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Most people don’t use ultra-high ISOs like 25600 on their Fujifilm cameras. But maybe it’s underutilized? Perhaps it’s not appreciated nearly as much as it should be. While I have utilized ISO 25600 and higher on purpose in the past, a couple of recent accidental uses of this ultra-high ISO has made me pause and reconsider if I should be using it more often than I do.
So let’s take a look at some ultra-high ISOs!
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According to Fujirumors, there is a brand-new rumor that Fujifilm will announce a “very small” digital camera within the next couple of weeks, sometime before the end of the month. No other details were provided, so our imagination can run wild with what exactly it is.
While this is certainly exciting news, I think it’s important to keep our expectations in check. There’s no X Summit to go along with this announcement, which means that it’s not a camera that Fujifilm deems as a significant model. Fujifilm typically makes a big fuss when they reveal a new camera, but they don’t always; however, those cameras tend to be low-end budget models. There wasn’t an X Summit back when the XF10 was announced, for example.
What, then, will this camera be? Nobody yet knows, but my guess is a low-end model, most likely a Bayer camera. I thought Fujifilm was done making these, but maybe they believe there’s a market after all?
The upcoming model might be an X-A8. The X-A series was a popular line—especially in Asian countries—for many years, but the X-A7 had disappointing sales numbers, and was abruptly discontinued not long after release. The X-A7 and X-T200 were basically competing against each other, and it might have been a case of Fujifilm offering two models that were too similar. Both lines had been axed, but maybe Fujifilm feels there’s enough demand that they can resurrect one; since the X-A line was smaller than the X-T000 series, I could see it qualifying as a “very small” model.
Another possibility is something that probably nobody is thinking of: pocket digicam zoom. Something like the XF1 and XQ2 would be intriguing, but it could also be more along the lines of the FinePix T400, since there has been renewed interest in those types of cameras. Perhaps it’s a successor to the XP140 waterproof camera? That’s actually the most likely option, as unexciting as it might be.
Of course it could be an XF20, a followup to the XF10. The XF10 had mediocre sales, but with the Ricoh GR III being almost as in-demand as the X100V, Fujifilm might possibly see an opportunity. Strike while the iron’s hot, as they say—and the iron for that type of camera is certainly hot right now. Even better would be an X80, the long-hoped-for successor to the X70. I think an X80 would get an X Summit, so I’m less hopeful for that, but you never know. A lot of people wish for that camera, so I will keep my fingers crossed.
Could “very small” be in reference to an X-E5? Probably not, unless they shrunk it a bunch. Also, they’d announce it at an X Summit, I’m certain. It could be an Instax Mini EVO 2, which would technically be a digital camera, and is quite tiny in the world of Instax. Don’t be surprised if it’s this. I’ll certainly be disappointed, as it wouldn’t fit my personal definition of “very small” or “digital camera.”
Most likely, the new camera will be a FinePix XP150 (or whatever they’ll call it). If so, it’s not something I have any interest in buying. I think an XF20 or X-A8 are small possibilities, but I would be shocked, since Fujifilm has seemingly moved beyond releasing those types of cameras. Even less likely are are an X40 or XQ3, since Fujifilm hasn’t made 2/3″ sensor models in a long time. An X80 would be most ideal, and a camera that a lot of people would celebrate—I would be at the front of the line to buy it—but I don’t think Fujifilm would announce it without fanfare, so I highly doubt that is it.
Since there’s not going to be much fanfare, it’s not going to be a camera that you’ll probably get excited for. Because we don’t know what it will be—only that it’s coming, whatever it is—our imaginations can run wild, and the possibilities, no matter how unlikely, give us some excitement. Just keep your expectations low, or else you’ll probably be disappointed.
Now that the X Summit is over and the GFX100 II has been officially announced, we have a little bit better idea of what exactly Fujifilm’s new film simulation is. First, the name is not Reala like was previously rumored, but Reala Ace. Not a huge difference, but different nonetheless.
Fujifilm has sometimes named certain film stocks differently in Japan than the rest of the world, and several film stocks were only made available in Japan. Fujicolor Reala Ace 100 was a color negative film sold only in Japan. Some speculated that it was the exact same thing as Fujicolor Superia Reala 100 (initially, Superia wasn’t in the emulsion name, but was added later) just sold under a slightly different name, while others said that Fujicolor Reala Ace 100 was a unique film similar to the Reala sold worldwide except fine-tuned for Japanese skin tones. For whatever reason, Fujifilm went with the name Reala Ace for their new film sim.
Prior to today’s announcement, I had speculated that “…the new film simulation will [not] be an accurate replication of Reala film, since Classic Negative is so close already; instead, I think Fujifilm is simply going to use the brand name for a film sim that has a neutral and natural rendering (true-to-life or real-like, yet leaning towards soft tonality and muted colors).” I also said, “I’m crossing my fingers that the Reala film simulation will be a tweak of Classic Negative that will more closely mimic Reala emulsions.”
I was half right and half wrong, but I’m quite happy to be half wrong. I was right that the film sim would lean towards soft tonality and have a true-to-life rendering. I was wrong that it wouldn’t look like Reala film or Classic Negative, because it does. You could call the new film sim Classic Negative v2, but Fujifilm named it Reala Ace.
How accurate is the Reala Ace film simulation to Reala film? It definitely has the right vibe, from the small number of samples I’ve found online. It isn’t all that dissimilar to my Fujicolor Reala 100 Film Simulation Recipe, either—in fact, I think just a few small adjustments to my Recipe brings the results closer to the new film simulation. Of course, I have no idea if those Reala Ace examples are unedited, and what parameter adjustments the photographer might have done, or if they’re all factory defaults.
Fujifilm has a graph demonstrating how the different film simulations fit on a tonality and saturation scale. It should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, there’s no way that Nostalgic Neg. is the second most vibrant film sim, because it’s not. PRO Neg. Hi has a little more saturation than PRO Neg. Std, yet they’re the same on the chart. Still, we can extrapolate that Reala Ace has softer tonality yet a tad higher vibrancy than Classic Negative.
Even though Reala Ace is essentially Classic Negative, I’m quite thrilled that this new film sim has an obvious analog aesthetic. Classic Negative is one of my favorite film simulations, and I’m sure Reala Ace will be, too, once I get a chance to use it someday in the future. My guess is that the upcoming Fujifilm X100Z (or whatever Fujifilm calls it… maybe they’ll name it X100Ace?) will be the first X-series camera to get Reala Ace. I won’t buy the GFX100 II (it’s way outside of my budget), so it might be awhile before I get to try it. From what I can tell, the new film sim will be found right below Classic Chrome and right above PRO Neg. Hi in the camera’s film simulation list.
Interestingly enough, there seems to be a lot of interest in this new film sim, but not necessarily by folks who will buy the GFX camera. The ones most excited seem to be those who anticipate that it will trickle to the X-series. Most of those who have reviewed the camera (who received a pre-production model from Fujifilm) barely mentioned it, and mainly as a passing thought. One did talk a little more about it (and right at the beginning), but otherwise the enthusiasm for Reala Ace seems to be much stronger from the X crowd than the GFX, despite it only found (for now) on GFX. This makes a lot of sense to me because most of those who shoot GFX cameras don’t use Film Simulation Recipes (yet there are some); however, many who have X-Trans cameras do use Recipes. Fujifilm should introduce new film sims on X-series models where they can better capitalize on that excitement, and not on GFX where it’s unimportant (generally speaking) to those buyers, essentially wasting the opportunity (hey, maybe Fujifilm should consult with me??!!).
I modified the Fujicolor Reala 100 Film Simulation Recipe on my Fujifilm X-T5, reprocessing in-camera some recent pictures on the SD Card, to more closely resemble the Reala Ace film simulation. You can find the Reala Recipe on this website (here) and on the Fuji X Weekly App. The modifications I made to the Fujicolor Reala 100 Recipe are: White Balance Shift set to 0 Red & +1 Blue (using Daylight WB… I also tried Auto White Balance with that same shift), Color Chrome FX Blue Strong, Color +1, Highlight -1.5, Sharpness 0, and Clarity -2. There are only a small number of examples of the new film sim, and it’s impossible to know if they’re 100% default Reala Ace or if they have been modified or edited in some way, but I think I’m in the ballpark with these settings. It’s pretty close. Below are some examples.
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In my Will there be a new Fujifilm X camera announced in September? article I mentioned that Fujifilm should include an XPan 65:24 aspect ratio as an option on the X-Pro4, whenever that camera comes out. GFX models already have this, but Fuji hasn’t given the XPan ratio to any X-series cameras. The X-Pro4 seems like a logical place to start, especially if it is given the 40-megapixel sensor, which has plenty of resolution to support the crop. But, should Fujifilm make a “real” XPan camera, and what would that look like?
XPan was a collaboration between Fujifilm and Hasselblad in the late-1990’s and early-2000’s. XPan cameras were 35mm interchangeable-lens rangefinders that produced panoramic pictures across two film frames—the pictures were twice as wide as normal 35mm images. The cameras were also capable of capturing regular 35mm frames, should the photographer not wish to create panoramic pictures. Two XPan cameras were made; Hasselblad called them XPan and XPan II while Fujifilm named them TX-1 and TX-2. The X100-series models have a striking resemblance to XPan cameras.
I don’t think it would be all that difficult for Fujifilm to make a true XPan camera. It would require two APS-C sensors placed side-by-side, or—probably more preferably—one chip cut to the same size as two. The lens would be the big issue, since X-Series lenses wouldn’t offer enough coverage. Either Fujifilm would make it a fixed-lens camera (like the X100V, but with a different lens that has coverage), or they’d need lenses that would cover the wide frame. If they decided on the interchangeable-lens concept, GF-mount lenses from the GFX series would have enough coverage, so it would make sense to use them. In other words, the XPan camera would technically be GFX, but in an X-series body and with an X-Trans sensor.
Even though the TX-1 and TX-2 looked more similar to the X100V, I think using an X-Pro body would be a good option to build it on. Call it the TX-Pro4 or X-Pan1 or something like that. The hybrid viewfinder would need to be modified to accommodate the wider frame, but otherwise the camera wouldn’t need a whole lot of changes.
There are three different sensors that Fujifilm is currently using in the X-Trans V generation of cameras: 40-megapixel (X-H2, X-T5), 26-megapixel stacked (X-H2s), and 26-megapixel X-Trans IV (X-S20). Which would they put into the XPan camera?
If they chose the 40-megapixel option, which would actually be 80-megapixel, that would be the most marketable, since megapixels sell. On the 100-megapixel GFX cameras, the XPan aspect ratio reduces the resolution to 50mp, while the 50-megapixel models reduces the resolution to 25mp; 80mp would be much more than either! The disadvantage would be the processing power required and heat dispersion necessary, which would be a huge challenge for Fujifilm, so I don’t think this is a likely option.
The other two are both 26-megapixel sensors, which would equal 52mp on an XPan model. This would be the same resolution as using the XPan aspect ratio on the 100mp GFX cameras. The new stacked sensor is great for speed but is much more expensive, while the older X-Trans IV sensor is still good yet affordable. Of the two, the stacked sensor is the most intriguing; however, it would likely raise the price of the camera by around $800-$1,000 over using the X-Trans IV option. As the X-S20 demonstrates, pairing the X-Trans IV sensor with the X-Trans V processor is a viable option, and probably what Fujifilm should choose.
Basically, I’m suggesting that Fujifilm modify the (eventual) upcoming X-Pro4 with two 26mp X-Trans IV sensors (instead of the presumably 40mp X-Trans V sensor that the regular X-Pro4 will have), utilizing X-Processor 5. This would give the camera 52mp of resolution when shooting the XPan aspect ratio, or 26mp when shooting in 3:2. The XPan camera would have over 2.5-times more resolution than shooting a 40mp sensor cropped to the XPan aspect ratio.
Who would buy this camera? Wouldn’t it be super niche? It would indeed be niche, but it would also be a “wow” product that a lot of people would talk about. Where I think it would get a lot of unexpected attention is with cinematographers, since some of the ultra-wide aspect ratios (think Ultra Panavision) could be shot in 4K, 6K, and possibly even 8K. Also, it would provide a bridge between the X-series and GFX, since those with GFX models could use their existing lenses on this camera, and those not in the GFX system could eventually jump in after buying a couple lenses for their XPan model.
Will Fujifilm make this camera? Probably not. I’d be pretty shocked. Should they? I think so. I believe it would sell well enough that it would be worthwhile for Fujifilm. I’d definitely buy one! Would you?
Fujifilm will be announcing some new gear on September 12; Fujirumors is reporting that it will be GFX cameras and lenses, including a GFX100 successor (which, apparently, wasn’t the GFX100S), GF 55mm f1.7, GF 30mm f/5.6 tilt-shift, and GF 110mm f/5.6 tilt-shift. A rumor has floated for awhile now that two X-series cameras would be released in 2023. The first was the X-S20. What will the second be? And will it be announced in September?
We know that the X100V replacement won’t come until next year, so which one will be next? There’s been a lot of speculation that it could be the X-Pro4 because it’s long overdue; however, if it is, something would have likely already leaked about it, so I’m marking it as unlikely. How about an X80? Fujifilm absolutely should release this camera, but I think that ship has sailed in their minds, and it’s not even on the list of potential future models. X-A8 or X-T300? Those lines have been discontinued, so no. It’s much too soon for an X-H3 or X-T6 or X-S30. What does that leave? The X-E5 or X-T40 (which they might call X-T50). Let me give a few quick reasons why I think it will and won’t be each of those models.
It will be the X-E5 because the X-E4 was a hot commodity just before being surprisingly discontinued (presumably so that manufacturing efforts could be diverted to the X100V). It was backordered everywhere and even sometimes selling for more than MSRP. There’s still quite a demand for it, but so very little supply. It was strange that Fujifilm axed an in-demand model, but if they were preparing to release a successor, it makes a lot more sense.
It won’t be the X-E5 because Fujifilm will probably only offer one base-level camera going forward (due to shifting markets), and between the X-T00 and X-E lines, it’s more likely the X-E that’s not renewed. Besides that, historically, the X-E line comes at the very end of a sensor generation, not towards the beginning or middle.
It will be the X-T40 (or X-T50) because this line is long overdue for an update. The X-T30 was released over four years ago. The X-T30 II was an extremely minor upgrade, mostly just a firmware update that should have been given to the X-T30. Both the X-T30 and X-T30 II have been discontinued, so it makes sense that a new version is about to come out. Besides, the X-T00 line has been a good seller for Fujifilm, and the current lineup is in desperate need for a camera of its class.
It won’t be the X-T40 because the X-T30 II was released only two years ago. While it sold well, it wasn’t as in-demand or trendy as the X-E4. Aside from that, Fujifilm is clearly focusing more on higher-end models, and not entry-level.
What’s my opinion? I think, if an X-series camera is announced on September 12, it will be the X-T40. I don’t think the X-T40 will likely be a major upgrade, so including it on the same day as the GFX150 (or whatever the new GFX camera will be called) makes sense. Just as likely, no X-series models will be announced on September 12; perhaps the next camera will be the X-Pro4 in November (that’s just speculation, I have zero inside information).
The X-T40 will probably be the exact same thing as the X-T30 II, except with the X-Processor 5, which brings improved autofocus and video specs, along with the Nostalgic Neg. film simulation. I suspect that it will have the same X-Trans IV sensor and the same NP-W126S battery, and be 95% the same camera. I don’t think it will be revolutionary; however, it will be Fujifilm’s sub-$1,000 option, which I think is still important to offer. Don’t be surprised, if Fujifilm does decide to eventually release an X-E5, that the X-T00 and X-E lines aren’t available at the same time. In other words, they might manufacture the X-T40 for a year or two (depending on how it sells), and then discontinue it as they prepare to release the X-E5. Once that’s been on the market for a year or so, it’ll get discontinued in time for the next X-T00. I think Fujifilm sees these two models as competing against themselves to some degree. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if one of these two lines was simply (and quietly) discontinued.
In my opinion, I think Fujifilm has been secretly working on the X-Pro4, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it was released in November (like the X-T5 was last year). I think it would make a ton of sense. They’ll probably readdressed the rear screen somehow. I do believe it will have the 40mp sensor, and don’t be surprised if it is the first X-series camera with the XPan aspect ratio as an option. This would be a smart move, I think, and it would fall within Fujifilm’s shift towards focusing more on higher-end cameras and less on lower-end.
What do you think? Will an X-series camera be announced on September 12? Which model will it be? What do you hope for? Let me know in the comments!
For this Film Simulation Recipe, I was attempting to accomplish two different things: create a Recipe that uses Underwater White Balance and produce results with an analog-like color negative film aesthetic. To the second point, this Recipe does produce that in generic terms. It’s not intended to mimic any specific film emulsion, although there might be some unintended resemblance to Fujicolor Pro 160C, or—to a lesser extent—Kodak Portra 160VC.
The reason I chose the Underwater White Balance type is because I’ve yet to use it with any X-Trans II Recipe; since your camera will remember one White Balance Shift per White Balance type, this can be another option to consider for your C1-C7. If each of the seven Film Simulation Recipes programmed into your Custom Presets has a different White Balance type, you won’t have to worry about changing the WB Shift when switching between your C1-C7 Custom Preset.
This “Pro Film” Recipe is compatible with all Fujifilm X-Trans II cameras (except the XQ1 and XQ2, which don’t have the PRO Neg. Hi film simulation). You can use this Recipe on the X-Pro1 and X-E1 (as well as many of the Bayer models), although the results will be slightly different.
PRO Neg. Hi
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: -1 (Medium-Soft)
Shadow: -2 (Soft)
Color: +2 (High)
Sharpness: -1 (Medium-Soft)
Noise Reduction: -2 (Low)
White Balance: Underwater, 0 Red & -2 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 3200
Exposure Compensation: -1/3 to +1/3 (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this “Pro Film” Film Simulation Recipe on a Fujifilm X70:
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The August issue of FXW Zine is out now! Creative Collective subscribers can download it today. Not a Creative Collective subscriber? Join to gain access to this issue plus all pervious issues of FXW Zine and the many bonus articles.
Issue 21 takes a look at five budget-friendly Fujifilm cameras that are fairly inexpensive on the used market. If you are considering adding another camera but don’t have a lot to spend, or if you are looking for a good-yet-cheap first Fujifilm model—maybe for your kid or a friend—then the August issue is for you!
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Fujifilm will be announcing the upcoming X100V replacement in early 2024, according to Fujirumors. What will be different on the new model is unknown, but most likely it will be nearly the same, and will probably be a little more expensive. It will be interesting to see what exactly Fujifilm changes and what they keep the same. Will it have a 26 or 40 megapixel sensor? XPan aspect ratio? IBIS? NP-W235 battery? Anything is a possibility right now, but historically the X100-series doesn’t change a whole lot with each new iteration.
I hope that Fujifilm—and it would be really smart for them to do this—introduces a brand-new film simulation with this model. Yes, it will have Eterna Bleach Bypass and Nostalgic Neg., but it should have one more fresh film sim. I have no idea if that’s in the plans or not, but it should be.
Probably the least important aspect of any new camera—from a usability perspective—is the name; however, from a marketing perspective, the name is fairly important. If the camera is called something awkward or uninspiring, it might mean fewer sales, while if it is called something catchy and cool, it could increase camera sales. Fujifilm likely has a shortlist of potential names written on a board in Japan right now, and they’re trying to decide which one to pick.
Fans of Fujifilm are—just for fun—also contemplating the new name. I correctly picked the name of the X100V well before it was announced, and I’m hoping to go 2-0 with the upcoming version. It’s not important in the scheme of things, but I do enjoy guessing. Others have taken a stab at it, too. Let’s discuss some of the potential options.
My best guess is that Fujifilm will name the new model X100Z. Why Z? First, it sounds cool (think Nissan 350Z). Second, “Z” (Zeta) is the sixth letter in the Greek alphabet, and this will be the sixth iteration of the camera. Third, Fujifilm used Z in some of their film emulsion names, such as Fujicolor Pro 800Z (if they did introduce a new film simulation, it could be based on Pro 800Z and called PRO Neg. Z). It makes a lot of sense to me, and seems to check a lot of boxes that I imagine Fujifilm has for any potential name.
In the original X100 naming system, S stood for Second, T for Third, and F for Fourth. Once number five came around, the naming system no longer worked, so Fujifilm jumped to Roman Numerals for the current model. V not only means Five, but there’s also a V in the word. Some people think that Fujifilm will continue with Roman Numerals, and the next version will be X100VI. This is likely high on Fujifilm’s list of possibilities, but it just seems so Sony, and not so much Fujifilm; however, Fujifilm has been trying to be more like Sony lately, so maybe they’ll go this route. I personally would be surprised if Fujifilm uses another Roman Numeral until the tenth model, which will surely be called X100X, but I have no doubts that this option is on their list.
Another possibility—and this one seems to be the most popular among Fuji fans—is R, because that’s the sixth letter in the Japanese alphabet. The letter is pronounced Roku, which you might recognize as a well-established brand name for streaming television. If Fujifilm went this route, surely there will be plenty of jokes (for example, watch your favorite YouTuber right on your camera…). I could see Omar Gonzalez or Kai Wong having a field day with this! I would think that Fujifilm would avoid this option simply for the name association, but they could say that R stands for Rangefinder or Resolution (if they choose the 40mp sensor), but of course we’ll all know what it really means: plug the X100Roku into your TV for streaming made easy!
Some have speculated that Fujifilm will start over, going with X200 (followed by X200S, X200T, etc.). I don’t think this option makes much sense. I imagine that a full-frame X100 model would be called X200, but I don’t see Fujifilm completely renaming an established and popular line. If they were to go this route, the X200 would have to be significantly different than the X100V to justify such a dramatic name change, and I don’t see that happening.
If Fujifilm keeps everything pretty much the same and only makes minor modifications to the new model, I could see X100Vs (like the X-E2s, or if they use the stacked sensor of the X-H2s) or X100V II (like the X-T30 II) as the name. I think a lot of people will be disappointed that the new camera is pretty much the exact same thing as the (at the time of the new announcement) four-year-old X100V; however, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? So if not much changes, X100Vs and X100V II are both possibilities, but I imagine that enough will be different that Fujifilm won’t choose these options.
Another one I’ve seen floated around is X100H, where H stands for Hex, which means Six in Latin. It also means curse in English, so I’d be really surprised if Fujifilm made a bewitched model. I think this one will be avoided like the plague!
Of course, the one I’d really like to see is the X100-Acros, a monochrome-only version. I think there would be a lot of buzz surrounding that, and would be a “wow” camera. I hope that Fujifilm is at least considering such a version—I’d be first in line to buy it!
Now it’s your turn: what do you think Fujifilm will name the sixth edition of the X100-series? Let me know in the comments!
Day 3 — June 7, 2023 — Pismo Beach & Avila Beach
En plein air is a French expression that means outside or outdoors. Specific to art, it was made popular by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes in 1800, who encouraged artists to immerse themselves into the landscapes that they were creating by painting the scene while at the scene, and not in a studio (the most common practice at the time). The en plein air philosophy was embraced by impressionist painters, such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and others.
Dave Wyman calls the Central Coast of California tour “En Plein Air” because there’s no classroom or lecture portion—everything happens while out in the landscape actively capturing photographs. It’s about learning to see and interpret the scene around you by being immersed in it. Additionally, this part of California has some similarities to some French and Italian regions, so applying the en plein air expression seems appropriate.
While this was Day 3 for me, for everyone else on the tour it was Day 1. This was their travel day. Once settled into their hotel, they spent the evening photographing San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach; however, I did not join them yet. The prior day was busy, and I knew the next several days would be, too, so I kept this one low-key with my family. We did make it to the ocean a few different times at various locations around Pismo Beach and Avila Beach, but I purposefully did less with my cameras and tried to just be in the moment more often.
The camera gear that I used on Day 3 (you can read the entirety of the gear that I brought with me in my Ultimate Travel Compact Camera Kit article) was a Fujifilm X100V with a 5% CineBloom filter, a Fujifilm X-E4 with a Meike 35mm f/1.7 lens, a Ricoh GR III, and the RitchieCam App on my iPhone 11. I did not use a tripod at any point on this trip, including the night shots below.
For Day 3, the Film Simulation Recipes that I used on my Fujifilm cameras (which can be found in the Fuji X Weekly App) were Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodachrome 64, Kodak Portra 400 v2, Superia Premium 400, The Rockwell, Urban Dreams, Xpro ’62, and Serr’s 500T. On the GR III, I used the Monochrome Film Recipe (which can be found in the Ricoh Recipes App) for the entirety of the trip, treating the camera as a monochrome-only model. For the iPhone, I used my Night Negative filter on RitchieCam. As always, these pictures are camera-made JPEG’s that are unedited, aside from cropping and straightening sometimes—my workflow is so quick and easy!
Regarding the order, the top picture, House on the Seaside Cliffs, was the very first photo of the day, while Shell fits in-between Hanging Ice Plant and Camera Fight with Jon. Although I used my cameras less on this day, and despite the drab overcast weather, I still was able to capture a few good shots. I hope that you enjoy these pictures!
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My journey to Fujifilm wasn’t a straight path. Like many worthwhile adventures, there were a lot of twists and turns, and even moments where I nearly gave up. I’ve yet to chronicle this camera odyssey, so I thought I’d share it with you today. Perhaps you can relate, or maybe it will somehow assist you on your own journey.
In autumn of 1998 I enrolled in Photography 101 in college, where I learned to develop and print film in a darkroom. My first camera was a Canon AE-1, which I absolutely loved. Digital photography was in its infancy back then; I could tell a digital picture from film very easily, so I steered clear of it. I was one of those “holdouts” who stubbornly refused to go digital, and continued to shoot film even though it was no longer popular.
In 2009 I was asked to photograph my uncle-in-law’s wedding, which would happen the following spring. Realizing that the cost of film and development wouldn’t be that much less than the price of a new DSLR, I figured the time was finally right to give digital photography a try. My first DSLR was a Pentax K-x. I had a couple of Pentax SLRs, and I could use those K-Mount lenses on any Pentax DSLR—being able to use lenses that I already owned was a big upside. While the K-x was a budget model (not the cheapest, though), it was their newest, so I took a chance and went for it.
I didn’t realize how much of a learning curve there would be. Photography is photography, I thought, but I was very wrong. I had never used PASM—on my film cameras, if I wanted to adjust the aperture, I turned a ring on the lens; if I wanted to adjust the shutter speed, I turned a knob on top of the camera; and ISO was set by the film. Choosing the shooting mode and using command wheels to adjust aspects of the exposure triangle was foreign to me. Crop-sensor was another new concept, which affects focal lengths and depth-of-field, something I didn’t even consider. With film, it’s often better to overexpose a little than underexpose, but with digital it is the opposite, because you can lift shadows but you cannot unclip clipped highlights. Post-processing with software… I had a lot of experience in the darkroom, but Lightroom… curves and sliders and layers and masking, that was all new to me, and it was not easy. I did not enjoy any of this.
Still, I had that wedding to photograph, so I begrudgingly trudged ahead, trying to become competent with my K-x.
For the next couple of years I was shooting more film than digital, but the film canisters were piling up in my refrigerator. My wife was getting tired of sharing fridge space with my film, but money was tight and I could only afford to get a couple of rolls developed here and there. I almost sold my K-x to fund the development of the film, but instead decided to just shoot more digital until my current stash of exposed film could be processed.
In 2012 I purchased my second model: a Samsung NX200. Yes, Samsung briefly had a line of mirrorless interchangeable-lens APS-C cameras that were actually quite innovative. By this time I had accumulated enough experience with digital photography—both operating digital cameras and post-processing with software—that it was becoming more comfortable and enjoyable, which made me want to shoot more.
I used that Samsung a lot… until one day when someone stole my camera bag from my car. Both the K-x and NX200 and all of my lenses were inside. Thankfully, I had good insurance, which replaced the K-x with a Pentax K30, and the NX200 with an NX210, plus they replaced the lenses. For about a month I didn’t have a digital camera, but once the insurance delivered, I had upgraded gear, and my zest for photography picked up right where it left off.
Funny enough, the stolen camera gear was recovered when the thief tried to pawn it. Because I had kept a record of the serial numbers, when I filed the police report the cameras were added to a list that was distributed to local second-hand shops; the pawn shop clerk saw that the gear was stolen, so they alerted the police. It took awhile, but I was able to acquire my stuff back, and suddenly I had four digital cameras!
I didn’t need four cameras, so I sold both of the Pentax bodies and the Samsung NX210, and used the funds to buy a Sigma DP2 Merrill (plus more NX lenses). I kept the NX200 for when I wanted an interchangeable-lens option. I liked this setup because the Sigma was small and pocketable, and the Samsung was smaller than a DSLR yet just as versatile.
The photographs from the Sigma DP2 Merrill were absolutely fantastic—finally as good as or perhaps even better than many of the film emulsions that I used. It was the first time that I felt this way about the quality of digital images. I finally truly embraced digital photography. I was in love with the pictures; however, the camera was far from perfect. Battery life was similar to a roll of film. You couldn’t stray far from base ISO. The camera itself was uninspiring. The RAW files were a complete pain to process. The photographs were amazing, but it was frustrating, difficult, and often time-consuming to achieve it. It was the epitome of love-hate.
For the next year, I used the Sigma for about 75% of my photography and the Samsung for about 25%. Man, that DP2 Merrill was a pain, but boy-oh-boy were the pictures good! Even though it had a fixed 30mm (45mm-equivalent) lens, I didn’t feel hindered by that limitation very often, and when I did the Samsung was eager to go.
A friend loaned my their Nikon D3200 to try for a few weeks, then I gave it back. The image quality was impressive for such a cheap body, but I was happy enough with the gear I had that I wasn’t tempted to switch brands.
While cellphones had had a camera built into them for many years, I never felt that they were useful photographic tools until I got a Nokia Lumia 1020. This cellphone was a legitimate camera! Not a decent cellphone that happens to have a so-so camera, but a decent camera that happens to have a so-so cellphone. While the Sigma was quite compact and easily carried, the Nokia was even more so, which means that I literally always had it with me.
For about another year, I used the DP2 Merrill for about 50% of my photography, the Lumia 1020 for around 35%, and the Samsung was down to roughly only 15%. During this time two things happened: I was getting burnt out on post-processing the Sigma files, which was extraordinarily time consuming, and the Samsung began acting weird sometimes. Perhaps that’s why I used my cellphone so much.
In 2015 I sold the NX200 (and the lenses for it), and went all-in on the Nikon D3300, returning to the DSLR. This was Nikon’s low-budget model, but (because I had previously tried the D3200) I knew it would work fine for me; I spent more money on lenses instead. I really liked the quality of the pictures from this camera, but it didn’t take me long to remember that I didn’t care much for DSLRs. While the D3300 was very small and lightweight for a DSLR, it was still bulky, and less convenient to carry around.
I preferred the D3300 process—the shooting experience and especially the editing—over the Sigma, so I used the DP2 Merrill less and less. I have several thousand unprocessed RAW Sigma files still sitting on an old computer that’s in a box in the closet, and I’m sure they’ll be lost to time soon enough. Within a few months of purchasing the Nikon, I was only using the D3300 and cellphone, and not the DP2 Merrill.
It was a tough decision that I occasionally regret, but I reluctantly sold the Sigma DP2 Merrill. I set out to replace it with something somewhat equivalent—good image quality in a small, pocketable body—but with easier images to deal with. I wanted something that would be better than a DSLR for travel or just carrying around. I landed on the Sony RX100 II, which had a smaller sensor and a zoom lens.
It was definitely good to have a smaller option; however, while the camera certainly was good, I was never really happy with it. Perhaps I was too closely comparing the images to the Sigma, which was unfair to do. Sadly, despite trying, the RX100 II never found its place in my workflow, and was often underutilized.
I didn’t even own the Sony RX100 II a whole year before I sold it. During this time I was photographing less, while simultaneously shooting more film than I had the previous few years. Soon the D3300 and my cellphone were the only digital cameras that I owned, and I was using the Lumia 1020 more than the Nikon.
My wife had a Canon PowerShot N digicam. This little weird square camera actually took interesting pictures. I borrowed it on several occasions, including a trip to the eastern Sierras and Yosemite National Park, where I often chose it over the Nikon.
I realized that I don’t enjoy big cameras. I appreciate smaller models because they’re easier to carry around and don’t get in the way of whatever else is happening around you. I feel sometimes that one has to choose whether they’ll be a photographer or just a regular person in the moment; however, small cameras allow you to be both, but often the compromise is image quality.
Even though some of my favorite pictures (up to that point) were captured on the Nikon D3300, in early 2016 I sold it, and seriously contemplated getting out of digital photography completely, and just shoot film. Instead, I purchased a Panasonic Lumix ZS40, which was similar to the RX100 but cheaper and not as good. For about four months my only digital models were this and my cellphone.
I also replaced my aging Nokia Lumia 1020 with an LG G4. The Nokia was barely being supported, so the phone side of it was becoming less practical. While the LG phone was not terrible for photography, I did not like it as a camera nearly as much as the Nokia; however, it was a much better phone overall.
This period of my photography is a bit of an empty hole. I nearly stopped. I was burnt out by a lot of things—some photography related and some not—and there just wasn’t the same joy in it that there once was.
But, then everything changed. I always had an interest in Fujifilm cameras since the original X100 was released, but never purchased one. In the summer of 2016, after months of not owning a “real” camera (aside from several analog models), I found a good deal on a used X-E1, so I bought it. When I first tried the X-E1, I instantly fell back in love with photography! The design—the retro tactile dials like my film cameras—just made so much sense to me. Why weren’t all digital cameras like this?!
Because I loved the camera so much, I was suddenly photographing a lot. I mean, a lot. The old problem of spending hours and hours editing pictures was returning, but at least the joy of photography was back. I sold the Panasonic, and used the X-E1 pretty much exclusively. Even the film cameras were going unused.
After one year, I traded out my beloved X-E1 for a Fujifilm X100F. Because the Sigma DP2 Merrill held such a special spot in my soul, I had high hopes that the X100F could basically do the same for me. It could be my “DP2” without the ridiculous editing hassle and without the shortcomings of that camera. At base-ISO the DP2 Merrill is really difficult to beat, but overall I found that I like the X100-series better. Much better, in fact.
Something very important happened at this time that must be pointed out: I figured out that the Fujifilm JPEGs were actually really good. I realized that the unedited straight-out-of-camera JPEGs didn’t look all that much different than my post-processed RAW files, and by tweaking the settings I could get even closer. Why was I spending all of this time editing RAW files when the camera could do the work for me? This realization literally changed my life. This was when I began making Film Simulation Recipes, which saves me so much time, and has allowed me to become a much more prolific photographer, while avoiding getting bogged down in the stuff that sucks the fun out of it.
This article is already much too long, so I want to skip over my journey within Fujifilm. Maybe I’ll save that for another time. Currently I own a number of X-series models—nine bodies, to be exact—and I have owned or used a number of others. In a moment I’ll tell you what I’m shooting with in 2023.
I have had the opportunity to try several non-Fujifilm cameras over the last few years. I’m a proud Fujifilm fanboy, but that does not mean I’m not curious about or are not interested in other brands. I’ve tried Canon, Sony, Nikon, Ricoh, and Apple. They’re all good. They all have positive attributes. For me it’s no contest: Fujifilm is hands-down the best—I love Fujifilm cameras, and I cannot envision being a photographer without at least one; however, everyone has their own tastes and appreciations, and you might disagree with my assessments.
So what am I shooting with now? Which cameras am I currently using?
Below are my top-ten most-used models so far in 2023, half of which are Fujifilm, which means five are not Fujifilm. I’ve placed them in order of most-used to least-used. As the year goes on I’m sure this list will change, at least a little. Without further ado, here are the camera’s I’ve been shooting with in 2023:
Ricoh GR III
Nikon CoolPix S7c
Fujifilm FinePix AX350
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Fujifilm X-T5 in black: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X-T5 in silver: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X100V in black: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X100V in silver: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X-E4 in black: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X-E4 in silver: Amazon B&H Moment
Ricoh GR III: Amazon B&H Moment
According to Fujirumors, some camera stores are beginning to mark the Fujifilm X-E4 as discontinued. It’s not uncommon for cameras to be marked as such prior to the announcement of its successor, but I don’t think that’s the case here.
I own and love my X-E4. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the X-E line because my very first Fujifilm camera was an X-E1, which was my gateway into the Fujifilm family. The X-E4 was my most-used camera body in 2022. It’s an especially great camera for travel photography due to its small size and minimalistic design, and I’m so glad that I preordered it when it was announced.
Of course, it wasn’t without controversy. Fujifilm probably went a step or two too far in their attempt at minimalism, removing a couple of things they probably shouldn’t have. No camera is perfect. Despite that, the X-E4 has been in-demand since its release, with sales often exceeding Fujifilm’s ability to manufacture new bodies. The camera has been on backorder for the majority of the time since its release a little over two years ago. If you are a camera maker, best case scenario is that a camera’s demand exceeds your ability to make them, and they are already sold before they even reach the end of assembly. The X-E4 was one such model.
So why, then, is it being discontinued?
The reason why Fujifilm couldn’t keep up with demand is the global parts shortage that affected so much within the industry. Fujifilm didn’t prioritize securing parts and manufacturing efforts for the X-E4 for two reasons, I believe: 1) other models were even more in-demand, and 2) other models have higher profit margins. I don’t have any proof of that, it’s just my assumptions. Cameras like the X100V and X-T5 are more in-demand than the X-E4, and more money is made per camera sold than the X-E4, so less of an effort was made to produce more X-E4 bodies. Instead of trying to fulfill the full demand, Fujifilm prioritized other models. It’s fine that they did that, because something had to give somewhere, and Fujifilm made their tough decisions.
My guess is that parts are running especially thin now for the X-E4, so Fujifilm is telling camera stores that they cannot fulfill more orders. I think more bodies have been made and are en route to the stores, and possibly more are on the assembly line right now, but after that there will be no more. Some of those who have it backordered will get their camera, and some won’t. That’s all just a guess and so take it with a large grain of salt. I have zero inside information.
Instead of trying to secure more parts and manufacture more copies of the X-E4, I think Fujifilm is trying to move onto X-Trans V as quickly as they can. I suspect that the X-Pro3 is no longer manufactured, and Fujifilm and camera stores are waiting for the current stock to dry up. I think the X-T30 II is on it’s last production run, and will soon be discontinued. My guess is that all of the X-S10’s that will be made have been already, and it’s a matter of the current stock running out. Same for the X-T4. The X100V is another story. I think Fujifilm will continue to manufacture it as long as demand remains sky-high, which will likely be until the day the X100Z (or whatever they will call it) is released; however, I do think they are giving manufacturing priority to the X-T5, X-H2, and X-H2S. Again, this is all speculation and nothing more.
Supposedly, the next Fujifilm camera to be announced will be the X-S20 sometime next month, but Fujifilm cancelled their April X Summit. Maybe they weren’t as ready for the X-S20 as they thought they would be. I think Fujifilm should prioritize the next X100-series camera, but my suspicion is that 2024 will be the year of the X-Pro4 and X100Z, and not 2023. I do think the plan is for one more X camera to be announced this year (aside from the X-S20, in or around September), but it will likely be an affordable (budget) model, such as the X-T40 (they might call it X-T50).
Fujifilm has three low-budget lines: X-S, X-E, and X-T00. They used to have other lower-budget lines, but that end of the camera market dried up so they discontinued them. I don’t believe that Fujifilm will continue with three models competing against each other. My guess is that either the X-T00 or X-E line is done for. Since Fujifilm has flirted in the past with discontinuing the X-E line, that series is likely on the chopping block, or at least being discussed as such within Fujifilm management. Don’t be surprised if there is no X-E5.
If the autumn camera isn’t the X-T40, what could it be? Fujifilm would be smart to prioritize the next X100-series model. That should be near the very top of their to-do list (after fixing the Cam Remote app). I wouldn’t be surprised if Fujifilm introduced a new mid-tier PASM line in-between the X-S20 and X-H2/X-H2S—I have no idea if that’s in their plans or not, but it does seem like a gap in the lineup. I’ve heard of plenty of demand for a non-PASM flagship model, but I don’t think that’s currently in the cards. Of course, I’d love to see an X80 or monochrome-only model—those are the only cameras that I’m personally interested in right now—but I’m not holding my breath. Most likely, 2023 is the year for the X-S20 and X-T40.
I hope the X-E line isn’t done for. I hope there is an X-E5. If they do make it, the series has historically been announced near the end of a sensor’s lifecycle, so perhaps we will see one in 2025, just before X-Trans VI is introduced. We’ll see.