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What’s better, the Ricoh GR III or the Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 18mm f/2 lens? They’re both compact APS-C cameras that are reasonably affordable. They are both capable of producing excellent straight-out-of-camera JPEGs that don’t require editing. But which one is the best? If put head-to-head, which one will come out on top? Let’s find out!
First, I want to point out that I have Film Simulation Recipes for the Fujifilm X-E4 and Recipes for the Ricoh GR III. I have a Film Simulation Recipes App for Fujifilm, and I have a Film Simulation Recipes App for Ricoh. While there are significantly more Recipes for the Fujifilm X-E4, there are still quite a few for the Ricoh GR III; both camera are capable of producing analog-like results out-of-camera. With that said, let’s look at some pros and cons to each camera.
The biggest pro for the Ricoh GR—and let’s be honest, this is the reason to own it—is its super compact size—the smallest APS-C camera, in fact. The GR III easily fits into my pants pockets or nearly anywhere. It’s perfect for travel or for just carrying around. The inconspicuous design lends itself well for street photography. The GR III has IBIS, albeit a mediocre one that’s not particular necessary with an 18mm lens (but, still, it has it). Snap focus is a pretty useful feature. Ricoh just gave it a new Image Control Effect (their version of a Film Simulation) with a Kaizen firmware update, something Fujifilm hasn’t done in a long time. Perhaps the second biggest pro to the Ricoh GR III is that you can actually buy one without too much difficulty.
The biggest con for the Ricoh GR is that it has a fixed lens. That could be good or bad, depending on your perspective, but for certain it lacks versatility—the GR III is a one-trick pony, but of course it does that one trick very well. Another big con is that it lacks a viewfinder; because the LCD doesn’t move, the camera can be hard to use in harsh light conditions. I don’t like that it has a PASM dial, as I much prefer the manual tactile controls found on most Fujifilm cameras. While the camera-made JPEGs do look good, I prefer those from the Fujifilm X-E4, as I think Fujifilm’s JPEGs are a little better than Ricoh’s. Finally, the GR III is now over four years old, and it’s perhaps beginning to feel slightly dated.
For the Fujifilm X-E4, the biggest pro is Fujifilm’s renown JPEG output and the large number of Film Simulation Recipes available for it. For straight-out-of-camera photography, it’s very hard to beat this camera! The X-E4 has an electronic viewfinder, as well as a tilting LCD. You can attach any number of different lenses to it; the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 is my favorite. The Fujinon 18mm f/2 is a full stop brighter than the f/2.8 lens on the Ricoh GR III, which can occasionally be a big deal, but most of the time isn’t. The X-E4 has the traditional camera controls that Fujifilm cameras are known for. Fujifilm released the X-E4 two years after Ricoh released the GR III, and to a small extent you can tell.
The biggest con for the Fujifilm X-E4 is that it’s difficult to find, and, if you do, it might be at an inflated price. Due to parts shortages, Fujifilm couldn’t keep up with demand, and then they (inexplicably) discontinued the camera. Good luck finding one. While the X-E4 is small and pocketable if your pockets are large enough, it’s significantly bigger than the Ricoh GR III. It doesn’t have IBIS, although with the 18mm lens it’s not really necessary. The Fujifilm X-E4 paired with the Fujinon 18mm f/2 has an MSRP of $1,450, while the Ricoh GR III has an MSRP of only $900.
Comparing the Ricoh GR III to the Fujifilm X-E4 with the Fujinon 18mm f/2 lens isn’t really fair. They’re two different tools for two different purposes. But there are enough similarities and crossover that they do make some sense to test side-by-side. I like the Fujifilm X-E4 better—much better, in fact—than the Ricoh GR III, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best camera. Best is subjective, and it kind of depends on your goals and how you’ll use the cameras.
The Ricoh GR III is significantly cheaper and you can buy it right now without too much trouble. The Ricoh GR III is easier to carry around and is more inconspicuous. The Fujifilm X-E4 offers a more fun shooting experience and is much more versatile. I prefer the pictures from the X-E4, but those from the Ricoh GR III are still very good. Ultimately the winner is the one that makes the most sense to you. I own both cameras, and I use the Fujifilm X-E4 probably ten or maybe fifteen times more often than the Ricoh GR III, so it is my winner; however, you might prefer the GR III for various reasons, so it could be your winner. Even though I use the X-E4 much more often, there are times that the GR III is more practical to have with me, so I’m glad that I own it.
Below are some pictures that I recently captured with a Ricoh GR III and a Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 18mm f/2 lens.
Ricoh GR III
Fujifilm X-E4 + Fujinon 18mm f/2
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A couple of weeks ago I had this realization that I hadn’t been using my Fujifilm X100V as much as I would have liked to or normally would have. I was grabbing some of my other cameras, like the Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujifilm X-T5, instead. But I really like shooting with my X100V—it’s my “desert island” camera; if I could only ever shoot with one for the rest of my life, it would be the X100V.
While having the realization that the camera was collecting more dust than usual, I also noticed that the light was changing and becoming favorable for photography. I snatched the X100V, set it to my Vintage Vibes Film Simulation Recipe, and headed out the door, in search of an interesting picture opportunity nearby.
Just as the sun was nearing the horizon, I found a spot in the desert with some pops of late-spring color. I decided this was my opportunity, so I began capturing images. The light didn’t last long, and the bugs were becoming a nuisance; nevertheless, I was able to snap a few interesting pictures before heading home.
Perhaps more important than the images, I used the camera that I love most. I dusted it off, put it in my hand, took some steps outside, and pressed the shutter release button. Whether or not the pictures turned out was less critical than the act of actively using it. Yes, pictures are important, but so is the experience—actually, the experience is probably the most important. If you haven’t used your beloved gear much lately, be sure to get it in your hands ASAP and take some pictures!
On May 24th, Fujifilm will announce some new products, and, according to Fujirumors, who is almost always right, the headliner will be the Fujifilm X-S20. What initially seemed like a mild update to an entry-level model is now becoming a little more interesting as details emerge of what exactly the X-S20 will be.
I had actually typed out quite a bit, but decided to delete it (11 paragraphs!) after my second cup of coffee. If you want to know the leaked specs so far, definitely visit Fujirumors. From my perspective, the biggest upgrade from the X-S10 will be the bigger NP-W235 battery. The improvements to autofocus and video specs will be nice, too, I’m sure, but probably not a big deal for a lot of people in practical use. It will have a Vlog mode complete with faux-bokeh and product-tracking-autofocus. Otherwise, there will be a lot more similar than dissimilar between the X-S10 and X-S20, but the price will be significantly divergent, as the X-S20 will be $300 more!
I realize that the X-S20 is not intended for me. It’s probably not intended for you, either. Who, then, is it for? The X-S20 is specifically for YouTubers or TikTokers who are making unboxing videos or how-to tutorials or things like that. I think Fujifilm intends the X-S20 to compete against the Sony ZV-E1, as a similar yet cheaper camera. The biggest difference between the X-S10 and X-S20 is that Fujifilm has defined a little more clearly who exactly the camera is for.
So if you are a YouTube or TikTok content creator looking for something a little more advanced than the cellphone or GoPro that you’ve been using so that you can step up your game, the X-S20 is for you, and quite a bit cheaper than Sony’s offering. Even though this camera is intended for that group, it will still be a capable photographic tool no matter who is using it.
Unfortunately, it won’t have the traditional tactile controls or striking retro design that Fujifilm is known for. Or, used to be known for, as six out of the last nine Fujifilm cameras will have been PASM models—X-S10, GFX100S, GFX50S II, X-H2S, X-H2, and X-S20—while one of the three non-PASM models (X-T30 II) wasn’t much more than a firmware update (so essentially 3/4 of Fujifilm’s latest releases have been PASM). The three most recent traditional Fujfilm cameras are the X-E4, which is nearly two-and-a-half years old, the X-T30 II (the firmware-update model), and the X-T5. The only retro-designed tactile control cameras currently offered by Fujifilm are the X-T5 and the three-year-old-and-impossible-to-find X100V, all the rest have been discontinued, including the X-E4 and X-T30 II. Oh, and apparently Fujifilm is experiencing a shortage of X-T5’s…. In other words, if you want to buy a traditional Fujifilm camera, good luck with that—you’ll probably have to go the used route, and even that can be tough.
Fujifilm had previously stated that they are working on some “wow” products; the X-S20 isn’t one of those—or, if it is, their idea of “wow” and mine are two entirely different things.
If you had been thinking about buying a Fujifilm X-S10, but then thought maybe to wait for the X-S20 and get that instead… unless you just need the new Vlog mode or battery life, or just have-to-have the improved autofocus and video specs (which, on paper, sound wonderful, but aren’t a huge deal in practical use for most people), I’d consider saving a few hundred bucks and buying the X-S10 instead. That’s just my opinion.
The good news, though, is that on May 24, according to Fujirumors, Fujifilm will announce a new app to replace the terrible Cam Remote app. That’s exciting! Much more exciting than the X-S20, in fact.
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Neutral Density filters, more commonly called ND filters, are very useful. It’s worthwhile to have at least one ND filter available for your photography. Maybe you don’t know which one (or ones) to own and why you’d use it. I recently got some ND filters, and perhaps my story will be helpful to you.
In my How to get Filmic Photographs from your iPhone article I explained that my wife has a Sandmarc case for her iPhone 13 Pro. I thought she’d also appreciate some ND filters for her phone, since she uses it regularly for videography, so I got her three Sandmarc ND filters that can attach to her iPhone case. You see, ND filters are common in cinematography because you want a shutter speed close to the frames-per-second you’re recording in order to avoid jutter (a.k.a. stutter or choppy) when panning or whenever there is movement. Getting a slow enough shutter speed in bright conditions can be difficult without an ND filter. Unfortunately, the ND filters didn’t really work out with her iPhone workflow, so they initially went unused. Not wanting to let the filters go to waste, I reimagined how they could be utilized, and I figured out how to make them work for me. Now I see them as an essential tool for my photography!
Before I get to the filters, I want to briefly talk about one other Sandmarc item I have: iPhone Tripod, Compact Edition. This was also for my wife, but she doesn’t use it often—only occasionally—so I borrow it regularly, except that I use it with my Fujifilm cameras and not my phone. I need a small tripod for my desk when I do the SOOC Live broadcasts, but the one I’ve owned for years kind of sucks and just barely works; however, with Season 3, I began using the Sandmarc tripod, and it is so much better—perfect for the job! I also discovered that it’s great for travel because it folds up very small and doesn’t take up much space (about 8.5 inches). The tripod only expands to a little taller than two feet, but it is sturdy enough to hold my X-T5 with a lens as large as the Fujinon 90mm, so for occasional casual use—which is all I ever use tripods for in my photography—it is just fine. Since getting it, the Sandmarc tripod has become my most-used. I don’t think that it’s intended for “real” cameras like the Fujifilm X-T5, but that’s what I use it for, and it works great. I bring this up because tripods are closely associate with ND filters.
Neutral Density filters block the amount of light entering the lens, which allows for slower shutter speeds. Why would you want to do this? I already mentioned that in cinematography, slowing the shutter can reduce juttering. In still photography, slowing down the shutter allows you to show motion by way of blurring moving things, and it allows for high-ISO photography in bright conditions.
Sandmarc’s iPhone ND filters come in a pack of three: ND16, ND32, and ND64. The ND16 reduces light by four stops, the ND32 reduces by five stops, and the ND64 reduces by six stops. I most commonly use the ND16, but for longer exposures, the other two certainly come in handy. Did I mention that Sandmarc’s ND filters are also polarized? They are! Polarizers reduce glare and haze, which can be particularly useful when photographing water. Pretty cool, eh?
So if these ND filters are made for iPhones, how am I using them on my Fujifilm cameras? Technically, I’m not using them on my camera, I’m attaching them to my Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens. The ND filters have 40.5mm threads, and the 27mm lens accepts 39mm threads, so I purchased a cheap Rise 39mm-40.5mm step-up ring, which allows me to use the Sandmarc ND filters on my Fujinon lens. It works like a charm!
There are three ways in which I’ve integrated ND filters into my photography: slow shutter with a tripod, slow shutter without a tripod, and high-ISO in daylight. I’ll briefly explain each below.
ND Filter + Tripod
The classic way ND filters are used for still photography is with a tripod. By utilizing a slow shutter speed, things within the frame that are moving will become a blur. Waterfalls are probably the most common subject for this technique, where water appears to be a streak of blur or even a mist if the exposure is long enough. Typically, a maximum shutter speed of 1/15 is required for blurring the subject, but there are a few factors—lens focal length, speed and distance of the subject, desired blur—that could affect the necessary shutter speed, either faster or slower. The longer the shutter is open, the more blur you will get. Because you want everything that’s not moving to be sharp, a tripod is required for this technique.
ND Filter without Tripod
Who says that pictures have to be sharp? Maybe you want everything in the frame to be blurry! For this, you simply remove the tripod and use a slow shutter while the camera is handheld. Panning is one example of this. Using a slow shutter speed without a tripod is probably the most difficult ND filter technique, but there is a lot of opportunity for creativity, which means there is potential for dramatic or interesting photographs. The longer the exposure the more difficult this technique is—unless you’re really going for abstract art—so be careful not to set the shutter too slow.
High ISO in Bright Daylight
You might think that purposefully setting a high-ISO in bright daylight is a weird thing to do. The general advice given since the beginning of photography is to use the lowest ISO that you can get away with. If you can use ISO 200, use ISO 200. If you need to bump it up to ISO 400 because the light is dimmer, use ISO 400. Only use ISO 800 if you have to. And ISO 1600 should be used with extreme caution. ISOs higher than that are for emergency purposes only. But is that still good advice? In my opinion, Fujifilm cameras are excellent at high-ISO because—thanks to the X-Trans sensor and processor—they better control the aesthetic of digital noise, rendering it more like film grain. In other words, purposefully using high-ISOs can produce a more analog-like result. Some of my Film Simulation Recipes actually require ultra-high ISOs, and using them in bright daylight can be difficult; however, ND filters make it much more practical. My X100V has a built-in ND filter, but my other Fujifilm cameras do not; ND filters have opened up the opportunity to use these high-ISO Recipes in situations that would be much more difficult otherwise—this is how I’m most often using my Sandmarc ND filters.
Find these Film Simulation Recipes and nearly 300 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!
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Note: the top four pictures were captured with a Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon 35mm f/2; images 1, 2 & 4 are Pacific Blues and image 3 is Kodak Portra 400 v2. The other pictures were captured using my Fujifilm X-T5 & Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 with a Sandmarc ND filter attached.
I shot a 36-exposure roll of Fujichrome Fortia 50 on my Fujifilm X100V.
Right now you are thinking one of a few things. What is Fujichrome Fortia 50? Fortia was discontinued a long time ago, and is well expired now and difficult to find. Anyway, you can’t shoot film in a Fujifilm X100V! There’s not a Fujichrome Fortia 50 Film Simulation Recipe, is there? All of that and more will be explained in this article!
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Is there a better way to get a retro film look? In my opinion, the answer is yes!
Notice that I didn’t say the best way, only a better way. The best way to get a retro film look is to shoot actual analog film on a retro film camera; however, film is expensive and the process inconvenient. Digital is much more convenient, but digital images inherently don’t resemble film—one must manipulate them. There are numerous programs, plugins, and presets that will provide you with a film look without a lot of fuss, but it does require some level of post-processing; editing pictures is a good way to get a retro film look, but a couple downsides are 1) you must have access to (and pay for) the software and know how to use it and 2) it takes time to edit all of your pictures. There is another way, which I believe is a better way.
It’s very simple: shoot JPEGs on Fujifilm cameras programmed with analog-like Film Simulation Recipes and use vintage lenses. I say that this is a better way because you can achieve a retro film look without the hassle of picture manipulation. Better, of course, is subjective, but this is an increasingly popular method, largely because more and more photographers are deciding that it is indeed a better way for them.
Fujifilm cameras are an important ingredient to this because, when programming their digital output, Fujifilm utilized their film department to assist with the image rendering. In other words, using their vast film experience, they set out to infuse an analog aesthetic into their digital photographs. Film Simulation Recipes take it a step further by fine-tuning the camera settings to better replicate specific film stocks and/or processes or mimicking certain looks. There are nearly 300 Recipes on the Fuji X Weekly App (available for Android and Apple), so be sure to download it if it’s not already on your phone. You can do pretty much the same thing as Recipes with software, but it will not 100% match the straight-out-of-camera images and you will have to work for it (at least a little), while camera-made JPEGs are good-to-go without editing (the work is already done for you). This is a paradigm shift that can dramatically transform your workflow by drastically simplifying it, which saves you a lot of time, hassle, and potentially money, while simultaneously making photography more fun. Like I said: better.
The final ingredient is the glass. Modern lenses are often precision engineered, making them nearly flawless. That’s great if you want a digital look, but if you want a retro film look you should employ the same lenses that were used to shoot film, which often have flaws that give them character—an important aspect of the analog aesthetic. Find some old glass and shoot through it! You’ll need an adapter—the exact one depends on the mount of the lens—and set the camera to “Shoot Without Lens” in the Menu settings. These lenses are manual focus, which can be tricky at first, but thankfully Fujifilm provides you with some excellent tools to assist with it, making manual focus much easier and more enjoyable. Alternatively, you could use inexpensive third-party lenses, which often have similar characteristics to vintage lenses, and you won’t need a special adapter.
For the pictures in this article, I used a Fujifilm X-T5 programed with my AgfaChrome RS 100 Film Simulation Recipe shot through various tiny Pentax-110 lenses. The straight-out-of-camera results are very analog-like, and could probably pass as actual film photographs if I didn’t provide any background information. You’re not likely to think that these are out-of-camera pictures from a modern camera. If you weren’t convinced that they’re film, you’d likely assume some post-processing was done to make them appear film-like, yet they’re unedited. In any event, if you want a better way to get a retro film look, use Fujifilm cameras programmed with Film Simulation Recipes and shoot through vintage lenses. Simple. Easy. Convincing. Fun.
According to Fujirumors, who is almost always right, the upcoming X-S20 camera, which will likely be announced in May, will have a 26-megapixel X-Trans IV sensor, the same sensor as the X-S10 and all other X-Trans IV cameras, and not the new 40-megapixel or 26-megapixel-stacked X-Trans V sensor.
Wait, what?!? Why would Fujifilm do this?
This doesn’t make any sense because Fujifilm has historically used the same sensor in all models of a certain generation, with few exceptions. What are the exceptions? The X-M1 had an X-Trans I sensor paired with an X-Trans II processor (yet with options more like a Bayer model). The X20, X30, XQ1, and XQ2 were X-Trans II cameras with small sensors and not APS-C. Otherwise, all of the X-Trans cameras in a generation shared the same sensor. All of the X-Trans III cameras had the 24-megapixel X-Trans III sensor. All of the X-Trans IV cameras had the 26-megapixel X-Trans IV sensor. But X-Trans V is definitely different.
First we have the 26-megapixel-stacked X-Trans V sensor in the X-H2S, which presumably will be found only in that one model and no others. Then there is the 40-megapixel X-Trans V sensor found in the X-H2 and X-T5, which presumably will also be found in the next X-Pro and X-100 models. Now we’ll have the 26-megapixel X-Trans IV sensor (presumably paired with the X-Trans V processor) in the X-S20. Weird.
The advantage of having just one sensor for each Fujifilm era is that no matter your camera within a certain generation, you know you will get identical images out of each body. So you could have an X-T2 as your main camera, an X-T20 as a second body, and an X-E3 as a travel option, and the images will look the same, because they all share the same sensor and processor. Consistency. Or you might have an X-Pro3 and X100V, and—no matter which you used—the picture quality will be identical. Now with X-Trans V there’s a lot less consistency across the range, which in my opinion is a disadvantage.
Using the X-Trans IV sensor in the X-S20 does make sense because the sensor, while a few years old, is still excellent, and pairing it with the new processor will (potentially) get the most out of it. I have both X-Trans IV and X-Trans V cameras; while they’re all great, I actually prefer X-Trans IV. I don’t need 40-megapixels. Some people do—yes—but the vast majority don’t, and it’s overkill that for most people only exacerbates storage issues. So I would rather Fujifilm work to squeeze more—increased dynamic range, improved high-ISO, speed, etc.—out of the 26-megapixel sensor than to push more resolution. I feel like 26MP is a really good spot for APS-C, and Fujifilm shouldn’t be in a hurry to move past it. I’ve made many very nice 2′ x 3′ prints from X-Trans IV JPEGs, and the majority of people don’t print that large, let alone bigger.
One question that this raises is what will be different about the X-S20 compared to its predecessor, since they’ll share the same sensor? Apparently the X-S20 will have the new NP-W235 battery, which is certainly nice. I would be surprised if a slight design change isn’t necessary to accommodate the bigger battery, but I don’t expect any drastic changes to the design overall. I expect some improvements to autofocus, maybe image stabilization, and perhaps some small video spec upgrades (such as better time limits) will be included, but certainly nothing major. Most likely more will be alike than dissimilar; however, the upgraded battery and processor will make the X-S20 better than the X-S10, at least by a little, but probably not much more than a little.
I do think this gives some credibility to my theory that another PASM model is in the works—I don’t have any inside information, this is just my personal thoughts. I think a number of X-S10 users would like to upgrade to a higher-end body, but the X-H2/X-H2S is too big and expensive for them. I also believe that a number of X-H2/X-H2S owners would like a more compact and cheaper second body, but the X-S10 is a little too much of a downgrade for them. These folks aren’t interested in the X-T4 or X-T5 because of the traditional dials. Fujifilm has created a need for an in-between mid-tier PASM model. Don’t be surprised if an X-S2 (or whatever they will call it) is being designed right now, which will be a little larger than the X-S20 (but not as large as the X-H2/X-H2S), have weather-sealing, two SD-Card slots, seven Custom Presets, but no external fan accessory and slightly more limited video specs compared to the X-H2 (more similar to the X-T5), with an MSRP around $1,500-ish. Look for it in 2024. Like I said, this is all just a guess.
Another question that is raised is whether the X-T40 (or maybe they’ll call in X-T50) will have the X-Trans IV sensor like the X-S20, and I think the answer is yes. Fujifilm will use the “old” sensor to differentiate low-end models from mid and high-end bodies. If there is an X-E5, which is far from guaranteed, it would also have the 26-megapixel X-Trans IV sensor. I don’t personally believe that both the X-T00 and X-E lines will continue, and most likely the one to get axed is the X-E series, which is unfortunate because I really like the X-E line. If there eventually is an X-E5, look for it in 2025 near the very end of X-Trans V. Fujifilm should 100% be making an X80—the long awaited successor to the X70—and if they do it will certainly also have the 26-megapixel X-Trans IV sensor, but I don’t think that such a camera is in the works. I really hope I’m wrong.
I don’t know if the X-S20 (and future X-T40) will have an output more similar to X-Trans IV or X-Trans V or something unique. My guess is that the processor will be programmed to produce results more like the X-T5, which renders blue a little deeper on some film simulations and does some odd things with AWB (otherwise the differences between X-Trans IV and V are pretty small overall). We’ll have to wait until the camera comes out to find out.
Personally, I feel as though camera makers release new models much too quickly. There’s still quite some demand for X-Trans IV models. The X-E4 and especially the X100V have long backorder lists. A camera store told me that if they received zero new orders for the X100V and they continued to received new bodies at the same rate that Fujifilm has been delivering them, that it would take them six months to fulfill all of the current X100V orders; yet, they continue to receive new orders at a higher rate than bodies are being shipped to them by Fujifilm, so the backorder list is constantly growing. Fujifilm should concentrate their efforts on fulfilling current demand for X-Trans IV before pressing forward with X-Trans V. Unfortunately, camera makers will constantly push slightly improved new models because there is so much GAS and FOMO out there that people will buy them up.
There’s a cycle, which I’ve certainly been caught up in, and it’s not healthy: buy a new camera every year. People often have two camera bodies (sometimes someone has only one, and sometimes someone—like me—has a bunch)—and one of the two is replaced every odd year and the other is replaced every even year. Perhaps in 2021 you replaced your X-T2 with an X-T3 and in 2022 you replaced your X100F with an X100V; maybe in 2023 you will replace your X-T3 with an X-T5, and in 2024 you’ll look to replace your X100V with an X100Z (or whatever they’ll call the next X100). The cycle goes on and on.
My most recent camera purchase was an X-T5, but I did so in order to try the new film sim and make Film Simulation Recipes for X-Trans V; otherwise I didn’t need it—yes, the X-T5 is very nice to have and I’m not complaining whatsoever, but I’d be just as happy without it. I purchased my X-E4 two years ago, and I have no desire to replace it anytime soon—it was my most-used camera in 2022. My X100V was a birthday gift from my wife nearly three years ago, and I’m sure I’ll skip the next X100 series model, unless there’s something really radical about it. A year before that I bought an X-T30, which is a good camera that would still seem fresh if Fujifilm had shown it more Kaizen love, instead of releasing the firmware as a new model. Of those four, the X100V and X-E4 are my two favorites, and I hope to be still using them in 2025 and perhaps well beyond that. If Fujifilm made an X80, monochrome-only X100 or X-Pro, or an IR model, I’d be in line to buy those, but otherwise I’m not personally interested in anything new. I have what I need, but more than that I need to break the cycle of buying a new camera every year.
The fact is that even the older Fujifilm models are good. Yes, the newer models are better in many ways, but that doesn’t mean that their predecessors weren’t good. I used my Fujifilm X-T1 exclusively for a couple of weeks last November, and, not surprising to me but perhaps a surprise to some of you, the X-T1 did exceptionally well in most situations, including sports—the biggest shortcoming was autofocus in dim-light. If your camera still works for you, there’s not likely a good reason to upgrade.
Of course, the X-S20 isn’t intended as an “upgrade” model. Its purpose is to convince those unhappy with their Canikony cameras to consider Fujifilm instead. The X-S line’s main goal is to attract those from other brands who aren’t interested in (or are intimidated by) Fujifilm’s traditional tactile controls, but want Fujifilm’s colors and such. The X-S20 is an entry-level model, so Fujifilm is hoping that those with a Nikon D3500 or Sony A6300 or Canon T7 (or another model along those lines) will take a long look at the X-S20. I’m sure it will sell well, bringing people into the Fujifilm fold who otherwise wouldn’t be.
According to Fujirumors, some camera stores are beginning to mark the Fujifilm X-E4 as discontinued. It’s not uncommon for cameras to be marked as such prior to the announcement of its successor, but I don’t think that’s the case here.
I own and love my X-E4. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the X-E line because my very first Fujifilm camera was an X-E1, which was my gateway into the Fujifilm family. The X-E4 was my most-used camera body in 2022. It’s an especially great camera for travel photography due to its small size and minimalistic design, and I’m so glad that I preordered it when it was announced.
Of course, it wasn’t without controversy. Fujifilm probably went a step or two too far in their attempt at minimalism, removing a couple of things they probably shouldn’t have. No camera is perfect. Despite that, the X-E4 has been in-demand since its release, with sales often exceeding Fujifilm’s ability to manufacture new bodies. The camera has been on backorder for the majority of the time since its release a little over two years ago. If you are a camera maker, best case scenario is that a camera’s demand exceeds your ability to make them, and they are already sold before they even reach the end of assembly. The X-E4 was one such model.
So why, then, is it being discontinued?
The reason why Fujifilm couldn’t keep up with demand is the global parts shortage that affected so much within the industry. Fujifilm didn’t prioritize securing parts and manufacturing efforts for the X-E4 for two reasons, I believe: 1) other models were even more in-demand, and 2) other models have higher profit margins. I don’t have any proof of that, it’s just my assumptions. Cameras like the X100V and X-T5 are more in-demand than the X-E4, and more money is made per camera sold than the X-E4, so less of an effort was made to produce more X-E4 bodies. Instead of trying to fulfill the full demand, Fujifilm prioritized other models. It’s fine that they did that, because something had to give somewhere, and Fujifilm made their tough decisions.
My guess is that parts are running especially thin now for the X-E4, so Fujifilm is telling camera stores that they cannot fulfill more orders. I think more bodies have been made and are en route to the stores, and possibly more are on the assembly line right now, but after that there will be no more. Some of those who have it backordered will get their camera, and some won’t. That’s all just a guess and so take it with a large grain of salt. I have zero inside information.
Instead of trying to secure more parts and manufacture more copies of the X-E4, I think Fujifilm is trying to move onto X-Trans V as quickly as they can. I suspect that the X-Pro3 is no longer manufactured, and Fujifilm and camera stores are waiting for the current stock to dry up. I think the X-T30 II is on it’s last production run, and will soon be discontinued. My guess is that all of the X-S10’s that will be made have been already, and it’s a matter of the current stock running out. Same for the X-T4. The X100V is another story. I think Fujifilm will continue to manufacture it as long as demand remains sky-high, which will likely be until the day the X100Z (or whatever they will call it) is released; however, I do think they are giving manufacturing priority to the X-T5, X-H2, and X-H2S. Again, this is all speculation and nothing more.
Supposedly, the next Fujifilm camera to be announced will be the X-S20 sometime next month, but Fujifilm cancelled their April X Summit. Maybe they weren’t as ready for the X-S20 as they thought they would be. I think Fujifilm should prioritize the next X100-series camera, but my suspicion is that 2024 will be the year of the X-Pro4 and X100Z, and not 2023. I do think the plan is for one more X camera to be announced this year (aside from the X-S20, in or around September), but it will likely be an affordable (budget) model, such as the X-T40 (they might call it X-T50).
Fujifilm has three low-budget lines: X-S, X-E, and X-T00. They used to have other lower-budget lines, but that end of the camera market dried up so they discontinued them. I don’t believe that Fujifilm will continue with three models competing against each other. My guess is that either the X-T00 or X-E line is done for. Since Fujifilm has flirted in the past with discontinuing the X-E line, that series is likely on the chopping block, or at least being discussed as such within Fujifilm management. Don’t be surprised if there is no X-E5.
If the autumn camera isn’t the X-T40, what could it be? Fujifilm would be smart to prioritize the next X100-series model. That should be near the very top of their to-do list (after fixing the Cam Remote app). I wouldn’t be surprised if Fujifilm introduced a new mid-tier PASM line in-between the X-S20 and X-H2/X-H2S—I have no idea if that’s in their plans or not, but it does seem like a gap in the lineup. I’ve heard of plenty of demand for a non-PASM flagship model, but I don’t think that’s currently in the cards. Of course, I’d love to see an X80 or monochrome-only model—those are the only cameras that I’m personally interested in right now—but I’m not holding my breath. Most likely, 2023 is the year for the X-S20 and X-T40.
I hope the X-E line isn’t done for. I hope there is an X-E5. If they do make it, the series has historically been announced near the end of a sensor’s lifecycle, so perhaps we will see one in 2025, just before X-Trans VI is introduced. We’ll see.
The native aspect ratio of Fujifilm GFX cameras is 4:3. An aspect ratio is simply a mathematical expression of the shape of a sensor, film, picture, or screen. I’ve mostly shot with the 3:2 aspect ratio, which is the shape of 35mm film and many digital camera sensors, including Fujifilm X cameras, so the native GFX ratio isn’t something I’m used to.
The 4:3 aspect ratio has been around for a long time, and was the original shape of motion picture film beginning in the 1890’s. It would later become the standard shape of television screens and computer monitors for many decades, and today is the aspect ratio of most tablets, such as the iPad. It’s also the standard aspect ratio of Micro-Four-Thirds and digital medium-format cameras, and most old digicams and cellphone cameras use this ratio. 120 medium-format film can be (but isn’t always) shot in this aspect ratio, too.
While 4:3 is more square-like than 3:2, it is still a rectangle, yet I find it more challenging to compose within its shape. I personally like 3:2 and I’m quite comfortable with it. I even prefer to shoot 1:1 square instead of 4:3. The GFX aspect ratio just isn’t natural to me. It doesn’t seem like this should be a big deal, but for some reason it is for me. Over the last year I’ve challenged myself to use 4:3 more, so that I can be better at it.
Mainly I’ve used the 4:3 aspect ratio on my iPhone, which is the native shape of most cellphone cameras. My RitchieCam iPhone camera app does have many other ratios to choose from, and I don’t always use 4:3, but I’ve forced myself to use it more than ever before. This has certainly helped me not only refine my compositions within that shape, but become more accustomed to using it and seeing it. It has been becoming a bit more normalized for me. If you’ve used this ratio for years, that might seem like an odd statement, but I haven’t used it much ever (especially when compared to 3:2), so it has been outside of my comfort zone.
Fujifilm should add 4:3 as an aspect ratio choice on their X-series cameras. The current options are 3:2, 1:1, and 16:9. Why not add 4:3, 5:4, and 65:24? It doesn’t seem like it would take much programming effort to do so. Instead, if you want 4:3, you have to shoot GFX.
What about that top picture? What about the five pictures below? Which camera did I use for those to get a 4:3 aspect ratio? I didn’t crop them. They’re straight out of a Fujifilm camera—captured over the last two days and completely unedited—and they are all 4:3. Did I just buy a GFX camera, and, if so, which one? You’ll have to keep scrolling down to find out!
I did not buy a GFX camera, which you probably already guessed based on the photographs’ image quality. While I would certainly love to own one, it’s just not something that it’s in my budget. If Fujifilm ever wanted to give me one, I’d certainly accept the offer, but I’m definitely not holding my breath on that one!
So which Fujifilm camera did I shoot those images with? It couldn’t have been an X-series, right? Actually, the 2/3″ sensor X cameras—X10, X20, X30, XQ1, XQ2—do shoot naively in the 4:3 aspect ratio. But it wasn’t any of those models. And it wasn’t GFX. So what was it?
I used a lowly Fujifilm AX350 point-and-shoot digicam. This camera was number one in my The 5 Worst Fujifilm Cameras That You Should Never Own list, which was a tongue-in-cheek look at Fujifilm’s lesser appreciated models. Of course, any camera is “good enough” in the hands of a skilled photographer, including the AX350.
Interestingly, these old pocket point-and-shoot digicams are all the rage right now, particularly among Gen-Z. Why? There is a nostalgic aesthetic to their image quality. If you existed between 2000 and 2012, there’s a good chance that some of your most important or favorite life moments were captured on one of those cameras. These types of cameras were around before 2000, but film was still king by far. These types of cameras existed well after 2012, too, but more and more they were replaced by cellphones. If you were young between 2000 and 2012, you’re childhood memories are in part viewed through the aesthetic of cheap point-and-shoot digicams, so it makes sense that there would be some nostalgic feelings about it.
You can pick up these old digicams for next to nothing. If you don’t have one sitting in an old box or drawer somewhere, they commonly show up at thrift stores or yard sales for just a few dollars. I got mine from Goodwill about three-and-a-half years ago. It was in a box of various film and digital models, which I paid $40 for. I sold the two film cameras on eBay, and that paid for the lot. There were two kids cameras, which I kept—my youngest two children still play with them. There were two other point-and-shoot digital cameras that didn’t work, so they got tossed in the trash. The AX350 is the only thing that I kept for myself. I don’t use it often at all, but it’s fun to dust off every once in awhile. Although simple to operate, it’s a challenge to get quality results, so I find it to be a good photographic exercise.
I purchased my Fujifilm X-T5 when it was released back in November. I’ve received several messages lately asking why I haven’t published a review of the new camera. I think it’s because they are considering buying one themselves, and they want to know if it’s actually “worth” upgrading to or if there is something they should be aware of. Basically, some people want to either be talked into buying it or talked out of buying it, as it’s a lot of money and a big decision—which can be paralyzing—and you want to be wise with it. Lots of research is essential, and finding opinions from those you trust can be invaluable. I’m honored and flattered that many of you consider this website to be trustworthy.
At the beginning of each year, I like to take some time to consider how things went the prior year, what the current trajectory is, and where I want things to go. For Fuji X Weekly, I really feel that a slight shift in trajectory is needed, and in some ways I began moving towards that last year, even if I wasn’t sure the why and where. After much consideration, I have a clearer vision of where I want this website to go in 2023, and how to achieve it. I haven’t communicated these changes to you (until now, I suppose), but you’ve probably already noticed some.
There’s actually a lot going on behind the scenes. Many different projects are in the works. I’m juggling quite a bit right now. When the time is right, there are many exciting things that I look forward to announcing and sharing with you. Some projects might never work out, which has happened before (that’s just they way it goes sometimes), but I do believe that most of these will come to fruition. Some will take much longer than others, so stay tuned for these announcements over the coming weeks and months.
One thing that I haven’t announced (but you might have already picked up on) is that I’m doing more to explain and suggest when to use various Film Simulation Recipes. There are so many to choose from, and it can be difficult to know which to try. Then, when you find one you like, maybe the weather or light changes, and you don’t like it nearly so much in that situation. Now what do you do?
The trouble with suggesting Recipes is that, while one person might love one for a certain light and situation, another person might hate it for the same light and situation. For example, in the very same day, one photographer told me that they used the Kodak Portra 400 Recipe for a professional portraiture photo shoot and they couldn’t be more happy with the results, while another photographer told me that they tried that same Recipe for portraits and the results were horrible. Each person has their own tastes and style, and what will work for one person won’t work for another. I could suggest to you the Recipes that I think are good for various situations, but you might completely disagree with my assessment. Still, it can be helpful have a starting point.
Some of the articles that I’ve published so far in 2023 to help out with this are Five Film Simulation Recipes Every Social Media Influencer Should Try on Their Fujifilm X100V, Using Film Simulation Recipes to Recreate Vintage Looks — 10 Recipes to Try Today!, Elevating Your Street Photography with Fujifilm Film Simulation Recipes + 5 Recipes to Try Today!, Creative Collective 040: FXW Zine — Issue 15 — February 2023 (with the article: 10 Film Simulation Recipes for Cloudy Days), The 10 Best Film Simulation Recipes on the Fuji X Weekly App, and 5 Film Simulation Recipes every Fujifilm X-T5 Photographer Should Try. This actually started late last year with the Which Film Simulation Recipe, When? series. You can expect a lot more similar content moving forward because this is where I want to focus more of my time and energy. Even when I’m publishing new Recipes, I’m trying to do a better job of briefly explaining what situations or light they might work best in. Hopefully this is helpful to you.
None of this is completely new. For example, in the SOOC Live broadcasts, not only have we discussed at length a Film Simulation Recipe in each show, but for awhile now we’ve suggested several Recipe for use in specific situations or for various genres of photography. Without giving away what’s in store of Season 3, which kicks off tomorrow, I can tell you that we’re doubling-down on that concept. Be sure to tune in, and subscribe to the new SOOC Live YouTube channel.
What does any of this have to do with a review of the Fujifilm X-T5? Simple: I’m moving away from product reviews. For now—and I don’t know if this will last forever or if it’s just for a time—I won’t be publishing any camera or lens reviews. I want to focus a lot less on telling you what is good or bad about various gear, and focus more on how to use your get to achieve the aesthetics you want straight-out-of-camera. I’m not going to publish a review of the X-T5, but instead publish more articles on using Recipes with that camera (and other camera, too, definitely not just or even mostly the X-T5). I want to help you get the results you want out of your camera, and product reviews, which take a lot of time to put together, get in the way of that. Besides, there are so many reviews of the Fujifilm X-T5 already, what could I possibly add? The only things I would say is that X-Trans V renders the color blue slightly deeper on some film simulations, Auto White Balance can be quirky, Nostalgic Neg. is similar to Eterna, and if you are doing long broadcasts the camera might overheat. Those are the only things that I would add to what others have discussed, and I’ve already said them. If you have been waiting patiently for my review (that won’t come), I hope this is somehow helpful to your decision to buy or not buy; mostly I would say trust your gut, because deep down you know whether or not you actually “need” that new camera, or if it’s just Gear Acquisition Syndrome, New Camera Envy, or Fear of Missing Out.
While not publishing camera and lens reviews might be seen as negative, I hope that the revised vision for Fuji X Weekly is very positive, and that the benefits of the changes far outweigh what must be left behind. I invite you to come along for the ride, and let’s see where all of this goes.
According to Fujirumors, who has a reputation for being quite accurate, the next Fujifilm model will be the X-S20, which will be announced at the X-Summit in April. What are my thoughts on this upcoming camera?
First of all, I want to state that I have zero inside information. Fujifilm doesn’t tell me anything. I haven’t spoken with anybody who has knowledge about upcoming cameras. What I state about the X-S20—or any unreleased model—is my opinion (nothing more) and should be consumed with a grain of salt.
The X-S10 was a successful model for Fujifilm, doing what it was intended to do: attract those unsatisfied with their Canikony camera who have an interest in Fujifilm but are intimidated by the traditional dials because they have only ever used PASM. I have no doubt that the X-S20 will be just as successful, if not more so.
I believe it will have the same 40-megapixel sensor as the X-H2 and X-T5. It won’t be weather-sealed. It will be 95% the same camera as the X-S10, just with the new sensor and processor. I would be surprised if there were any big surprises. If the X-H2 is too expensive for you, or if you have an X-H2 but want a smaller and cheaper second body, the X-S20 will be the one to consider.
What will separate the X-S20 from the X-S10? Megapixels. Autofocus. Improved IBIS algorithm. Nostalgic Neg. 6K video. I don’t expect the new version to be head-and-shoulders better, but an improvement nonetheless, but with some give-and-take, so an argument could be made that the X-S10 is actually “better” (subjectively, of course), just like the X-T4 might be considered better than the X-T5 by some.
I do wonder if Fujifilm has intentions of introducing a mid-level PASM model. The X-H2/X-H2S cameras are “flagship” cameras that are true “hybrid” models (excellent for both stills and video), but unfortunately those are PASM models, which means long-time Fujifilm photographers were left out in the cold—the X-T4 and X-H1 are the only “flagship hybrid” cameras for you to choose from (yes, an argument could be made for the X-T5, but it is clear Fujifilm intends it for those who primarily are still photographers, not videographers). The X-S10 and X-S20 are entry-level (as in the new entry-level, which used to be mid-level). What’s in-between the high-end X-H2 and the low-end X-S20? For the PASM shooter, nothing. I’m not certain if something is needed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Fujifilm is exploring that possibility, or even in the process of creating it.
I don’t think, in the current market, that it makes sense to have three entry-level models. That means either the X-E line or X-T00 line is likely on the way out. The X-T00 has historically been more popular, but the X-E line is beloved, and the X-E4 has been especially successful. I’m not sure what might get the ax or when, but it’s possible that the X-T30 II or X-E4 was the last in their respective series. Or maybe the X-T40 (or X-T50… they might skip using four because it is an unlucky number in Japan) or X-E5 will be the last. I hope I’m wrong about this, and both lines continue for years to come, but I don’t think that will be the case.
I’m disappointed that the X-S20 is the next camera to be announced. Six out of the last nine Fujifilm cameras will have been PASM models—X-S10, GFX100S, GFX50S II, X-H2S, X-H2, and X-S20—while one of the three non-PASM models—X-T30 II—wasn’t much more than a firmware update (so essentially 3/4 of Fujifilm’s latest releases have been PASM). I think it’s clear that Fujifilm is more interested in becoming a part of Canikony (Canikonyfilm?), which they see as their future growth potential, than to embrace and better communicate what makes them unique (and why that uniqueness is desirable). Shame. But, at the same time, the X-S line was due for an update, so I’m not too surprised that this is their next model. Still, I think with the current demand for the X100V, which Fujifilm cannot keep up with due to parts shortages, that they would expedite the X100Z (or whatever it will be called). To me, that would have made more sense.
Fujifilm used “deep-learning AI Technology” to improve Auto White Balance on the X-T5 (or, more accurately, on X-Trans V cameras—not just the X-T5). According to the promotional statement, the camera is able to more accurately identify warm tints, and adjust to compensate for that when using Auto White Balance. Sounds impressive, right?
When I first learned about this, I was a little concerned that the new Auto White Balance would affect Film Simulation Recipes that use AWB. So I took a few test shots with the X-T5 and an X-Trans IV model side-by-side to compare, and I didn’t notice any difference between the two regarding white balance. It looked the same to me. But now that I’ve used the X-T5 a little longer, I do, in fact, at times notice something that I initially overlooked.
In the banner above, which comes from Fujifilm’s promo materiel for the X-T5 (even though the X-H2 has this same feature, it wasn’t promoted with that camera), you can see the “conventional model” vs the X-T5 AWB rendering in identical light. I assume that the so-called conventional model wasn’t a Sony or Canon, but an X-T4 (or other X-Trans IV camera). I personally prefer the more golden rendering of the “conventional” AWB to the copper rendering of the AI AWB, but each has their own tastes, so there’s no right or wrong answer. Perhaps you prefer the image on the right over the one on the left. It’s definitely subjective.
Something I have noticed—and I don’t like—is that this new rendering is inconsistent. From one exposure to the next, with identical lighting and identical settings, you can get something more like the “conventional model” rendering or something more like the AI AWB rendering. I’ve noticed it in artificial light, and I’ve noticed it in golden-hour/sunset situations. Two exposures, one right after the other—nothing’s changed—but the camera produces two very different tints when using AWB. Take a look at the two pictures below for an example of this. They were captured under identical light with identical settings, but they clearly aren’t identical. This was in a set of 32 pictures (of my son opening birthday gifts); 19 had the golden-ish cast and 13 had the copper-ish cast (these are frames nine and ten, for those wondering).
Obviously if you are a wedding or event photographer, and you rely on Auto White Balance, this could be a big issue for you, because you want consistent results. You don’t want the white balance to be bouncing back-and-forth between two tints. I don’t even want it for my son’s birthday pictures! If the camera chose one rendering in the situation, and consistently applied that to each image, whether gold or copper or something else entirely, that’s fine—it’s what is expected to happen—but bouncing between renderings is bad and should not happen. If you can’t trust AWB, and if it’s a tool that you commonly use, the X-T5 (or any of the X-Trans V models) might not be the camera for you.
Of course, for many people this might not be an issue whatsoever. Maybe you don’t even use AWB. Perhaps you do but you don’t care if the results are different between exposures. It could be that you’re going to adjust white balance in software later anyway, so what the camera records makes no difference to you. If that’s you, and none of this matters to you, great! But I do want to point it out for those who it might matter for, because they should know. It’s better to find out now before dropping so much money on something that’s just going to frustrate you.
I imagine that this is something Fujifilm could fix fairly easily via a firmware update. A simple tweak to the code could possibly make this behavior happen much less frequently. Fujifilm should address this issue. I hope in a few months from now this will all be a past problem that was fixed and forgotten. Or it could be the expected behavior that all Fujifilm X-Trans V cameras will have, and it will only be fixed by an even more improved AI-AWB on X-Trans VI models. Time will tell.
See also: Five Fujifilm X-T5 AI AWB Workarounds
Since the Fujifilm X100V is difficult to find and sometimes outrageously expensive, something that I inadvertently had a hand in, people have been asking for recommendations on alternatives. Of course, the X100F or any of the older X100-series versions would be a top substitute, but even those are going for a lot of money, more than they should be for how old they are. The Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 could be a very nice consolation prize, but due to parts shortages, those can be difficult to find, too, but thankfully there doesn’t seem to be much price gouging on it (knock on wood). The Fujifilm X70 would be a solid alternative, but they are pretty pricy, often going for the same or more than the original MSRP, despite being almost seven-years-old. If you are really set on owning a Fujifilm X100V (as a proud X100V owner I can understand why), if you just exercise some patience and constantly stay on the lookout, you are sure to find one for a reasonable price. If you are not patient, a used X100F isn’t too difficult to get, or even consider an X-E3, which can still be found brand-new if you look hard enough.
I’ve had a few people ask me for a recommendation on an X100V-like alternative for under $500, and one even asked for under $400. At first I scoffed at the idea. Even the original 12-year-old X100 currently goes for more than that, as well as every iteration of that camera since. Fujifilm doesn’t make entry-level cameras anymore, but even when they did, they were more than $500. Then I looked at my camera case, and I noticed two things: a Fujifilm X-M1 and a TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8. Hmmm. Maybe it’s possible after all.
Fujifilm introduced the X-M1—the third and last X-Trans I model—nine years ago. It’s an unusual camera, because it has an X-Trans I sensor but the X-Trans II processor, and in the same body as the Bayer-sensor X-A1. I think Fujifilm had some spare X-Trans I sensors sitting around after moving onto X-Trans II, and this camera was their way to unload them. There was never a predecessor, so when the X-M1 was discontinued so was the line. I paid $210 for mine two years ago. More commonly they’re found for around $250, and I’ve seen them for under $200 a couple times.
I think the X-E1 is a better body than the X-M1, and you can find those sometimes for $250 or less, but more often they’re $300-$350. If you see a good deal on one, I’d choose that over the X-M1. The X-A1 is basically the same thing as the X-M1, but with a Bayer sensor instead of X-Trans, and those are often a little cheaper. It’s definitely easier to find one under $250, and it’s not uncommon to see one under $200; however, between the X-A1 and X-M1, I’d choose the X-M1, but the difference isn’t huge. The X-A2 often is found for $250, and is another option. Occasionally you might find a good deal on an X-A3 or X-E2 (or X-E2s), so it’s worth looking just to see if you can get lucky, because that would be even better. If your budget is $500, you certainly have more options, but if the ceiling is only $400, you are much more limited, and the X-M1 is probably your best bet.
Of course, there’s still the lens. Sometimes you can buy the body bundled with a kit lens for nearly the same price as body-only (my X-M1 was bundled with 16-50mm zoom, for example), but the cheap kit zoom isn’t going to give you an X100-like experience. You’ll need a prime, but it has to be compact and cheap. The options are pretty limited, and are even more limited if you expect an autofocus option—the TTArtisans 27mm f/2.8 pancake-ish autofocus lens is the only one I can think of that is both cheap and small. If you don’t mind manual-focus-only, there are a few other lenses that could work, but I think this TTArtisan option is your best bet, and it’s only $160.
So, yeah, add $210 and $160 and you’re under $400. Will the X-M1 with the TTArtisan 27mm really give an X100-like experience? No, not at all. But, for under $400, it’s surely as close as you’ll get. If your budget is $500, spring for an X-E1 instead of the X-M1 and you’ll be a little closer, but still not there. The X-M1 is not as good as any in the X100-series models (or X-E-series or the X70), but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a decent camera capable of capturing good photos, because it is!
So if you are looking for a low-budget alternative to the Fujifilm X100V, X-E4, or X70, I suggest to you the X-M1 with the TTArtisan 27mm lens attached to it. The X-M1 is smaller than the X100V and X-E4, and just a little bigger than the X70. Obviously the TTArtisan lens, despite being pancake-ish, is bigger than the lens attached to the X100V and is especially larger than the one on the X70. It’s also a little bigger than the Fujinon 27mm lens (a popular companion to the X-E4). The Fujifilm X-M1 with the TTArtisan lens is small enough to be in the same compact category as those cameras, but is much, much cheaper. If you can spend more, there are better options; however, if you don’t have much to spend or are looking for an inexpensive first-camera, this is my recommendation for under $400.
It would be easy for me to suggest this to you, and not use it myself. That would not be very genuine of me, so I did use the Fujifilm X-M1 with the TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8. I also let me 13-year-old son, Jonathan, use it a little, too. This combo is very capable of producing lovely pictures straight-out-of-camera that have character and some analog-like qualities. It’s also easy to use for those who want good results without much fuss.
The 15 pictures below are all unedited (aside from some cropping and straightening), captured with the Fujifilm X-M1 and TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8.
Now, let me tell you about the Film Simulation Recipes, because otherwise I’ll get a whole bunch of inquiries—you all want to know, right?! The top picture (of the X-M1 by itself) was captured with a Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 27mm using the Fujicolor Pro 400H recipe. The next four pictures (the X-M1 with other cameras) were captured with a Fujifilm X-T5 and Fujinon 90mm using an upcoming recipe that I’ll publish soon. The 15 pictures above were captured with a Fujifilm X-M1 and TTArtisan 27mm using an upcoming recipe that I’ll publish soon. So, for now, only the very top picture is a recipe that you can currently use—you’ll have to stay tuned for the others.
TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 Amazon
The Fujifilm X-T5 is better—at least slightly—than the X-T4 in a many ways, but not every way. Perhaps you have an X-T4 and are considering upgrading to the latest iteration, or maybe you cannot decide between the X-T4 or X-T5—this article will point out some reasons why you might consider the X-T4 over the new model. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the X-T4 is better, only that in some ways it is indeed better; however, overall, the X-T5 is, in my opinion, the superior camera, but only by a small margin (I’ll have a full review of the new camera soon, so keep an eye out for that). Below are five ways the Fujifilm X-T4 is actually better than the X-T5.
1. Heat Dispersion
There are a few true workhorses in the Fujifilm lineup. These cameras just go and go and go. They’re eager to work and don’t need a break. The X-H1 is probably the best. The X-T4 is not far behind.
I don’t usually have heat issues with Fujifilm cameras in my day-to-day photography, but when I do the monthly SOOC broadcast, I need a camera that will run 4K video for several hours. My X-H1 will do it. The X-T4 will do it, too. But, I found out that the X-T5 will only last for about 45 minutes before overheating. Interestingly enough, I accidentally forgot to turn off the X-T4, and it kept running for 24 hours straight, no overheating! Before you scoff, the camera was plugged into the wall with a faux battery power cord and it was tethered to my computer, so it is, in fact, possible for the camera to run 4K for hours and hours and hours, just so long as it doesn’t power down due to overheating.
After I discovered the X-T4 had been inadvertently running for a whole day, I powered it off and let it rest for 15 minutes, then I used it for a three-and-a-half hour broadcast. It worked like a champ! The X-T5 overheats much too quickly to even be considered for this use. If you will be video broadcasting or recording long clips, the X-T4 is the clear winner. The almost-five-year-old X-H1 is better than the X-T5 in this regard, too. I’m not surprised, because Fujifilm stuffed a high-resolution sensor and quick processor into a small body, and the consequence of that is heat, and there’s just not enough heat dispersion. For most people, this is no big deal at all, but for those videographers who need to record extended-length clips, the X-T5 should be avoided, and the X-T4 is a much better option.
2. Rear Screen
I like the X-T5’s three-way tilt screen better than the flippy screen on the X-T4, but not everyone agrees with me on that. For some, the X-T4’s screen is superior. You can do a lot more with it, and being able to see yourself while recording video of yourself is big plus for some. Personally, what I like best about the X-T4’s screen is that you can close it backwards, and it is sort of like shooting with an X-Pro3 (kinda, but not really)—no other X-T series camera can do that, only the X-T4. You might actually prefer the X-T4’s rear screen over the X-T5. Different strokes for different folks, right?
3. Vertical Battery Grip
I’ve never used a vertical battery grip on any camera ever, but some do use it, either for the extra battery power, the extra grip, or both. Every single camera in this series—including the X-T1—has had an optional vertical battery grip accessory for those who want one, except for the X-T5. In this way, the X-T5 is more like the X-T00 series, and it cheapens the line (not in cost, but in perceived quality). Most people don’t use the vertical battery grip, so for the majority this is no big deal whatsoever, but for some this is a dealbreaker.
4. Body Size
A lot of people (myself included) have applauded the smaller size of the X-T5, but some prefer the bigger X-T4 body. Those with big hands might prefer the grip on the X-T4, and those who frequently shoot with large, heavy lenses might prefer using them attached to the bulkier frame. For me, just doing some testing in preparation for the upcoming X-T5 review, the larger X-T4 body felt better when using the Fujinon 100-400mm lens than the smaller X-T5, but that was simply my experience and my preference. I would suggest that the shooting experience of the X-T4 might be slightly superior if you do use large lenses a lot, but it is a personal preference.
More is more, right? 40 is better than 26, right? If you crop deeply, print poster, or enjoy pixel-peeping, the higher resolution sensor of the X-T5 is probably for you. Otherwise, the X-T4 has more resolution than most people typically use or need. The disadvantage of more resolution is that it takes up more digital storage space (on your SD cards, phone, computer, external hard drive, and cloud storage), and it can take longer to process or upload files—an extra second here and there doesn’t seem like much, but if you add it up over ten thousand pictures (the course of a year for me), you’re talking about hours that the higher resolution sensor cost you. Sometimes less is more. Personally, I prefer the 26-megapixel resolution of the X-T4 over the X-T5’s 40-megapixels; some of you might even prefer the X-T1’s 16-megapixels.
But, but, but… the X-T5 has the new super-quick autofocus, that finally brings it up to par with Canikony! That alone makes it worthwhile, right? Outside of dim-light situations, I found the X-T1’s eight-year-old autofocus to be plenty quick for me, including for sports and wildlife photography. The X-T4’s autofocus, which is even better, is more than good enough for almost everyone.
It’s not the gear that’s incapable. People have been capturing amazing photographs for 150+ years, and whether for stills or motion pictures, the focus capability of the gear has never stood in the way. People have done so much more with so much less for so many decades. If you looked at photography forums and such lately, you’d wonder how anyone ever managed to capture an in-focus picture prior to the Sony A7 III. We must have imagined it all, because it’s just not possible without the quickest autofocus—and if you don’t have the quickest, you got nothing. That’s how it seems. The focus inability of camera gear is a very recent phenomena. With that said, if a camera offers a tool that makes photography a little easier for you, that’s a good thing. Certainly autofocus in general, and the gradual improvements in autofocus capabilities over the years, have opened up photography for people who don’t have the skill or experience or desire to get the shot otherwise—that’s not a dig, by the way, as I believe opening up photography to those who the door would otherwise be closed to is important. Film Simulation Recipes do that for those who don’t have the skill, time, desire, or access to computer/software to edit RAW files—for me, that’s time and desire; for you, it might be something else—and it has become an important tool for the visually impaired. So, yeah—bravo to better autofocus! But, if you do find the focus capabilities lacking on whatever gear you are using, know that you do have it within you to overcome that issue, and it doesn’t involve buying new gear.
Back to the cameras in question…. In AF-S, I didn’t hardly notice any difference between the X-T4 and the X-T5 (or even the X-T1 and X-T5 in normal light). I think the visual confirmation of focus is a hair quicker, but the actual focus isn’t (I hope that makes sense). The X-T5 recognizes faces a little further away, if that matters. In AF-C, I do think the X-T5 is just a tad better at finding and correctly focusing on the intended subject, but it’s not a night-and-day difference, only a small improvement (but an improvement nonetheless). Where I believe the X-T5 is indeed superior to the X-T4 with regard to autofocus is continuous subject-tracking. The X-T5 can recognize more various subjects to track (not just human face/eye), and does a better job of tracking. So if you do use continuous subject-tracking autofocus, you’ll find the X-T5 to be better than the X-T4; if you don’t, you’ll find the X-T5’s autofocus to be only marginally improved.
One of the two images above is Nostalgic Neg. and the other is Eterna. Can you guess which is which?
The Nostalgic Neg. image is made using the Timeless Negative Film Simulation Recipe. The Eterna image is modified to resemble the Timeless Negative recipe.
Let’s look at another set.
I bet you’ve figured out which is which, but if you haven’t, in the train picture at top the left is Nostalgic Neg. and the right is Eterna. For the set above, the Eterna picture is left and the Nostalgic Neg. is right.
What’s different between the two? There’s quite a bit different between out-of-the-box default Nostalgic Neg. and Eterna, but Eterna can be made to look quite similar to Nostalgic Neg.—this was just a quick experiment, and with some more time and work, I could probably get it even closer. Nostalgic Neg. has a little more contrast, a lot more vibrant colors, and is slightly warmer than Eterna. With some modifications to make the two appear similar, though, it seems that the biggest difference is that Nostalgic Neg. is slightly warmer and more vibrant in the shadows, and yellow is rendered a little more deeply; otherwise, you can almost match them identically.
So what does it take to create faux Nostalgic Neg. with Eterna? I’m still fine-tuning it, but I believe that, using Eterna, reducing Highlight by -1, increasing Shadow by +1.5, reducing Dynamic Range by one or maybe two spots, adjusting White Balance Shift by +2 Red and -1 (or maybe -2) Blue, increasing Color by +6… this obviously means that Color has to be a negative value (at least -2) on Nostalgic Neg. in order to match it. This is all still a work-in-progress, but it does mean that a fairly close faux Nostalgic Neg. recipe for X-Trans IV is possible, and in the process of being created. If you feel as though you’re missing out on Nostalgic Neg.—don’t fret!—if your camera has Eterna, it can, to an extent, mimic it—stay tuned for a Film Simulation Recipe!
This Film Simulation Recipe is the aesthetic that I hoped to achieve with the new Nostalgic Neg. film simulation. What does it resemble? It very much has a nostalgic Kodak “memory color” (as Fujifilm likes to say) that is reminiscent of old color photographs from the 1970’s. You might notice some similarities to William Eggleston’s Election Eve and 2 1/4 series and some of his other work from the late-1960’s through the mid-1970’s—not every picture, but certainly several. You might spot some similarities between this look and some of Stephen Shore’s photographs from the early-to-mid 1970’s. I think there are some similarities to a few of Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects pictures. There’s a noticeable likeness to several of Richard Misrach’s desert photographs. In other words, this recipe produces a distinct 1970’s American New Color aesthetic.
It shouldn’t surprise you that the Nostalgic Neg. film simulation produces this look because Fujifilm stated that the American New Color movement was the inspiration. Specifically, they looked at the photographs of Eggleston, Shore, Sternfeld, and Misrach, but out-of-the-box default Nostalgic Neg. doesn’t seem to resemble their work all that closely. After examining many of their photographs, and identifying a few from each with a similar aesthetic, I set out to create a Film Simulation Recipe that better mimics some of their pictures. I feel like a got pretty close, and this recipe produces a distinct 1970’s vibe—especially the warmth of summertime—and so I named it 1970’s Summer. This recipe works best in sunny daylight, and is excellent for midday photography.
This 1970’s Summer Film Simulation Recipe is only compatible with (as of this writing) the Fujifilm X-T5, X-H2, and X-H2S. I assume that the GFX100S and GFX50S II can also use this recipe, but that it will render slightly different—I don’t have either of those cameras to test it to know for certain. Unless Fujifilm gives X-Trans IV cameras the Nostalgic Neg. film simulation, which I doubt they will do, this recipe is only for X-Trans V cameras, and maybe the latest GFX, too; however, if you are looking for something somewhat similar, try my Vintage Color recipe, or even Kodak Portra 400 Warm.
Film Simulation: Nostalgic Neg.
Grain Effect: Strong, Large
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome FX Blue: Strong
White Balance: 6500K, -1 Red & -4 Blue
Dynamic Range: DR400
High ISO NR: -4
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +1 (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this “1970’s Summer” Film Simulation Recipe on my Fujifilm X-T5:
Find this Film Simulation Recipe and over 250 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!
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I’ve been busy the last few days trying to see what is similar and what’s different about the JPEG output from my new Fujifilm X-T5 camera. How does X-Trans V compare with X-Trans IV? Are my X-Trans IV Film Simulation Recipes really compatible with the new Fujifilm cameras? Technically they are because the options are the same (except that X-Trans V has the new Nostalgic Neg. film simulation), but do they render the same, or at least similar enough?
I was surprised by something that I discovered. While many of the colors are extremely close in rendering, blues are not. Take a look at the comparison below. Both images were captured with identical settings and even the same lens—one with an X-Trans IV camera, and the other on X-Trans V—but the blue sky is not the same. If you study close enough you might notice some other extremely subtle differences, but the rendering of blue is a clearly not the same between the two sensor generations.
I looked very closely at all of the different film simulations, and I noticed that this difference in blue is film simulation dependent. Not all film sims render blue differently, and some vary more than others. Here are my discoveries:
Eterna Bleach Bypass on X-Trans V renders blue a little darker than on X-Trans IV with Color Chrome FX Blue set to Weak.
Classic Negative on X-Trans V renders blue identically to X-Trans IV with Color Chrome FX Blue set to Weak.
Classic Chrome and Eterna on X-Trans V renders blue just barely lighter than on X-Trans IV with Color Chrome FX Blue set to Weak.
Velvia, PRO Neg. Hi, and PRO Neg. Std on X-Trans V renders blue halfway in-between Color Chrome FX Blue set to Weak and Off on X-Trans IV.
Provia and Astia on X-Trans V renders blue identically to X-Trans IV with Color Chrome FX Blue set to Off.
In other words, with the exception of Provia and Astia, blue is different on X-Trans V than X-Trans IV. With Classic Negative, if an X-Trans IV Film Simulation Recipe calls for Color Chrome FX Blue set to Weak, if you set it to Off instead, it will render the same; if it call for Color Chrome FX Blue set to Strong, if you set it to Weak instead, it will render the same. You can also do that with Eterna Bleach Bypass, Eterna, and Classic Chrome, and it will be pretty close, but it won’t be identical. With Velvia, PRO Neg. Hi, and PRO Neg. Std, you can go either way (adjusting Color Chrome FX Blue or not), and it really doesn’t matter because it will be wrong by about the same amount, either too light or too dark.
Does it matter? it’s not a huge difference, but it is a difference. You might prefer the rendering of X-Trans IV or you might prefer the rendering of X-Trans V. I think, personally, I’m leaning towards preferring the X-Trans V rendering—many of my recipes use Color Chrome FX Blue set to Weak or sometimes Strong, and with X-Trans V that’s already built-in now on some of the film simulations. But it also means that many X-Trans IV recipes will render differently, and, while technically compatible, aren’t truly compatible with X-Trans V cameras.
Why did Fujifilm do this? I don’t think this is anything new. For example, Fujifilm has tweaked Velvia film, because the original Velvia emulsion was a “mistake” (although many photographers didn’t think so—if it was an accident, it was a very happy one). I remember reading once that Fujifilm, with each sensor generation, reevaluates each film simulation to see if it’s possible to get them closer to the intended aesthetic. Fujifilm likely decided that the blue of previous generations wasn’t quite “right” for many of the film simulations and so they fixed it. You might not thought that it was “broke” so you’re wondering why they felt the need to “fix” it; however, the folks at Fujifilm must have thought something wasn’t quite right, so they adjusted it.
What else is different? I’m still looking closely, so I don’t have all the answers yet. I think the rendering of cool colors is slightly different, but blue is by far the biggest change—even with a close side-by-side comparison it’s difficult to spot the differences of the greens and purples, but blue is obvious. Shadows and luminance in general seem to be just a hair dissimilar, but it’s close. Warm colors seem to be pretty much identical; if they’re different it’s tough to spot—maybe yellow is the most dissimilar of the warm colors, but it is still very similar, and I think it might have more to do with general luminance than a color difference. Really, blue rendering is the only significant difference I’ve found so far between X-Trans IV and X-Trans V.
With the Fuji X Weekly App, I don’t have X-Trans IV recipes currently listed as compatible with X-Trans V cameras. There are some—those that use Provia or Astia—that could be listed as compatible because they’ll render the same. For others, a Color Chrome FX Blue adjustment will make them compatible. For others, they won’t ever look the same but will still look pretty similar. I’m still deciding how I’ll handle this. The easy route would be to just say they’re all compatible—that they’re close enough—but I don’t think that’s the right path. I ask for patience as I wade through these waters—the rendering of that blue water on X-Trans V—and how to best present it to you in the form of Film Simulation Recipes.
Wow! It’s been crazy the last several days. Fujifilm released the X-T5 on the 17th. Not everyone got their orders.
Let’s back this up. Amazon apparently listed the X-T5 too early on announcement day. By contract, everyone is supposed to go live no earlier than a certain time, but Amazon jumped the gun. I preordered an X-T5 on Amazon because I had reward points that I wanted to use. When the 17th came around, some people received their preorders that day. For others it shipped that day, and arrived in the next day or two. For me? Nothing. Those who ordered on Amazon were left in the dark. What I didn’t know is that Fujifilm decided to punish Amazon for their sins and not give them any cameras to sell; sadly, only Fujifilm photographers who ordered through Amazon were actually punished. Is it Amazon’s fault? Yes. Is it Fujifilm’s fault? Sure—they could have done something else to teach Amazon a lesson, while still allowing people to receive the cameras they ordered. Is it my fault? No. Is it your fault? No. But you and I didn’t get our gear when others did. I know this is a first-world problem, and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but it is something that many people have experienced.
Amazon is a huge company, and Fujifilm sales are a tiny drop in a massive bucket. If Fujifilm stopped selling to Amazon altogether, it wouldn’t hurt Amazon in any way, shape, or form. I get that Fujifilm has to hold them accountable. I get that it wasn’t fair to their other retail customers. But let’s be real: crap rolls down hill. Who ended up with the crap? Me. You, if you, too, ordered through Amazon. Fujifilm’s customers are who got punished, not Amazon. I’m sure Amazon gave two seconds to this situation, and hasn’t cared one iota since. When they get their cameras, they’ll sell every single copy, and it will have such a small impact on the bottom line that you need a powerful magnifying glass just to see it. Those trying to be patient with their Amazon preorders might have to be extremely patient—I’ve heard that it might be sometime in January before orders are shipped. I don’t know that for a fact, but it’s what I have heard, and it may or may not be true—I hope it isn’t true.
So how did I get my X-T5? I called around to local camera stores, and I found one in stock. Luckily, Foto Forum in Phoenix had a body-only copy, plus one bundled with the 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 kit zoom. I purchased the one with the lens. If you are still waiting for yours to ship, maybe call around to local camera stores to see if they still have an X-T5 in stock, and if so purchase from them instead.
That’s my story. What about you? Did you buy a Fujifilm X-T5? Did it arrive or are you still waiting?
People have already begun asking me for my impressions on this camera. I think a number of you are waiting to learn a little more about it before spending so much money. It’s way too soon to provide you with anything valuable. I’ll tell you my way-too-soon initial impressions, but please take them with a large grain of salt. I’ve only barely begun to use the camera and really haven’t had a chance to properly test it. I’ll give a full review later.
First, let’s talk about megapixels. Do you need 40? If you crop deeply, print posters, or just love to pixel-peep, then maybe. But if you don’t crop deeply, don’t print posters, or don’t pixel-peep, then you definitely don’t need 40mp—it’s way overkill. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to negatively affect the speed of the camera or even the file transfer speed when using the Fujifilm Cam Remote app. Unfortunately, it does take up more space on the SD Card, phone/computer, and storage, and uploads to my cloud storage are noticeably slower. There’s pluses and minuses to 40mp; I don’t anticipate the pluses coming in handy for me very often. For some of you, though, it is an important upgrade.
I haven’t put the autofocus improvements to the test whatsoever, but through three days of shooting, I haven’t noticed it being any more snappy than my X-E4. The only thing I noticed is that face detection locked onto a face that was far away, which I wouldn’t expect to happen on my X-E4. Since I wasn’t trying to photograph the person, it actually wasn’t a positive thing, but I can see this being an improvement. I haven’t even attempted continuous tracking or anything like that yet, so I can’t speak of it.
I was really excited for HEIF, but discovered that it disables Clarity. That’s disappointing. No HEIF for me, since I use Clarity a lot. Speaking of Clarity, I was also very disappointed that it isn’t any faster on the X-T5, and the Storing pause is identical to X-Trans IV. Fujifilm should have spent some time speeding this up, in my opinion. Oh, and somehow I keep bumping the drive switch, and accidentally switching to CL or HDR, both of which disable Clarity—I’ll have to figure out how to not bump that switch.
While the X-T5 is smaller than the X-T4, and just a little bigger than the X-T1 and X-T30, it is definitely heavy. Seems like a similar weight to the X-T4—not sure if it is or isn’t, but it’s hefty. I personally prefer the weight of the X-T1 or X-T30, but if you use large lenses a lot, you might appreciate the solid base of the X-T5.
The reason that I purchased the Fujifilm X-T5 is because this camera has the new Nostalgic Neg. film simulation. What do I think of it so far? If Eterna and Classic Chrome had a baby, it would be Nostalgic Negative. It has some similarities to both of those film simulations, with soft gradations in the shadows similar to Eterna and with some Eterna-like colors (particularly the warm colors), and with contrast, saturation, and an overall palette more similar to Classic Chrome. I’m not a huge fan of default straight-out-of-the-box Nostalgic Neg.—I was actually initially disappointed—but with some adjustments it can become magical. I love it! Nostalgic Neg. is another analog-esque film sim from Fujifilm that’s sure to become a classic. Expect some recipes soon!
I don’t have any other observations yet. I hope to do some more serious experimentations soon, and when I do I’ll share those impressions with you. In the meantime, here are some straight-out-of-camera Nostalgic Neg. pictures that I captured with my Fujifilm X-T5:
I mentioned before that the main reason I’m buying the new Fujifilm X-T5 is for the Nostalgic Negative film simulation. That’s crazy, right? $1,700 is way too much money to spend on a new film simulation, isn’t it? Am I crazy or just plain stupid?
The Nostalgic Negative film simulation hasn’t received the fanfare of Classic Chrome or especially Classic Negative. Not even as much as Acros or Eterna. Maybe about as much as Eterna Bleach Bypass. Maybe. I think it’s because of poor marketing strategies by Fujifilm.
Nostalgic Negative was introduced by Fujifilm about a year-and-a-half ago on the GFX100S. I know that some people use film simulations and shoot straight-out-of-camera on GFX, but it is a much smaller percentage, I think, than the X system. I don’t know the numbers, but (just throwing something out there) if 20% of Fujifilm X owners use Film Simulation Recipes, the number of GFX owners is maybe 5%. So Nostalgic Negative is something that, for the most part, GFX owners don’t even care about. Besides, I’m pretty sure that GFX models sell a lot fewer copies than X series cameras, so the number of people actually using this film simulation on a GFX100S is pretty small. The next camera to get Nostalgic Negative was the GFX 50S II—kind of the same story. The first X camera to get Nostalgic Negative was the X-H2S, followed very quickly by the X-H2. Interestingly, this film simulation isn’t found anywhere in the promotional material for those two cameras. Yes, they have Nostalgic Negative, but it’s clear that Fujifilm didn’t think it would be a selling point for those two models. That makes sense, since these two “flagship” cameras aren’t intended for or marketed to long-time Fujifilm photographers, but for those with other camera systems (Canikony) looking to make a change. I suspect that many of those buying the X-H2S and X-H2 are generally less aware of, and less open to using, film simulations and recipes and such.
That brings us to the Fujifilm X-T5, the first X series camera where Fujifilm is actually promoting the Nostalgic Negative film simulation… barely. It’s mentioned in the promotional material, but without much fanfare, and not stated as a new feature, or with a good explanation of what it’s intended to resemble and what makes it special.
According to Fujifilm, the Nostalgic Negative film simulation is based on “American New Color” photography of the 1970’s. They studied photographs by William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld and Richard Misrach in order to create it. Eggleston and Sternfeld largely shot on Kodachrome—II and X in the early 1970’s, 25 and 64 in the late ’70’s—while Shore shot mostly Kodacolor, and Misrach shot a lot of Vericolor. All of those are Kodak emulsions, but with different aesthetics. These four photographers had different styles and different darkroom processes, and they each had a unique look; the commonality that Fujifilm found was an “overall atmosphere based on amber.” That’s a basic explanation of what Nostalgic Negative is. While not mentioned by Fujifilm, I think this film simulation might be closer to aesthetic of Saul Leiter than the ones Fujifilm stated they studied. Saul Leiter used a whole bunch of different films over the years, including Kodachrome and Anscochrome, but apparently he didn’t mind using generic drug store brands, either. Nostalgic Negative is a divergent approach for Fujifilm, I think, in that it isn’t intended to mimic a certain emulsion (or the “memory color” of a specific film stock), but instead tries to mimic the “memory color” of a certain decade (the 1970’s), or perhaps elicit a nostalgic emotional response.
The Fujifilm X-T5 is the cheapest camera with Nostalgic Negative. It’s the 5th camera to get it, and at $1,700, it’s somehow the cheapest! I don’t think this film simulation will really “catch on” until it’s available on a more affordable body. And this is where I think Fujifilm goofed. If they had introduced Nostalgic Negative on the X-T5, and followed it up with an X-T40, X-S20, X100VI (or whatever it will be called), X-Pro4, and X-E5 in the coming couple of years, it would be a selling point. People would be super-excited about it right now. But because Fujifilm first put it on four models that are expensive and where the users aren’t as eager about film simulations, it lost a lot of its luster. Nobody’s really talking about Nostalgic Negative anymore. While I don’t think I’ll appreciate this film simulation as much as Classic Negative, Classic Chrome, Eterna, or Acros, I do believe it has the potential for some very interesting recipes. I look forward to trying it. Heck, I’m spending $1,700 just for Nostalgic Negative—that’s crazy! Or dumb. It could go either way.
What about you? Are you excited for Nostalgic Negative? How much would you spend for it? If Fujifilm offered it as a paid firmware update for your X-Trans IV camera, would you buy it? Let me know in the comments!
Interestingly, as a side note, if you look closely at the promotional statement by Fujifilm about film simulations on the X-T5, you’ll see this statement: “Reproduce the classic colors and tones that Fujifilm are known for, or add an artistic flair and start to Build Your Legacy.” First, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it should be “is” and not “are”—after all, Fujifilm is known for reproducing classic colors and tones; for “are” to be correct, you’d need a conjunction, such as, “Reproduce the classic colors and tones that Fujifilm and Fuji X Weekly are known for….” Maybe they initially penciled that “and Fuji X Weekly” part in there, and erased it at the last minute, forgetting to change the “are” to “is” by accident. Second, Build Your Legacy seems to be Fujifilm’s new catchphrase for Film Simulation Recipes. It’s been a Fujifilm trademark for a few years, but I hadn’t seen it used in conjunction with film simulations. I wonder if Fujifilm has something up their sleeves that they’ll announce later. Perhaps it is even related to their upcoming app? I’m not sure, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on.
I had big plans for this project for these days, but life had other plans. Specifically, Covid. I know what you’re thinking: didn’t you just have the flu a few weeks ago? Yes, I did. Now I have Covid. Well, I’m almost recovered now, but I was very sick during the days that I captured these pictures, and I was limited to what I could capture in and around the house. Most of these photographs were taken in the backyard.
If you’re not sure what this short-term project is, the concept is simple: I’m photographing only with my Fujifilm X-T1 from the announcement day of the Fujifilm X-T5 (November 2) until the release date (November 17). Why? First, even though the Fujifilm X-T1 is eight-years-old (and approaching nine), it is still such a great little camera. It took three years for Fujifilm to bring this model to the market because they wanted to get it right, and it was one of their most important cameras ever released. The Fujifilm X-T1 was one of the first, if not the first, Fujifilm cameras that widely appealed to professional photographers. It was Fujifilm’s most successful model at the time—outselling all the previous cameras—and launched the extremely successful X-T line. The X-T5 is the latest iteration. This project will give me a better understanding of how the X-T5 has evolved from the original model. It also allows me to demonstrate that previous models, including the original X-T1, are still really good.
Hopefully, now that I’m not nearly so sick and my quarantine period has ended, I can do some of the photography that I was intending to do. I want to really see what the X-T1 is capable of, and with some luck I’ll be able to do that before this project comes to a close in the coming days. Once my X-T5 arrives in the mail, the X-T1 will be going back on the shelf, at least for a little while. I don’t expect the new camera to be wildly better than the first iteration, but soon enough I’ll know for sure just how much improved it is. And, of course, I’ll write all about it, so stay tuned!