Film Simulation Review: Walk in the Park, Part 1: Kodak Ektar 100

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April Forest – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

Last week I went for a walk in a local park here in Utah. This park has trails that pass through forests. There’s a stream and a small lake. The snow-capped peaks are visible to the east. It’s a beautiful place, especially in the spring when the green is fresh and the flowers are blossomed. On this hike I brought along my Fujifilm X-T30 with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens attached to it, which is one of my absolute favorite lenses. It’s sharp, small, and plenty fast, plus it’s a versatile focal length. On the way up the trail I used my Kodak Ektar 100 film simulation recipe, which are the pictures that you see here in Part 1, and on the way back down I used my Portra 160 recipe, which you’ll find in Part 2.

Ektar is a color negative film made by Kodak. It’s known for vibrant colors, high contrast and fine grain. It’s the closest negative film to reversal film. In fact, when Kodak discontinued Ektachrome 100VS, they recommended Ektar 100 as the best alternative. It’s a great film for landscape photography, which is why I chose it for this walk in the park.

Ektar film, and especially this Ektar film simulation, can be difficult to use because of the contrast. With the film, there are things that can be done in development and/or printing to reduce the contrast if it’s too much. With these settings, one could use +2 Shadow instead of +3, which is what the recipe calls for, if they wanted less contrast. These pictures are straight-out-of-camera (with the exception of some minor cropping) with the  settings exactly as the recipe states.

My opinion is that my Ektar recipe is best suited for low-contrast landscapes, where a boost in contrast and vibrancy is needed. But it can do well in other situations, as well. I thought it served this photographic outing well, although it was borderline too contrasty for the scene. Ektar was a good choice for a walk in the park, but was it the best choice? How does it compare to Portra 160? We’ll take a look at that in Part 2.

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Sunlight Through The Leaves – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Old Log – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Forest Stream – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Stream & Yellow Flower – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Single Tree Blossom – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Green Tree, White Tree – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Blossoming Branches – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

Walk in the Park, Part 2: Portra 160
See also: Film Simulation Reviews

Project: Farmington Bay, Part 2

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Farmington Bay Lake – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

Part 1

My project this year is to photograph the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area in Farmington, Utah. My goal is visit this place with a camera at least once per month throughout 2020, but hopefully more often than that. I especially want to make it to Farmington Bay when there’s some interesting weather or a chance of great light. This was my second visit.

The Farmington Bay is a wetland along the Great Salt Lake, where freshwater meets saltwater. There are creeks and small lakes and lots of tall grass. It’s a popular spot for bird-watching. Farmington Bay is massive, and I’ve only explored maybe 10% of it at most, but probably not even that much. There’s a road that takes you fairly deep into the wetland, but the rest is accessible only by foot or bike or boat.

I captured these photographs using my Fujifilm X-T1 and Fujinon 35mm f/2. I used my Velvia and Monochrome recipes, plus a couple of experimental settings, but mostly Velvia. Farmington Bay is both beautiful and lonely. There are great expanses and fantastic views. I feel like I stumbled across a great treasure when I found this place. I look forward to returning with my camera in hand.

B&W

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Dike Road – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Dirt Road – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Gate – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Wasatch From Farmington Bay – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Cloud Reflection – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Ice in the Water – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Shore Post – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

Color

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Cattails On The Shore – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Red Door – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Tree in January – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Red Gate – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Red Cloth on Fence – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Greenland – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Green & White – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Eye of the Beholder – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Drain – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Wetland Grass – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Wetland – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Wetland Lake – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Bridge to Nowhere – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Eagle on Bridge – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

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Road Along The Water – Farmington Bay, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

Photoessay: November Arizona, Part 1: Color

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River & Rays – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

I love Arizona! It is perhaps the most beautiful state in America. Some might disagree with that sentiment, thinking that the desert is dull and brown, but I find it to be a colorful and diverse landscape. Others might consider California, Colorado or my current home state of Utah, or perhaps another state like Maine, Alaska, Hawaii, etc., to be more majestic, and they are each certainly majestic, but to me Arizona is at the top of the list, and my heart belongs there.

My family and I like to travel to Arizona whenever we can, which is usually once or twice each year. A few weeks ago we visited some family of ours in Phoenix, and of course I brought my Fujifilm X-T30 along, with a Fujinon 35mm f/2 attached to the front. I appreciate this setup for travel because it’s small and lightweight enough to not get in the way, yet can produce some stunning pictures. The film simulations I used were Velvia, Kodachrome 64, and “Classic Negative” (for Quit My Job). This wasn’t a photography trip, but as always I captured a number of pictures. I hope you enjoy!

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In It Together – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Gravel Road Above The City – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Above, City Below – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert City – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Saguaro Above Phoenix – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Neighborhood – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Lookout Mountain From North Mountain – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Phoenix From North Mountain – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Above The City – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Two Palms – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Palm Tree Bees – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Hill – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Red Barrel Cactus – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Foothills Saguaro – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Desert Warmth – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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The Desert – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Bright Spikes – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Palo Verde Sun – Phoenix, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Quit My Job – Lake Mead Nat’l Rec. Area, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Lucy – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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New River Trail – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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New River – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Water Under The Bridge – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Falls & Foam – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

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Pigeons Over A Roof – Surprise, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 35mm f/2

Part 2: Monochrome

See also:
Willow Beach, Arizona
McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, Scottsdale, Arizona

Travel: McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, Scottsdale, AZ

McCormick Stillman Railroad Park

Ol’ Number 11 – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

Almost two years ago my family and I visited the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I captured it with a Fujifilm X100F. The McCormick Stillman Railroad Park is one of the best city parks in America (it’s actually been ranked #1), and it truly is a neat place to go. If you are in Phoenix, Arizona, with your family, I highly recommend that you stop by this park. It’s especially magical around Christmas, as they elaborately decorate it for the holiday season. Last week my family and I returned to the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, but this time I had a Fujifilm X-T30 and Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens to photograph the visit.

What I love about this park is that there’s something for everyone. There’s a large playground for the kids. There are barbecue grills and pavilions and large grassy areas to throw a ball or Frisbee. There’s a gift shop where you can buy ice cream in the summer and hot cocoa in the winter. There’s a museum. There’s a carousel. There are scale trains which you can ride that loop around the park. It’s both modern and historic. You can feel mindfulness and nostalgic simultaneously. It really is unique. And, of course, it can make an interesting subject for photography. I used my Kodachrome 64 film simulation recipe for most of these pictures.

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Trains Boarding – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Santa Fe Sun – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Aguila – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Happy Train Riders – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Looking Back – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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P&P 42 – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Train Rides Today – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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Little Trolley Rider – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

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It’s Not Too Late – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30

Film Simulation Challenge –Roll 4: Classic Negative (with Ree Drummond)

Back in August I introduced the Film Simulation Challenge, which is where you pick one film simulation recipe and shoot either 24 or 36 frames before changing settings. It’s kind of like loading your camera with a roll of film, and you are stuck with whatever film you loaded until that roll is completely exposed. This challenge is the digital equivalent of that analog issue. I thought it would be a fun experiment to encourage photographic vision while sharing the joy of Fujifilm X cameras.

The “film” that I loaded into my Fujifilm X-T30 was a 36 exposure “roll” of my new “Classic Negative” film simulation recipe. This recipe is the closest that I could come to matching the new film simulation of the same name that’s on the X-Pro3, but I have to admit, it’s not a complete match. The Classic Negative film simulation changes depending on the light and how you expose it, which is different than the other film simulations. I don’t think it’s possible to create an exact match, but hopefully my “Classic Negative” recipe is at least in the general ballpark. Or, if it isn’t, I hope that some of you appreciate it nonetheless.

My wife, Amanda, is a big fan of Ree Drummond (also known as The Pioneer Woman). She’s a famous blogger, author and television personality best known for her cooking recipes. She has a store, restaurant and bakery in Oklahoma, which my wife and I visited two summers ago. Ree has a new cookbook, and she’s been traveling the country doing book signings. Amanda insisted that we go so that we could meet her, and so we did! We stood in line for almost an hour in order to have a thirty second conversation with her. It was a very quick meet-and-greet that seemed like it was over before it even began. What you might not know is that Ree’s a pretty good photographer, and I was able to suggest that she create a photojournal book of her ranch that features her black-and-white photographs. She replied that she needs to get the pictures off her SD Card first.

I made 36 exposures using my “Classic Negative” film simulation, and most were of this event, especially while waiting in line. The lighting inside the bookstore was terrible, with some crazy mixed artificial lights, and this recipe wasn’t a good choice for it. I did reprocess in-camera the RAW image of Ree Drummond, and I’ve included that at the bottom of this article. I used a Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens for these pictures. I hope that you enjoy!

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Frame 1: Pink Sleeve – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 2: Sunset 218 – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 3: Changing Nature – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 5: Sweetaly Gelato – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 7: King of Books – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 8: Waiting For The Bus – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 9: 15th Street – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 15: Brick Chimney – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 18: A Roof – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 19: Waiting In The Waning Sun – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 22: Rick – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 24: No Trucks – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 26: Salt Lake Neighborhood – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 28: Ree Drummond – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 30: Open – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 31: Happy Amanda – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 32: Bank On It – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

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Frame 33: Brews – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Classic Negative”

Reprocess of frame 28:

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Ree Drummond – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – PRO Neg. Hi

See also:
Roll 1: Kodachrome 64
Roll 2: Kodacolor
Roll 3: Eterna

Street & Urban Photography – Downtown Boise, ID, with a Fujifilm X-T30

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Bicycles Exempt – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

I found myself last week in Boise, Idaho. I’d passed through Boise a couple of times before, staying overnight in a hotel traveling between Salt Lake City and Seattle. I’d seen very little of the city. This visit to Boise included a little longer stay and a chance to actually see the place, at least a little.

One thing I discovered is that downtown Boise is a very nice place! I had no idea. It’s colorful, clean and lively. It’s not as large as Salt Lake City’s downtown, which is no surprise as Boise is a smaller city, yet it feels large enough. There are interesting structures, green spaces, restaurants and local stores. It has plenty of character. It feels a little like a miniature Portland, minus some of the weirdness. It’s probably safer than Portland, too. This is to say that downtown Boise is much more interesting than I expected, and it was a pleasant visit.

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Principal Property Pinnacle – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

Unfortunately, I only had the opportunity to walk around a few blocks. I wanted to explore more, but I just didn’t have the time. Downtown Boise seems like a place where one could come to over and over for street and urban photographs. There seems to be plenty of photographic opportunities. Who would have thought? Not me. Even though it was a short visit, I’m glad that I discovered this unexpected gem. I hope to return soon for more photography.

I used a Fujifilm X-T30 and Fujinon 35mm f/2 lens for these photographs. Some people might say that the 50mm-equivalent focal length of the 35mm lens is not good for this type of photography, that a wide-angle lens is a much better choice. While I do like wide-angle lenses for street photography, the nifty-fifty can still be used effectively. Use what you have to the best of your abilities and you’ll be surprised at what you create.

B&W:

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We Recycle – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Steunenburg Statue – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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The Hart of Downtown – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Divergent Textures – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Aloft Windows – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

Color:

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Hidden Dome – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Capital Dome – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Colorful Alley – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Alley Trash – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Strolling Alone – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

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Boise Idaho – Boise, ID – Fujifilm X-T30 & 35mm

Lens Review: Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR


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When I purchased my Fujifilm X-T30, I took advantage of a bundle deal that was being offered, and added the Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR prime lens to the camera for an additional $100. What an incredible bargain! This lens normally sells for $400. I didn’t do any research on the 35mm f/2 lens prior to the purchase–I just knew that I wanted it because of the focal length and price–so what arrived in the mail was a surprise. When I opened the box and saw the lens for the first time, I was disappointed by how ugly it was. I know that one shouldn’t judge a book by the cover, so I didn’t hesitate to attach it to the camera and put it to the test.

The Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR lens is a “standard” prime lens on Fujifilm X cameras, giving a full-frame equivalent focal length of about 52mm. It’s neither wide-angle nor telephoto, but sees roughly the same as the human eye, which is why it’s known as the standard lens. This focal length is very common, and is often the first prime lens that one purchases. I’ve used standard prime lenses off and on for twenty years now, although this is my first Fujinon lens with this focal length.

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Something that I’ve heard said many times over the last five or so years is that the 50mm focal length (or, in the case of this lens, the 50mm equivalent focal length) is the most boring of all focal lengths. There are people who will never purchase this lens because they believe that it’s not possible to create interesting photographs with it. I completely disagree with that sentiment! It’s only boring if you create boring pictures with it. If you think this focal length is boring, that should motivate you all the more to use it and prove the statement wrong. Many of the greatest photographs ever created were captured using a standard prime lens. The only limitation to creating interesting pictures is the photographer, and not the camera or lens.

I’m not going to talk a whole lot about the technical aspects of the Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR lens, as that information is already plentiful on the internet. I want to spend most of my time discussing my experiences using this lens to create pictures. Is it a good lens in real world use? Is this lens worthwhile to own?

The first thing that I noticed is just how sharp this lens is. The quality of the glass is obvious. It’s corner-to-corner tack sharp, even at f/2. There’s a barely noticeable amount of vignetting wide-open, but that quickly goes away as you stop down. Bokeh (which is an overrated aspect of lens quality) is creamy and otherwise excellent. This is a nearly flawless lens from an image-quality point of view. The 35mm f/2 is a great example of why Fujinon lenses are renown.

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Note how the bottom of the picture seems to curve up when in reality it is a straight line.

I did say “nearly flawless” in the last paragraph, and if there is one complaint, it’s some obvious pincushion distortion. Don’t expect straight lines to be perfectly straight. This would be most noticeable when shooting a brick wall. It’s not uncommon for lenses to have some barrel or pincushion distortion, so I wouldn’t get too worked up over this, but it’s good to know what to expect.

How this lens handles lens flare might be seen as positive or negative, depending on if you like flare in your pictures. It’s definitely prone to flare, but it has a lovely quality to it if you like that sort of thing. If you don’t like flare, I recommend getting an aftermarket hood to help prevent it.

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You might really love or hate all that lens flare.

The minimum focus distance is about 14 inches, which isn’t great or terrible. You can’t do any macro photography, but this isn’t a macro lens, either. Auto-focus is fast, quiet and accurate. It’s also a good lens for manual focus with a smooth focus ring. The 35mm f/2 is fairly small and lightweight, and so it’s good for walk-around and travel photography. It seems to be well built and durable. It’s weather sealed, which is great if you have a weather sealed camera to attach it to. The Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR is a quality lens, and not much negative can be said about it.

While this isn’t the best looking lens ever made, once you get past that, it is high quality glass, and one of the best prime lenses that I’ve ever used. It’s not perfect, but it is very, very good. If you are looking for a quality prime lens to add to your camera bag, this is one you shouldn’t overlook. In real world use it excels and it is indeed worthwhile to own. You can purchase the Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR lens by clicking here, which helps to support this website.

Example photographs, captured using the Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR lens attached to a Fujifilm X-T30:

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Monochrome Mesa – Castle Valley, UT – f/10

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Frozen Reservoir – Causey Reservoir, UT – f/8

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Dead Desert Tree – Moab, UT – f/8

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Two Pots – Layton, UT – f/5.6

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It’s Lit – Layton, UT – f/4

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Hand Held Phone – South Ogden, UT – f/2.8

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Microwave – Moab, UT – f/4.5

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25th Street – Ogden, UT – f/4

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Joyful – South Weber, UT – f/2

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Kitchenscape – South Weber, UT – f/5

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Trapped Inside – South Weber, UT – f/3.6

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Gathering Raindrop – Layton, UT – f/9

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Castles To The Sky – Castle Valley, UT – f/7.1

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North Window Arch – Arches NP, UT – f/9

Fujifilm X100F Review Blog

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