Comparing Film Simulation Recipes

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I shoot JPEGs, but it’s not uncommon for me to shoot RAW+JPEG, since it gives me the opportunity to reprocess the picture in-camera, which is helpful when developing different film simulation recipes. Because of this, I was able to process a single picture I captured recently on my Fujifilm X-T30 using many of my different recipes to compare the differences. I thought that this might be helpful to some of you. Perhaps there’s one recipe that stands out to you in the pictures below that you’ve never used. Obviously different settings look better in different situations, and in this article there’s just one picture to compare, so even though you might not like how one recipe looks in this article doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t like it with different subject and in a different light. The scope of this article is quite limited, but I hope that seeing the various film simulation recipes applied to a single exposure is helpful to someone.

Not every recipe was used for this post. Some of them require a specific parameter that was not available. For example, the picture at the top was made using my HP5 Plus Push-Process recipe, which requires an ultra-high ISO, so it wasn’t possible to apply it to the exposure below. Other recipes, such as my faded color and faded monochrome, require double exposures. There are other film simulation recipes that you could try not represented below, and I invite you to investigate the different options to see if there’s one or more that work well for your photography. Let me know in the comments which film simulation recipe is your favorite and which in your opinion fits the exposure below best.

Color

B&W

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Top 10 Most Popular Film Simulation Recipes

Film simulation recipes are the number one most popular type of article on Fuji X Weekly. These posts are what most people come to this blog to read. In fact, so far this year, the top twenty most read articles are all film simulation recipes. I thought it would be fun to share which are the most popular recipes, based on how many times they’ve been viewed so far this year. The newest ones haven’t been around long enough to make this list, so maybe I’ll periodically revisit this topic.

Top 10 Most Popular Film Simulation Recipes:

#10. X100F Acros

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Walking Man – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

I was surprised to learn that this recipe, which is my original Acros recipe and the second film simulation recipe that I created, is the only black-and-white settings to make this list. I guess B&W isn’t as popular as color.

#9. X100F Astia

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Zions Bank Building – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

This was one of the early film simulation recipes that I created. Honestly, it’s not my favorite, even though I liked it when I created it. I think it requires the right light to be effective, and it certainly can be effective, but it’s a little flat (lacking contrast) for many situations. Still, as I stated in the article, it’s a better option than keeping the camera on Provia with everything set to 0.

#8. X100F Ektar

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Summer Boy – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F

This recipe uses Astia, as well, yet produces much different results. While the regular Astia recipe is rather flat and bland, this one is vibrant and bold–sometimes too vibrant and bold. It’s not for everyday photography, but it’s an especially good recipe for the right subject.

#7. X100F Velvia

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Trees, Rocks & Cliffs – Grand Canyon NP, AZ – Fujifilm X100F

This is another early film simulation recipe. It was one that I always had programmed into the Q menu, until I made a new Velvia recipe that I liked more. Still, these are good settings that I used regularly for many months.

#6. X100F Eterna

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Expedition Lodge – Moab, UT – Fujifilm X100F

This was my attempt to create something that resembles the Eterna film simulation for those who have a Fujifilm camera without Eterna. More recently I created an alternative Eterna recipe that I much prefer.

#5. X100F Fujicolor Superia 800

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Caramel Macchiato – Sandy, UT – Fujifilm X100F

What I appreciate about this recipe is that it produces a nice negative film aesthetic with a slightly green-ish color cast. Many of my recipes tend to lean warm, so this one is a reprieve from that. I think it delivers lovely results, and I can definitely understand why it’s a popular recipe.

#4. X100F Portra 400

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Jump – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

What I don’t appreciate about this recipe is that it requires a tricky white balance setting that’s difficult to get right. If you can get the custom measurement correct, the results are great. I should revisit this recipe and attempt to create this look without requiring a vague custom white balance measurement.

#3. X100F Classic Chrome

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Closed Drive Thru Window – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

This was the very first film simulation recipe that I created. It produces a look in the Ektachrome neighborhood. It looks nice and I’m not surprised that it’s so popular, but I have created other recipes that use Classic Chrome that I prefer more.

#2. X100F Vintage Kodachrome

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Old Log In Kolob Canyon – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Vintage Kodachrome is intended to mimic the look of the first generation of Kodachrome, which was used by photographers like Ansel Adams, Chuck Abbott, Barry Goldwater, and others. It’s a fun recipe, producing a vintage slide aesthetic.

#1. X-Pro2 Kodachrome II

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Pueblo de Taos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2

Classic Chrome is a popular film simulation, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that the top four recipes are all based on it. Kodachrome II is the only recipe in this list not developed on the X100F, although it can (like all of these recipes) be used on any X-Trans III or IV camera. This recipe is intended to mimic the look of the second generation of Kodachrome, which was used by photographers like Ernst Haas, Luigi Ghirri, William Eggleston and others. It’s one of my absolute favorite recipes that I’ve created.

Now it’s your turn. Which of these 10 recipes do you like most? Which recipe not on this list is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

My Fujifilm X100F Astia Film Simulation Recipe

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Fujifilm Astia 100F color reversal (slide) film was popular among portrait and fashion photographers because of its excellent skin tone reproduction. It was known for low contrast and low color saturation, as well as having a slight warm/yellow cast and creamy highlights.

Astia would be pretty low on your list of choices for anything other than pictures of people. Because of this I only ever shot one roll of Astia 100F film.

The Astia Film Simulation on Fujifilm cameras doesn’t match real Astia film. It has far too much contrast and saturation, and the cast is more orange-red than yellow. But that doesn’t make it unworthy of your use. In fact, on the X-E1 that I used to own, it was my favorite choice and I used it probably 80% of the time.

Astia is not my favorite choice for color on my X100F. Classic Chrome is my go-to option, and I select Velvia (which has been noticeably improved) when I want something more bold. There is still a time and place for Astia, and I do use it occasionally.

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Autumn Forest Light – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F Astia

Something interesting that I discovered back on the X-E1, and it is still true on the X100F, is that Astia and Pro Neg Hi are nearly identical. Put them side-by-side and it can be tough to tell which is which. Astia has just a hair more color saturation and is just a tad warmer. Adjust color by one and customize the white balance and the two options are completely interchangeable.

One thing that I like about the Astia Film Simulation is that it strikes a good balance, sort of the Goldilocks of the Film Simulation options. Not too little or too much contrast, not too little or too much saturation, not too little or too much warmth–for many situations it is just a good choice. It won’t wow you but it won’t underwhelm you, either. I think it is a better standard Film Simulation than the standard (Provia) option.

I have customized my Astia Film Simulation to my liking. It is not intended to be more faithful to the actual film. I think if you were to adjust my settings to be -2 color and take a little red out of the white-balance you would be pretty close to actual Astia film. That’s not the look I want, so I stick with my custom recipe, which I think is better than Astia film ever was for things other than portraits.

Astia
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: -1
Shadow: -2
Color: +1
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: +1
Grain Effect: Weak
White Balance: Auto
ISO: Auto up to ISO 12800
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 (typically)

Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs captured using my Astia Film Simulation recipe:

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Leaf On The Windshield  – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Autumn Apple – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Red Leaf In The Water – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Downtown Tree In October – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Autumn At Mill Creek – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Sunlight In The Forest – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Leaf In The Stream – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Pumpkin Donut – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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FED 5c & Film – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Blue Sky High Rise – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Tired & Sad – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Downtown Tourists – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Temple Square – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Pantheon & Patriotism – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Zions Bank Building – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

See also: My Fujifilm X100F Acros Film Simulation Recipe