Fujifilm X100V New Feature: Clarity

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The Fujifilm X100V has a new feature called Clarity. It actually first appeared on the X-Pro3, and it’s also on the new X-T4, but the X100V is the first camera that I’ve used with it. I’m always very happy whenever Fujifilm gives us new JPEG options, as it allows me to  more accurately achieve the look that I’m after in-camera. I can create better film simulation recipes when I’m given more tools, and the X100V indeed has some new tools.

If you’ve ever done RAW processing, you’ve probably seen a Clarity tool within your software of choice. Maybe you use it all of the time, maybe you’ve never touched it. What exactly Clarity does with each software is slightly different, but the gist of it is that it increases mid-tone contrast, while (mostly) leaving the highlights and shadows untouched. This makes the image appear more contrasty while not blocking up shadows or blowing out highlights. Because Clarity often adds micro-contrast (contrast to fine lines), it can make an image appear to be sharper and more finely detailed than it actually is. Some software programs include sharpening within Clarity. Too much Clarity can often make a picture look unnatural and “over baked”.

I like the idea of having a Clarity option on my Fujifilm camera, but I was really unsure of how it would look. Is it actually a good tool? Does it produce pleasing results? Where should I set it on my camera?

In the manual Fujifilm states that Clarity increases or decreases “definition” while minimally altering highlights and shadows. The camera has the options of -5 to +5, with 0 being the default setting. Let’s take a look at some examples to see what exactly this new feature does to photographs.

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Clarity -5

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Clarity 0

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Clarity +5

You can see from the photographs above that there’s a noticeable difference between Clarity set at -5, 0 and +5. There’s a significant contrast difference between the three pictures. Even highlights and shadows are affected. The first picture looks “soft” while the third picture boarders being “over-baked” with too much definition. Let’s take a closer look at some crops, and add -2 and +2 while we’re at it.

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Clarity -5

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Clarity -2

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Clarity 0

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Clarity +2

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Clarity +5

When you look closely, you can appreciate using minus Clarity for softening skin. At -2 there’s a small difference, but by -5 there’s a big difference. The X100V has a new lens, and it’s sharper, especially when wide open. Some people (myself included) appreciated the softness of f/2 on the old X100 series lens for artistic effect, but the X100V is tack sharp across the board at all apertures. However, -5 Clarity will give a similar softness at any aperture as the old X100 lens does at f/2. Portrait photographers might especially appreciate selecting a minus Clarity option, and somewhere in the range of -2 to -5 seems to be nice.

On the other side, +5 Clarity is definitely too much for some circumstances, particularly portraits. Even +2 might be pushing it in this case, although the results are acceptable in my book. I find that minus Clarity is better when skin is involved, but you can use plus Clarity for more dramatic portraits, although I’d limit it to no higher than +3, unless you’re trying to accentuate something like wrinkled skin and a greying beard, in which case up to +5 might be acceptable. Outside of portraits, I like adding Clarity, and I find that +2 or +3 is a good range for me.

Here are some more examples:

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Clarity -5

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Clarity -3

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Clarity 0

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Clarity +3

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Clarity +5

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Clarity -5

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Clarity -3

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Clarity 0

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Clarity +3

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Clarity +5

The difference between -5 and +5 Clarity is pretty significant, but the in-between differences aren’t huge. It’s difficult to notice a plus or minus one difference. Going up or down two spots is a bit more obvious, although if you’re not closely comparing side-by-side examples you might not pick up on it. I think you’re perfectly fine selecting any of the Clarity options, but for portraits I’d consider using minus Clarity, unless you’re want a dramatic portrait look. For everything else adding a little Clarity helps the picture to pop more. I personally like Clarity set at +2.

Because Clarity adds contrast and does affect highlights and shadows, if you go higher than +3 Clarity, consider decreasing Highlight and Shadow by one to compensate. Also, if you go lower than -3 Clarity, consider increasing Highlight and Shadow by one to compensate. The X-T4 can do .5 Highlight and Shadow adjustments (please, Fujifilm, update the X100V to allow this, too), and that’s probably closer to what you need to compensate for the increased or decreased contrast due to selecting the far ends of Clarity. Just be aware that when you change the Clarity setting, you are changing the picture’s contrast.

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+3 Clarity

Something that I need to point out is that when Clarity is set to anything other than 0, it takes the camera longer to save the file. Fujifilm actually recommends setting Clarity to 0 and adding it later by reprocessing the RAW files in-camera. If you need to shoot quickly, this might be a good option, but if you’re not in a hurry, I’d just set it to what you want it to be so that you don’t have to change it later. Yes, it does slow you down, but if you’re not in a hurry, it’s not a big deal.

In my opinion Fujifilm did a good job of implementing Clarity on the X100V. It’s a useful tool. Those who appreciated the softness of f/2 on the older models will appreciate using minus Clarity on the new model. Those who want to add just a little more punch to their pictures will like using plus Clarity. Each situation might benefit from a Clarity adjustment, and you’ll have to decide which setting is the best for the scene. Whether it’s adding or subtracting Clarity, this is a feature you’ll find me using often. Fujifilm’s inclusion of Clarity on the X100V is something that I’m extremely happy with.

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World’s Smallest SLR: Pentax Auto 110 + Adapting Tiny Lenses to Fujifilm X Cameras

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The Pentax Auto 110 is the smallest interchangeable-lens single-lens-reflex camera ever produced. Never heard of it? That’s OK, I hadn’t either until a few weeks ago. This little camera was introduced in 1978, and the Pentax Auto 110 system was manufactured until the mid-1980’s. In all, there were two SLRs and six lenses made by Pentax, plus several accessories, so this was indeed a complete camera system.

The Pentax Auto 110 camera is extraordinarily tiny! It fits into the palm of my hand, and looks more like a toy than a real camera. You might think that it was intended for kids, but it wasn’t. What allows this camera to be so small is that it uses 110 film, which is quite a bit smaller than 35mm film. In fact, the frame is similar in size to a Micro 4/3 sensor. If you aren’t familiar, 110 film comes in a cartridge that’s easy to load and unload, designed for the novice. The tiny film allowed Pentax to design an extraordinarily small camera system.

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Kodak introduced 110 film in the early 1970’s. They didn’t intend for it to be for serious photographers, and only made cheap entry-level point-and-shoot cameras for it. Kodak never figured that anyone who had more than a basic understanding of photography would ever be interested in using 110 film. It was great for those who knew very little about photography, those who valued simplicity over quality. Pentax, on the other hand, saw an opportunity to create a miniature interchangeable-lens camera aimed at a more advanced user. Perhaps the compact size of the gear would be enough for photographers to overlook the inferior film format.

The Pentax Auto 110 was only moderately successful. It sold enough copies for Pentax to continue to market the system for seven or eight years. The first camera, the Auto 110, was replaced by the slightly improved Auto 110 Super in 1982. Initially Pentax made three lenses for the camera, all very tiny, and in the early 1980’s they introduced three additional small lenses. As the name implies, the camera was fully automatic, except for focus, which was manual. Around 1985 the system was discontinued, and not long afterwards forgotten.

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Two things gave the Pentax Auto 110 camera new life in recent years: the lomography movement and the ability to use old lenses on new cameras via adapters. As 110 film became less and less popular, it was discontinued altogether by major manufacturers. Around 10 years ago Lomography stepped in and began selling it, making 110 film somewhat trendy, which increased the popularity of cameras like the Pentax Auto 110. Because 110 film is similar in size to Micro 4/3 sensors, the Asahi lenses made for the Pentax 110 Auto became in-demand for use with Olympus and Panasonic MFT cameras.

When I saw the little lenses, I wondered if they could be adapted to Fujifilm X cameras. Could I even mount these tiny lenses to my X-T30 and X-T1? A quick search revealed that Fotasy makes an inexpensive Pentax 110 to Fujifilm X adapter. But would it work? Would the lenses cover the frame? After all, APS-C sensors are larger than a 110 film frame. Are the lenses any good? I wasn’t sure the answer to these questions, but I gave it a shot and purchased an adapter and a Pentax Auto 110 camera with three lenses.

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These three lenses, which are 18mm, 24mm and 50mm, all have an aperture fixed at f/2.8. You cannot stop down. It’s f/2.8 and be there! They are manual focus only. They’re pretty darn small, much smaller than any APS-C or full-frame lens that I’ve ever used! If you want something small and lightweight, these are the lenses for you! They’re absurdly and almost comically small when mounted to a Fujifilm X camera. The smallest of the three is the 24mm, which is likely the littlest lens in the world that you can attach to a Fujifilm camera.

I gave these lenses a chance. I attached them to my Fujifilm camera and went out to shoot. I wanted to put them to the test. One thing that stood out to me is that these lenses make the camera feel lighter and smaller, because it is! Even the largest, the 50mm, is smaller than other lenses I’ve used before. You can have one lens on the camera, plus two in a snack-size ziplock bag in your pocket, and you’ve got a three-lens kit. This setup is good for travel because it is out of the way, with the two spare lenses taking up almost no space in your pocket.

18mm

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The Asahi Pentax 110 18mm f/2.8 was the lens that I was most excited about. I thought, of them all, this one has the most potential to be useful. Because of the fixed aperture, I knew that depth-of-field would be narrow on all of the lenses, but it would be largest on this lens because of its wide focal-length, which is full-frame equivalent to 27mm on Fujifilm X cameras. The further towards infinity that you focus, the larger the depth-of-field becomes. When focused at the close end, depth-of-field is indeed small, and I was shocked by just how good bokeh (the quality of the out-of-focus portion of the image) is on this lens.

Surprisingly, this 18mm has good coverage on the APS-C sensor. There’s some pronounced vignetting and corner softness, which you can easily crop out or leave for artistic effect. Sharpness is good at the center, but the lens becomes less sharp as you move away from the center. There’s some obvious chromatic aberrations and highlights tend to have an Orton-ish glow. This lens might be good for “dreamy” pictures. Overall, I didn’t like the 18mm nearly as much as I thought I might, and I didn’t use it as often as the other two lenses.

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Trees by a Lake – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 18mm f/2.8

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Seed Pods – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 18mm f/2.8

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Blooms on a Branch – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 18mm f/2.8

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Tree Branch Leaves – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi 110 18mm f/2.8

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Countryside – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi 110 18mm f/2.8

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Mountain, Trees & Meadow – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi 110 18mm f/2.8

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Trail & Tall Trees – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi 110 18mm f/2.8

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Boys on Scooters – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi 110 18mm f/2.8

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Big Leaf – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi 110 18mm f/2.8

24mm

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The Asahi Pentax 110 24mm f/2.8 is the smallest of the three lenses, and the smallest interchangeable lens that I’ve ever used. It’s unbelievably tiny! I doubt that you’ll find a smaller lens that can be attached to your Fujifilm camera. Because of the focal length, which is full-frame equivalent to 36mm, this lens has a narrow depth-of-field, especially when focused at the near end. Bokeh is great!

Like the 18mm, this lens covers the frame, but there’s some obvious vignetting and corner softness. Center sharpness is good, but the lens becomes less sharp as you move away from the center of the frame. There are some chromatic aberrations and highlights tend to glow, but neither are as pronounced as the 18mm. Overall I liked the 24mm lens more than the 18mm, but it didn’t impress me enough to want to use it all of the time.

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Rural Roofline – Sunset, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 24mm f/2.8

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Coca-Cola Machine – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 24mm f/2.8

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Mini Mart – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 24mm f/2.8

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Corner Building – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 24mm f/2.8

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Trail Parking – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi 110 24mm f/2.8

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Barbed Wire Red – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi 110 24mm f/2.8

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Country Thistle – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi 110 24mm f/2.8

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Ball Flower in a Garden – Sunset, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 24mm f/2.8

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Lit Leaf – Sunset, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 24mm f.2.8

50mm

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The Asahi Pentax 110 50mm f/2.8 is the lens that I thought I’d like the least. Why? Because I already have several great 50mm (or near 50mm) lenses that I really like. Because of the focal length, which is full-frame equivalent to 75mm on Fujifilm X cameras, this lens has the most narrow depth-of-field of the three, especially when focused towards the near end, where it’s very thin. Once again, bokeh is great. Lens flare, if you like lens flare, can be downright amazing!

While there is some light falloff near the corners, this lens definitely has 100% coverage on APS-C sensors. It’s sharp in the center, and becomes less sharp towards the corners, although not quite as bad as the other two lenses. I did find some chromatic aberrations, but it’s pretty minor, especially when compared to the others. The 50mm lens was the most difficult of the three to use, but the results were the most rewarding. This was my favorite, and the one that I used most often. Of the three, this lens is the one that I can see using again and again. There’s something special about it.

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Ray – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 50mm f/2.8

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Girl in Yellow – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 50mm f/2.8

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Boy & Lens Flare – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 100 50mm f/2.8

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Rainbow Flare & Kids – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 50mm f/2.8

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Rainbow in the Woods – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 50mm f/2.8

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Tree Flowers in a Forest – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 50mm f/2.8

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Reeds by the Woods – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi 110 50mm f/2.8

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Large Rocks & Yellow Flowers – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 50mm f/2.8

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Rushing Waterfall – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Asahi 110 50mm f/2.8

Conclusion

The lens that I thought I’d like the most is the one that I liked the least, and the one that I thought I’d like the least is the one that I liked the most. The 18mm and 24mm lenses are certainly usable, but they have some serious flaws, and you’ll have to consider how to artistically use those flaws to your advantage. Because of the narrow depth-of-field, the 50mm lens was the most difficult to use, but it produced my favorite pictures.

While using these tiny lenses on my Fujifilm cameras was a bit strange, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I’ll definitely do this again sometime. I also plan to use the Pentax Auto 110, as I purchased three 110 film cartridges to use in it, and I’ll share the results when I do. I’m not afraid to do unusual things sometimes, like sandpapering a camera or taping cardboard to the front of a lens, and using little lenses intended for another camera is certainly unusual. If you’re looking to try something different, attaching Asahi Pentax 110 lenses to your Fujifilm camera is just that. For me it was a great experience, and these little lenses provided me with big fun!

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My Fujifilm X-T30 Analog Color Film Simulation Recipe


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Pentax – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Analog Color”

Sometimes accidents are happy, such as with this film simulation recipe, which I call Analog Color. I was attempting to make a recipe that mimics the looks of Kodak Portra 400 that’s been overexposed, but I was unsuccessful (at least for now); however, in the process I accidentally created this one. It was a mistake, but I liked how it looked, so I shot a bunch of pictures with it. This recipe reminds me of Fujicolor C200 or Agfa Vista 200, or perhaps even Kodak Gold 200. It’s in the neighborhood of ColorPlus 200, as well. But, it doesn’t exactly resemble any of those films perfectly. What I appreciate about this Analog Color film simulation is that it has a film-like quality to it, with a real color negative aesthetic, even if it’s not an exact match to any film that I’m aware of.

How this film simulation recipe looks depends on the light. This is true of all the recipes that don’t use auto white balance, but it seems especially so with this particular recipe. It can have a warm cast sometimes and cool cast other times, or even occasionally both a cool and warm cast within the same image. Perhaps this is one of the things that make it appear film-like. I do think that there’s something special about this recipe.

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Route Running – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Analog Color”

I like Color set to -1, but feel free to play around with that. If you want something more saturated, increase Color to 0 or +1. If you don’t like grain, set it to Weak or off. If you like lots of grain, keep the ISO high, perhaps no lower than ISO 1600. I think that this recipe will pair well with vintage lenses, and that’s something else you can experiment with.

PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: +3
Shadow: +0
Color: -1
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Grain: Strong
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpening: 1
White Balance: Daylight, -3 Red & +1 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +2/3 to +1 1/3 (typically)

Example photographs, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs captured using my Fujifilm X-T30 Analog Color film simulation recipe:

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Red Window – Monument Valley, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Cut Strawberries – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Joshua Smiling – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Girl in a Blue Sweater – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Living Room Bass Pro – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Backlit Jon – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Succulent on a Shelf – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Time’s Fun When You’re Having Flies – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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46 Minutes to Ogden – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Empty Seats – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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The Bags We Carry – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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No Storage – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Rain God Mesa – Monument Valley, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Tree In The Dirt – Monument Valley, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Monument Valley Afternoon – Monument Valley, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Monument Valley After Sunset – Monument Valley, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

See also: Film Simulation Recipes

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Announced: Fujifilm X-T4

Fujifilm X-T4

Fujifilm just officially announced the upcoming X-T4, which replaces the not very old X-T3. The big difference between the two cameras is that the X-T4 is bigger and heavier because it now has in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The X-T4 also has the flip screen from the X-A7 and X-T200, improved auto-focus, and the two new film simulations: Bleach Bypass and Classic Negative. It has a new battery, with improved battery life.

The X-T4 has several flashy new features, but internally it still sports the same X-Trans IV sensor and processor as the X-T3. Don’t expect image quality to be any different. If you have an X-T3, or even an X-T2, unless you really need IBIS, I don’t see much reason for upgrading cameras. If you are deciding between the X-T3 and X-T4, if having IBIS is important to you, get the X-T4, and if not, save yourself some money and get the very fantastic and nearly identical X-T3.

The Fujifilm X-T4 will be released on April 30 with an MSRP of $1,700 for the camera body. It’s available now for pre-order.

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Fujifilm Monochrome

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Mountains Dressed In Monochrome – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Leica recently announced the M10 Monochrom, which is their third black-and-white only camera. It can’t capture a color picture because it doesn’t have a Bayer array. It only does black-and-white photography. Fujifilm should do something similar, even though most won’t buy it.

Believe it or not, there’s actually an advantage to a monochrome sensor. With a typical Bayer color array, only 50% of the light-sensitive sensor elements are recording luminosity information, while the other 50% are recording color information. With an X-Trans sensor, 55% of the light-sensitive sensor elements are recording luminosity information while 45% are recording color information. With a monochrome sensor, 100% of the light-sensitive sensor elements are recording luminosity information. Because of this, you get a higher perceived resolution, as pictures will appear more richly detailed, and there’s more shadow latitude, which also improves high-ISO capabilities. You can also use color filters like with black-and-white film.

I think an X-Pro3-M, a black-and-white only version of the X-Pro3, or an X100V-M, a black-and-white only version of the upcoming X100V, would do well enough commercially. Yes, it’s clearly a niche product, as there’s only a tiny market for it, yet Leica found a way to make it profitable, and Fujifilm could, too. There are plenty of photographers who use their X-Pro or X100 series camera to only shoot black-and-white. A Monochrome version would make things simpler for them, while improving perceived resolution, dynamic range and high-ISO. And, Fujifilm has a cool marketing angle: call it the X-Pro3 Acros or X100V Acros. People would eat that up. Increase the price a couple hundred dollars and it would sell well enough to be profitable, in my non-expert opinion.

The flip side to this is that Fujifilm X-Trans cameras, particularly X-Trans III and IV cameras that have the Acros film simulation, are already fantastic for black-and-white photography. Would a monochrome-only camera really produce enough of an improved image to justify buying one? I think that’s a tough question to answer, but my guess is probably not for most people. Still, a monochrome-only camera wouldn’t be for “most people” as it would be for a very small crowd, and for those people the difference would indeed justify buying it. For most, your current X-Trans camera is a great black-and-white photography tool, and there’s no need to get a monochrome-only camera. Some, however, would absolutely love to have one, and I think there’s enough of those people that such a camera could be profitable for Fujifilm, if they ever wished to create one. I hope they do.

My Fujifilm X-T1 Arrived!

Fujifilm X-T1

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I purchased a used Fujifilm X-T1 for only $300. The condition of the camera said “low shutter count” and “in like-new condition.” When you’re purchasing things off the internet, my experience is that it’s rarely exactly as described. Oftentimes the condition is overstated. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find when the package arrived. Well, the packaged was delivered a couple days ago; I opened up the box with anxious curiosity and found inside…

…a near mint Fujifilm X-T1. Yea! It looked brand new except it was missing the sync cap. It really did appear unused! It even had the original firmware installed. I don’t know the story behind it, but it seems like maybe someone used it a couple of times and didn’t like it, so they boxed it up and it sat on a shelf for four or five years. It’s very difficult for me to believe that I snagged this beauty for only $300. This was a $1,300 camera not very long ago. I remember seeing the X-T1 on sale for “only” $1,000 and that was considered a bargain at the time. At $300, the camera’s a steal!

Fujifilm X-T1 Fujinon 35mm f/2

Fujifilm X-T1 Blog

Unfortunately, digital is disposable. People buy cameras and use them for a year or two or maybe three, and then they move on to whatever is new. It’s a byproduct of technology that advances quickly, and also habits formed when digital photography was new and not especially good. There were significant leaps when new camera models came out. There are still big leaps happening today, but we’ve reached a point of diminishing returns, and those leaps don’t mean as much in practical application.

My first SLR was a 20-year-old Canon AE-1, which I purchased over 20 years ago when I was in Photography 101 in college. I used the camera for a number of years. Can you imagine someone buying a 20-year-old digital camera today to use as their main camera? And using that camera for five or more years? That’s unheard of, but it used to be normal in the days of film. Roughly 10 years ago digital camera technology reached a point where people could keep it and use it for years to come because the quality was there. There’s no reason that a five-year-old camera can’t have 15 or more years of life in it as long as the mechanical components continue to work. People often don’t keep them around long enough to find out.

Fujifilm X-T1 Dials

Fujifilm X-T1 Blog

The Fujifilm X-T1 is downright fantastic! It’s plenty quick. The image quality is great. The camera is weather sealed and feels very solid. It’s a little smaller than the X-T2 and X-T3 and not all that much bigger and heavier than my X-T30. I do wish it had the focus joystick and some of the JPEG options that the newer cameras have, but it’s not a big deal that the camera lacks those things. It’s still a very good camera capable of capturing beautiful pictures.

The photographs below are the first images captured with my new Fujifilm X-T1. These are camera-made JPEGs. I don’t have any recipes yet, but you can rest assured that I will be creating some, and when I do I will share them on Fuji X Weekly. Even though the camera is five-years-old, I’m very excited to go out and shoot with the brand-new-to-me X-T1.

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Hardware Carts – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Americana Neighborhood – Roy, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Equal Rights – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Coffee Beans – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Selfie – Unitah, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Cheap Fujifilm Cameras

Fujifilm X-E1 Camera Photography Blog

I’ve been searching the last couple of days for a new Fujifilm camera. Actually, a used camera. You might recall that back in September I posted that I wanted to buy a full-spectrum camera for infrared photography. I’ve had an interest in infrared photography for a long time, and I’ve been eager to try it, but the funds to buy such a camera have eluded me. I did get the green light to spend $300 or less on a used camera to eventually (maybe mid-2020) convert to full-spectrum. There are a few different companies that will convert your camera to infrared, and the going rate seems to be about $300, plus you still need to buy various filters, so it’s not exactly a cheap endeavor. I have been searching for a cheap Fujifilm camera that’s hopefully gently used, since I need to keep costs down in order to make this dream a reality.

When I looked at various places, such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace, KEH, etc., I was surprised to see a lot of great options for $300 or less. I found some Fujifilm X-E1 bodies for under $200, one as cheap as $150. The X-E1, or “Sexy One” as it was once called, was my introduction to Fujifilm cameras, and is a solid choice. I saw an X-T10 that claimed to have a low shutter count but with some serious scratches for $200. There were several X-E2 bodies for around $250, and an X-E2s for under $300. I was surprised to see a few X-T1 bodies for $300. There were also some non-X-Trans Fujifilm cameras, such as the X-A3, X-A5 and X-T100, for under $300. I had a lot to choose from.

As I was looking at all of these cameras, I was reminded of some articles I’ve written. About a year-and-a-half ago I published Digital Is Disposable, which is about how we continuously buy the latest gear and don’t keep what we own for very long. It’s just as true now as it was then. People (myself included) upgrade their gear much too quickly, and cameras that are still excellent get tossed aside like an old moldy bag of tangerines just because there’s something else that’s brand new. Last week I briefly touched on this topic in my Photography Investments article, and just the other day in 5 Tips To Become A Better Photographer. It’s better to keep your gear longer and spend your money on experiences instead of upgrading your very capable and practically still new camera.

The flip side to this coin, however, is that if you want a cheap yet excellent camera, there’s plenty to pick from. Maybe you’d like a second camera body. Well, you can have one for $300 or less, maybe even as low as $150! Perhaps your kid or spouse has been begging for a camera, but you don’t want to spend a bunch of money. Why not buy something used and affordable instead of brand new and expensive? I’m just throwing this out there in case you didn’t realize that used Fujifilm gear is going for so little.

I purchased a Fujifilm X-T1 that claims to have a very low shutter count and is in like-new condition for only $300. That seems like a fantastic deal! Sometimes someone else’s description doesn’t match how I would describe it, so when it arrives I’ll see just how “very low” the shutter count is and just how “like new” it actually is. If it’s in halfway decent shape I’ll be happy. With any luck sometime in the coming six months or so I’ll be able to convert it to full-spectrum, something I’ve wanted to do for many years. One man’s junk is another’s treasure, as the saying goes, and I’m hoping this camera will prove to be a treasure for me.

Fujifilm Grain Settings

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Blue Winter Sky – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Many of my film simulation recipes call for faux grain, in order to achieve a more analog aesthetic. The picture above was captured using my Kodachrome 64 recipe, which requires Grain set to Weak. Fujifilm cameras with X-Trans III or IV sensors have a faux grain option, which can be set to Off, Weak or Strong (the X-Pro3 has additional grain options). The Acros film simulation has built-in grain that increases as the ISO increases. I have often said that X-Trans digital noise is also grain-like in appearance. But all of this is hard to see, especially when viewed at web sizes, so it can be tough to know exactly what the different settings are doing to pictures. I thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at the grain on Fujifilm cameras. For this post I used a Fujifilm X-T30.

Let’s take a closer look at Blue Winter Sky, the picture at the top of this article. Here are some crops:

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ISO 640, Grain Off.

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Grain Weak

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Grain Strong

You likely can see the grain in the bottom crop, which has Grain set to Strong, but the middle one with Grain set to Weak is a little more difficult to notice. It’s subtly there, but the difference between Grain Off and Grain Weak isn’t huge by any stretch, and you have to look very closely to find it. Even Grain Strong isn’t particularly obvious, but it’s certainly noticeable upon close inspection.

Let’s look at some massive crops from another picture:

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ISO 640, Grain Off

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Grain Weak

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Grain Strong

This example is a little bit deeper of a crop, and so it’s also a little easier to spot the differences in grain. Still, there’s not a huge distinction between Grain set to Off and Grain set to Weak. Grain set to Strong stands out from the others, but again it’s still not especially obvious.

Can you spot the difference between Grain set to Weak and Grain set to Strong in the two images below?

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ISO 400, Grain Weak

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ISO 400, Grain Strong

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ISO 400, Grain Weak

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ISO 400, Grain Strong

I think if you study the crops above long enough, you can see that the bottom one has a stronger grain, but just barely. It’s not obvious whatsoever, even when viewed this closely.

Can you spot the differences between the two crops below?

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The top image is ISO 400 with Grain set to Weak. The bottom is ISO 6400 with grain set to Strong. You could probably tell that the top image is slightly cleaner and crisper, but it is very subtle, and not something you’d ever notice without closely comparing crops side-by-side.

Now let’s take a look at some Acros crops. Can you spot the differences?

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ISO 400, Grain Weak

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ISO 400, Grain Strong

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ISO 6400, Grain Strong

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ISO 6400, Grain Weak

There’s not much to notice, but there’s (once again) a subtle difference between ISO 400 with Grain set to Weak and ISO 6400 with Grain set to Strong, and you’re not likely to spot it without closely comparing crops. In real life, nobody does that.

The conclusion is that the faux grain options on Fujifilm cameras aren’t especially obvious without a close study. Grain Strong stands out much more than Grain Weak, but neither are particularly noticeable without a close inspection. Even the difference between ISO 400 and ISO 6400 (with or without grain) isn’t all that big, especially if you aren’t viewing the pictures large. The more you crop, the more you zoom into the image, or the larger you print, the more you’ll notice the differences. For internet viewing, you’ll have a tough time even noticing. It’s perfectly fine to set Grain to Off if you don’t like it. I personally enjoy seeing the grain, even if it’s not immediately apparent, because I first learned photography in the film era and I love grain. I look forward to someday trying out the new grain options that Fujifilm has included on the X-Pro3, and I hope it’s added to the X-T30 via a firmware update, but in the meantime I’m happy to use the faux grain that’s currently available to me in my camera.

2019 Fujifilm Gift Giving Guide

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I get asked frequently for my opinions on Fujifilm cameras. Many people are seeking advice on what to buy. Tomorrow is December 1, and the Christmas shopping season is in full swing. This article is intended for those wishing to gift a camera and are searching for tips on what to choose. My hope is that there’s some helpful advice here as you camera shop for your loved ones.

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

First Camera

If you are shopping for someone’s first interchange-lens camera, let’s say a teenage kid or spouse, I would recommend the Fujifilm X-T100. This is a low-budget entry-level model that is still very capable and will deliver high-quality pictures. You get a surprisingly large bang for a surprisingly few bucks. As of this writing, the Fujifilm X-T100 with a 15-45mm lens is only $400, which is an incredible bargain.

Fujifilm X-T100 w/15-45mm lens:   B&H   Amazon

Vlog Camera

Suppose that you are shopping for an aspiring vlogger. Maybe this person has been using their phone to do so, but is ready to upgrade to a more serious camera. My top recommendation is the Fujifilm X-A7. This camera is similar in a lot of ways to the X-T100 mentioned above, but with better video capabilities and an articulating rear-screen that makes it a better choice for vlogging. The Fujifilm X-A7 with a 15-45mm lens has an MSRP of $700.

Fujifilm X-A7 w/15-45mm lens:   B&H   Amazon

Good Camera

My wife wanted a camera. She had a Canon point-and-shoot, a GoPro, and her iPhone, but she wanted something better, something more capable, something good. She wanted a camera that could capture high-quality stills and video. So I bought her a Fujifilm X-T20, which has been my top recommended Fujifilm camera for over a year. This camera is a step up from the X-T100. It could be used as a vlogging camera, although the X-A7 might be a better choice for that. Because it’s not the latest model, it’s priced very well, and as of this writing the Fujifilm X-T20 with a 16-50mm lens is only $600, which is an amazing deal!

Fujifilm X-T20 w/16-50mm lens:   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T20 w/18-55mm lens:   B&H   Amazon

Second Camera

If you are shopping for someone who already has a Fujifilm camera and they’ve been hinting that they want a second camera body, you have several good options. The Fujifilm X-T3, which is at the high end, is currently $1,300, and the Fujifilm X-T30, which is mid-tier, is currently $800. The Fujifilm X-E3, which is also mid-tier, but doesn’t have the latest sensor and processor (yet is still great), is currently only $500. No matter if you have a large or small budget, you’ve got some good camera bodies to choose from.

Fujifilm X-T3 (Body Only):   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T30 (Body Only):   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-E3 (Body Only):   B&H   Amazon

Fun Camera

Those wanting to gift a camera that’ll be super fun for the receiving photographer have two great choices: the Fujifilm X100F or the Fujifilm XF10. Both of these are fixed-lens cameras that are an absolute joy to use, especially the X100F, which might be my personal all-time favorite camera. These are great for travel or street photography or even snapshots of the kids. The Fujifilm X100F is currently $1,100 while the Fujifilm XF10 is currently $450.

Fujifilm X100F:  B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm XF10:   B&H   Amazon

Has-It-All Camera

If you are camera shopping for the photographer who already has it all, the one camera that they might not have is the brand-new Fujifilm X-Pro3. This is a unique camera that delivers a unique experience. It’s the most expensive camera on this list with an MSRP of $1,800. Another option is the Fujifilm X-Pro2 Graphite Edition, which comes with a lens and is currently discounted at only $1,600.

Fujifilm X-Pro3 (Body Only):  B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Graphite w/23mm f/2 lens:   B&H   Amazon

Kid Camera

For those with kids who have been begging for a camera, the one that I highly recommend is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9. This is the camera that I got my daughter when she wanted one for Christmas, and she’s absolutely loved it! She’s had so much fun with it, and the “magic” of instant film is the same today as it was back when Polaroids were all the rage when I was young. Best of all, it’s super cheap.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9:   B&H   Amazon

Awesome Fujifilm X Deals!

Fujifilm X-Pro2 Blog

There are some really great deals on certain Fujifilm cameras right now. These aren’t necessarily “Black Friday” deals, but they are certainly great for holiday shopping or if you’ve been eyeing one of these for awhile. I want to bring special attention to the Graphite X-Pro2 with the Fujinon 23mm f/2 lens, which has been deeply discounted, and you’re not likely going to find it for cheaper. Need a second camera body? The X-T20 and X-E3 are dirt cheap right now. The X-T100 is at a rock-bottom price. It’s what I would gift to a family member who has been asking for a camera. Heck, for the price, I might pick one up for myself!

This post contains an affiliate link, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my link.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 (Body Only) $1,300   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Graphite w/23mm f/2 lens $1,600   B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-T20 (Body Only) $500 – $550   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T20 w/16-50mm lens $600   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T20 w/18-55mm lens $800   B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-E3 (Body Only) $500   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-E3 w/23mm f/2 lens $750   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-E3 w/18-55mm lens $800   B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-T100 (Body Only) $350   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T100 w/15-45mm lens $400   B&H   Amazon

Fujifilm X-T3 (Body Only) $1,300   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T3 w/18-55mm lens $1,700   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T3 w/56mm f/1.2 lens $2,000   B&H

Fujifilm X-T30 w/15-45mm lens $850   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X-T30 w/18-55mm lens $1,100   B&H   Amazon

See also: Fujifilm Gear