My Fujifilm JPEG Journey

Hidden Church – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T200

I didn’t always shoot JPEGs. I used to shoot RAW. Now with Fujifilm cameras I am a JPEG guy, and I’m inspiring many others to shoot JPEGs, too.

This is my journey.

I learned photography in the film era just before digital photography became a big thing. I didn’t like digital photography in those early days—I could spot a digital picture pretty easily. I resisted buying a digital camera for about 10 years. Technology changes quickly, and digital camera technology advanced to a point that it made sense for me to jump in. I’ve been primarily shooting digital for a little over 10 years now; I still shoot film, although since using Fujifilm cameras I’ve shot a lot less of it.

When I started in digital photography, I took the advice that is often given to newcomers: shoot RAW. JPEGs are terrible, so if you’re serious, shoot RAW. I didn’t initially heed this advice as the learning curve for RAW editing software is steep, but I quickly learned a tough lesson. I was in Sedona, Arizona, at Red Rock Crossing at sunset with a clearing storm, photographing the iconic Cathedral Rock with the Oak Creek in the foreground. It was incredible! I shot it with the camera set to JPEG. Later, when I reviewed the pictures on my computer, I discovered that the JPEGs were simply awful! I tried to “fix” them in software, but it was simply a missed opportunity. That’s why you shoot RAW.

One of the problems with RAW is that it can take a lot of time to edit, or really develop, the images. Some pictures can be quick, but some can take hours. I once had a particular brand of camera with a unique three-layer sensor, and it would often take 30 minutes to an hour or more to get a finished picture from a RAW file. It was painfully slow! I spent a lot of time sitting at the computer editing pictures. I tried to find shortcuts to speed up the process, but editing still took up a significant chunk of my time.

Blue Mountain Lake – Flathead Lake, MT – Fujifilm X-T30

My first Fujifilm camera was an X-E1 that I purchased used. I immediately loved it, but I did not understand how great the JPEGs were. I was still a RAW shooter. I did some RAW+JPEG with that camera, and I was impressed that the JPEGs actually looked pretty good. Several months later I purchased a Fujifilm X100F. While shooting RAW+JPEG on the X100F, I began to notice that the straight-out-of-camera JPEGs looked an awful lot like the RAW images that I had spent time post-processing. It was a lightbulb moment.

I began to experiment with the different JPEG settings and I realized that I could achieve in-camera different looks that I liked. I’m not 100% sure where the term “recipe” came from—if it was something that I invented or if someone else came up with it first—but I began to create film simulation recipes (sets of JPEG settings) for my X100F. The very first recipe was simply called “Acros” and I published it on August 27, 2017. It was the fifth post on this blog. My “Classic Chrome” film simulation recipe was published later that same day. I stopped shooting RAW and relied entirely on camera-made JPEGs.

I thought it truly amazing that high-quality pictures that looked like post-processed RAW images could come straight-out-of-camera. It felt good to not spend hours and hours sitting in front of a computer editing pictures. What was most meaningful to me is the time that shooting JPEGs saved me. Suddenly I had a lot more free time, which I spent on two things: my family and photography. My family life improved while my photography simultaneously became significantly more productive. It may seem like hyperbole to state that it changed my life, but it really did!

Time went on and my film simulation recipes were noticed by others. They spread by word of mouth, and more and more photographers began to use them. The more that I experimented, the more creative I got with the settings. I began to get requests to create different film looks. I collaborated with others on some settings. People began to create their own recipes, sharing them on social media. Film simulation recipes are now more than just JPEG presets, they bring people together, the foundation of community.

The way that the world is being captured today is in part through the filter of the film simulation recipes on this website. People across the globe, from new-to-photography to experienced-pro, are using these settings. I’m honored and humbled to influence photography in this way. I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that these recipes have had an impact on their photography, either rejuvenating their passion or saving them time (or both).

Forsaken – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V

When I was in Photography 101 in college, my pictures weren’t as good as some of my classmates, and I wondered if I’d ever amount to anything as a photographer. Through various photographic failures that I’ve endured over the years, I wondered if I should keep pressing forward. When I began this blog three years ago, I wondered if anyone would even read it. There’s no need to wonder anymore, except perhaps to where all this might lead.

I don’t consider myself an influential photographer, but there’s no doubt that I’m influencing photography. The stigma attached to the camera-made JPEG is changing (in part) because of me. The aesthetic of today’s pictures is (in part) the recipes from this website. My reach on this website is worldwide and the audience much larger than I could have ever dreamed.

I still primarily shoot JPEGs, but I discovered along the way that film simulation recipes are much easier to create when you can reprocess RAW files, either in-camera or with X RAW Studio. Instead of strictly being a JPEG-only photographer, I use RAW+JPEG, but I still only use camera-made JPEGs. That’s what works for me.

Really, it’s about finding what works for you and your photography. RAW might work best for one person, RAW+JPEG for another, and JPEG-only for another. There’s no right or wrong way to do things. There’s advantages and disadvantages to each. Nobody should say that everyone should do things one way, or put people down for doing it different than them.

For myself and a growing group of photographers, using film simulation recipes on Fujifilm cameras is the preferred method. I’m a JPEG guy, or, really, RAW+JPEG. I get the pictures that I want straight-out-of-camera without the need for editing, except for minor cropping and occasional small adjustments, which I do on my phone. You won’t find me sitting at a computer fiddling with files. There’s no need to. That’s why I love Fujifilm JPEGs.

Review: Fujifilm X100V – Like Shooting With An Endless Roll of Film

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The Fujifilm X100V is like shooting with an endless roll of film. Actually, it’s like shooting with up to seven endless rolls of film. You can capture as many frames as you wish on each roll, and change the film anytime you want. Kodachrome 64? Yep! Kodak Portra 400? Absolutely! Fujicolor Superia 100? No problem! Kodak Tri-X 400? That one, too! Do I need to list seven films? Actually, I could list 80! You’ll just have to decide which ones you want. Once loaded, your supply will never run out. There’s no need to send it off to a lab, as your pictures come out of the camera already developed. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. This is what it’s like shooting with the X100V!

The point is, you load the “film” that you want to shoot with, and then you shoot! Change anytime you want. Download the files onto your phone, tablet, or computer—crop or touchup if you wish—and you’re done! No waiting for the film to come back from the lab. No sitting for hours in front of a computer editing RAW files. There’s no need for any of that. You have pictures that appear film-like or resemble post-processed RAW images, yet they’re straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. It frees up time to do what you love: photograph. The X100V is about capturing, one fraction of a second at a time. It’s not about the other things that bog you down.

You might ask, “What sets the X100V apart from other Fujifilm cameras?” That’s a great question, and I hope this review answers it for you. There’s a good chance, if you are reading this, that you’re considering purchasing this camera, and you are trying to decide if it’s right for you or worth upgrading from an older model. I hope that this article will be helpful to you in your decision.

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The Fujifilm X100V is fixed-lens, fixed-focal-length compact mirrorless camera. It has a 26-megapixel APS-C X-Trans IV sensor. It’s fairly small: approximately 5″ wide, 3″ tall and 2″ deep. It weighs about a pound. It’s mostly weather sealed, and can become weather sealed by adding a UV filter to the front of the lens. It has an MSRP of $1,400.

Fujifilm X100 cameras are incredibly well designed, fusing form and function. The X100V resembles a classic 35mm rangefinder. It might be the best-looking digital camera ever made. People stop me frequently to ask about it. The most common question: “Is that a film camera?” The X100V’s striking design is a conversation starter. 

As you probably know, I create film simulation recipes for Fujifilm cameras (and if you didn’t know, you do now). These recipes mimic different films or aesthetics through customized JPEG settings. Something that sets the X100V apart from other Fujifilm cameras are the new JPEG options, such as Clarity, Color Chrome Effect Blue and B&W Toning, among several other things. Unsurprisingly, the new Classic Negative film simulation, which has received much praise, is just incredible! Perhaps even more important is the ability to save white balance shifts with each custom preset. All of these things are what separates the X100V from older models, providing an improved user experience and the opportunity for improved picture aesthetics. Right now, the X100V, X-Pro3 and X-T4 are the only Fujifilm cameras with these features. For the JPEG shooter, the X100V is a nice step forward from previous versions.

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The original X100 through the X100F all shared the same lens, but Fujifilm redesigned the lens for the X100V. It looks pretty much the same, and it’s still 23mm (35mm equivalent) with a maximum aperture of f/2. What’s different is the sharpness of the lens, as it’s now razor sharp across the entire frame no matter the aperture and no matter how closely focused you are. Essentially Fujifilm eliminated the “flaws” of the old lens. Otherwise, it’s still quite similar in performance. Also, autofocus has improved over the previous model.

One unfortunate change is that Fujifilm removed the D-Pad from the back of the camera, replacing it with touch-screen gestures. The touch screen is nice I suppose, but I prefer not to use it. That’s just me. What works for you might be different. There are enough customizable buttons and controls that losing the D-Pad isn’t a huge deal, but I prefer the setup of the X100F over the X100V in this regard. And speaking of the rear screen, it now flips up and down, similar to the one on my Fujifilm X-T30.

One of the X100V’s greatest features is the leaf shutter and fill-flash. Leaf shutters are typically found on expensive medium-format gear, and you rarely see them on other cameras; however, Fujifilm has included a leaf shutter on their X100 series. A leaf shutter works like an iris. There are blades, similar to aperture blades, inside the lens that open and close. It opens from the center outward, and for this reason you can sync it to the flash at much higher shutter speeds than traditional focal-plane shutters. Besides that, it’s nearly silent. Fujifilm has programmed the camera to perfectly balance the built-in flash with whatever lighting is available. The camera almost never gets it wrong, it just seems to know the perfect amount of light to add to the scene. The results are very natural looking, and the pictures don’t scream that a flash was used.

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A cool feature that I find helpful is the built-in four-stop neutral density filter, which decreases the light into the camera. It’s helpful for utilizing a large aperture in bright conditions, for showing motion using a slow shutter speed, or for selecting a higher ISO for a grittier look (yes, this is a thing). The X100F has “only” a three-stop ND filter, and the extra stop on the X100V can make a big difference.

If you’ve ever used an X100 camera, you know that it’s incredibly fun, which is why it’s so popular. This is many people’s “desert island” camera—if they could only choose one, it would be this. The X100 series is what photographers shoot just for the joy of it. There are some who use it as their only camera, and I did that for awhile with the X100F, but the fixed-focal-length lens does limit its practicalness a little; I think for many people it is a great tool to go along with an interchangeable-lens camera. Despite its limitations, this camera is for those seeking the pure joy of photography.

The Fujifilm X100V is a great travel camera. It’s small and lightweight enough to not get in the way, so you can take it everywhere. One camera with one lens is often all you need. It’s good for street photography, portraits, weddings, snapshots of the kids, landscapes—it can be used for pretty much any genre of photography. While travel and street are what it’s often touted for, I find that 90% of the time, no matter what I’m shooting, this is the only camera I need and use. I reach for the X100V almost every time!

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There is that 10% of the time when the X100V isn’t the right tool for the job. If I need a wider or more telephoto lens, I don’t use this camera. It’s important to understand that, while the X100V is nearly perfect, it has shortcomings and limitations. Every camera does. You could use the X100V as your only camera, and some people do, but I don’t recommend it. At the same time, if you own an X100V, your other cameras are going to collect a lot of dust. You’ll have to decide if it’s better to just buy one of the Fujinon 23mm lenses instead of buying a camera with a permanently attached lens. Personally, I appreciate the X100V and can’t imagine giving it up. I plan to keep it until it stops working, which I hope is a long time from now.

People like to talk about image quality in camera reviews. I suppose that’s important, but not nearly as important as it once was. You’d be hard-pressed to find a camera nowadays with poor image quality. I can attest that the image quality from the X100V is outstanding! One thing that separates Fujifilm from other brands is their dedication to the camera-made JPEG. That’s not to say all other brands have junky JPEGs, only to say that Fujifilm has in my opinion the best. I don’t think it would be possible to create all of the different film simulation recipes that I’ve made using any other brand. I’ve printed as big as 2′ x 3′ from the 26-megapixel JPEGs and it looks very good, even when viewed up close.

I’m a stills photographer, and that’s who the X100V is geared towards. My wife, Amanda, is more of a videographer (she’s an integral part of the Fuji X Weekly YouTube channel), so I gave her the camera to create a video with, which just so happened to be the very first time she used this camera. The video specs are very good on the X100V, but it does have one significant limitation: it overheats easily when recording 4K. The camera doesn’t have any image stabilization, either, which makes it a little more challenging to use. It’s not really intended for the videographer, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used as a cinema camera. Video quality is quite good on the X100V, and as long as you keep the clips under two minutes and give the camera a short breather here and there, it does fine. You’ll have to use a tripod, gimbal, or have a steady hand to keep it from shaking too much. The short video below was recorded entirely with the X100V hand-held using the Eterna film simulation to demonstrate what you could do with this camera.

The Fujifilm X100V is a great camera that combines form and function, delivering beautiful film-like photographs without fuss. It’s a joy to use—probably the most fun camera I’ve ever owned! Load it with your favorite film simulation recipes and just shoot. It’s that experience that makes this camera so wonderful.

The X100V would make a great addition to whatever other Fujifilm camera you’re using, or it could be your gateway into the Fujifilm family. I don’t know if there are enough updates to justify upgrading from an X100F (although, to be clear, it is an upgrade), but if you have the original X100, X100S or X100T, you will likely find enough here to make the upgrade worthwhile. The X100V is a fantastic little camera, and I have no doubts that you’ll love it.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujifilm X100V Black    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X100V Silver   Amazon   B&H

The photographs below are all camera-made JPEGs captured on my Fujifilm X100V:

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Fujifilm X100F Review Blog

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