I was actually very nervous for several reasons. First, I’m an introvert, and meeting new people always makes me a little apprehensive. Second, Leigh and Raymond are big names in photography. They have been successful YouTubers for many years. They are well connected within the industry. It’s kind of like meeting an actor, musician, or sports star. Third, Raymond does ultramarathons; while I might make a special effort to get to Dairy Queen if Blizzards are half off, I’m definitely not doing normal marathons let alone the David Goggins kind—and we were scheduled for a hike through the desert. I wasn’t sure what it would entail, or how intense this adventure might get.
It turns out that I had nothing to worry about. Raymond was super nice. The hike was easy and relatively short—definitely something someone with my “skills” and “experience” (or lack thereof) could accomplish. We had a great time. It was really good to meet up for some desert photography.
I used my Fujifilm X-T5 and Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens for this outing. I chose and programmed into the camera my Kodachrome 25 Film Simulation Recipe because I thought it would do well in this scenario (which I’ll get to in just a moment) and because I’m converting this Recipe for the X-T5. You see, X-Trans V renders blue more deeply on some film simulations, but the fix is simple: if an X-Trans IV Recipe that uses Classic Chrome, Classic Negative, Eterna, or Eterna Bleach Bypass calls for Color Chrome FX Blue set to Strong, change it to Weak on X-Trans V, and if it calls for Color Chrome FX Blue set to Weak, change it to Off. The Kodachrome 25 Recipe calls for Color Chrome FX Blue set to Strong, so I adjusted it to Weak on my X-T5.
I decided that the Kodachrome 25 Recipe would be good for this scenario because of its characteristics. Kodachrome 25 film had low contrast (for slide film), slightly subdued saturation, and true-to-life (yet Kodak-warm) colors. It was regarded as the sharpest, most fine grained emulsion on the market, and was a popular choice for commercial photography. With an ISO of 25, some found this film to be challenging to use, so the higher-ISO Kodachrome 64, which had a little boost in contrast and saturation, was a more common option. Still, plenty of Kodachrome 25 pictures graced the pages of publications such as National Geographic and Arizona Highways, and I wanted to replicate that classic aesthetic for my desert images. It was forecasted to be overcast with perhaps some peeking sun, and the Kodachrome 25 Recipe does well in that weather—not too warm or cool, and not too much or too little contrast.
If this had been film, I would have shot two rolls of 24-exposure Kodachrome 25 (yes, it was by chance exactly 48 exposures). Of course, Kodachrome has long been discontinued, so shooting with this Film Simulation Recipe on a Fujifilm camera is probably the closest you can get to shooting with the emulsion. The Kodachrome 25 frames in this article are my 12 favorites from that desert outing with Raymond. I hope you enjoy!
Wow! It’s been crazy the last several days. Fujifilm released the X-T5 on the 17th. Not everyone got their orders.
Let’s back this up. Amazon apparently listed the X-T5 too early on announcement day. By contract, everyone is supposed to go live no earlier than a certain time, but Amazon jumped the gun. I preordered an X-T5 on Amazon because I had reward points that I wanted to use. When the 17th came around, some people received their preorders that day. For others it shipped that day, and arrived in the next day or two. For me? Nothing. Those who ordered on Amazon were left in the dark. What I didn’t know is that Fujifilm decided to punish Amazon for their sins and not give them any cameras to sell; sadly, only Fujifilm photographers who ordered through Amazon were actually punished. Is it Amazon’s fault? Yes. Is it Fujifilm’s fault? Sure—they could have done something else to teach Amazon a lesson, while still allowing people to receive the cameras they ordered. Is it my fault? No. Is it your fault? No. But you and I didn’t get our gear when others did. I know this is a first-world problem, and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but it is something that many people have experienced.
Amazon is a huge company, and Fujifilm sales are a tiny drop in a massive bucket. If Fujifilm stopped selling to Amazon altogether, it wouldn’t hurt Amazon in any way, shape, or form. I get that Fujifilm has to hold them accountable. I get that it wasn’t fair to their other retail customers. But let’s be real: crap rolls down hill. Who ended up with the crap? Me. You, if you, too, ordered through Amazon. Fujifilm’s customers are who got punished, not Amazon. I’m sure Amazon gave two seconds to this situation, and hasn’t cared one iota since. When they get their cameras, they’ll sell every single copy, and it will have such a small impact on the bottom line that you need a powerful magnifying glass just to see it. Those trying to be patient with their Amazon preorders might have to be extremely patient—I’ve heard that it might be sometime in January before orders are shipped. I don’t know that for a fact, but it’s what I have heard, and it may or may not be true—I hope it isn’t true.
So how did I get my X-T5? I called around to local camera stores, and I found one in stock. Luckily, Foto Forum in Phoenix had a body-only copy, plus one bundled with the 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 kit zoom. I purchased the one with the lens. If you are still waiting for yours to ship, maybe call around to local camera stores to see if they still have an X-T5 in stock, and if so purchase from them instead.
That’s my story. What about you? Did you buy a Fujifilm X-T5? Did it arrive or are you still waiting?
People have already begun asking me for my impressions on this camera. I think a number of you are waiting to learn a little more about it before spending so much money. It’s way too soon to provide you with anything valuable. I’ll tell you my way-too-soon initial impressions, but please take them with a large grain of salt. I’ve only barely begun to use the camera and really haven’t had a chance to properly test it. I’ll give a full review later.
First, let’s talk about megapixels. Do you need 40? If you crop deeply, print posters, or just love to pixel-peep, then maybe. But if you don’t crop deeply, don’t print posters, or don’t pixel-peep, then you definitely don’t need 40mp—it’s way overkill. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to negatively affect the speed of the camera or even the file transfer speed when using the Fujifilm Cam Remote app. Unfortunately, it does take up more space on the SD Card, phone/computer, and storage, and uploads to my cloud storage are noticeably slower. There’s pluses and minuses to 40mp; I don’t anticipate the pluses coming in handy for me very often. For some of you, though, it is an important upgrade.
I haven’t put the autofocus improvements to the test whatsoever, but through three days of shooting, I haven’t noticed it being any more snappy than my X-E4. The only thing I noticed is that face detection locked onto a face that was far away, which I wouldn’t expect to happen on my X-E4. Since I wasn’t trying to photograph the person, it actually wasn’t a positive thing, but I can see this being an improvement. I haven’t even attempted continuous tracking or anything like that yet, so I can’t speak of it.
I was really excited for HEIF, but discovered that it disables Clarity. That’s disappointing. No HEIF for me, since I use Clarity a lot. Speaking of Clarity, I was also very disappointed that it isn’t any faster on the X-T5, and the Storing pause is identical to X-Trans IV. Fujifilm should have spent some time speeding this up, in my opinion. Oh, and somehow I keep bumping the drive switch, and accidentally switching to CL or HDR, both of which disable Clarity—I’ll have to figure out how to not bump that switch.
While the X-T5 is smaller than the X-T4, and just a little bigger than the X-T1 and X-T30, it is definitely heavy. Seems like a similar weight to the X-T4—not sure if it is or isn’t, but it’s hefty. I personally prefer the weight of the X-T1 or X-T30, but if you use large lenses a lot, you might appreciate the solid base of the X-T5.
The reason that I purchased the Fujifilm X-T5 is because this camera has the new Nostalgic Neg. film simulation. What do I think of it so far? If Eterna and Classic Chrome had a baby, it would be Nostalgic Negative. It has some similarities to both of those film simulations, with soft gradations in the shadows similar to Eterna and with some Eterna-like colors (particularly the warm colors), and with contrast, saturation, and an overall palette more similar to Classic Chrome. I’m not a huge fan of default straight-out-of-the-box Nostalgic Neg.—I was actually initially disappointed—but with some adjustments it can become magical. I love it! Nostalgic Neg. is another analog-esque film sim from Fujifilm that’s sure to become a classic. Expect some recipes soon!
I don’t have any other observations yet. I hope to do some more serious experimentations soon, and when I do I’ll share those impressions with you. In the meantime, here are some straight-out-of-camera Nostalgic Neg. pictures that I captured with my Fujifilm X-T5:
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
I couldn’t take it anymore, so I turned off the advertisements on Fuji X Weekly. They’re gone. You’re welcome. Oh, and I’m sorry that you had to put up with them for so long.
Why did I do this? Why did I even have ads in the first place? To answer the second question first, there’s a real cost to running this website and doing the things I do. The ad revenue (which isn’t much—it’s amazing how little you actually get from ads, much less than many of you likely imagine) helps to pay for it. It basically covered the cost of web hosting and domains and stuff like that—not only for Fuji X Weekly, but Ritchie’s Ricoh Recipes, RitchieCam, RithieRoesch.com, and the Community Recipes page, too. I discontinued the ads for two reasons: the company facilitating the ads cut their payouts in half (which is crazy unfair), and the ads were just soooo annoying anyway—I hated having them. It was time for them to go!
Unfortunately, when you run a website, you sometimes have to do things that you don’t want to because you have your own expenses that must be covered. The ads were helpful in covering those expenses, but not something that I liked having. In fact, in my very first post, I optimistically proclaimed, “I’m not placing advertisements on this website.” That lasted a little while (although, at the time, WordPress placed their own ads on this site because I was utilizing their free plan back then), but as this website grew, so did the expenses of running it. I hoped that someday another revenue stream would eventually be enough that I could turn the ads off. That never really materialized, but lately Amazon affiliate purchases have increased (thank you for using my links for your purchases!), so I’m using that as my excuse: affiliate revenue is now paying for the expenses of keeping this thing up and running. I’m hopeful that the ads are gone for good.
It’s long overdue, and I’m glad that I finally did it: Fuji X Weekly is now free of annoying ads! This should make the experience of this website noticeably better. I’m sorry that you had to put up with them for so long, and I hope you celebrate with me that they’re finally gone. Hallelujah!
If you already know who Troy Paiva is and have seen his wonderful night photographs, then you are well aware of how important his work has been to the genres of light painting, urban exploration, and Americana photography. If you don’t know who Troy is… well, you will soon be initiated, and you can thank me later. “Every once in awhile an artist bursts forth with such a profound impact on a genre of art that it forever alters its course,” photographer Ken Lee stated in a Photofocus article. “Troy Paiva is one such artist.”
What Troy is most known for is nighttime light-painted photography of abandoned, forgotten, or neglected roadside Americana. He visits abandoned buildings and old junkyards and even airplane boneyards during full-moon darkness, capturing long-exposure images using artificial lights to add pops of color that aren’t naturally there. His striking pictures have been displayed in art galleries and museum exhibits, and printed in magazines and books, including a couple of Stephen King covers.
My introduction to Troy Paiva came through an unusual book: Weird Arizona. He was a contributor to it (plus some of the other books in that series), and it had a little Route 66 writeup by Troy that included a picture of an abandoned gas station with a strange red glow on the ceiling. Later, I found Troy on Flickr, and even corresponded with him briefly on the location of one of his photographs. I’ve been a big fan of his photography for over a decade; however, he’s been doing this whole light-painting thing since the late-1980’s, well before I stumbled across his fantastic images.
I interviewed Troy recently, and I’m very excited and honored to share it with you. This is a very important article, because I’m certain that many of you can relate to it—I know that I can! Perhaps, like me, you have piles of old slides and/or negatives stored in a box somewhere. Nobody ever sees those pictures. What do you do with them? They can’t be any good, can they? Are they worth the trouble to dig through and scan? Will anyone care about them if you do? Are they even worth keeping? What will eventually happen to them if you do nothing? Those are questions that Troy Paiva recently wrestled with, and I think his answers are both fascinating and inspiring.
FXW: Troy, I love your photography—your pictures and your process! I noticed that you have been revisiting your old analog images lately—daytime photos from the late 1980’s, 1990’s, and early 2000’s. What made you dig out your old slides?
Troy: Earlier this year I bumped into a set of my images on Flickr—The Mojave Carhenge from 1992—that I had scanned ages ago. They looked bad, with low resolution and converted to B&W. I wanted to find those slides and rescan them, but I put it on the back burner. Later, I needed to re-up on the long-dormant software for my film scanner to do something for a friend, so I used that opportunity to finally dig out those slides—scanning and processing them using 2022 software and skills.
I was surprised by how my perception of those pictures had changed over the course of 30 years—how old and rare and cool the cars in it were. It was weirdly timeless, like it could have been shot in 1982 or even ’72. I put them on Facebook and I got a response that supported these feelings. I looked through a few more boxes of early ’90’s daytime slides—pictures that even I hadn’t seen since the early ’90’s—which seemed to generate the same level of surprise. It didn’t take me long to realize that I should keep going.
FXW: What camera gear did you use back then and what do you use now?
Troy: I’ve always shot with Canon cameras. In the early ’90’s it was a ’60’s vintage FX, an all-manual (broken) match-needle relic for night work, and A-1’s for metered shooting. I switched to the T90 in the late ’90’s—it was a great night shooting camera. I had several running different films. I used the FX forever, right up until 2004. Digitally, I went from the 20D to the 60D to the 6D. Once you night-shoot from a knee-high POV with a swivel screen, you never go back! All the film cameras were used—cheap. I’m pretty cavalier with equipment, and night photography has a way of wrecking and breaking your gear anyway.
In the ’90’s my lenses were constantly changing. All of them were purchased used, and lots of 3rd party junk. They’d fall apart, or get stuck on f/2.8 forever—especially the wide lenses from the early ’90’s, which were loose and wiggly in your hands and the focus fell off hard in the corners—and I’d buy another one for $25 at the flea market. All part of the character of the work: shooting junk with junk.
I used a mix of Ektachrome and Fujichrome, and a little Agfa, too. I would shoot with whatever slide film was on sale.
FXW: What drew you to your subjects back then?
Troy: A lot of the signage imagery stems from my MCM graphic design background. At the time I was working as a designer at Galoob Toys, making Micro Machine-sized gas stations and car washes. I was already obsessed with abandoned roadside long before I ever got to Galoob, and taking pictures of it—day or night—was a natural part of the headspace I occupied.
FXW: What is your process for digitalizing your slides? What challenges have you encountered?
Troy: I’ve had a Nikon IV ED film scanner since about 2001, which I’ve always used to scan my night work to put online. After moving into the digital era (in 2005), it sat largely unused. There was even a long period where it was unusable because Nikon stopped updating the software. Luckily, 3rd party software appeared at some point—I use the one from VueScan. The raw scans are not even close to right, but good enough to get them into Photoshop where I use MANY tools to make them presentable: masked sharpening/noise (grain) control, major HSB adjustments, white and black point shifts—the whole bit. Some also require perspective adjustment, cloning scratches out, creative cropping. Some mix down in a few minutes, some take a half hour to pull together.
FXW: What differentiates your daytime pictures from your night ones? What is surprising about it?
Troy: My daytime work was more about scouting locations to potentially come back and work later that night. Many of these subjects would have been impossible to do with my full moon technique because they’re bathed with sodium vapor streetlights. Or sometimes I’d get chased back to the car by dogs or some nut racking a shotgun. In many cases, the day shots are the only record.
The daytime work always took a back seat to my experimental night work, so I rarely showed it to anyone. It just sat in storage for 25, 30 years. Occasionally I’d pull some night work for a fresh scan, completely ignoring the daytime work. Why? I wish there was some smart-sounding “I was consciously playing the long game” answer, but, apparently, I was playing it unconsciously.
It’s a part of my photography that longtime followers of my night work have never seen. It mirrors it in many ways, yet doesn’t fall into the trap of having the “light-painted night” aspect take over what the picture is about. They are just “normal” pictures of things, and that makes them easier to conceptually digest.
Also, I’m still scanning. There’s a lot I haven’t even looked at yet. I am intentionally not going through everything at once. I grab a few boxes, or all the work from one trip—cull, scan, and process. Only then do I look at the next few rolls. The picture of my slides (below) isn’t even all of it—there are about 10 carousels full, too. A lot of it is personal things of no interest to anyone but me. Several boxes have nothing worth scanning, but some… every slide gets an “Oh, wow!” when I put it on the light box for the first time.
FXW: What did you discover through this project?
Troy: I discovered a body of work that almost feels like someone else shot it! Sometimes memories come flooding back as I look through them; for others, it’s, “Where was that again?”
My MO was to specifically shoot the once-loved things that looked like they were on their way out. Most of it was abandoned and heavily weathered, steeped in Wabi-Sabi feelings of accepting loss and finding beauty and nobility in decay. It turns out that my hit rate was good: it seems like 90% of these subjects are now irrevocably changed or just gone. I perform Google searches on most of the sites—looking for them on street view, images, etc.—and in many cases, there doesn’t appear to be any other “intentional” pictures of them made before they disappeared. I’ve run across a couple of motel signs where the only other picture that I could find is in the John Margolies collection in the Library of Congress. It seems like everybody shoots this kind of stuff now, but in the early ‘90s, it was rare and—frankly—kinda weird.
I haven’t parsed out what any of it means. I’m still in the middle of the scanning project, so I’m not ready to sit back and figure out what to do with it yet, except share some of it online and get it seen.
FXW: How important is it to revisit your old pictures?
Troy: Once I started to see how much of this rare imagery I had, I began to think of Vivian Maier and Charles Phoenix. Imagine finding this motherlode of daytime and weird night photography of the long lost American roadside in a dumpster behind a Salvation Army! If I didn’t scan and share it, someday when I die that mountain of boxed slides would either end up in the dump, or a thrift store to be found and exploited and re-contextualized by someone else. The 99.9% reality is that it would most likely end up in a landfill, never to be seen by anyone. Once I realized what I was sitting on, I didn’t want any of that to happen.
Time has a way of making ALL pictures better. They’re a record of a moment in time. That moment often seems inconsequential when it happens, but someday you may not be able to experience anything like that moment again because the place or people are gone, and the picture suddenly takes on different meanings that were hidden before. Ever notice when you look at really old magazines you tend to gloss over the articles and spend most of your time looking at the advertisements? The things we don’t think are important or historic now have a tendency to be the ones that end up being more interesting later.
I want to give a very big thanks to Troy Paiva for taking time out of his busy day to allow me to interview him and publish his words and photographs on Fuji X Weekly. Thank you, Troy! Many of these pictures have been shared on his social media pages, but a couple of them have never been published before, and you’re the very first (aside from Troy and now myself) to see them! To say that I feel honored is such an understatement.
My hope is that this article has encouraged you to take another look at the pictures you captured years and years ago. Maybe they have a different meaning today than the last time you saw them. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to do your own project similar to Troy’s. It could be time to dust off that old scanner, or even buy a new one. I think this article also illustrates that the photography you’re doing right now is important, even if it doesn’t seem so at the moment. Keep at it, and in time you’ll see the significance of the pictures you captured today.
Still shocking to me, I’ve gotten a lot of followers on the Fuji X Weekly Instagram account over the last two years: over 25K right now! I topped 10K followers on May 11, 2021, and 25K on July 9, 2022—it has grown 150% in roughly 14 months. That’s amazing, and all thanks goes to you! I never thought that was possible.
When I reached 10K followers I signed up for a business account. While it certainly has its benefits, it also has one huge negative: Instagram wants me to pay them money to show you, my followers, my posts. They purposefully hide your content from your own followers—if someone seeks it out they will find it, but it won’t show up in their feed—unless you pay Instagram a fee. My engagement dropped in half the instant I signed up for the business account. You might think that engagement—likes, comments, shares, etc.—would have grown at the same rate as the followers, but not so. The average post at 25K has a similar engagement as a post at 10K prior to signing up for a business account. While my followers have increased by 150%, my engagement has only increased by 100%—back to where it was before Instagram cut it in half.
Instagram is a great place to feed your envy. There are people whose pictures suck that have 100K or more followers and are basically earning an income from Instagram. There are people who capture amazing pictures who have less than two hundred followers. I’ve seen both of those circumstances personally, and maybe you have, too. Now I’m not the world’s greatest photographer by any means. I see many, many photographers who are more talented than I who have fewer followers, and I also see the opposite, too. Nobody’s self-worth should come from Instagram, and the followers and engagement (or lack of it) don’t actually mean anything. Unfortunately, it’s more of a popularity contest than anything else; however, Instagram is a good way to connect with others across the world.
Once upon a time Instagram was the place to see wonderful photographs. You could find a lot of inspiration. It still is, but less so now. Why? Instagram (which is owned by Facebook/Meta) recently claimed that engagement in still photographs is down nearly 50% over the last two years, so that’s why they’re focusing on video. I call B.S. on this.
I know two things: Instagram will hide your content if they want to, and Instagram (Meta, actually) doesn’t like competition. Whenever a new social media app comes along that Meta perceives as a threat, they buy it; if they can’t buy it, they make their own version of it to incorporate into their own apps. Right now that competition is TikTok, and since Meta can’t buy it (I’m sure they tried at one point), they’re becoming “TikTok” in order to win—at the expense of you, the photographer.
I believe that Instagram has put into place algorithms to suppress still photography and simultaneously push video content (Reels, as they call it). Then they say that still photography is dying and video is booming, so they need to be video-centric. They’re paying people money to publish videos. I’m not a video guy myself, but by far my most popular post on Instagram is a Reel, with triple the engagement of my most popular still-photography post. Is it because you all are more interested videos, or because Instagram wants you to be more interested in video? In my opinion they’re trying to transform their app into TikTok, which means that photography needs to take a back seat.
You can still be successful on Instagram as a photographer. Since Instagram is pushing Reels so hard, you might consider using those to show your pictures (instead of a traditional post, or in addition to it). I’m personally not a fan of what Instagram is becoming, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. A lot of people have discovered my Film Simulation Recipes through Instagram. I’ve made a lot of connections (I get about 50 DMs on IG each day!), and even made some friends. There are definitely still some positives.
I do think the time is ripe for an Instagram-alternative for photographers. I know that many have tried, and no one has really succeeded. I don’t know what its unique shtick should be, but there has to be something that sets it apart. Money is obviously an obstacle, because everyone wants a free app, but an app like that would be expensive to produce and maintain. I don’t have the solution, but I do know that an opportunity exists right now for someone who thinks that they might have the solution.
Now it’s your turn! Do you like or dislike how Instagram is evolving? Would you try an Instagram alternative if there was a good one? Is there a current app that you prefer to Instagram and why? Let me know in the comments!
I commonly get asked advice on camera gear. Most often it is which Fujifilm camera to buy, usually by someone who is trying to get into the system—either as a first “serious” camera or switching brands, typically because they want to try Film Simulation Recipes; however, I occasionally I get asked by someone (that knows that I’m “into photography”) who is looking for an entry-level camera for themselves or their teenage kid. If it’s for themselves, it’s because Johnny’s 5th birthday is coming and they want better pictures, or they’re about to take that epic vacation they’ve been saving up for and want to capture the memories. If it’s for their child, it’s because their kid has shown some interest in photography and they want to foster that. Either way, the basic entry-level model is what’s needed.
Whenever I ask about budgets, I usually hear something like, “Under $300.” Sometimes $500 is the upper limit. I’ve been told $150 before. Almost never is it $1,000. In the past the advice I gave was to buy a used entry-level DSLR, like the Nikon D3200, for example, which could often be found somewhere close to the budget—super easy for the novice, yet advanced enough that a budding photographer could learn on it. Later, I would suggest something like the Fujifilm X-T100 or X-A5, which were affordable mirrorless options (and, of course, Fujifilm). Nowadays it’s harder to make a recommendation because the entry-level camera is basically gone.
Those who are “serious” tend to know that they have to spend more to get a quality camera. Much of the time you get what you pay for; however, sometimes these entry-level models were surprisingly good—I was impressed by the image quality of the Fujifilm X-T200, for example. Those who are after quality will typically skip the entry-level and go for a mid-tier option or higher. Those who want a cheap introduction will be satisfied with a low-budget camera. A lot of people—mostly those who would never consider themselves a “real photographer”—used to buy these cheap cameras in droves, but now they don’t.
The reason they don’t is largely because of the cellphone. The camera technology on your phone is beyond good enough for most people and purposes, and it keeps getting more and more impressive. You don’t need a bulky, inconvenient, complicated, and expensive DSLR to capture Johnny’s 5th birthday. You don’t need an interchangeable-lens camera to photograph that epic vacation. Your phone is more than capable of delivering stunning pictures that can be instantly shared. Yes, you could spend a grand on a camera and lens, you could lug it around, you could take classes or watch videos on how to use it since it’s all so confusing, and you could download a bulky photo editing program onto your computer—or just pull out your phone and let its smart technology handle it all for you with just one tap.
It wasn’t long ago that the cellphone killed the pocket point-and-shoot. Now it’s also killed entry-level interchangeable-lens cameras. While I think cellphone camera technology can be (and could continue to become) appealing to “serious” photographers, I don’t think it will have a big impact on higher-end cameras. The market is shrinking from the bottom up—not the top down. If anything, there is an increased demand for mid and high end models. But the lucrative point-and-shoot and entry-level markets are pretty much all dried up.
What does this mean? There are several things. First, those hoping to find a cheap camera will have to get an older model, because less and less are new ones being made. I definitely don’t mind using “old” gear, but others don’t always feel the same—five-year-old tech is practically obsolete and 10-year old definitely is (in some people’s opinions, not mine). Fujifilm’s last entry-level cameras—the X-A7 and X-T200—were discontinued shortly after their release, due to sluggish sales. Right now the mid-tier X-E4 is their lowest-level model, and it is certainly not a “low-end” camera. Other brands have been discontinuing their entry-level options, too. If you want a “real” camera, you’ll need to get a “serious” camera; otherwise, stick with your cellphone.
I think the affect on those with a budding interest in photography will be profound. Either you will learn on a cellphone (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), or you’ll pony-up for a mirrorless—those who cannot afford the mirrorless model either won’t have their interest fostered and it will fade, or will learn photography differently—good, bad, or indifferent, this will shape the future of photography in some way. Change always has some impact on the future, but we won’t know exactly what it is until we get there.
Another impact that the disappearing entry-level will have on the camera industry is that money must be made somewhere. Camera companies have to make up for the lost revenue. While the trend in tech is that things become cheaper over time, I think we’re already seeing that the top-end is not getting cheaper. It won’t just affect the top, but that is what’s most affected currently it seems; I suspect that it will have an impact across all brands and all tiers to varying degrees. Fujifilm is lucky because their Instax line is still extremely popular and profitable.
The flip side of the coin is that the cellphone camera market is (and has been) booming. Whether it is Apple or Android, the camera capabilities of your device likely had a significant impact on your decision to buy. How many lenses does it have? How much resolution? What kind of computational tricks can it do? The more people spend on cellphones, the more the technology marches forward, and the better the cameras become. It’s really quite amazing what the little telephone/computer/camera in your pocket can do!
Obviously those advancements mean opportunities. I took the opportunity to create the RitchieCam App to bring simplified and intuitive one-step photography to your iPhone. My wife took the opportunity to do some underwater photography—something that she wouldn’t have done with an interchangeable-lens camera, but her iPhone 13 handled it swimmingly well. What that opportunity is for you depends on you—there is an opportunity for certain, you just have to find it and make it happen.
Yes, the entry-level camera is disappearing, and will soon be gone. Much like CDs, Blockbuster, and one-hour photo labs, cheap interchangeable-lens cameras are a thing of the past. It will have an impact on photography, but whether that’s positive or negative depends on your perspective. And I do think there are both positives and negatives. Certainly camera manufacturers have been concerned for some time—if there’s a lesson to be learned, perhaps it’s to do more to bring the mobile photography tech advancements to “real” cameras, too. Those wanting a bottom-end camera are seeing their options disappear. Those hoping cameras will become cheaper as they become better will likely be disappointed, at least for a time. That might look bleak, but I also believe that photography has become more accessible.
How has photography become more accessible if it isn’t becoming more affordable? The phone-in-your-pocket is only getting better, and is being taken more seriously. There’s a reason why the pocket point-and-shoot and entry-level interchangeable-lens cameras have succumbed to it. Many more people have access to a decent camera, and the pictures are easily shared across the world—more pictures are being captured now than ever before, and that’s a huge understatement!
Fujifilm cameras have made post-processing unnecessary. I don’t know how many of you truly understand the impact of this—I have a front-row seat, and I’m just beginning to grasp the magnitude of it. Learning Lightroom and Photoshop have been a prerequisite barrier to becoming a “serious photographer” for years; however, not everyone in the world has access to photo-editing programs, not everyone has a desire (or the time) to learn them, and not everyone enjoys sitting at a computer for hours (or has the time). A lot of people have been on the outside looking in, but now they don’t have to be because the barrier has been removed (thanks to Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes). For others, it’s just a fun way to do photography, and has made the process of creating pictures more enjoyable.
Some who are just learning photography, who’ve maybe only used their cellphones previously, are buying Fujifilm cameras and using recipes and getting good results out-of-the-gate; if they had to edit their pictures, they would still be stuck on the software—they’d be making less progress and having less fun. Some who are experienced pros and have been in the business awhile have found that using recipes on Fujifilm cameras has simplified their workflow and made them more productive, while not sacrificing quality delivered to the client (true story I’ve heard several times).
Camera makers don’t like seeing a previously profitable market segment disappear, and that makes them worry about the future. Those wanting to buy a low-budget camera are finding it harder and harder to find. Things are shifting and changing within the photography and camera world. Yet, whether you just want some decent snaps of Johnny’s birthday or are just starting out in photography or are a seasoned pro—or anywhere in-between—there are great opportunities for you right now. The obstacles in your path have never been smaller.
Arizona gets summer thunderstorms. If you are not from this region you might be surprised to learn that on average one-in-five days are rainy in Phoenix during the months of July and August. The thunderstorms come suddenly and can be intense. Flash flooding is common in the desert. They call this Monsoon, which roughly translates to stormy season or perhaps more simply weather or season, depending on who you ask.
One of these Monsoon thunderstorms hit the house hard last night. The wind was strong, the rain was pouring, and the streets turned into streams. Things toppled over in the yard. Branches broke off of trees. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed. It was kind of scary for a few moments.
I snapped a high-ISO image of the mayhem from safely inside the house. I used my Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens, which isn’t the greatest low-light combo, so I used a window frame to help stabilize the camera for the 1/5 second exposure. I had my Nostalgic Print Film Simulation Recipe programmed into the camera; however, after the fact I thought it would look better in black-and-white, so I reprocessed the RAW file in-camera to the Kodak Tri-X 400 recipe.
I went to bed while the storm was still raging, but when I awoke this morning all was calm. It was a peaceful morning. The sun was shining. The wind was still. Birds were chirping. Everything seemed normal, except for what needed to be cleaned up—a task that didn’t take long—and I was able to enjoy the moment while sipping a cup of coffee.
This made me think of life. Sometimes the metaphoric storms rage, and it can be kind of scary. But once these storms-of-life pass—and they will pass—we can enjoy a moment of peace. The sun will shine again. The flowers will bloom. I think it’s important to take in the calm that comes after the storm. It’s inevitable that more storms will come; perhaps they’re easier to weather when we can remember the calm that comes after. Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Yeah, you might have some junk to clean up, but then take a moment to appreciate the peaceful morning.
This article doesn’t have much to do with photography, but I hope that it is encouraging to some of you nonetheless. If there is a way to make this more photography-related, it is this: no matter if it is stormy in your life or a peaceful morning, get your camera and capture pictures. Expressing yourself through your images can be therapeutic, and there are many valuable lessons that could be learned.
Even though they can be scary, Monsoon thunderstorms are necessary for life in Arizona. They provide much-needed water to a parched land. They produce cooler temperatures on scorching days. The land becomes more lush and green in its wake. Similarly, your personal storms-of-life, although they’re awful to experience, can make you stronger and better, and perhaps are what will propel you forward to whatever is waiting for you tomorrow.
I wasn’t wrong about everything, actually. The Zfc is indeed surprisingly large and heavy—since it’s large and heavy it should have a grip, but it doesn’t. The camera feels too plasticky. It has an unnecessary PASM switch. The Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens that it came with is pretty pedestrian—plus it doesn’t have an aperture ring (none of Nikon’s Z lenses do, unfortunately). The Zfc is a little overpriced. It’s a camera that is easy to be disappointed with, and I believe a missed opportunity for Nikon. I was right about all of that.
Where did I get the Zfc wrong? How I was using it. This is a camera that begs to be used with a manual third-party (or vintage) lens, and with the PASM switch set to M. Forget that crummy Nikkor lens! Buy a cheap “nifty fifity” from China instead. Then use the Zfc as an all-manual camera. Viola! It suddenly makes sense!
I purchased a TTArtisans 35mm f/1.4 for about $85 (stay tuned for a full review), and I’m much happier with it than the 28mm f/2.8. It has nothing to do with the focal length of the Nikkor lens or its maximum aperture. My favorite Fujinon lens is the 27mm f/2.8—that Fujifilm pancake is great! The Nikon version is not. The TTArtisans lens is much better than the Nikon lens that came with Zfc—it’s both optically superior and has more character. More importantly, though, it has an aperture ring.
Using the Zfc in full-manual without an aperture ring just doesn’t make sense. Using the Zfc in Aperture-Priority without an aperture ring doesn’t make sense, either. Using an aperture-ring-lens on a PASM camera isn’t particularly natural in my opinion, unless you set it to M and treat it like an old-school film camera—that’s what I did with my Zfc! It works on this camera only because it has shutter and ISO knobs—I control the exposure triangle with physical controls.
This! This is how to use the Nikon Zfc—the right way—all manual. No auto anything. The Zfc is unique in that, even though it has PASM, it also has physical controls that are activated by being in the correct mode (in this case, manual mode). When you do this, the shooting experience is similar to manually shooting with a Fujifilm X camera—this is the closest to the traditional Fujifilm experience that I have found outside of using a Fujifilm camera. If you don’t mind attaching a non-Nikkor lens and shooting full-manual, the Zfc is actually an alright camera. Yes, it’s still short of what it could have and should have been, but at least I found how I can enjoy using it.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
After the announcement of the Fujifilm X-H2S, which has a PASM dial instead of the traditional dials of the X-H1, many people asked, “Is Fujifilm losing its soul?” I’ve had a number of Fujifilm photographers tell me that they believe so, and some have inquired if I believe so, too. What’s my opinion? Is Fujifilm indeed losing its soul?
Fujifilm has already lost its soul. It’s done gone. Elvis left the building awhile ago. The design decisions during development of the X-H2S are simply the manifestation of that lost soul.
What was this “soul” that Fujifilm lost? How can a company even have a soul?
A whole book could be written on this topic, but to summarize in a short sentence, Fujifilm’s philosophy for their X-series cameras was analog-inspired innovations with a focus on the photographer’s experience (both while using the camera for photography, and as customers of the brand). This was their soul. That philosophy, which seemed to be clearly understood, is what drove the camera department of the company (remember, Fujifilm’s main business is not photography nowadays). From the design decisions to the Kaizen firmware updates and everything in-between, this philosophy oozed out—it was both obvious and attractive, and is why Fujifilm was suddenly successful, quickly overtaking other brands, including iconic Nikon.
Fujifilm didn’t need to have a photography department at all, but they decided that, even if it was a bust, they’d still fund it and keep it going, because photography had been such an important part of their company’s heritage, and had been an important aspect of Japanese culture. They were merely the caretakers of this thing that was bigger than themselves. That’s how they looked at it, anyway, and it was noticeable and refreshing.
Somewhere along the line, however, Fujifilm began to view this differently. The photography division needed to be built bigger. It must grow. It must become more profitable. It must gain more marketshare. It must become as big as—or bigger than—Canon and Sony. I think there are actually two competing sides within Fujifilm (and maybe this battle has been taking place for awhile now): one is profit-first driven, and the other is nurture-first driven. The side I would like to see win is the latter, but the side that seems to be winning is the former.
Where this lost-soul has most obviously manifested itself is Kaizen, or the lack of it. This is a word that I hadn’t heard of until I owned a Fujifilm camera. It’s something that attracted a lot of people to the brand. It means continuous improvement—making something better over time, even though it was already purchased. Why? Part of it is duty (what you are supposed to do), and another part of it is that it creates loyalty, because it shows the customer that you care about them, and not just their money. That care will cause the customer to overlook shortcomings, because the caring is more important to them in the whole scheme of things. And long-term loyalty is more valuable to the company than short-term gains. I don’t know the exact timeline of when Fujifilm stopped caring (or, more accurately, began caring less about their customers in favor of caring more about profits), but it seems to be during the development of X-Trans IV. That’s when the profit-first people seemed to first get an upper hand on the nurture-first people. I don’t know for sure, though. What I am confident in is that, as X-Trans V rolls out, the profit-first philosophy is the current mantra of Fujifilm’s photography division—it’s Fujifilm’s current soul, unfortunately.
Am I overreacting? After all, the X-H2S is just one camera, right? There are two points that I’d like to make. First, Fujifilm removed the traditional dials on the X-H line in favor of PASM. For Fujifilm, PASM cameras are intended to attract new customers who are not interested in or are otherwise intimated by the traditional controls of their other X models. They don’t put PASM on cameras that they intend to market to their current customer base. The X-H2S is their top-of-the-line “flagship” model, the first X-Trans V… and it’s not for you. It was never intended for you. Screw you! It’s for them. Those guys with their Sonys and Canons, that’s who it’s for. We give our best to them. Our current customers who have been so loyal over the years will have to be happy with the crumbs that fall from the table. Second, X-Trans V is rolling out, while the X-T3 (their all-time top-selling model) and X-T30 are still on an island, and the X-Pro3 and X100V (premium models) don’t have as good of JPEG features as the X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II (mid or lower tier models). That’s shameful, in my opinion. Take care of your current customers first before working so hard to bring in new customers. Fujifilm is making their customer base less loyal, which will only hurt them in the long run. Nurture first.
If you build it, they will come. Fujifilm built it and they came; however, not enough for the profit-first people. They want more, but they’re barking up the wrong tree. Instead of becoming Sony in order to attract current Sony users who are unhappy with their gear (how does this makes sense to anyone?), Fujifilm should double-down on what makes them unique. What’s special about Fujifilm? Analog-inspired innovation and the photographer’s experience—that’s what’s special, or at least it used to be. There’s one other thing that’s unique, and that’s community. Fujifilm didn’t build it—instead it was built around them; however, they have not done nearly enough to embrace it and engage it. In fact, at times they’ve been standoffish to it. That needs to end, because community is Fujifilm’s greatest asset, yet they seem unsure of how to engage it, so they do so halfheartedly and from a “safe” distance.
I didn’t mean to write a negative article. When I sat down at the computer, I had no intention of typing out this post; however, it’s something that has been circling inside my mind for a few weeks now, so I suppose that it was inevitable. I really hope that it doesn’t make you feel angry towards Fujifilm. This article’s aim is to, on the off chance that this is actually read by Fujifilm, inspire reflection and perhaps even change, and secondarily put into words something that maybe you have felt but weren’t sure how to express. Perhaps this is somehow therapeutic. For me it feels good to say, even though it is negative, and I hope that getting it out in the open will somehow produce something positive.
Fujifilm just discounted the X-T3 WW, which is an X-T3 without a battery charger (USB charging only). The X-T3 used to be Fujifilm’s flagship model until the X-T4 was released two years ago, but they still offer it brand-new because it is a best-selling model, even outselling the superior X-T4. The X-T3 WW is one of the absolute best bargains available today, but now (through June 5th, apparently) the X-T3 WW is an even better bargain! If you’ve thought about buying one, it’s a really good time to do so.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
The Fujifilm X-T3 WW body-only is $100 off, now only $999.95! AmazonB&H The Fujifilm X-T3 WW + 18-55mm kit is $200 off, now only $1,299.95! AmazonB&H
Since I have three apps now—Fuji X Weekly, Ricoh Recipes, and RitchieCam—I’ve been asked by several people for advice on app development. I’ve also been meaning to discuss some of the things I’ve learned, because it’s interesting, and maybe it’s useful information to a few of you. I’ve hesitated to write this as it might seem like a boring topic—perhaps even controversial or offensive at times—and unrelated to Fujifilm, but I truly hope that by the end there’ll be something for you. I write from real-world experience, but I’ve also researched this fairly extensively over the last year-and-a-half (including reading several books on the topics), so I’m not making this stuff up.
I have received a lot of criticism over the pricing structure of my apps. There are three options: free, freemium (the app is free, but there’s a fee for some features), and premium (not free). Within freemium and premium are three options: one-time fee (to unlock everything), à la carte fees (pay individually for this or that), and subscriptions (reoccurring monthly or annually).
One-time fees used to be the most common, but are much less so now. Why? Apps used to be popular for a season, then the next trend would make them irrelevant, so the life cycle of apps was typically pretty short, usually two years or less. Nowadays apps have a much longer lifespan—often a decade or even indefinitely—so the one-time fee model makes no sense. You wouldn’t buy a vacuum cleaner and expect it to be up-kept and improved upon by the manufacturer for years to come—not without additional fees, anyway—but people expect that from apps and software. Apps that use this model are abandoned as soon as new customers become less frequent. There are numerous apps in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store right now that succumbed to this fate. In my research I came across countless apps that hadn’t been updated in years, where the most recent review was two years old, and it was begging the developer to update the out-of-date app. This model is good for short-term projects, but is not good if you want an app to be around for years and years to come, because as soon as the financial motivation dries up, the app is neglected and abandoned.
The apps that use à la carte fees are often gaming and dating apps. You pay to unlock something, such as a level redo, puzzle hint, or something like that. This can be affective, but you have to be careful because if not done tastefully it can come across as scammy. People don’t like paying “hidden” fees around every corner.
So that leaves us with the subscription model, which is a win-win, and allows the app to continuously improve into something greater over time. This is best-case for the developer because it ensures continuous resources, and best-case for the customer because it ensures the app will improve regularly over time and not be left abandoned. More and more apps are going this route, and it is now the most common model. It’s all rainbows and roses except for one thing: many people don’t like subscriptions in general, and some people passionately oppose it with all their heart, as if it were some great evil.
Premium apps are good if you can get the word out. It can be tough to gain traction, because most people don’t want to pay for things, so they won’t buy it. That’s why freemium is often preferred. Here’s the thing, though: 95% of people will use the app for free, and only 5% will subscribe—it’s actually more like 8% on Apple and 2% on Android (yes, this is true!). Apple users are much more likely to spend money on apps than Android, but either way we’re still talking about small percentages. That also means that 95% of people will pass on premium apps. With freemium, for 95 people who are using it for free, they’ll tell others, which will lead to 20 new users, and one of those will subscribe. That’s why a lot of developers choose freemium over premium—it’s a little easier to gain the traction you need to be successful.
Now let’s talk about free apps, or even the “free” aspect of most freemium apps. There are two sayings: there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and if you aren’t the customer than you are the product. Both are true. In addition to all of the time I put into creating, maintaining, and improving apps, there’s a real cost that I pay out of pocket. In fact, each time one of my apps is opened on your phone, I am charged an extraordinarily small fee, which does add up. Just because you are not paying, doesn’t mean someone else isn’t paying on your behalf. That lunch might be free to you, but it isn’t free.
If you aren’t willing to be the customer, app developers turn you into the product. They sell you ads or—much worse—sell your data. Ads are annoying, but a lot of people are willing to put up with them in exchange for something being free. For app developers, unless you have millions of users, ad revenue doesn’t add up into anything more than pocket change. The real money is in data harvesting. Companies want to serve personalized ads that are highly affective, and they need to know everything about you in order to do this. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry because it works, and, because of this, you unknowingly spend much more than the cost of an app subscription. That’s the cost of being the product.
Here’s the creepy part. If I were to harvest data with, say, the RitchieCam app, I could know so much about you. If I have access to your GPS, I could know where you live, and, comparing that with Zillow, I could know more-or-less how affluent you are. I could track where you work, and, referencing Google maps, could know what industry you are in. I could know where you shop. I could know where you eat out at. I could know where your kids go to school. Since I have access to your camera and library, I could deduce the size of your family, your family’s genders, who your friends are, if you have pets, I could read the text on your screenshots. I could do all of this and so much more. Rest assured that I do not collect or sell any data whatsoever, which isn’t particularly common, because I’m leaving money on the table. Most free and freemium apps are indeed collecting and selling your data, because there’s no free lunch, so they’ve turned you into the product for profit.
What I have said might sound farfetched, but it isn’t. In fact, what I pointed out was really just the tip of the iceberg. You have apps on your phone right now—apps that you regularly use and trust—that go well beyond what I described in the previous paragraph. Have you ever talked about something out-loud and five minutes later see an ad for it? Ads are highly personalized and targeted because your apps know so much about you, and companies pay big bucks for that knowledge, because it means even bigger bucks—your bucks—become their profits.
Again, I want to make it clear that none of my apps collect or sell data. It’s to my own detriment that I do this, but I do it for you because you deserve it, and it’s the right thing to do, even if it is rare. On my apps, you are never, ever the product. I “pay for your lunch” for you if you are using the apps for free, and I happily do that.
You might be surprised to hear this, but I am told frequently that I do not give enough away for free. I am told that I am selfish and greedy because I have the audacity to charge “so much” for things. I am told that my approach is wrong. I am sorry if you feel that way, but I deserve something for my work, right? Trust me, I’m not rolling in the dough or becoming wealthy from this. I have enough to put food on the table, a roof over my head, and take trips sometimes (adventures are often more worthwhile investments than gear), but I couldn’t go out and purchase a GFX system right now. This is to say that the perception of my compensation is often exaggerated and misunderstood—I’m doing alright, but if I were indeed greedy and selfish I could be doing better. The accusations are hurtful because they’re untrue.
There’s a lot that can be debated on what exact paths are the best paths. I chose the freemium model after much research and advice from others with experience within the industry. Some might disagree with that decision. I chose not to turn those using the apps for free into products. Some would say that’s leaving money on the table, and everyone else is doing it anyway. I chose the subscription prices for a reason—I’ve received a lot of criticism from that, and many “Monday morning quarterbacks” tell me that I got it all wrong, although the books I’ve read and those I’ve spoken with within the industry tell me that I am where I should be (I “got it right” thanks to all the research that wen’t into the decisions to begin with, but there’s always different paths and varying philosophies). As Abraham Lincoln stated, “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” In other words, nothing that I do will make everyone happy, but I hope that many people find my apps to be helpful and worthwhile tools. I hope that most of those who subscribe find it to be worth their money, and that they don’t feel ripped off or swindled—that they’re good values for what they deliver. Not all will feel that way, though, and that’s just the way it is.
For those wanting to create an app, you have to know that, no matter how much research you do, and no matter how much of your heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears you pour into it, there are some who won’t like it and some who will criticize your decisions. Mean and hurtful things will be said about you. You can’t make everyone happy, and you have to know that and accept that, but if you do what you believe is right—especially if you’ve done extensive research—you’re going to make some people happy just for the fact that you did it. The tricky part is figuring out how to maximize happiness and minimize the dissatisfaction, while also being fair to yourself, because you deserve satisfaction and compensation for your time, money, and hard work that you poured into it. It’s definitely a difficult and precarious balancing act that has to be regularly analyzed and addressed, and perhaps adjusted if needed.
I know this lengthy article has nothing to do with the regular content of this website, but I hope it is helpful for a few of you, and that most of you got something out of it (even if it is simply awareness of what your apps are doing behind the scenes). I didn’t write this as any sort of complaint or “woe is me” statement, because I don’t mean it that way whatsoever. I am quite happy with what I’m doing, and I know that it is helpful to many of you—it is even having an impact on the photography continuum, something I never imagined would happen! I’m really honored and blessed to be a part of this. I’m extraordinarily flattered and humbled if I’ve impacted your photography in some small way. It really is my pleasure to do all that I do for the Fujifilm community. With all of that said, I think it is important to be authentic, which means being vulnerable, and sharing this information is one way to do that. Perhaps somehow this was a meaningful article for some of you, and maybe it was worth your time today to read, even if it wasn’t about Fujifilm cameras.
If you are searching for a good blue-hour and nighttime Film Simulation Recipe, this is one you should try! I used it recently in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Astoria, Oregon, and was impressed with the results. I invite you, if you will be photographing after dark anytime soon, to give this recipe a try—you’ll be glad that you did! I suspect that this will become a favorite recipe for some of you.
This recipe is compatible with the Fujifilm X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras. For those with an X-T3 or X-T30, you can use this recipe but you’ll have to ignore Grain size and Color Chrome FX Blue—the results will be slightly different, but pretty close. Those with X-Trans III cameras will additionally have to ignore Color Chrome Effect. Because Clarity is set to 0 in this recipe, I used a 5% CineBloom filter on my X100V for these pictures—alternatively, you could set Clarity to -2 and get similar results.
Classic Chrome Dynamic Range: DR-Auto Highlight: -2 Shadow: -1 Color: -1 Noise Reduction: -2 Sharpness: -1 Clarity: 0 Grain Effect: Strong, Large Color Chrome Effect: Strong Color Chrome Effect Blue: Strong White Balance: 3200K, -1 Red & +4 Blue ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400 Exposure Compensation: -1/3 to +1/3 (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using “Serr’s 500T” Film Simulation Recipe on my Fujifilm X100V:
I was asked to recreate the aesthetic from a frame of a classic movie. I don’t know which movie, but only that it was shot on “Eastmancolor” film, which is a brandname for many different motion picture films and processes going back to the 1950’s. In fact, Eastmancolor Negative, better known as ECN, is still the development process used for today’s motion picture film. It’s unknown which film was used for the frame I was shown, but I did my best to recreate it on a Fujifilm X-Pro3.
After using these settings for several days, I decided that it really reminds me of old Ektachrome color reversal film, perhaps from the 1970’s. Ektachrome was known for fading rather quickly, with some color shifts if not stored well. Aside from some faded slides from my grandparents, most of the Ektachrome I’ve seen from this era have been in classic photography magazines. I don’t know how faithfully this recipe mimics old Ektachrome film, but it definitely has the right “memory color” for me. I hope that you like it, too.
This “Old Ektachrome” film simulation recipe is compatible with the Fujifilm X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras. This recipe isn’t compatible with the X-T3 or X-T30, but if you disregard Color Chrome FX Blue, disregard Grain size, and use a diffusion filter in lieu of Clarity, you’ll get similar results.
Classic Chrome Dynamic Range: DR400 Highlight: +2 Shadow: +1 Color: +3 Noise Reduction: -4 Sharpness: 0 Clarity: -4 Grain Effect: Strong, Large Color Chrome Effect: Strong Color Chrome Effect Blue: Weak White Balance: Daylight, +3 Red & +2 Blue ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400 Exposure Compensation: 0 to +2/3 (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this “Old Ektachrome” film simulation recipe on a Fujifilm X-Pro3:
Yesterday I published an article about the three Fujifilm X-Mount lenses that Sigma announced. These were already existing lenses within Sigma’s lineup, and they simply converted them for use on Fujifilm cameras. I stated that Sigma should have modified the lenses by adding aperture rings, because that is an important part of the Fujifilm experience. I also hinted (without downright stating) that Sigma should have filled holes in the Fujinon lineup, instead of going head-to-head with already existing lenses (hoping the cheaper price point is enough to entice potential customers). Yes, selling discount knockoffs (I don’t mean that to sound so harsh, because Sigma makes quality products) is one strategy, but I think offering something unique would be better.
With that in mind, I thought it would be a fun exercise to explore which Sigma lenses (that already exist) would fill holes in the Fujinon lineup. These are the lenses that Sigma should have released for Fujifilm X-mount, or maybe the lenses they should release next.
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art
A high-quality mid-range zoom covering some very useful focal-lengths? A lens that is great for street, portrait, and travel? Heck, yeah! While Fujifilm offers a number of zooms covering all sorts of focal-lengths, they don’t have one quite like this.
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art
Fujifilm has a 90mm f/2, and an 80mm f/2.8, but they don’t have an 85mm lens or a telephoto lens longer than 56mm that has a maximum aperture larger than f/2. Seems like a winner to me.
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Art
Fujifilm jumps from 90mm all the way to 200mm, and skips everything in-between. This would fill that gaping hole quite nicely.
Sigma 105mm f/1.4 Art
Or go crazy with the “bokeh master.” This is a full-frame lens, but it might pair well with the upcoming X-H2….
Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary
Fujifilm doesn’t offer a 45mm lens. 35mm? Yes. 50mm? Yes. But nothing in-between. Could be a nice “compromise” if you want both a 35mm and 50mm but can’t afford both.
Sigma 65mm f/2.8 Contemporary
Fujifilm has a 60mm lens, but if you want something just a bit longer, you have to jump to 80mm, which might be too long. Both the 60mm and 80mm lenses are macro, which can be nice, but they also have their challenges (lots of focus to scroll through), so a non-macro lens might be a good option.
Sigma 70mm f/2.8 Macro Art
This might be a good in-between lens if you can’t decide on the 60mm and 80mm macros.
In my opinion, this list is what Sigma should have used when deciding on which lenses to bring to Fujifilm. These make a lot more sense to me. What do you think? Do you prefer the three lenses Sigma announced, or would you prefer some of these instead? Which lenses should Sigma release on Fujifilm next?
Whatever Sigma does, I hope that they don’t just change the mount, but modify the lenses to fit the full Fujifilm experience. As it stands now, I have zero interest in any of these lenses, mainly because of the lack of aperture rings. What do you think? Should Sigma include an aperture ring, even if they have to raise the price a little to do so?
Sigma just announced three autofocus lenses for Fujifilm X-mount: 16mm f/1.4, 30mm f/1.4, and 56mm f/1.4. This is a big deal because 1) Sigma lenses are pretty darn good yet typically “affordable” and 2) it’s good to have options, which has been a little missing for Fujifilm photographers. These lenses can be pre-ordered and will ship in April.
I’m sitting here sipping my first cup of coffee, and already there has been plenty of press and early reviews published on these three lenses. What can I add that hasn’t already been said?
I’m glad that Sigma announced these lenses. I think it’s good. But I’m going to give you three quick reasons why you should not buy them. I’ll briefly explain why the similar Fujinon offerings are superior, and you should go with those instead.
First, there are no aperture rings on these Sigma lenses. Sigma literally took three already existing lenses for other mounts and made them compatible with X-mount. These lenses aren’t designed for the Fujifilm experience—they’re designed for Sony, in which you use a command wheel to adjust the aperture (yuck!). It is true that some Fujinon lenses work this same way, but most don’t. Most have an aperture ring, and that’s an important aspect of shooting Fujifilm. Sigma should have redesigned their lenses to include an aperture ring, but they didn’t, and I predict their X-mount lenses won’t sell as well because of this.
Second, behind the scenes, your Fujifilm camera is secretly fixing little flaws in the Fujinon glass. Fujifilm programmed their cameras to do this automatically, so you don’t know that there’s actually a little vignetting or chromatic aberrations or whatever else that doesn’t show in the pictures but is actually there if the camera wasn’t making this adjustment. Your camera won’t do this for third-party lenses. For the greatest optimization, stick with native glass.
Third, these three Sigma lenses are rather plain-looking. They don’t really match the retro-vibes of most Fujifilm X cameras because they look like modern lenses. Not all Fujinon lenses were modeled after vintage designs, but many of them were, and they match the stylings of the body much better than these Sigma offerings.
With all that said, there’s definitely a market for third-party autofocus lenses; however, they must offer something that Fujifilm doesn’t. It could be a focal-length and/or aperture. It could be quality. It could be speed. It could be size and/or weight. It could be price. What do these Sigma lenses offer that Fujifilm doesn’t? Let’s take a look.
Fujifilm offers a 16mm f/1.4 lens already—a high-quality, quick lens that’s smaller than the Sigma offering. The Sigma is less than half the price.
Fujifilm offers a 33mm f/1.4—a high-quality, quick lens that’s a similar size (and focal-length) to the Sigma offering. The Sigma is less than half the price.
Fujifilm offers a 56mm f/1.2—a high-quality, quick lens that’s a similar size to the Sigma offering (but larger maximum aperture). The Sigma is less than half the price.
Now you see why one would choose a Sigma lens over the Fujinon: to save some cash. They’re priced significantly cheaper while offering something similar. If you can afford it, the Fujinon lenses are better, but if not, this is a solid alternative that’s friendlier on the wallet. There are also lesser-expensive Fujinon options worth considering, which maybe don’t have the tech-sheet wow factor, but are otherwise fantastic lenses that you’re sure to be happy with.
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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:
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-Trans is 10-years-old, and I thought it would be fun to list the 10 most important X-Trans models of all-time. The first X-series camera was the X100, but it had an EXR sensor, and not X-Trans. The first with the X-Trans sensor was the X-Pro1, which came out in 2012. I already wrote an article explaining the history of that camera, which you can read here. For this post, I’ll simply give my opinion on which X-Trans models were the most important.
Here we go!
10. Fujifilm X-E1
The Sexy One—I mean, X-E1—was the second X-Trans camera introduced by Fujifilm, and offered retro rangefinder styling in an affordable package. It had its problems (many that were fixed or improved by firmware updates), which hindered its commercial success, yet it is still a beloved camera 10 years later. Without the X-E1, there would be no X-E2, X-E2s, X-E3, or X-E4. While the X-E lineup isn’t usually a top-seller for Fujifilm, it is much loved by those who do own them. The Fujifilm X-E1 was my introduction into the X-series, so without it there would be no Fuji X Weekly.
9. Fujifilm X-Pro2
The X-Pro2 was not only the first X-Trans III camera, it was the first with a dual memory-card slot. For some, this was the first X-Trans camera that could be taken seriously—clearly aimed at professional photographers. It not only looked good, but had the specs and features to convince serious photographers to take a close look, and maybe even sell their full-frame gear in favor of Fujifilm.
8. Fujifilm X-T4
The X-T4 is the full-frame killer. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the it is an amazing tool for both professional photographers and videographers. To date, the X-T4 is the most “premium” X-series model made by Fujifilm, and is the camera that’s convinced countless people to choose Fujifilm over other brands.
7. Fujifilm X100V
The X100V is a solid update to the X100F, and is my “desert island” camera—if I could only have one, it would be this. For a lot of people who are unsure if they want to jump into the deep end of the Fujifilm pool, the X100-series allows them to get their feet wet without having to invest in the whole system. Once people do dip their toes, they discover that the water is fine. Although all of the five X100-series cameras are great, including the original X100, the X100V is definitely the best.
6. Fujifilm X-Pro3
The X-Pro3 is a controversial camera due to its unusual backwards-mounted rear screen. People seem to love or hate it. While it might be Fujifilm’s most polarizing camera, it has been a solid success, and a sought-after body since its introduction. Also, this was the first camera with Classic Negative, Clarity, and Color Chrome FX Blue, among other things.
5. Fujifilm X-H1
While it was initially considered a flop, the X-H1 now has a cult-like following. The X-H1 was even more top-of-the-line than the X-T2. It was the first X-Trans camera with the Eterna film simulation and IBIS, and had the best video specs when it was released. In a lot of ways, it was the X-T4 of the X-Trans III generation models (although in a body more reminiscent of the GFX50S), and was supposed to convince full-frame shooters to consider Fujifilm instead. Due to its high MSRP, sales were super sluggish, and Fujifilm had to steeply slash the price tag to get people to buy it. Those who did buy it were rewarded with an amazing camera! It’s a workhorse for many professional photographers, even if they own newer models, they often choose the X-H1 to do the heavy lifting.
4. Fujifilm X100F
The Fujifilm X100F is the camera that I first started making Film Simulation Recipes with. Fuji X Weekly was originally a long-term review (or journal, really) of this camera. The impact the X100F has had on the Fujifilm community and even the photography continuum cannot be quantified, but know that’s it’s massive. For me, the X100F changed my life, and that’s not hyperbole—it took a lot of self-control to not put it at the number one spot on this list.
3. Fujifilm X-T3
Have you ever wondered why Fujifilm hasn’t discontinued the X-T3 even though the X-T4 has been out for almost two years? It’s because the X-T3 is the top-selling X-series camera of all time, and continues to sell really well even today. Yes, it’s about three-and-a-half years old, but as long as people continue to buy it in droves, it will continue to be manufactured by Fujifilm. I wouldn’t be surprised if the X-T4 is discontinued before the X-T3. This is the only camera on this list that I haven’t personally used, but I know for certain that it’s a great model.
2. Fujifilm X-T1
A lot of people might be surprised that the X-T1 made it so high on this list, not because the camera isn’t great (because it is great), but because the reason might not seem obvious. What was so special about this model to make it all the way to number two? The X-T1 was Fujifilm’s first real commercially successful camera. Yes, the X-Trans models that came before this—X-Pro1, X-E1, X-E2, X-M1, X20, XQ1, and X100S—did well enough (more or less, depending on the camera), but the X-T1 sold significantly better than them all. It really brought Fujifilm into the forefront, and made a lot of people take notice. For a large number of photographers, the X-T1 was the first model that made them seriously consider buying X-Trans.
1. Fujifilm X-Pro1
The Fujifilm X-Pro1 was where X-Trans began. All of the current Fujifilm cameras are here today because the X-Pro1 made a big splash with its retro rangefinder design and hybrid viewfinder 10 years ago. If it had not sold well, the X-series might have ended there, or not long after. But it did sell well, and is even in-demand to this day. That’s why the X-Pro1 is the number one most important Fujifilm X-Trans camera of all time.
What about the other cameras that deserve to be on this list? The original X100 is not here because it is not X-Trans (a requirement for this list), but I could have included the X100S, which the first X100-series model with an X-Trans sensor. The X100T was the first camera with Classic Chrome—except that a lot of people forget that one month earlier the X30 was released with Classic Chrome, and the X100T was actually a close second. The X-T10 was Fujifilm’s first real successful mid-range model—the X-T20 and X-T30 were pretty darn successful, too, and the X-T30 II is off to a solid start. The X-S10 has also done well, and is the cheapest model with IBIS. I think there are a number of cameras that could have made this list. What do you think? Do you agree with my Top 10? Would you replace any? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
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Fujifilm sent me an X-Pro3 camera and 33mm f/1.4 lens to borrow for a few weeks. I get to use them, but I don’t get to keep them. In fact, if you’ve ever read a review of this camera or lens, there’s a good chance that this exact copy is what was reviewed. I don’t have any obligation to write a review, but of course I will, after I’ve had a chance to put the camera and lens to the test.
My initial impressions of the X-Pro3?
I currently own an X-Pro1, and I’ve extensively used an X-Pro2; the X-Pro3 is a very similar camera. The headline difference is the backwards-mounted rear screen, which I think people will love, hate, or both love-and-hate simultaneously. It’s way too early to know for sure, but I think I’m going to be in that love-hate category. Maybe once I use it more I will feel differently about it. I wonder, though, why the rear screen doesn’t swing to the side instead of down? I find it less than ideal when I need to use it, but I do like that the camera is designed to encourage you to not use the screen, because, when you don’t need it, the experience is better when it is hidden. I love the little “box top” screen that’s in its place. Inside, the X-Pro3 is a lot like other X-Trans IV cameras, such as the X100V. The ability to save in 16-bit TIFFs could be reason enough to buy this camera, although I haven’t examined this closely yet. So far, the X-Pro3 seems to be a workhorse body that one could happily use for many years. Be on the lookout for a full-review in a few weeks.
My initial impressions of the Fujinon 33mm f1.4?
Amazing lens! Do I need to say more? It’s definitely bigger and heavier than my Fujinon 35mm f/2, but also perhaps optically superior and with great character, which says a lot, because the 35mm f/2 is a great lens. The Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 is for the X system what the Fujinon 63mm f/2.8 is for the GFX system, but maybe better. There will be a full-review of this lens in the future, but I can tell you right away that you won’t be disappointed if you should buy it—it really is a fast 50mm-equivalent prime lens that’s top-notch.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
I’ve been asked a few times recently what adapter and filters I use on my Fujifilm X100V. I will state right off the bat that my choices aren’t necessarily the “best” ones, it’s just what I’ve done. There are likely better options, and perhaps different choices that would be better for you, so keep that in mind. With that said, let me get right into the adapter and filters that I use on my Fujifilm X100V.
The X100V doesn’t initially appear to be able to accept filters. There are no screw-in threads visible. But there’s a “secret” ring around the lens that unscrews to reveal threads, but these threads cannot accept filters. You need to buy an adapter to screw into those threads that has its own threads that filters can screw into. Make sense?
The top reason why you want to do this is because the X100V is almost weather-sealed. The one unsealed point is the lens, but Fujifilm says that if you put a filter in front of it, that should give you protection from the elements. To complete the weather-sealing process, you need to buy an adapter and filter.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Fujifilm offers their own adapter, but it’s not cheap. I’m a cheapskate, so I went with the $10 Haoge adapter instead, and saved about $40. I think the only disadvantage is that the lens cap fits a little loosely over the adapter, but probably fits snugly on the Fujifilm option (just guessing). There are lots of other choices, including some that have a lens hood included. I don’t think which adapter you choose is all that important, but obviously it’s got to work for you.
I have tons of filters, some going back to the film days. Many of them are not 49mm (the correct filter size for the X100V), but some are, and I don’t use all of them. The number one most used filter is the Fotasy 49mm Ultra Slim UV, which is less than $10. For under $20, it’s possible to add that layer of weather protection to give you some peace of mind. I also own a Hoya UV filter (that predates my X100V), but it’s black and I prefer silver, so I don’t usually use it (yet I have used it), and a Nicna UV filter, which I have no idea where it came from. The UV filter doesn’t do much for you photographically, but it does give a layer of protection, and 90% of the time this is how my X100V is configured.
About 10% of the time I use a diffusion filter instead of (or in conjunction with) the UV filter. The one that I use the most is the 5% CineBloom, which gives a very subtle effect. A 10% CineBloom and 1/4 Black Pro Mist are occasionally used, while a 20% CineBloom is almost never used because it is so strong. If I could only have one, it would be the 5% CineBloom, but I do use the 10% CineBloom and 1/4 Black Pro Mist sometimes, and even use them together, so it’s nice having them around. I have considered buying a 1/8 Black Pro Mist because I think I’d use it frequently, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on that one yet.
What’s left? I own a Tiffen 49mm Circular Polarizer that I rarely use. I probably should use it more, because CPLs are great for reducing unwanted reflections. To some extent, it’s theoretically possible to mimic Color Chrome FX Blue with a CPL filter, I think, although I’ve never tried. I also have a Hoya Intensifier (a.k.a. Didymium filter or Starscape filter) that I’ve used a few times. I have some 49mm color filters for B&W film photography, but obviously those don’t work well on the X100V (I tried). I also have a Hoya 80A filter, which actually does work on the X100V, but I pretty much never use it.
I’m not sure which filters are right for you, but at the very least consider attaching an adapter and UV filter to give your Fujifilm X100V a little more weather protection. I like using diffusion filters sometimes, but not all of the time, and usually less is more when it comes to these. That’s what works for me, but you’ll have to figure out what works for you. Hopefully, this article is helpful to some of you. Let me know in the comments which filters you use on your X100-series camera, because I’d love to know.
People ask me all of the time for my recommendation on which Fujifilm camera to buy. Recently, I’ve received a number of requests for cameras under $1,000. Which one is the best? Which should you buy?
There aren’t currently very many low-budget offerings by Fujifilm. The Bayer models, like the X-A7 and X-T200, have been discontinued, and those are the most budget-friendly Fuji cameras, if you can find them—if being the key word. There are a few X-Trans options that aren’t too expensive, so let’s take a look at what’s available to purchase right now.
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Best Value: Fujifilm X-E3
The Fujifilm X-E3 is a discontinued body, but you can still find it brand-new here and there for a good price. It’s X-Trans III (the current models are X-Trans IV, and X-Trans V is just around the corner), so perhaps it’s a little dated, but no doubt about it, the X-E3 is an excellent camera. There are even some who prefer it over the newer X-E4, because it has more buttons and such. While it doesn’t have quite as many JPEG options as the latest models (no Classic Negative, for example), there are still plenty of Film Simulation Recipes that are compatible with it, so you’re sure to still experience that Fuji-Fun. If you are trying to get into the Fujifilm system, or are upgrading from an older model, the X-E3 is your best value option.
The Fujifilm X-S10 serves two purposes: Fujifilm’s “budget” option for video, and Fujifilm’s entry-level camera for those migrating from other brands. It is the cheapest Fuji offering with In-Body-Image-Stabilization (yet the most expensive in this list), and is slightly more video-centric in specs and design than some other Fujifilm cameras. Instead of the classic Fujifilm knobs, the X-S10 has a typical “PASM” dial that most other brands use, so the learning curve might be a little less than with other Fuji models, although you’ll miss out on the true Fujifilm experience. If you do a lot of videography, or if you’re coming from another brand and want the shortest learning curve, the X-S10 is the camera that I recommend for you.
If you want the camera that offers the most for the least and gives you a true Fujifilm experience, look no further than the Fujifilm X-T30 II. This is the ultimate Fujifilm X camera that doesn’t break the bank. While it’s the very last X-Trans IV camera, it is certainly not the least, and the many JPEG options (including Classic Negative and Eterna Bleach Bypass) will allow you to use all of the Film Simulation Recipes that require those. Seriously, if you are upgrading to a new model or buying your first Fujifilm camera, the X-T30 II is one to strongly consider. The only downside is that you might have to wait to get your model, depending on availability, because it is brand-new. Also, be sure that you’re buying the X-T30 II and not the original X-T30 (which has been discontinued), unless you happen to find the original X-T30 for a good discount.
Fujifilm X-T30 II (Body Only) $899.95 AmazonB&H Fujifilm X-T30 II + 15-45mm $999.95 B&H
Best Minimalist Camera: Fujifilm X-E4
The Fujifilm X-E4 is much like the X-T30 II, except in a different (and smaller) shape and with a minimalistic design approach. This camera is for those who believe that less is more. If that’s you, you’ll love the X-E4, but if that’s not you, perhaps consider a different model instead. I personally own and love an X-E4, but I can say with certainty that it’s not for everyone. This is another model that can be hard to find right now, so if you want it, be sure to snag it if you see it.
There are, of course, a number of other offerings by Fujifilm that are currently available for purchase. The X-Pro3 (Amazon, B&H) is Fujifilm’s Leica, but well above the $1,000 top price point of this piece. The X-T4 (Amazon, B&H) is Fujifilm’s flagship camera, and it’s absolutely wonderful—my wife has one—but, again, it’s much too expensive to make this list. The Fujifilm X100V (Amazon, B&H) is my “desert island” camera, but it, too, sits above the $1,000 threshold.
Best Value Just Above $1,000: Fujifilm X-T3 WW
Then there’s the X-T3 WW, which is an X-T3 without a battery charger (USB charging only). The X-T3 used to be Fujifilm’s flagship model until the X-T4 was released. It’s a little above the budget for this article, but it’s worth considering nonetheless, especially if you need weather-sealing. It’s an excellent value, but if you don’t need weather-sealing, the X-T30 II is a wonderful alternative for a couple hundred dollars less.