to -2, and White Balance to Auto with Red and Blue both set to 0. Then I tried to replicate that look using one of the other film simulations. I figured out how to get pretty darn close using the PRO Neg. Std film simulation.

There are some differences between actual Classic Chrome and these settings. This faux Classic Chrome is actually slightly more yellow. If there was a way to shift the white balance by fractions this could be made more accurate, as the actual shift should be closer to +0.3 Red and -0.6 Blue, but that’s not possible. You could set the white balance shift to 0 Red and 0 Blue if you prefer less yellow, and I think that’s a legitimate option, as I debated between that and this, but ultimately I went with the warmer white balance shift. There’s also slightly deeper shadows and more saturation with these settings than real Classic Chrome. I think +0.7 Shadow and Color would be more accurate, but +1 is as close as I could get. I found that setting Shadow and Color to 0 produced results that were further away from Classic Chrome, but that’s something you could consider. These settings are not perfect, but for those who don’t have Classic Chrome as an option, in my opinion this is as close as you’re going to get, which is actually pretty close. 

PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: +1
Shadow: +1
Color: +1
Sharpness: 0
Noise Reduction: -2
White Balance: Auto, 0 Red & -1 Blue

What about the pictures above? The top one is the faux Classic Chrome using PRO Neg. Std and the bottom one is actual Classic Chrome. Did you guess correctly?

Below are example photographs, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs from my Fujifilm X-T1, that compare faux Classic Chrome using PRO Neg. Std with Classic Chrome.

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Faux Classic Chrome using PRO Neg. Std

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Classic Chrome

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Faux Classic Chrome using PRO Neg. Std

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Classic Chrome

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Faux Classic Chrome using PRO Neg. Std

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Classic Chrome

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Faux Classic Chrome using PRO Neg. Std

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Classic Chrome

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Faux Classic Chrome using PRO Neg. Std

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Classic Chrome

Digital Holga – Turning My Fujifilm X-T30 Into A Toy Camera

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The Holga is a line of cheap Chinese “toy” cameras that (mostly) use medium-format film. Introduced in 1982, this inexpensive camera was designed to be the everyday tool to capture family moments, although poor quality made it only somewhat successful commercially. It’s known for heavy vignetting, soft focus, blur, and light leaks. While the Holga is not generally considered a good option for serious photographers, it has been used as such, and some famous pictures have been captured with this humble camera. The flaws are what make the Holga special.

I own a Holga 120N, which is perhaps the most common Holga model. I don’t use it often, but I do dust it off every once in awhile, load it with 120 film, and capture 12 square frames. Holga cameras can capture square or rectangular frames, or, if you are feeling really frisky, you can load it with 35mm film. Here are a few photographs that I’ve captured with my Holga camera:

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Like most of you, I’m staying home as much as possible right now due to the worldwide pandemic. For the most part, going places is out of the question, and I wouldn’t really want to even if I could. To foster my creative mind and prevent boredom, I decided to “convert” my Fujifilm X-T30 into a digital Holga camera. I set out to capture Holga-like images out-of-camera. Yes, I could do this by shooting RAW and using software, such as Exposure X5, but I didn’t want to. For me, that would be much less fun.

In “Advanced Filters” Fujifilm has included a “Toy Camera” effect. It’s designed to produce something similar to what you might get out of a Holga camera. Advanced Filters is misnamed, as it’s not well-designed for advanced users. It’s gimmicky. You can’t really change much with it, so what you see is what you get, for better or worse. I set my X-T30 to the Toy Camera effect, set the aspect ratio to 1:1 (square), and Dynamic Range (the only thing you can control) to DR400. To further the Holga effect, I attached my “worst” lens to the camera, an Industar 69, which has flaws not too dissimilar to the lens on my Holga camera. For some pictures, I used page markers to simulate light leaks.

Here are some straight-out-of-camera “Holga” pictures from my X-T30:

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Next, I opened up a rarely-used app on my phone called RNI Films to apply a film preset to the pictures. I used an Agfa Scala option for black-and-white and a Kodak Portra 160 for color. Below you’ll find some pictures where I used the RNI Films app.

B&W

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Color

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Of course, a Holga experience wouldn’t be complete without double exposures. With a Holga camera, if you don’t advance the film (or you forget to), you can capture multiple exposures by simply opening the shutter again. Unfortunately, you cannot make double exposures on the X-T30 using the Toy Camera effect, so I used the Snapseed app on my phone to combine two exposures. Here are a few examples of using Snapseed to combine two Toy Camera images into one double exposure picture:

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While this was a fun experiment, and I’m glad that I did this, the Fujifilm X-T30 isn’t an especially good or practical way of achieving an out-of-camera Holga look. Can you? Sure, to an extent. The use of a couple of apps improves the results. Even so, there are only a few of these pictures that I really like. I think next time I’ll just load a roll of film into my Holga 120N.

Part 2

Fujifilm Monochrome

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Mountains Dressed In Monochrome – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Leica recently announced the M10 Monochrom, which is their third black-and-white only camera. It can’t capture a color picture because it doesn’t have a Bayer array. It only does black-and-white photography. Fujifilm should do something similar, even though most won’t buy it.

Believe it or not, there’s actually an advantage to a monochrome sensor. With a typical Bayer color array, only 50% of the light-sensitive sensor elements are recording luminosity information, while the other 50% are recording color information. With an X-Trans sensor, 55% of the light-sensitive sensor elements are recording luminosity information while 45% are recording color information. With a monochrome sensor, 100% of the light-sensitive sensor elements are recording luminosity information. Because of this, you get a higher perceived resolution, as pictures will appear more richly detailed, and there’s more shadow latitude, which also improves high-ISO capabilities. You can also use color filters like with black-and-white film.

I think an X-Pro3-M, a black-and-white only version of the X-Pro3, or an X100V-M, a black-and-white only version of the upcoming X100V, would do well enough commercially. Yes, it’s clearly a niche product, as there’s only a tiny market for it, yet Leica found a way to make it profitable, and Fujifilm could, too. There are plenty of photographers who use their X-Pro or X100 series camera to only shoot black-and-white. A Monochrome version would make things simpler for them, while improving perceived resolution, dynamic range and high-ISO. And, Fujifilm has a cool marketing angle: call it the X-Pro3 Acros or X100V Acros. People would eat that up. Increase the price a couple hundred dollars and it would sell well enough to be profitable, in my non-expert opinion.

The flip side to this is that Fujifilm X-Trans cameras, particularly X-Trans III and IV cameras that have the Acros film simulation, are already fantastic for black-and-white photography. Would a monochrome-only camera really produce enough of an improved image to justify buying one? I think that’s a tough question to answer, but my guess is probably not for most people. Still, a monochrome-only camera wouldn’t be for “most people” as it would be for a very small crowd, and for those people the difference would indeed justify buying it. For most, your current X-Trans camera is a great black-and-white photography tool, and there’s no need to get a monochrome-only camera. Some, however, would absolutely love to have one, and I think there’s enough of those people that such a camera could be profitable for Fujifilm, if they ever wished to create one. I hope they do.

Downtown SLC Street Photography with Fujifilm X-T30 & Vintage Super-Takumar Lenses

Downtown Salt Lake City Street Photography

Walking Next To The Trax – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

Earlier this week I was able to do some street and urban photography in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, with my Fujifilm X-T30. I had two vintage Asahi-Pentax lenses with me: a Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5 and a Super-Takumar 105mm f/2.8. I mostly used the 28mm lens, as its focal-length is more ideal for this type of photography. As you already know if you follow the Fuji X Weekly blog, I really love pairing vintage lenses with my Fujifilm cameras. They go together like peanut butter and jelly! I have so much fun with it, and for whatever reason using vintage lenses seems especially appropriate for street photography.

I used my Kodachrome II recipe, with Color set to +2 on some images, for the color pictures in this series. The black-and-white photographs are my Acros Push-Process recipe, except I set Grain to Weak, Dynamic Range to DR400, and Highlight to +3 or +2, depending on the picture. I like to say that you can “season to taste” my different film simulation recipes; it’s something that I do. If a scene requires something to be adjusted a little different in order to create a stronger picture, I will not hesitate to do so. While my different film simulation recipes work well as-is in many circumstances, sometimes they need an adjustment to best fit the scene.

Downtown Salt Lake City is a great location for street and urban photography. It’s pretty safe. Parking is easy. Getting around is easy. It typically has just enough going on for interesting pictures, but not too much where it feels crowded. It’s large enough that you can’t do it justice in just one visit, but not too large where you might get lost. There’s interesting architecture and art. There are interesting people. Downtown Salt Lake City might not be the most idealistic street photography location, but it is nonetheless ideal in many ways.

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Federal Traffic Signal – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Urban Sunshine – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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1st & 4th – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Man On Main – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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The Joy of Train Riding – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Rail Riders – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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35 Minute Parking – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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City Winter – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Urban Mailbox – SLC, UT – Fuji X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Every Style – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Table For One – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Old Business – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Urban American – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Planetarium Platform – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Climbing Aboard – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Electric City – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Tribune – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Gateway Living – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 105mm f/2.8

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Gateway – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 105mm f/2.8

See also:
Downtown SLC Street Photography w/Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2
Downtown SLC Street Photography w/Fujifilm X100F & Fujifilm XF10

Review: Fujifilm X-Pro2 – Is It Still Relevant?


Fujifilm X-Pro2 Blog

The new Fujifilm X-Pro3 will be released on November 29, and there’s a lot of buzz around it, but what about the X-Pro2? Is it still relevant? Is it a camera that you should consider? Is it a good option even though it has the old sensor and processor? I hope to answer those questions in this review.

The X-Pro2 was released way back in March of 2016. It replaced the X-Pro1, which was the very first X-Trans sensor camera by Fujifilm. The X-Pro2 was the first camera to have the 24-megapixel X-Trans III sensor. The X-H1, X-T2, X-T20, X-E3 and X100F would later share this same sensor and processor. The 26-megapixel X-Trans IV sensor, which is the same sensor found in the upcoming X-Pro3, was introduced with the X-T3 in September of 2018. The X-Trans III sensor inside the X-Pro2 is almost four-years-old, and perhaps a year out-of-date, but is it still good?

The main advantage of the fourth generation sensor over the third generation is heat. The new sensor runs cooler, which means it can be pushed further. It’s quicker, and the processor can be asked to do more. There’s very little image-quality difference between the two sensors. Pictures captured with the X-Pro3 won’t look much different than those captured with the X-Pro2. But the older camera won’t be as quick, especially regarding auto-focus, and it has fewer features. The X-Pro3 is loaded with new tools, which may or may not be useful to you. Even though the X-Pro2 isn’t as quick or feature-rich, it’s still sufficiently quick and feature-rich for most photographers.

The X-Pro line isn’t about quickness anyway. It’s about having a solid quality camera that’s a joy to use. It feels good to have in your hand and to hold to your eye. It’s something to take to the city and wait for just the right light and moment. It’s a photographer’s tool. And what a great tool it is!

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Fujifilm blog Fujinon 23mm f/2 Lens

Something that I appreciate about the X-Pro2 is that it’s weather-sealed. Pair it with a weather-sealed lens, and you can use it in situations that you wouldn’t dare take another camera. For me that was the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, where the winds were whipping the sand, which pelted my skin. The X-Pro2 handled it like a champ, and I was able to “get the shot” that I was after.

Another thing that I really appreciate about the camera is the viewfinder. The X-Pro2 has a unique hybrid viewfinder that can be used electronically or optically. It’s a part of the experience of the camera. The X-Pro line isn’t about test charts or stat sheets, it’s about the user experience. Fujifilm calls it “pursuing pure photography” with “a body design that maximizes practicality.” While the X-Pro2 offers identical image quality and similar features to the X-T2 (and, really, the X-T20), what sets it apart is the experience of it, and the great viewfinder is a big part of that.

Even though the X-Trans III sensor is almost four-years-old now, it doesn’t come across as “old” in practical use. It offers more than enough resolution, dynamic range and high-ISO capabilities for most people and situations. The X-Pro2 is plenty quick and feature-rich to warrant consideration. It wasn’t designed to be your typical “throw-away” digital camera, which you own for perhaps two years, and then unload on eBay at a bargain basement price when the latest model is released. The X-Pro2 was intended as a camera that you keep for years. It’s a camera that you’ll still want to have around when it’s ten years old, and if it still has some clicks left in the shutter, perhaps longer.

The X-Pro2 is a beautiful camera! I think the only camera that’s better-looking in the Fujifilm lineup is the X100F, and only by a little. Fujifilm got the design right, and it’s cameras like this that have given Fujifilm a great reputation. Strangers will ask you about the camera around your neck, and fellow photographers will comment to you about the beautiful design. There’s a certain pride in owning one.

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I don’t want to dive deeply into the technical aspects of this camera. I’m not going to share stat sheets or show massive crops comparing the image quality to other cameras. You can readily find that information on the web. What I want to offer is my opinion of the X-Pro2. Is it a good camera to buy?

If you are in the market for a camera and are considering the X-Pro2, but you are unsure because it’s not the latest-and-greatest, I want to help you. You will love it! But with the caveat that the X-Pro series isn’t for everyone. If you are the type of person who has to have the newest, fastest and greatest, this might not be the best camera for you. If you find yourself constantly searching the internet for side-by-side crops to compare the tiny differences between cameras, this one might not be for you. If you are the person who buys a new camera every year, you might want to consider something else. If you’re the kind of person who likes to capture pictures at your own pace and in your own way, and you appreciate the way Fujifilm cameras render images, then the X-Pro2 might very well be a good choice. If you are after an experience that’s different from your typical digital camera, something with an analogue soul perhaps, the X-Pro2 is something you should strongly consider. It’s a great camera, even in 2019, and I’m sure still in 2026, and while it’s not for everyone, I do believe that most people would appreciate it.

You can buy the Fujifilm X-Pro2 here:  B&H  Amazon

These are affiliate links, which, when you purchase something using them, I get a small kickback. It doesn’t cost you anything, yet it helps to financially support this website. I would never ask you to purchase something that you don’t want, but if you found this article helpful and are planning to buy this camera, using my links to do so helps me tremendously. Thank you for your support!

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs from my Fujifilm X-Pro2:

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Twisted Tree – Keystone, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Jacob’s Ladder – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Passerby – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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

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Old Truck & Mt. Lindsey – Fort Garland, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Clouds Around Timpanogos – Heber City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Bells & Crosses – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Needle’s Eye Night – Custer SP, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Night Sky Over Needles Highway – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Securely In Father’s Arms – Mount Rushmore NM, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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From Dust To Dust – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Drummond Ranch – Pawhuska, OK – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Red Leaves In The Forest – Wasatch Mountain SP, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Green & Blue Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Wasatch Spring – South Weber, UT – X-Pro2

See also: Fujifilm Gear

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