Fujifilm X100V (X-Trans IV) Film Simulation Recipe: Pulled Fujicolor Superia

Salt Lake Shorelands – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Pulled Fujicolor Superia”

After creating the Scanned Superia and Portra-Style film simulation recipes, which use D-Range Priority Auto, I wanted to create a recipe that utilized D-Range Priority Strong. You might recall that Anders Lindborg made an interesting discovery that D-Range Priority (DR-P) is essentially the same thing as Hypertone on Fujifilm Frontier scanners. In my own experiments, I’ve come to the conclusion that D-Range Priority Weak is more practical for everyday photography than D-Range Priority Strong, because, unless there is a bright light in the frame, DR-P Strong tends to be too flat, since it maximizes dynamic range. Undeterred, I set out to create a nice recipe that utilizes DR-P Strong.

I call this recipe “Pulled Fujicolor Superia” because it is similar to Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400 film that’s been pulled one stop. Of course, how any emulsion is shot, developed, printed and/or scanned has an impact on its aesthetic, and one film can have many different looks. I didn’t set out to recreate the look of pulled Superia film, but, in fact, it does look surprisingly close to some examples I found. It’s better to be lucky than good, right? I wouldn’t say that this is 100% spot-on for pulled Superia 400 film, but it’s not far off at all.

Break – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Pulled Fujicolor Superia”

Because this recipe uses the Classic Negative film simulation, Clarity, and Color Chrome Effect Blue, it is compatible with the Fujifilm X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras. I think it works best on sunny days, but I did use it with some success in overcast and indoor situations.

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

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this “Pulled Fujicolor Superia” film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X100V:

Packed Parking Garage – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Dee’s – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Salt Lake Shoreland Preserve Boardwalk – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Wetland Grass & Mountains – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Grass – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Fence & Hidden Building – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Playing Pokemon – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Looking Through Binoculars – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V
My Four Kids – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Jonathan at f/3.6 – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Yellow & Green Grass – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Pops of Fall – Fruit Heights, UT – Fujifilm X100V
A Little Splash of Autumn – Fruit Heights, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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

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Fujifilm Frontier Scanners & Dynamic Range Priority

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe 1

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

Recipe 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help Fuji X Weekly

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

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

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

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D-Range Priority Strong

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

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

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DR100

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D-Range Priority Weak

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D-Range Priority Strong

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

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DR400

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DR400 with -2 Shadow & -2 Highlight

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D-Range Priority Weak

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D-Range Priority Strong

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

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

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“Normal Settings”

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D-Range Priority Weak

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

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