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Every Sunday from October through April, the Maricopa Live Steamers model railroad club offers free 7 1/2″ gauge train rides through the desert in north Glendale, Arizona. My kids love trains (what kids don’t?), and so my wife and I took them out on an excursion. The club has an extensive setup in the desert—over 18 miles of track—and members from across several states come to operate their scale equipment there. One day each week, except during the heat of summer, the club is open to the public, giving free train rides to anyone who wishes to traverse through the creosote and sand.
I brought along my Fujifilm X100V to capture the experience, with the Fujichrome Sensia 100 Film Simulation Recipe programmed into the camera. To make this recipe compatible with the X100V, I set Grain size to Small, Color Chrome FX Blue to Off, and Clarity to 0. The X100V is such a great camera for adventures like this, being compact and quiet, yet completely capable of fantastic image quality. My Fujifilm X70 would have worked just as well, but one advantage of the X100V is the viewfinder, which came in handy in the harsh midday light.
Fujichrome Sensia 100 was an inexpensive general-purpose daylight-balanced slide film made by Fujifilm from 1994 through 2011. There were three different iterations of the emulsion during that time. It was a popular film for cross-processing (developing in C41 chemistry); otherwise, it was primarily used for documenting family vacations, and was marketed to amateurs and hobbyists. My Film Simulation Recipe mimics the film only as a happy accident, as I wasn’t trying to create a facsimile of Sensia, but it is surprisingly similar nonetheless.
Below are camera-made JPEGs captured with the Fujichrome Sensia 100 Film Simulation Recipe on my Fujifilm X100V while at the Maricopa Live Steamers model railroad club:
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
On October 20, Nathalie and I will be introducing the Fujichrome Sensia 100 Film Simulation Recipe on SOOC as the next recipe-of-the-month. Mark your calendars now, and I hope to see you then!
Find this Film Simulation Recipe and 250 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!
The 11th issue of FXW Zine is out, and if you are a Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective subscriber, you can download it now!
What’s in the October issue? The cover story is an ode to the Classic Chrome film simulation, perhaps the most beloved film simulation created by Fujifilm. There are 20 pictures, including the cover, across 16 page.
If you haven’t joined the Creative Collective, consider subscribing today to get access to bonus articles and the FXW Zine—not just this issue, but the first ten issues, too!
Join the Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective to download the FXW Zine today!
Six months ago I turned my Fujifilm X100V into a monochrome-only camera, and just shot black-and-white Film Simulation Recipes with it, which was a lot of fun! I hope that someday Fujifilm makes a B&W-only model. Recently I started shooting color pictures on my X100V again, and the first three color recipes I programmed into the camera were Kodak Portra 400—three different versions of it!
My very first Kodak Portra 400 recipe is for Fujifilm X-Trans III cameras, which I published in May of 2018. It requires a hard-to-explain-and-get-right custom white balance measurement. I have had some luck in the past getting it “right” and at times not-so-much luck. I think this time I was able to get it pretty close but not exactly correct. I made three different attempts (using the three custom white balance slots), and went with the best of the three; however, I think the white balance should be slightly warmer than it is. It’s a tricky thing, and I wish it was more easily repeatable. To use this recipe on my X100V I set Grain size to Small, Color Chrome Effect to Off, Color Chrome FX Blue to Off, and Clarity to 0.
The next Kodak Portra 400 recipe is for the Fiujifilm X-T3 and X-T30, which I published in May of 2020. This one is easier to program (and probably more accurate to the film) than the X-Trans III version. To use it on my X100V I set Grain size to Small, Color Chrome FX Blue to Off, and Clarity to 0.
The third Kodak Portra 400 recipe is for the “newer” X-Trans IV cameras, including the X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras, which I published in June of 2020. Of the three versions, this one is probably the most “accurate” to actual Portra 400 film, but it is extremely similar to the X-T3/X-T30 recipe—only very subtly different.
One film can produce a variety of looks depending on a whole host of factors, including (among other things) how it was shot, developed, and scanned—even the pH balance and temperature of the water can affect it. It’s not possible for one recipe replicate all possible aesthetics. Also, different Fujifilm cameras have different JPEG options, and different sensor generations have slight variances in rendering; even though one recipe might be more “accurate” to the film, it’s certainly not always so—the variables are pretty significant. What’s more important than accuracy is finding the recipe that works best for you and your photography.
I’ve published many other Portra recipes, including Kodak Portra 160 (X-Trans II), Kodak Portra 160 (X-T3/X-T30), Kodak Portra 400 v2 (X-T3/X-T30), Kodak Portra 400 v2 (X-Pro3 & newer), Kodak Portra 400 Warm (X-Pro3 & newer), Reggie’s Portra (X-Pro3 & newer), Portra-Style (X-Pro3 & newer), Kodak Portra 800 (X-Pro3 & newer), Kodak Portra 800 v2 (X-pro3 & newer), and Portra v2 (X-Trans II). There are others recipes that aren’t necessarily modeled specifically after Portra film, but have a Portra-like aesthetic nonetheless, such as Bright Summer, Bright Kodak, Jon’s Classic Chrome, and Classic Kodak Chrome. There are plenty to choose from!
Let’s take a look at some photographs that I captured with the three Kodak Portra 400 Film Simulation Recipes on my Fujifilm X100V.
I hope that seeing these three Kodak Portra 400 Film Simulation Recipes together helps you decide which to try. Maybe one stands out more to you than the others. Perhaps the camera you own is more of a determining factor than the recipe itself. I personally like all three of them, and have enjoyed shooting with them on my (no-longer-B&W-only) X100V.
Also, as a reminder, these three Kodak Portra 400 recipes are the current SOOC recipes-of-the-month. Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry and I will conclude our discussion of these recipes in the next broadcast (be sure to watch the last episode if you missed it!), which will be live on October 20th. Upload your images (click here) captured with one (or more) of these Kodak Portra 400 recipes by October 18th to be included in the next show. I hope to see you then!
The Fuji X Weekly App has reached a significant milestone: 250 Film Simulation Recipes! That’s incredible! When the App launched in December 2020, it had “over 100” (123 to be exact), and now it has more than double that. Wow!
I published my first two recipe, simply called Classic Chrome and Acros, on August 27, 2017. Now, five years later, there are 250. Actually, there are more than that, because 1) none of the more complicated double-exposure recipes (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) are in the App, and 2) it doesn’t include any of my Ricoh GR recipes or Nikon Z recipes (here, here, and here), nor any of the RitchieCam iPhone camera app filters.
I thought a fun way to celebrate the 250-recipes-in-the-App milestone would be to pick my favorite one from each block of 25. For some groups, I knew right away which recipe would represent it. For other groups, there were six or seven recipes that I strongly considered before making a decision—of course, that’s the trouble: there are way more than 10 Film Simulation Recipes that are my favorites! Half of these use Classic Chrome, three use Classic Negative, one uses Eterna, and one uses Acros.
1 – 25
Now it’s your turn. Which of these 10 recipes do you like best? Which recipes not in this list are your favorites? Let me know!
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The Fuji X Weekly App is free, yet becoming a Fuji X Weekly Patron unlocks the best App experience! One benefit of being a Patron is you get early access to some new Film Simulation Recipes. These Early-Access Recipes will eventually become available free to everyone in time, including this new one. In fact, many Early-Access Recipes have been publicly published on this blog and the App, so now everyone can use them! Patrons help support Fuji X Weekly and, really, without them there would be no App. So I want to give a special “thank you” to all of the Patrons!
Eastman Color Negative II 100T, which was also known as ECN-2 Type 5247/7247, was a 100 ASA Tungsten-balanced motion picture film made by Kodak between 1974 and 1983 (although, apparently, it could still be found and was used into the early 1990’s). A lot of iconic movies used this film for at least some shots, including Star Wars, Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and many more. This Film Simulation Recipe is intended to mimic the aesthetic of this film stock that’s expired and developed in C41 chemistry after having the Remjet layer removed. This recipe isn’t intended to look like the film as it’s seen in the movies, but expired film that’s been developed in C41 chemistry instead of the ECN-2 process.
This “Expired ECN-2 100T” Patron Early-Access Recipe is compatible with the Fujifilm X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras. I believe it will also work on the X-H2 and X-H2s cameras, although I have not tried it myself to know for certain. If you are a Fuji X Weekly Patron, it’s available to you right now on the Fuji X Weekly App! If you don’t have the App, download it for free today. A side-note: this is the 250th Film Simulation Recipe in the App!
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using this “Expired ECN-2 100T” film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X-E4:
I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the hype of advancing camera technology. It’s natural to think that we need the latest and greatest new gear. But lately I’ve been thinking that we should not forget just how awesome our current cameras are. Whatever camera gear you have, it’s pretty freakin’ amazing!
I found it interesting that Rob Morgan prefers the X100F over the X100V. He said, “…although the technical specs of the X100V are ‘better’ it lost the mojo of the earlier models.” In other words, he likes the five-year-old model more than the two-year-old one. What about gear that’s even older than that? Can it still be any good?
The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is ten years old now. So is the X-E1. If you are using decade-old camera gear, you are certainly behind the curve, right? Everyone else’s pictures are so much greater than yours, right? Those cameras aren’t capable of capturing worthwhile images, right? Of course, the answer is no to all three questions—your gear is not obsolete, your pictures aren’t inherently inferior, and, yes, your gear is plenty capable as long as you are. Photography has been around for 196 years, but only cameras released in the last 12 months are worth owning, some would say—those cameras that evolved after only 186 years aren’t nearly as good as those that have had the full 196 years to be released. That’s nothing but pure nonsense!
The X-Pro1, the X-E1, and every single other Fujifilm X camera is a capable photographic tool. Is the X-T4 better? Maybe. Is the X-H2 better? Maybe. Is the X-T1 better? There are some who think so. Is the X-H1 better? Many X-H1 owners think so. Does any of it matter? No. What matters is how you use your gear, not what gear you use.
The fact is that the X-Pro1 and X-E1 are just as capable today as they were in the year that they were released. Actually, that’s wrong. With Fujifilm’s firmware updates (that they used to be known for), the cameras are better today than they were in 2012. A lot of positive things were said about the cameras back then. A lot of wonderful pictures were captured with them back then. 10 years later and it all still applies, and the cameras can still capture amazing pictures today.
I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to reread the old X-Pro1 reviews, and quote the positive things that were said about it back then. I think this is a good perspective to have, especially if you’re feeling a little camera envy. The X-Pro1 was a highly desirable model when it was released. I remember drooling over it in the pages of a photography magazine, but I couldn’t afford it back then. I’m very happy to own it now, because it’s still a solid camera, and still worth drooling over, even at the decade mark.
“It’s not just a retro look that distinguishes the Fujifilm X-Pro1, but its cutting-edge hybrid optical viewfinder and emphasis on quality prime lenses. Excellent image quality with very clean detail is the extra surprise inside.” —Imaging Resource, 04/18/2012
“The Fujifilm X-Pro1 does almost everything right: it’s a beautiful (if enormous) camera, it takes great pictures and video, and once you take the time to learn its controls and systems it’s as capable a shooter as I’ve tested.” —The Verge, 05/22/2012
“The X-Pro1 is certainly right up there with the best APS-C sensor cameras on the market, and some full-frame models too.” —Photography Blog, 03/15/2012
“The camera’s images are exceptional, delivering on the claims that it can match up to existing full-frame sensor’s abilities.” —What Digital Camera, 03/09/2012
“The image quality is stunning, with excellent, and I really mean excellent pixel level detail, with excellent colour reproduction, great dynamic range, excellent high ISO noise results and excellent JPEG output straight from the camera.” —ePhotoZine, 03/12/2012
“This is a high ISO street shooters dream. Yes, I said STREET SHOOTERS DREAM.” —Steve Huff, 04/04/2012
“This camera is a wave-breaker. May the other companies take note!” —Digital Photography School, 03/30/2012
“With the X-Pro1 Fujifilm has built on the platform provided by the X100, and is beginning to look like a very serious contender at the high end of the camera market.” —Digital Photography Review, 06/28/2012
Whatever camera you have, don’t worry about it being “good enough” or “new enough” or anything else. What you do with the gear you have is much more important than the gear you have—the limitation is only oneself. Do the best you can with what you have, and in time you’ll surprise even yourself at what you create. Your camera—whatever it is—is awesome, and we shouldn’t so easily forget that.
Rob Morgan is a curious person—that’s actually the title of his acclaimed podcast series—but who is Rob Morgan? I listened to several of his podcasts in preparation for this article (which is the fourth installment of my interview series). There’s a lot of value for the artist, no matter your medium or genre, in those recordings, and I found them helpful well beyond the scope of this interview. Give one a listen, perhaps Becoming Five Stars, You’re Delusional Until You’re Not, Nobody Wants to Listen to Your Music, The Mistake of Avoiding Mistakes, or How to Fake Extreme Talent—you’re sure to be hooked!
Rob Morgan is an internationally touring bass guitar player. He’s a super talented musician that’s often in-demand. He’s a creative director for live shows and world tours. Maybe you’ve even seen him play before in an arena, dive bar, or coffee shop—he’s even performed on The Today Show. Rob’s out on tour right now, so maybe you can catch him live if he’s coming to a city near you.
Aside from the music and podcast, Rob is also a photographer. It started out as a hobby—simply another creative outlet—but has turned into something much more. His photographs have been printed in media globally and he’s regularly commissioned to photograph musicians. He often uses a Fujifilm camera loaded with a Film Simulation Recipe.
Curious yet? I hope so! Keep reading to learn much more about Rob and his photography.
FXW: Hi, Rob! You play bass guitar—how did you get started with that? Why the bass?
Rob Morgan: There’s a common trope in music: a band needs a bassist, so they convince a guitar player to pick it up. Me, I’ve always been in love with the electric bass. The moment I got one for Christmas when I was 14, it was game over. I knew that was it for me, and there’s never been a Plan B.
FXW: What are the biggest music projects that you’ve been involved with? What are your most memorable musical moments? And what are you currently doing?
Rob Morgan: I mean, if we’re talking about memorable musical moments… it’s always the weird ones that stick out, no? A drummer (mistakingly) trusting a fart fifteen seconds before going on stage and playing in front of thousands in Beijing, China—our guitar player and I laughed during the entire set, knowing he was going to need a new drum seat after this show.
But opening for Foo Fighters at Fuji Rock Music Festival in Japan a few years back while playing bass with the band Owl City was definitely up there. Getting to have a private moment with Dave Grohl and telling him how his band’s documentary Back and Forth was one of the reasons I didn’t quit music years before while in a dry spell… that felt like a full circle moment.
As for right now, I’m currently sitting on a bus as we drive through Washington on tour with Caitlyn Smith.
FXW: Let’s switch gears. How did you get started in photography?
Rob Morgan: Growing up, there were these photography kits for kids—it came with a film camera and instructional book—that my mom got me back in the day, but I didn’t really start diving in deep until a few years ago. I was halfway through an Asia tour when I found myself wandering around Tokyo with my friend, guitar tech and stage manager Alex Perkins, who always had a Fuji X camera on him. On a tour that big, you don’t have access to your instruments outside of shows, and through him I realized one of the things I love most about photography: at any given moment, you can enter into the creative process.
FXW: Tell me about your cameras. Why Fujifilm? What do you shoot with now?
Rob Morgan: You can absolutely get a killer synth sound on a laptop, but there’s something about the tactile feeling of twisting a knob to change a sound on an analog synth that I love. While on that tour, I picked up a Fujifilm X100 for the same reasons. The fact that you changed the aperture and shutter speed via actual knobs (instead of touching a screen) reminded me of the cameras I grew up with, and the X100 series is still the closest digital version of a film camera I’ve found—its small size and vintage profile also play a large part in my love for it.
Artists and musicians (uncomfortably) can sense a large DSLR being pulled out instantly. This thing feels far less invasive and my propensity for zone-focusing and manually dialing in the exposure in advance means I can be extremely fast.
Through the years, I kept advancing through the line, moving to an X100S, X100T, X100F, X100V, and back again to my current camera, an X100F. The reason for going backwards is a pretty unpopular opinion: although the technical specs of the X100V are “better” it lost the mojo of the earlier models. The feel of the metal, the tilting screen, and even the shape all seem clunky to me, and I found myself reaching for my camera less often.
I love the X100F’s 35mm equivalent prime lens, but I also travel with the TCL and WCL adapters. I feel like I see the world in 35mm, but If I’m taking portraits of an artist, I throw on the 50mm TCL. If I’m bringing my camera in close quarters, on stage, or in the tour bus, I like the 28mm focal length (that the WCL allows me to capture) while in the middle of it all.
FXW: What Film Simulation Recipes do you use and why?
Rob Morgan: Whether it’s Daniel Kramer’s photographs of Bob Dylan, the authentic moments backstage captured by Danny Clinch or the iconic photographs of Anton Corbijn… as I started paying attention to the images that moved me, I realized the majority of them were shot on Kodak Tri-X 400 film (often pushed to 3200). As I said, I treat my X100F like one of my film cameras, and, thanks to your “Pushed Tri-X” recipe, I’m able to take it a step further and make it feel like I’ve loaded the camera with a roll of that film. It’s seriously been a game-changer for me! Shooting JPEG+RAW also allows me to not question it and focus on light and composition knowing that if it calls for something else later, I have the option in my back pocket. Sometimes, I’ll switch over to your HP5 recipe to change it up, but 99% of the time I stick with Tri-X.
FXW: How does being color blind affect your photography?
Rob Morgan: It’s tough to say. I’ve always had a propensity for the timelessness of black & white photography despite being red-green color blind. Ted Grant said, “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!” I love that, and I think I’d still be shooting the way I do even if I wasn’t color blind, but it’s definitely cemented my style. Now that I shoot portraits of artists, record labels will often ask for color options, too, so I’ll shoot RAW and use a wallet-sized grey card to adjust the white balance in Lightroom. But normally, they’re bringing me in to shoot because they want my gritty B&W style.
FXW: Tell me about your behind-the-scenes photography. What do you try and convey through these pictures?
Rob Morgan: I’m fully aware of how incredibly fortunate I am to get to travel the world playing music. But, once you do anything on a regular basis, it’s easy to start taking the small moments for granted: whiskey cheers in the greenroom before walking on stage, a candid moment on the tour bus, the band goofing off during soundcheck…. Like anyone else diving into photography, I started taking photos of the world around me. As I started sharing them online, and people connected with them, I realized how rare of a vantage point I have. I’m no Linda McCartney, and I’m not married to one of The Beatles, but the candidness and behind-the-scenes trust seen in her photography have always been something that inspires my work. I’m glad artists and fans connect with the photos I’ve taken, but at the end of the day, it’s purely selfish—I want to remember all the tiny details of this wild ride.
FXW: Tell me more about your interest in street & documentary photography.
Rob Morgan: I adore the documentary photography of Dorothea Lange, and she’s often quoted as saying, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” That’s everything to me. Whether I’m on tour with an artist or traveling Europe with my wife, Sarah—as long as I stick to my rule of NO ‘CHIMPING’ (looking at a photo you just took), photography helps me to see the moment and my surroundings more clearly. The street photography approach of “F/8 and be there” (setting your aperture to f/8 and hyper-focal zone-focusing) has been massively impactful to my approach, whether backstage or wandering a new city. It’s taught me to anticipate a moment and has given me the speed to capture it, especially if I have a bass in my left hand. See a moment, grab the camera, snap the shutter, put it down, and get back to rocking out.
FXW: Thank you so much, Rob, for carving out some time while on tour to do this interview!
More of Rob Morgan’s wonderful pictures:
The photographs in this article are © Rob Morgan
You should always have a camera with you.
The Fujifilm X70 is so small that it fits into my pants pocket, making it convenient for carrying literally everywhere. When I head out the door, no matter where I’m going, I shove the X70 into my pocket, along with my wallet, keys, and phone. I don’t always use it, but sometimes the opportunity presents itself, and I’m grateful to have a camera with me.
I was recently out running some errands with my wife, Amanda, and the kids. After we finished our tasks, Amanda asked, “Want to go to Lake Pleasant, just to check it out?” I’m always up for an adventure; besides, over 20 years ago, Amanda and I used to go to this lake, and we hadn’t been back since. So I eagerly answered, “Let’s go!”
I hadn’t been to Lake Pleasant in a long, long time. The drive out there was vaguely familiar yet a whole lot different. Much had changed. While the body of water is still outside the city—way out in the lonely desert—the city sprawl is inching closer and closer, and the lake has seen quite a bit of development. I’m sure it happened slowly, but, because I hadn’t seen it in so long, it was a bit shocking to me. There weren’t many people there, but I’m sure on a holiday weekend or during the summer heat the place is probably extremely crowded. We didn’t stay long, but because I had a camera with me I was able to capture these 15 pictures.
One of the custom presets programmed into my Fujifilm X70 is the Kodak Portra 160 Film Simulation Recipe. I thought it would do well at this location, so I chose it. This is one of my favorite recipes for X-Trans II cameras, and it didn’t disappoint on this adventure, delivering a Kodak-like color negative film aesthetic. These pictures are unedited, aside from some minor cropping and straightening on some of them, and is how they came out of the camera.
You never know when photographic opportunities will present themselves, so it’s best to always be prepared. I would have been disappointed that I didn’t have a camera if I hadn’t had the X70 in my pocket. Instead, because I did have it, this impromptu trip to the lake yielded some interesting pictures, which will serve as reminders to this quick adventure for years to come.
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that I had also put my phone into my pocket, which is an iPhone 11 with the RitchieCam camera app on it. For those who don’t know, I have my very own iPhone camera App, available in the Apple App Store. Even if I had failed to bring a Fujifilm camera, I would still have had my phone. Or, in the case of this particular trip, in addition to the X70, I also had RitchieCam on my iPhone (selecting the Sunny Day filter), and I used both to capture pictures.
Note: I wrote this article, which I stumbled across today, over two years ago, but for some reason never published it. I replaced many of the original pictures and corrected some words and grammar, but otherwise I kept it the same.
I love film photography, but digital is so much more convenient. The cost of digital photography is paid upfront, while with film there’s a per-frame cost with each exposure, which is just getting more and more expensive. I rarely shoot film anymore, but I like the look of film. The best of both worlds is when I can get a film aesthetic straight out of a digital camera. That might sound pie-in-the-sky or even pretentious; if I like the look of film, why not just shoot film? If I shoot digital, why not just edit like everyone else?
Fujifilm cameras can create something film-like while delivering digital advantages, and that’s incredible! With digital you don’t have to send off your exposures to a lab or have your own lab set up somewhere in your home. You can know immediately if your frame is any good or not—no need to wait hours or days or sometimes longer. And you are not limited to 12, 24, or 36 exposures. There’s a reason why most photographers shoot digital, yet there’s a reason why some still go through the hassle of shooting film. I think Fujifilm is kind of a bridge between the two.
Using software, such as Alien Skin Exposure or any of the many preset filter packs that are available, it’s very easy to turn a RAW file into something that looks analog. I’ve done that for many years, and I appreciate the results. If I can skip the software step and have a finished image straight-out-of-camera, that’s even better. That saves me some serious time! For many people, editing a picture is half the fun, but for me it’s not. I much prefer to not sit at a computer manipulating photographs. That’s just my preference, and it may or may not be yours, and that’s perfectly fine—there’s no right or wrong way, only what works for you. Shooting Fujifilm cameras using recipes to get film-like pictures straight-out-of-camera is what works for me.
I’m amazed at all the different looks that I can get out of my camera using my different Film Simulation Recipes on Fujifilm cameras. Fuji only gives so much control in-camera— they’re constantly providing more customization options with each new generation, but it’s still limited. Despite that, there’s a lot that you can do to create many different looks. It’s possible to mimic various film aesthetics without using any software. Thanks to Fujifilm’s vast experience with film, they’ve been able to infuse into their camera-made-JPEGs an analog soul that’s frankly missing from most digital pictures.
The photographs in this article are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs that weren’t edited, with the exception of some minor cropping in some circumstances. They’re all from Fujifilm cameras, including an X-E4, X100V, X-T30, X-T20, X-Pro2, X100F and X-T1. In my opinion, in one way or another, they resemble film—an analog look from a digital camera. That’s nothing short of amazing!
10 example pictures, just to illustrate the point:
Find these Film Simulation Recipes and nearly 250 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!
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You might have noticed that, while seemingly everyone else was eager to share the news of Fujifilm’s latest camera—the X-H2—and give their opinions and praise, I have been quiet about it. Not that I’ve been quiet about the X-H2 (and X-H2s), but I haven’t said a word about it since it was announced last Thursday. I wasn’t planning to say anything about it today, either, but I’ve received a lot of messages asking for my opinion if they should preorder this camera or not. I’m not really sure what I can add to this conversation that’s unique, but I will try. Also, I’m feeling lighthearted, and I hope that somehow comes across in this article—if the words seem serious, I don’t mean them that way at all. Sometimes critical nonverbal queues aren’t conveyed in written text, so keep that in your mind as you read further down. With that said, let’s dive into this!
I definitely don’t like to state that anyone should or shouldn’t buy any specific camera model. That’s a personal decision, and I cannot know if something is “right” for you—only you can determine that. I can offer my two cents, which might not be worth even two pennies, but it’s not for me to decide what you should do. Because so many have asked, I’m going to offer my advice; however, take it with a grain of salt, and if you are really unsure, seek all sorts of opinions and decide which one resonates with you the most.
A lot of people seem to be surprised that Fujifilm didn’t send me an X-H2 to try. While Fujifilm has loaned me a few cameras to try out for a time (namely, an X-T200, X-Pro3, and GFX-50S), I’m definitely not on their short list to send new gear to. I’m not an X-Photographer or Fujifilm Creator or anything like that, and I have no official or formal connection with the company—I’m just a guy who shoots with Fujifilm cameras, creates Film Simulation Recipes, and shares my opinions and experiences on this blog. I think Fujifilm appreciates that I help to bring them a lot of sales, and that I help to foster excitement among their customers, but I also use competitor names (such as “Kodak”) and I’m not afraid to speak critically of them, so they’re not always happy about this website (I know this because they told me so during one of the handful of times that I’ve spoken with someone within the company). Funny (and completely true) story: Ken Rockwell (after he tried The Rockwell recipe) was kind enough to attempt to get Fujifilm to put me on their press list, but apparently his (unofficial) endorsement wasn’t enough because I’m not on that list (I hear about new gear the same way that you do). And don’t even get Fujifilm started on Fujirumors …within Fujifilm, you don’t talk about Bruno and you don’t talk about that rumor website—ever. I do think that Fujifilm should do more to meet the community where they’re at, and not be so standoffish to it just because they didn’t create the community and have no control over it. I don’t think they fully realize the unique position they’re in, and they don’t really know what to do with it. To capitalize on it, they need to embrace it.
A lot of people also seem to be surprised that I didn’t order an X-H2 to make Film Simulation Recipes on. I do hope to make X-Trans V recipes. It’s my understanding from the reports I’ve received that the X-Trans IV recipes (for the X-Pro3 and newer cameras) are 100% compatible with X-Trans V cameras, and the rendering is essentially identical to X-Trans IV. What the X-H2 does have that X-Trans IV cameras don’t is Nostalgic Negative, and I do hope to someday try that new film simulation. The reasons why I didn’t order an X-H2 (or X-H2s) are 1) it’s not in my budget, 2) I don’t think I’d like the shooting experience (big bulky body with PASM), 3) I don’t have any need for 8K, and 4) I find my current gear to be sufficiently quick already with more than enough resolution. It’s just not a camera for me; however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t for you.
I’ve received messages from people who ordered the X-H2s, and some told me that they really love the new camera and it’s the best camera they’ve ever used, and others have told me that they hated it and it is the worst Fujifilm user experience they’ve ever encountered, so they returned it. How can one camera have such strong yet completely opposite reactions? I went down a couple of rabbit holes, and I think I found some commonalities that might help you determine if the X-H2 is a camera you’ll love or hate. Below I have two checklists: one for buying the X-H2 and one against buying the X-H2. Check as many that apply to you in each checklist, and whichever side has the most, that’s the direction to lean. You still have to make a decision yourself on what’s right for you, but if you are stuck, maybe this will help a little.
You SHOULD buy an X-H2 if…
☐ You don’t mind, or maybe even prefer, PASM.
☐ You don’t care if your gear is bulky.
☐ Your first Fujifilm camera was an X-S10.
☐ Your only Fujifilm camera is GFX.
☐ You own a full-frame camera by Canon, Sony, or Nikon.
☐ Your primary photo/video subjects constantly move quickly.
☐ You like to have the latest and greatest technology and gear.
☐ You have a bunch of money saved up and are eager to spend it.
☐ You own a professional production company and want to phase out your Sony gear for Fujifilm.
You should NOT buy an X-H2 if…
☐ You like the tactile classic controls that Fujifilm is known for.
☐ You don’t like bulky gear.
☐ You don’t own an X-S10 or Bayer model.
☐ You don’t own a GFX camera, or if you do it is a GFX50R.
☐ You sold all of your Canikony gear awhile ago.
☐ Your primary photo/video subjects don’t constantly move quickly.
☐ You don’t mind waiting for tech to go on sale or to buy things used sometimes.
☐ You prefer to spend money on experiences rather than gear.
☐ You are simply a photographer.
Definitely take those checklists with a grain of salt. I know that not every statement applies to everyone, or even everyone equally. But, generally speaking, if one side has a lot more boxes marked, then it probably resonates with you, and perhaps provides some clarity if you are not sure what to do. It matters not to me if you do or don’t order the camera; if you do, I have included an affiliate link below, which, if you use, helps me out a little.
In other news, according to Fujirumors, the X-T4, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras are apparently being discontinued. If you’ve been wanting to buy one, and if you can find it in stock, it might be a good time to put that order in. It also means that the X-T5 and probably X-T50 (I’m making the wild guess now that Fujifilm will skip the X-T40 name, for marketing reasons, and go straight for 50) aren’t that far out—I think X-T5 before the end of the year, and X-T50 first quarter of 2023. I don’t believe an X-E5 is in the works; if it does come, it will more likely be in 2025, closer to the end of the X-Trans V lifecycle, or perhaps never. I think an X-S20 will come shortly after the X-T50, probably less than a year from now. I don’t have any inside information, these are simply guesses.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Interestingly, the Fujifilm X-E3 can still be purchased brand new. Amazon
As the owner of a somewhat popular photography blog with millions of page-views annually, it should come as no surprise that I see a lot of internet trolls. I delete a lot of these comments, because their only purpose is to stir up trouble by being purposefully mean-spirited and unreasonable. These comments literally have zero value, and if a value was assigned to such comments, it would be a negative number. The world would be a better place without these people, which is a really sad reality. I mean, what kind of legacy is that? The world is better without you? Who wants to be that person? It would seem like nobody, yet there are so many examples all over the place where that’s exactly the case. If you are a troll, stop what you are doing, and instead spend your time and energy doing something good, something that has a positive effect on those you encounter.
According to Wikipedia, an internet troll is “a person who posts inflammatory, insincere, digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as social media, newsgroup, forum, chat room, online video game, or blog), with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses, or manipulating others’ perception. This is typically for the troll’s amusement, or to achieve a specific result such as disrupting a rival’s online activities or manipulating a political process. Even so, Internet trolling can also be defined as purposefully causing confusion or harm to other users online, for no reason at all.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “to antagonize others online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content,” and, “to harass, criticize, or antagonize someone especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts.”
Unfortunately, trolls aren’t going away. This post won’t stop them. All I can do is spare you from them as much as practical. However, what I can tell you is that the number of troll comments has been increasing on this website. Also, sometimes trolls can come across initially as genuine, and, like a wolf in sheep’s clothes, only after a level of trust has been established do they reveal their true colors.
What is the best way to deal with trolls?
– Heed the sign: don’t feed the trolls. That simply means don’t take the bait—they’re desperately hoping for your response, so don’t give it to them. Don’t even respond to their comments—ignore them. This is the best strategy.
– Call them out. If you do find yourself in a back-and-forth with a troll, call them out. State in your response that you know they are a troll. Oftentimes, for some reason that I don’t understand, calling a troll a troll is like pouring water on the Wicked Witch of the West. I think this works because they often take the angle of being the superior person, so shedding light on their charade takes away that false position they’re hiding behind.
– Block them. I try to; however, some get through, either because they took the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothes approach, or because I let them so as to prove a point, or because their initial comment was borderline trollish, and I erred on the wrong side. Troll’s comments add no value whatsoever, so blocking these comments is a gain and not a loss.
Today, a troll left a nasty comment on this blog (I blocked it… it was never published). The person had a unique name, so I wondered what would turn up if I Googled them. As it turns out, this person just goes around saying hateful things across the internet. That’s all they do. Literally, the only online records of this person are troll comments, mostly of the worst kind (and often repeating the same words). Likely the identity they use for these comments isn’t their real name, and perhaps they have many aliases. I took screenshots of these comments, and I was going to include them in this post, but I think it’s counterintuitive to give the person the satisfaction of that, so I’m not going to do it—I’d rather them think that they wasted their time (which they did).
Trolls are internet parasites. They suck the fun and life out of it for no reason other than they get some weird jollies from it. If you are a troll, I implore you: stop being a part of what’s wrong with the world, and instead give your life some much needed meaning by saying words of kindness and encouragement. We could all use more of that—a lot more—and a whole lot less of unnecessary spitefulness.
The Fujifilm community is absolutely wonderful! There are so many kind and helpful people who make it great, and I appreciate all you guys a heck-of-a-lot. My hope for this website has always been for it to be a positive resource for the community, and I hope that you find it to be that way. I try not to let the trolls ruin it (like they do on so many other websites), and if one does, I apologize for their awful behavior. If you have a concern about this, feel free to reach out to me anytime.
For those with Fujifilm X-Trans cameras that are older than the X-Pro3, you cannot save a White Balance Shift within the C1-C7 Custom Presets. This means that you have to remember to adjust the WB Shift whenever you switch Custom Presets, which is inconvenient to say the least. However, I discovered a method (which I’ve shared before) that allows you to switch between your C1-C7 Custom Presets without having to adjust the WB Shift, and most of you can even have eight presets instead of seven!
Those with an X-Pro3 or newer model don’t have to worry about this, but for those with “older” cameras (X-Trans I, X-Trans II, and X-Trans III, plus the X-T3 & X-T30… Bayer models don’t have Custom Presets), this method can dramatically improve the shooting experience. In this article I will explain in a practical way how to do this on your X-Trans camera. This will be a “game-changer” for some of you!
Read more of this article when you join the Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective today! Click here to learn more.
In the last episode of SOOC, Nathalie Boucry and myself finished our discussion of the Vintage Agfacolor Film Simulation Recipe. As you know, while we encourage you to use the recipes that we feature, we also use them ourselves. I hope that you find it to be just as enjoyable of an exercise as we do!
If you missed the last SOOC broadcast when it was live, you can find it below. It’s nearly two hours long, so buckle up!
If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, I hope that you’ll take a few minutes to check out the viewer-submitted slideshow. These are YOUR pictures! I appreciate everyone who uploaded their photographs captured with the Vintage Agfacolor recipe—your participation is what makes these shows great, and it is much appreciated!
Below is the viewer’s images slideshow:
A couple more of my pictures using the Vintage Agfacolor recipe:
And with that we close this chapter on Vintage Agfacolor, and begin the next adventure: Kodak Portra 400! This new recipe-of-the-month is unique because it’s not just one recipe, but three. For those with an X-Trans III camera, try this Kodak Portra 400 recipe (click here). For those with an X-T3 or X-T30, use this Kodak Portra 400 recipe (click here). And for those with an X-Pro3 or newer camera, this is your Kodak Portra 400 recipe (click here). Use these recipes, and upload your pictures (click here) to be included in the next SOOC broadcast.
Here are a few of my recent pictures where I used the Kodak Portra 400 recipe:
For those who don’t know, SOOC is a monthly live video series, with each episode focused on a different Film Simulation Recipe. It is a collaboration between Tame Your Fujifilm (Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry) and Fuji X Weekly (Ritchie Roesch). SOOC is a fun and educational experience where we not only talk about Fujifilm camera settings, but also answer your questions and give tips and tricks. Basically, we’re trying to help you master your Fujifilm camera, with a focus on simplifying your photographic workflow.
The next SOOC episode will be live on October 20, so mark your calendars now! We’ll finish our discussion of Kodak Portra 400 and introduce the next recipe-of-the-month: Fujichrome Sensia 100! I hope to see you then!
You can find all these recipes and many, many more in the Fuji X Weekly App.
This post is by popular demand! Ever since I started sharing pictures captured with my new-to-me Fujifilm X70, I’ve been bombarded with requests to compare the camera with the XF10 and the Ricoh GR models. And I fully understand why: there aren’t very many truly pocketable APS-C fixed-lens cameras, yet these are perfect for travel, street, and to just carry everywhere and use literally every day. There’s definitely a draw to them, and I can’t fathom why they’re not even more popular. Every photographer should want one of these, or something like them, but they often stay in a state of obscurity. I find it odd, but that’s the way it is.
We’ll start this off with a comparison of the two Fujifilm models: X70 and XF10. What’s similar and what’s different? Which one is better? Of the two, which should you buy?
At first glance you might think they’re the same camera, because they look very similar, and have nearly identical dimensions. The XF10 is lighter than the X70 because it has more plastic in its construction, and it feels like a cheaper camera (which it is). The lens is optically the same, but the X70 has an aperture ring while the XF10 doesn’t. The X70 also has a tilting rear screen, something not found on the XF10. And then there’s the dial: PASM vs Shutter Knob—regular readers of this blog know already that I don’t prefer PASM (putting it mildly), but maybe you do. The XF10 doesn’t have a hot shoe, or C1-C7 Custom Presets. The X70 has a 16-megapixel X-Trans II sensor, while the XF10 has a 24-megapixel Bayer sensor—I think, as far as image quality goes, they’re pretty similar, and I wouldn’t call one output “better” than the other. The XF10 is newer, released more than two-and-a-half years after the X70.
There are some things, such as Snapshot, that I like about the XF10, but there are some things, such as a generally sluggish performance, that I don’t. Between the two, it’s clear that the X70, despite being an older model released in 2016, is the more premium option, and it is the camera that I prefer of the two. The X70 is a keeper if you’ve got one; the XF10 is dispensable. With that said, the X70 can be hard to find (those who own them rarely sell them) and are often expensive. The XF10 is much easier to find, but finding a bargain on one can still be a challenge. If you are on a tight budget or don’t have much patience (and don’t mind the limitations of this model), the XF10 is a very good runner-up, but if you want the better option of these two, the X70 is the one to go with. Both models have been long discontinued, so don’t expect to find one brand-new, and if you somehow do, know that it will come with a premium price tag; otherwise, you’ll have to be satisfied with something that isn’t new but is new to you.
How does the X70 (and XF10) compare to the Ricoh GR cameras? I’m most known for my Fujifilm Film Simulation Recipes, but lesser known are my Ricoh GR Recipes; I know a thing or two about both brands. I own a GR and a GR III. The GR II is essentially the same camera as the GR (just minor improvements), so everything that I say about the GR in this discussion will apply to the GR II. The GR IIIx has a different focal-length lens, but is otherwise very similar to the GR III, so what I say about the GR III applies also to the GR IIIx. I hope this makes sense and helps to simplify things a little.
The Ricoh GR models are not as pretty as the Fujifilm models, but what they lack in beauty they make up for in compactness. While the X70 and XF10 are small, the GR cameras are really small, which makes them even easier to carry with you everywhere. The GR III is just a little smaller than the GR I & II. Functionality and feature wise, all of the GR models are more similar to the XF10 than the X70. The rear screens are fixed. There’s a PASM dial. There’s no aperture ring around the lens. The GR cameras aren’t laggy like the XF10, though, plus there’s a hot shoe.
Image quality on the GR cameras are similarly good compared to the Fujifilm models. My opinion is that the GR, which was released in 2013 and features a 16-megapixel camera, has the “worst” technical image quality of all of these cameras, but there’s some sort of pixie dust that gives it a special quality—I’m not exactly sure what it is, but there’s an unexpected appealing quality to the images (this applies also to the GR II, released in 2015). The GR III, which has a 24-megapixel sensor and was released in 2019, has superior technical image quality over the GR, but lacks a little of that pixie dust. Is technical image quality more important, or that hard-to-define special quality? Your answer will reveal which GR camera to consider. I personally like the GR III a little more than the GR.
What’s better, though: Fujifilm or Ricoh? That’s a really tough decision. I do like Fujifilm’s JPEGs a little more than Ricoh’s, but they’re both very good; the “color science” and approach to JPEG output is different, so you might prefer one over the other (I personally prefer Fujifilm’s, no surprise, but everyone is different). Between the XF10 and any of the GR models, I would go with Ricoh, but Ricoh isn’t the hands-down winner—the XF10 is nearly as good, but the GR cameras are slightly better, in my opinion. Between the X70 and Ricoh, I give the X70 the edge, because the design and shooting experience is superior. Even though the GR models are noticeably smaller and fit just a little easier into my pockets, I’d choose to take the X70 with me instead, as it’s more fun to shoot with. The GR III is the only model that you can still buy brand-new, so if you don’t want to purchase a used camera, it’s your only option.
The best case scenario is if you can own multiple cameras, because each have their advantages and disadvantages. There are times when each of the models discussed in this article could be the best choice. If you own a Fujifilm camera and a GR camera, that allows you to choose which one you think will work best for you in the situations you anticipate encountering. However, if it can only be one, I recommend the Fujifilm X70 (even though I’ve only owned it for a short time), followed very closely by the GR III, then followed very closely by the GR or GR II (get the GR II if the price is the same), then followed very closely by the XF10. Some might disagree with that ranking, but that’s my opinion. I do hope this article is helpful for those trying to decide which one to get.
None of these cameras are perfect by any means, but they are all perfect for shoving into a pocket and carrying with you everywhere. Can’t afford any of them? Don’t worry, just use your phone—if you have an iPhone, be sure to try my RitchieCam camera app! This can serve a similar purpose, and since you already have your phone on you, it’s not necessary to also carry a camera. While I have a phone with RitchieCam in my pocket, I’ll often have a Fujifilm X70 or Ricoh GR III in a pocket, too.
Ricoh GR III
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Fujifilm needs to drop whatever they’re currently doing, and make an X80. This should be priority number one!
Not that I think they’re going to do this—I really don’t think they will—but they absolutely should. They should do it right, and they should do it right now.
Fujifilm introduced the X70 in January 2016 and discontinued it in December of that same year. You might think that the camera was a flop, but it wasn’t. Unfortunately, to Fujifilm’s surprise, shortly after the camera launched, Sony suddenly discontinued the 16-megapixel APS-C sensor that the X70 used, and Fujifilm had no choice but to fully move on to X-Trans III as quickly as possible. The X70 was a casualty of that situation. No successor was ever made, supposedly because heat dispersion was an issue with the X-Trans III sensors. Even though the camera is six years old now, people love their X70 camera—you don’t see very many for sale, and when you do it’s usually for a similar price to, or even higher than, the original MSRP.
Even though the camera is an old model, photographers are still enjoying their X70. Omar Gonzalez said that he loves the X70, and it’s his favorite fun pocketable camera. Reggie Ballesteros called it his favorite pocket cam. Samuel Streetlife called it an amazing camera for street photography and it’s sad that Fuji didn’t continue this line. People love the X70 because it is basically a smaller and more wide-angle X100T, but without a viewfinder; the viewfinder is a make-or-break for some, but other people don’t mind its absence at all.
So what would an X80 look like? What features should it have?
Fujifilm should try, as best as practical, to keep it the same size and shape as the X70. It should have the same 18.5mm (28mm full-frame-equivalent) lens. The rear screen can stay the same. I’m sure that Fujifilm would replace the d-pad with a joystick… I’d like to see both, but it will be a joystick and not a d-pad (and not both). Fujifilm should include the shutter/ISO knob of the X100V. Swap the command switch thing for a command wheel. Otherwise, don’t change a thing. The X70 is a cult classic because Fujifilm did so much “right” with it. Don’t overcomplicate it; don’t “fix” what’s already good.
The electronic viewfinder will be the controversy. The X70 doesn’t have one, and I personally don’t think it’s a requirement for the X80, but some people will have a strong opinion that, in 2022 (or 2023), it is a requirement. Perhaps Fujifilm should consider a pop-up viewfinder (right underneath where the X70 says “X70”) similar to the Sony RX100 III, or (my preferred option) a shoe-mount viewfinder that’s an optional accessory.
Obviously on the inside it needs to have a new sensor and processor. X-Trans IV? X-Trans V? Something else? Heat dispersion is obviously the biggest obstacle. The Fujifilm X100V can run hot, and it has a larger body, so it’s possible that the X-Trans IV sensor, despite being “cooler” than X-Trans III, is still too hot. Is the 26mp stacked X-Trans V sensor cooler? I know it’s quicker, but instead of quickness, can it be utilized for its coolness? How about the 40mp non-stacked? I personally would prefer it to not have a Bayer sensor, but if it did, it needs to have Acros and Classic Negative and Clarity and all that, which hasn’t been included on any Bayer model. I don’t know what sensor it would need to be or what Fujifilm needs to do to make it work, but I’m sure it’s possible, and they should do what it takes to figure it out.
How much would an X80 cost? The X70 had an MSRP of only $700, which seems like a steal of a deal! I think the X80 could have an MSRP of around $1,000 and people would buy it. Go much higher than that and people will start expecting more premium features (like weather sealing), but even at $1,200 I’d preorder it. Look, a Fujifilm X-E4 with the 18mm pancake, which is still noticeably larger than the X70 yet the closest you can get to it with Fujifilm’s current lineup, will run you $1,450, so it shouldn’t seem unreasonable to pay significantly more for the X80 than the X70. Heck, some people will pay a grand for a used X70!
If Fujifilm made an X80, that would be epic. It’s my number two “wow” camera that Fujifilm should make. However, I believe that Fujifilm believes that the market for such a camera came-and-went, and current camera buyers aren’t as interested in such a model; however, the feedback that I have received suggests that there would be a heck-of-a-lot of excitement for an X80 if Fujifilm ever did make one. I hope they do.
It’s your turn! What features should a Fujifilm X80 have? Which sensor? Would you buy one if they made one? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! While I think most likely Fujifilm will never read this, there is a chance that they might—if they do, make sure your voice has been heard.
The next SOOC episode will be live on Thursday, September 9th! Join Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry and myself as we finish our discussion of the Vintage Agfacolor Film Simulation Recipe and introduce the next recipe-of-the-month: Kodak Portra 400. Which Kodak Portra 400 recipe? These three: Here, Here, & Here. Yes, all three! The PreShow starts at 9:30 AM Pacific, 12:30 PM Eastern Time; if you can’t make the PreShow, be sure to tune in by 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern to catch the broadcast.
For those who don’t know, SOOC is a monthly live video series, with each episode focused on a different Film Simulation Recipe. It is a collaboration between Tame Your Fujifilm (Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry) and Fuji X Weekly (Ritchie Roesch). SOOC is a fun and educational experience where we not only talk about Fujifilm camera settings, but also answer your questions and give tips and tricks. Basically, we’re trying to help you master your Fujifilm camera, with a focus on simplifying your photographic workflow.
Nathalie has an excellent write-up for the Vintage Agfacolor recipe on her website, so be sure to check that out!
See you Thursday!
As you might recall, I wrote a piece back in June entitled Is Fujifilm Losing Its Soul?, and I opened the second paragraph with my answer: Fujifilm has already lost its soul. Some of you disagreed, but the vast majority agreed with my sentiments—it seemed to resonate with a lot of you.
I came across an article (via Fujirumors) published two days ago in which Dave Etchells of Imaging Resource interviewed five Fujifilm managers. You can read the whole thing if you’d like. Some parts of it stood out to me, and so I thought I’d highlight those. I’m going to get a little cynical, so be sure to hold onto your hats. I promise to wrap it up on a positive note.
“Seeing a PASM dial on the X-H2S,” Dave states, “some people have been saying, ‘Oh no, Fuji’s abandoning us! Where are the individual exposure controls?’ <laughter around the table>….”
I guess that’s funny? I mean, seriously, when a large group of your most loyal customers state a concern, your response is to laugh at and mock them? Not cool, not one bit. And this is the problem. Want proof that Fujifilm has already lost its soul? Here it is, right in that laughter.
“Yeah, that’s kind of interesting,” answered Fujifilm Divisional Manger Yuji Igarishi, “because we did not hear that when we introduced it for the GFX.”
“Huh, that is interesting,” answered Dave, “that the issue never came up with the GFX.”
That is interesting, because I heard it. I said it myself. Not sure why Fujifilm didn’t get the memo, other than GFX is financially out of reach for many X shooters, so they’re not as passionate about what Fujifilm does with GFX as they are with X. Trust me, Fujifilm: some people noticed and cared that the latest GFX cameras are PASM, and there are people who won’t buy them for that reason. Maybe it’s not enough photographers for the company to concern themselves with, I don’t know, but people did vocalize the concern. If you don’t care, then you don’t care; if you do care, perhaps broaden where you’re finding feedback (for example, nobody asked me, despite having such a large and passionate Fujifilm audience…). Maybe it wasn’t stated loudly, but the issue certainly did come up.
“…I tend to think of PASM as being more for amateurs,” Dave continued, “but actually it’s the professionals who need it, to be able to change modes quickly.”
Ah, I get it now: PASM is for pros, and the traditional tactile controls of Fujifilm’s other products are for amateurs, and if you prefer them, you’re an amateur. Only the lowly amateur peasants don’t want PASM. If you’re a pro, surely you prefer PASM. Apparently Fujifilm prefers to focus on potential “pro” customers and not their current “amateur” customers. Yes, I’m taking the quote noticeably out of context, but, reading the interview, that’s the sentiment I got, whether or not it was flatly stated.
Look, PASM isn’t any more or less for pros than the traditional controls; it’s simply a preference, largely based on how one learned photography—if you learned on PASM you tend to prefer PASM, and if you learned on traditional controls you tend to prefer traditional controls. Fujifilm was one of the very few camera makers who made products for those who don’t prefer PASM, and that’s a big reason why the majority of their users purchased their first Fujifilm camera, and an important reason why they continue to do so. Everyone makes PASM cameras, but, aside from Fujifilm, who makes non-PASM models? It’s a pretty short (and largely expensive) list. It’s fine that Fujifilm wants to expand their customer base and offer a diversity of products to meet the needs of various customers. Awesome. But don’t do it at the expense of (and while mocking and belittling) those who have purchased your products for years. That’s a good way to make your loyal customers a lot less loyal, which will only bite you in the butt.
“…We’re not moving everything away from the dials,” Yuji reassures, “no need to worry about that.”
Not everything. Some things—yes. But don’t you worry ’bout a thing. Yeah, I mean, a couple models had their traditional controls replaced with PASM (X-H and GFX-50S lines), but it’s not going to happen to the other camera series, you can trust that. Never mind that (once the X-H2 is official announced in a few days) five of the last seven X + GFX cameras have been PASM. And one of those two non-PASM models was basically just a firmware update. To me, it seems like a commitment to “moving… away from the dials” and not the other way around. Actions speak louder than words.
Speaking of GFX…
“I think when we introduced the 50R,” stated Yuji, “that was kind of the first small medium-format camera, so I think there was a value there. Now that we have a smaller body with the GFX100S, I think there’s maybe less need for something even more compact. Of course, we always look at the market to see if there’s a need to introduce something, but I think at the moment, probably because of the GFX100S body size, there’s not as much demand for a smaller model as before.”
In other words, rangefinder styling and traditional controls—forget about it. If that’s what you want, GFX isn’t for you. I guess there’s very little hope of “wow” product #7….
“Fujifilm has a very broad range of APS-C bodies these days,” Dave mentioned, “with no fewer than 6 different product lines. Will all of these lines continue into the future, or do you see some of them going away or merging with each other?”
“Currently,” Yuji answered, “we believe that each product line has its own unique characteristics, so as long as that makes sense for us, we’ll continue with that line. For us, it’s whether we can provide value for the customers. Some of the products take longer to update, because it doesn’t make sense to update them every year. For example with the X-H, it took four years to come up with the next version. You know, we always think about whether a new model makes sense. If we have the technology, when we feel ready, then we’ll introduce a successor.”
I actually strongly agree that “it doesn’t make sense to update [camera models] every year.” Or even every two years. I think three to five years is a sufficient amount of time to update a line. Camera makers often too quickly update their models, in hopes of maximizing sales by always having a “new” version with the “latest” this or that. Yes, people aren’t generally eager to spend a grand or more on five-year-old digital camera technology, but if that technology is good, then it’s still good for years to come, not just for a year or two. By constantly updating models, camera makers are basically admitting that their gear is obsolete quickly, and not something that’s relevant for a significant period of time. Fujifilm is celebrating 10 years of X-mount, and the X-Pro1 is certainly still a capable camera—a testament that their cameras are relevant for many years, not just a couple.
I do think there’s hope in Yuji’s statement for an eventual X80 (the perhaps someday successor to the X70). With any luck, Fujifilm will “feel ready” soon. Probably not, but one can wish. On the flip side, Fujifilm basically stated the fine print: if it doesn’t make sense to them, they’ll change or discontinue something without batting an eye. Will the X-T5 have PASM? Not likely—I’d be pretty shocked—but perhaps the X-T6 will, especially if Fujifilm determines that more “pros” are using that line than “amateur” photographers… or, really, if Fujifilm thinks by doing so it will attract more people from other brands. Will the X-T00 line be discontinued in favor of the X-S00 line? It could happen—I’d be surprised if it did—but as long as Fujifilm believes it makes sense in order to sell more models to the customers that they hope to attract, they’ll do it. Yuji’s statement could essentially be summarized: we don’t have any specific plans that we’re ready to publicly discuss, but nothing is off the table. That could be good or that could be bad, I guess depending on your perspective.
A lot is said in that interview, but I’ll end with one of Yuji’s conclusions: “In general, we’re very appreciative of people’s interest in our products.”
People are very interested in Fujifilm’s products. I think a lot of the long-time customers are a little concerned about the choices Fujfilm has been making, and what those choices mean for the long haul. I think many loyal customers are unsure of the direction that Fujifilm is heading. The Fujifilm at 20 years of X-mount might not much resemble the one at 10 years—something you might celebrate or mourn, probably largely depending on how long you’ve been a customer.
Here’s the silver lining that I promised: the cameras Fujifilm has made over the last number of years are really good—and should last a long time, too—so it doesn’t matter what Fujifilm does, because what they did do was very good. If the X-T5, X-Pro4, or X100VI (or whatever it will be called) isn’t what you hoped it would be, you still have the X-T4, X-Pro3, and X100V—heck, you still have the X-T1, X-Pro1, and X100, and all the models in-between! You might notice that I captured all of the pictures in this article with older models. A good camera is a good camera, and as long as it serves you well, you don’t need to “upgrade” to the latest and greatest just because the reviewers and YouTubers (most of which were given or loaned their gear for free) say that you should. Is that old camera still relevant to you and your photography? If so, then you’re already set, and none of this other stuff even matters.
The 10th issue of FXW Zine is out, and if you are a Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective subscriber, you can download it now!
What’s in the September issue? It’s actually a very special edition, celebrating my first six years shooting Fujifilm cameras. There are 74 pictures, including the cover, across 48 pages—this is by far the biggest issue of FXW Zine yet!
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I read a couple of articles over the last several days that bothered me, both of which stated that you must shoot RAW. These articles come up often—it’s nothing new. I’ve written about it before, and even before that. The sentiment of “only amateurs shoot JPEG” and “you really should shoot RAW” get old. Those are tired, worn out statements that are largely based on “truths” that are no longer true. My hope with this article is to simply provide a counter-point. This blog and all of you who use Film Simulation Recipes are a strong testament that speaks louder than this article ever could, so I’ll try to keep it brief.
First, I want to make this very clear: do what works for you. If RAW works for you, do that. If JPEGs work for you, do that. If editing JPEGs works for you, do that. If film works for you, do that. Or any combination of those things or anything else, do that. Whatever you have found that works for you, that’s what you should be doing. If what you are doing isn’t really working for you, try something else. There’s no right or wrong way to do things, just different ways, some of which work for some and some of which work for others. Different strokes for different folks, right?
One reason why I think the “RAW vs JPEG” debate keeps coming up is because more-and-more photography consumers (not photographers, but those who view photographs) detest photo manipulation. Photoshop has become a bad word. Whether it’s a photo contest where the winner exceeded the editing allowed by the rules (and so has their title stripped), or the magazine cover where the girl no longer looks like how they really look, or the picture in the news where things were added or subtracted to change the meaning of the image, or the image that’s just been edited so much that it’s no longer believable—whatever the story, sometimes photography consumers feel that photography is dishonest, and the manipulation of an image equals a manipulation of the one viewing it. There appears to be a lack of honesty by photographers, particularly when they edit so much. You might agree or disagree with this sentiment, but the sentiment is real. I know this because I once defended Steve McCurry’s use of Photoshop, and because of this someone accused me in a college paper of wanting little girls to have low self-esteem.
I think a lot of these “RAW is better” articles and videos stem from a response to this sentiment, which is fine. I don’t blame anyone for trying to defend what they do when someone criticizes it. Trust me, I get it. Where I do have a problem is that many times in the defense of RAW the JPEG photographer is insulted. The argument is, “I have to shoot RAW because JPEGs suck.” Or, “Only amateurs use JPEG.” It’s as if the JPEG shooter must be put down in order to make the RAW shooter feel superior. That’s just lame. Yes, there was a time early in the development of digital camera technology where the straight-out-of-camera JPEG was no good and so RAW really was the only viable option for quality images, but that day has long passed, especially for (but certainly not limited to) those who use Fujifilm cameras. That argument is old and tired and no longer based in truth. It once was true, but now is a myth. Perpetuating that myth helps no one. Insulting people definitely doesn’t help.
Of course, Ansel Adams is always brought into this. Well, he was the darkroom master, so obviously he manipulated his photos to a significant degree. Usually an Ansel Adams quote is included, which proves the point that you should never rely on straight-out-of-camera pictures. Adams never would have. Except this ignores his work with Polaroids—he loved Polaroids, something a lot of people are unaware of. There’s a whole chapter (entitled One-Step Photography) in one of his books where he discusses the benefits of not having to use a darkroom. Ansel Adams is hugely inspirational, and his words are highly motivating, but I don’t think he would be strictly a RAW shooter and staunchly against straight-out-of-camera JPEGs—it is a disservice to the legendary master to just assume he would be against JPEGs.
The real arguments that should be made to defend the use of RAW are these:
– It’s my art, and as the artist I get to decide how it’s created. I understand that not everyone will like it, but a lot of people seem to, so I’m going to keep doing it my way.
– I capture undeveloped digital images that, like film, must be developed through a process, and I have a specific process for it that works well for me.
– Images have been manipulated to create the final picture since the beginning of photography—over 150 years!—so what I’m doing is nothing new and well within the traditions of the art.
– I enjoy using photo editing software, and adjusting the pictures is half the fun for me.
Notice how all of those arguments are strong, and none of them insults anyone. Unfortunately, there will always be those who disagree, and you’ll never change their minds. Perhaps just being as honest and straightforward as practical will help. If you swapped the sky with another sky, just say so. If you removed people from the frame, don’t hide that fact. Don’t make the manipulations that you did a big secret, which makes people believe that you’re hiding something from them. Or do keep it a secret—it’s not really any of my business what you do or don’t do, and I don’t really care. It’s your art, after all, so you get to decide what you do and what parts of your process you want to keep a mystery.
My process is straightforward. I program Film Simulation Recipes into my cameras, and I use camera-made JPEGs that are unedited (aside from minor cropping and straightening). While I basically don’t edit anymore, I certainly used to. I used to be a RAW photographer. I used to spend up to 30 minutes on each picture in software. That process worked alright for a time, but my current process works for me now. It saves me so much time, it makes creating photographs more enjoyable, it allows me to be more in-tune with my camera and the scene (because I have to get it right in-the-field or else), and I still get the look I want—the aesthetic I would have made if I had edited a RAW image in software. I love it! But I fully understand that it’s not for everyone. If it works for you, great! If it doesn’t work for you, great! If it works for you sometimes but doesn’t other times, great! You’ve got to do what works for you, and ignore those who say that there’s only one “right” way to do things.
The “RAW vs JPEG” debate needs to end. Photography consumers don’t care how you achieved your picture, except in those cases where people feel that they were duped by a heavily manipulated image. I suggest being upfront about how much editing you did, if you did a lot—but that’s up to you, and is between you and your audience. Otherwise, nobody cares if you shot RAW and edited in-software or if it’s a straight-out-of-camera JPEG, or anything else in-between. One process isn’t better or worse than another—they each have advantages and disadvantages, so it is simply a matter of if what you are doing works for you or not. If it works, that’s awesome! If it doesn’t, then try something else. Mic dropped, debate over.
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the wonderful photography of Gerardo Celasco! Although you might not have seen his pictures before, there’s a decent chance that you’ve seen Gerardo. He’s a model-turned-actor (among other things, including internationally competing show jumping horse rider, accomplished volleyball player, and financial expert) who does photography as a hobby. He has a lot of talent, and whatever he does he does very well—photography included.
Although he was born in Miami, Gerardo grew up in El Salvador. He later moved to Texas and studied at Southern Methodist University. His home base is now in California, but he frequently travels internationally, and of course brings a camera along—a Fujifilm camera—to capture the moments.
Gerardo is perhaps best known for playing Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald on the NBC drama Passions from 2006-2007. He also played Carlos Peña in Moneyball, Mark Kovac in two episodes of Bones, Xavier Castillo during Season 5 and 6 of How To Get Away With Murder, Ty Salazar in Next, and Dr. Nick Vega in a recent episode of Good Sam, among other things.
In the coming-soon-to-Netflix series Devil in Ohio Gerardo plays Detective Lopez. We’ll get more into this in a moment, but below you’ll find the trailer, which you should definitely take a moment to watch right now.
Fuji X Weekly: Hey, Gerardo! I’m truly honored for this opportunity to interview you! Let’s begin at the very beginning: where did your early interests in photography come from? Were cameras and pictures a big part of your childhood?
Gerardo Celasco: We didn’t grow up taking a lot of photos in my family and we didn’t have lots of cameras around when my siblings and I were growing up. My dad was an engineer and my mom worked in sales and retail for a shoe company in El Salvador. To this day, we still don’t take many photos when we’re together. When we’re on a trip we always say, “We have to take more group photos!” And since I always have a camera on me, I’m always the one taking the photos so I’m rarely in the pictures.
Fuji X Weekly: How did you get started in photography?
Gerardo Celasco: I got started in photography pretty early on, but not necessarily behind the camera. When I was in high school I was asked to be the model for a campaign in El Salvador. Roberto Aguilar was the most sought out photographer in El Salvador. No one was doing what he was doing, and I got to be in front of his camera several times—it was my first time being in front of the camera. We became really close friends, and I learned so much from watching him work. He moved to Europe and became a professor in France for a few years, and is now living in London. Roberto was my first influence in photography, but I can also say he was my first influence in “performing” as well. I never went to drama school. I have a degree in Finance from Southern Methodist University—a life in entertainment wasn’t really in the cards for me growing up in El Salvador and the son of entrepreneurs.
Fuji X Weekly: What made you pursue photography further, take it more seriously?
Gerardo Celasco: This image [above] is my first one that shocked me when I saw it imported into my computer. I believe I shot it with a Leica D-Lux 4. There was no plan—it was on auto—and I got that “bokeh” everyone talks about. I didn’t know how that happened or how to recreate it, so that inspired me to really learn about the art form. I decided to enroll into a UCLA extension course for Photography, and did that for a few months. That’s where I learned about aperture and depth of field and things like that.
Fuji X Weekly: What was your most memorable photography experience?
Gerardo Celasco: I think that first image I shot that shocked me is the most memorable. It’s what inspired all of my other images. I still love the photo so much. It’s very raw, very real. I can feel so much when I see it. It was shot in El Salvador in La Libertad near the beach. It was sticky and damp. The two women were working and cooking on open fire in that heat. Maybe it’s because I was there, but I feel all of that every time I see the image.
Fuji X Weekly: What was your first camera?
Gerardo Celasco: My first camera was one of the really small Canon PowerShots. It was a matte silver. I carried that thing everywhere—way before we had cameras in our cellular phones. The list goes on from there: Canon 20D, Leica D-Lux 4, Canon 5D Mark II, Fujifilm X100T, Sony a7, Fuji X-T2, Fuji X-Pro3—that is the trajectory into mirrorless, but more importantly how I found Fuji. I also shoot film with a Canon AE-1 Program, and my everyday—always with me—Olympus Mju II, which always sparks a conversation or a laugh when I pull it out.
Fuji X Weekly: What made you buy your first Fujifilm camera? What do you shoot with now?
Gerardo Celasco: A trip to Morocco with my 5D led me to give up on my entire Canon photography gear. It was so heavy, and was very distracting. You couldn’t really get away with shooting discretely with a camera that size. At the time my good friend, cinematographer and camera/steadicam operator Eduardo Fierro, was a Fuji shooter. His exact words when I complained about my Canon were “Vendé esa mierda y compráte la Fuji” (which means: sell that shit and buy a Fuji!). So that’s what I did, and the X100T was my first Fuji. I now shoot with the X-Pro3, paired with a Fuji 27mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2, or 16-55 f/2.8.
Fuji X Weekly: What is your favorite aspect of Fujifilm cameras?
Gerardo Celasco: What I love most about the Fuji lineup—other than the obvious size and price—is the menu and the film simulations. The user interface is great and easy to get around. But for me, the film simulations are what really sets it apart from anything else. I don’t do any post editing on my images (because I haven’t learned Capture One or Photoshop), and I shoot everything JPEG (mainly because I don’t know what to do with a RAW file, and have never felt the need for it). Fuji X Weekly is my go to App for Film Simulation Recipes. Funnily enough, I believe that is how we met: I sent you a DM on Instagram, praising all of your Film Simulation Recipes and the RitchieCam App on the iPhone.
Fuji X Weekly: That’s right! I definitely remember that day—it was a nice surprise, and a bit of a shock. By the way, which Film Simulation Recipes do you like best?
Gerardo Celasco: My favorite film simulations are Portra 400, Portra 800, and the Ilford black-and-white ones. I honestly like the output of the Fuji Portra recipes more than the images I get with my film camera using real Portra 400 film—and it’s also cheaper.
Fuji X Weekly: What do you photograph most now?
Gerardo Celasco: I like shooting life, but I don’t like calling it “street photography.” I don’t have a style, and I honestly don’t know what I’m doing most of the time. I just shoot when I’m inspired. And I shoot what seems interesting to me at that moment. But I never have a plan. I just simply shoot, and share my images. I don’t like the pressure of someone asking me to photograph something or an event—I get so much satisfaction in just showing up with a camera and capturing beautiful moments when I haven’t been asked to, and then sharing those moments.
Fuji X Weekly: Who are your photographic influences?
Gerardo Celasco: I don’t have a list of photographers that have influenced me—I can probably only name a handful of them—but it’s not like I’m trying to do what they did. Vivian Maier, Ansel Adams, Garry Winograd, Henri Cartier-Bresson—those names comes to mind without me cheating and looking at my bookshelf.
Fuji X Weekly: How has your acting career influenced your photography?
Gerardo Celasco: Most people think that being an actor influenced my photography, but what it did was enhance it. Photography (in front or behind the camera), was my first step to becoming an actor—I’ve always felt that photography led me to my acting career. Being on set has made me more comfortable in front of the camera but at the same time it inspires me to want to shoot more. I’m always chatting up the cinematographer or the camera operators when I am on a set—mostly I’m just asking lots of questions about composition and lighting. Those men and women know so much, and I just try to learn and soak up as much as they are willing to share. Their work is what inspires me today.
Fuji X Weekly: Tell me about your upcoming Netflix series, Devil in Ohio.
Gerardo Celasco: Ah. Devil in Ohio! I feel like you and your wife have been patiently waiting for that. I think I was shooting that when I found RitchieCam and we started talking, only to find out you were the same person behind Fuji X Weekly! We’re only a couple weeks away from the premiere day. It will air on Netflix on September 2, and all 8 episodes will be available.
The show is based on a book by the same name written by Daria Polatin. Daria is also the showrunner for the show. The story was inspired by true events, which always makes it more interesting. I would describe it as a family drama meets a suspense/thriller. It has elements of both. Emily Deschanel (who I worked with many years ago on the final episodes of Bones), plays Suzanne Mathis, a Psychiatrist who is caring for an underage girl who has turned up at hospital clearly in distress. No one comes looking for the girl, so Suzanne decides to take her into her home until they can find a family for her. Doesn’t take long to realize that the girl has escaped from a cult, putting the family and their relationships in danger. I play Detective Alex Lopez, who is a transplant from big city Chicago. He’s a fish out of water, and by-the-book, but also has no idea what he’s dealing with by taking on this case. We had a great group of actors, great directors, and an incredible crew. I hope people find it and enjoy it!
Fuji X Weekly: Gerardo, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to allow me to interview you—it’s been such a pleasure!
Gerardo Celasco: I’d just like to say thank you for including me in this. I’m a big fan of Fuji X Weekly, and for you to ask me to be a part of it is really cool.
Check out more of Gerardo’s photography below:
The photographs in this article are © Gerardo Celasco.