RAW vs JPEG? The Debate Needs To End

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Did I post-processed a RAW file or is this a camera-made JPEG? Does it matter?

There’s a debate in the photographic community that I get really tired of: RAW vs. JPEG. Most of the time, what I find is RAW shooters telling JPEG shooters that they shouldn’t shoot JPEGs for one reason or another. Usually there’s name-calling or a put-down thrown in or a condescending tone. Sometimes it’s the other way around, although I find that to be much more rare. Here’s my opinion: find what works best for you and your photography, and do that.

I wasn’t intending to write this post today, but over the last few days I’ve seen a number of articles and videos that tell me why RAW is really remarkable and JPEGs are just junk. Some make a reasonable argument, while others are absolutely ridiculous. Earlier today I watched a video that falls into the latter category, and that’s why I’m writing this.

Here’s the deal: it wasn’t very long ago that camera makers across all brands did a poor job at in-camera JPEGs. Some were better than others, but by-and-large none of them were great. RAW made sense, since you were going to be editing your pictures. But over the last decade every camera brand has improved their camera’s JPEGs, and some, like Fujifilm, have really made massive strides in this department. Today’s camera-made JPEGs are nothing like they were 10 years ago. Fujifilm’s JPEGs can look like post-processed RAW images, or even film-like. If you plan to edit your pictures, RAW is your best bet. If you don’t want to edit your pictures (or only lightly edit), you can achieve some great looks right out of camera. Neither option is the “right” or “wrong” way, just different means to an end, which is a finished photograph that you’re happy with.

Shoot RAW if that’s what you want to do. Shoot JPEG if that’s what you want to do. One method is not inherently better than the other. One way might be right for you, but wrong for another. You might find that you use both, just depending on the situation. While I almost always shoot JPEG, I do also still shoot RAW sometimes (it’s helpful for developing JPEG recipes). I used to shoot RAW exclusively once upon a time, but I don’t anymore.

RAW vs. JPEG is a tired debate. You don’t need to justify with strangers why you choose one over the other. I don’t want to hear why I’m “wrong” for shooting JPEGs. Don’t try to convince me that RAW is better. I won’t try to convince you to abandon RAW and shoot JPEG only. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and there is a time and place for both. I would encourage you, if you are unsure whether to shoot RAW or JPEG, to try both for a time, and see which you prefer. There isn’t one right path. The debate needs to end—find what works best for you and your photography, and do that!

My Fujifilm X-T30 Split-Toned B&W Film Simulation Recipe


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Vintage Bolsey Camera – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Split-Toned B&W”

While creating my “Bleach Bypass” film simulation recipe, which requires double exposures, I also discovered how to split-tone black-and-white pictures in-camera using double exposures. Split toning was originally a darkroom technique where one would give their black-and-white print a bath in two different toning chemicals, which resulted in shadows and highlights having two different colors. There are many different ways to split tone and many different potential results. This Split-Toned B&W recipe loosely mimics the aesthetic of ferrocyanide toning (blue) with diluted sepia (reddish-brown). You can get similar results very easily with software, but it’s fun to achieve a split tone effect straight out of camera.

For this recipe, you’ll capture the first exposure as normal. I find that increasing the exposure by 1/3 to 2/3 stop over what you might normally do produces better results. For the second exposure, photograph blue paper. I used an 8.5″ x 11″ medium-blue construction paper for my pictures. I like to purposefully make the second exposure out of focus, although I’m not sure that it matters much if you do. You can control the strength of the blue tone by how bright the second exposure is. The darker the exposure, the less blue there will be and the less faded the picture will appear. The brighter the exposure, the more blue there will be and the more faded the picture will appear. It’s fun to experiment with this, because you can vary the look significantly by how you expose the second image. If you want the highlights to be warmer, simply increase the tone of the first exposure to be more warm, or even use the Sepia film simulation instead of Acros. You could use a different color paper, or even use a cool tone instead of warm on the first exposure, if you wanted. You could really play around with this and come up with all sots of different looks.

Exposure 1
Acros
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: +4
Shadow: +4
Tone: +6 (warm)
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Grain: Weak
Sharpening: +1
Noise Reduction: -4
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +2/3 to +1 (typically)

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

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this Split-Toned B&W film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X-T30:

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Open Blinds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Ocean – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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White Faux Blooms – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Monochrome Floral Arrangement – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Lily Bloom – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Throw Pillows – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Dirt Play – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Girl In The Sunlight – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

See also: Film Simulation Recipes

Fujifilm X100F Review Blog

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There's a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

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SOOC eMagazine

There’s a new online magazine called SOOC that’s dedicated to Fujifilm straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. I encourage you to take a look at issue one and to support James Posilero‘s efforts, and not just because yours truly is in the magazine. There’s been an unfair sentiment within the photography community for some time that you are a second-rate photographer if you rely on camera-made JPEGs. The argument is not true, but unfortunately you will find this attitude spread throughout the internet, and you might even encounter it in person. This magazine turns that preconception on its head and debunks the fallacy, simply by the photographs found within. I personally look forward to seeing more of SOOC, and I wish much success to James.

How To Add Texture To Your In-Camera JPEGs

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Green Mountain On Canvas – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

A creative option found in many photo editing programs is texture. The texture, which might be canvas, paper, cloth, wood, etc., is added as a layer which can be blended as strongly or subtly as one might want. It’s a fun technique that adds an unexpected element to pictures. I used to occasionally do this when I used Alien Skin Exposure software. There are even some specialty films that have texture built-in, such as Revolog Texture films.

When I was experimenting with my Faded Color and Faded Monochrome film simulation recipes, which use double-exposure photography to create a vintage film aesthetic, it occurred to me that I could use the double-exposure feature of my Fujifilm X-T30 to add texture to my pictures in-camera. I could get a textured look without software. Incredible! So I begun to experiment with textured JPEGs, and the results were interesting.

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Canvas Daisy – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

You might ask, “I can do this in Photoshop in only a few seconds, so why would I want to do this in-camera?” That’s a good question that deserves a lengthy explanation. I used to shoot RAW, but I rely on camera-made JPEGs now. Why? It saves me tons of time and makes my photographs more honest. Since I started shooting JPEGs, my photography production has gone through the roof while my total time investment in photography has noticeably dropped. I’m creating more with less. It’s all thanks to Fujifilm’s superb JPEG engine. The honesty statement is a little more controversial, but it’s clear that photography in general has taken a large perception hit when it comes to integrity. Non-photographers (photography consumers) don’t take a picture at face value anymore, and “Photoshop” has negative connotations. People ask me, “How much is this Photoshopped?” I answer, “None of it, this is how the camera captured it. This picture is unedited.” You’d be surprised at the overwhelming positive responses that I get from this answer. People find it refreshing. Photographers don’t see anything wrong with photo manipulation; however, many non-photographers feel that it’s not the image that’s being manipulated by the photographer, but the general public. They feel as though they’re being tricked by dishonesty. Whether or not that perception is fair or should exist is a whole different discussion, but you can avoid it altogether by shooting JPEGs. People are looking for authenticity, and this is one way to move in that direction.

To capture a photograph with texture on your Fujifilm camera, you will first need to enable the double-exposure feature of your camera. On the X-T30 it’s found on a knob on top of the camera. You can use any film simulation, but note that double-exposure pictures on the camera will be flatter (have less contrast), so Velvia, Classic Chrome and Acros work best because they have more contrast. Astia and PRO Neg. Hi work alright, as well. You will want to have Highlight and Shadow set no lower than +2, and more might give better results. Don’t be afraid to try +4 on one or both. I also recommend DR100, and DR200 if the scene has a lot of contrast. I find that for the main exposure, exposure compensation typically needs to be in the +1/3 to +1 range. The second exposure, which will be the texture exposure, typically needs exposure compensation set to -1 to -2, and I usually start at -2 and adjust as necessary. The camera will show you what the picture will look like, and it also allows do-overs if you need it.

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Hanging B&W Picture – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

For texture, I found the best results came from a white stretched canvas for painting. I also tried other things, like burlap, cloth, paper, wood and metal, but the results weren’t as good in my opinion. I recommend trying different materials and seeing for yourself what you like or don’t like. After capturing the main exposure, capture a second exposure of the textured object. It’s really that simple. The camera gives a 50/50 blend of the two exposures, but because the first exposure is brighter and the second is darker, it will appear more in the neighborhood of 70/30, which is what you want. It might appear as though the image is actually printed on a textured surface.

This is a simple but creative way to use the double-exposure feature of your camera. You could really play around with this and get inventive. Try different settings, different subjects and different textures and see what happens. Below are examples of textured pictures I created using this technique on my Fujifilm X-T30:

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Afternoon Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Spring Green Hill – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Backlit Sycamore Leaf – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Hazy Light Tree Leaf – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Tree Trunk In The Corner – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Weed Flower Canvas – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 -Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Yellow Flower on Canvas – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Crop of the above image.

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Yellow Blossom Burlap – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Burlap

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Bottle Still Life – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Coffee Still Life – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Metal

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Blue R – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Film on Canvas – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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E To H – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Canvas

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Zenit E on Wood – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Wood

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Wood Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Wood

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Knot A Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Wood

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Window Birds Texture – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – Cloth

Kodachrome vs. Ektachrome – A Film Simulation Showdown

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I have two very similar film simulation recipes that both produce results quite close to their namesake slide films: Kodachrome II and Ektachrome 100SW. Even though the settings are nearly the same, the looks that they produce are quite different. As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the old “Kodachrome vs. Ektachrome” debate from the days of film. There were people who preferred one over the other for various reasons. Kodachrome was more iconic. Ektachrome had more variations. Despite the fact that they were both color transparencies made by the same company, I could probably write a long article about the differences between the two films, but this blog is about Fujifilm X cameras and not Kodak film stocks.

What I wanted to do here is compare the two film simulation recipes side by side. I will show them both, and you can decide which is best for you. It’s kind of a revival of the old debate, but with a modern twist. Kodachrome or Ektachrome? You get to decide which is the better film simulation recipe!

Take a look at the pictures below:

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Welcome to Ogden – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Kodachrome II”

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Winter Mountain – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Desert Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Kodachrome II”

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Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Pueblo de Taos – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X-Pro2 “Kodachrome II”

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View From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Kodak Transparencies – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Kodachrome II”

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Kodak Transparencies – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

What I like about the Kodachrome II recipe is that it produces a vintage color look that reminds me of the images found on the pages of old magazines, such as National Geographic and Arizona Highways. As I look through my grandparent’s old slide collection (which I have at home), I can see this look in their old photographs from 50 or so years ago. It’s such a fantastic recipe for Fujifilm X cameras, and I just love it!

What I like about the Ektachrome 100SW recipe is that it produces a color look that reminds me of some images that I have captured with the actual film. The film was good for western landscapes or any situation where you needed some color saturation with a warm color cast. It wasn’t around for very long because it was only marginally commercially successful, but it was one of the better variations of Ektachrome film in my opinion.

What do you think, Kodachrome or Ektachrome? Let me know in the comments which film simulation recipe you like best!

Fujifilm Acros Film Simulation Recipes

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Taos Tourist – Taos, NM – Fujifilm X100F “Agfa Scala”

Acros is one of the most popular film simulations available on Fujifilm X-Trans cameras. It looks incredibly similar to the black-and-white film that it was named after. In fact, in my opinion, it produces the most film-like results of any settings on any camera! It’s easy to see the draw to the analog-esque results produced by the Acros film simulation.

I love Acros and I have used it as the base for a bunch of different film simulation recipes. It’s possible to achieve a number of different interesting looks straight out of camera by adjusting the settings. I plan to create even more film simulation recipes using Acros in the coming months. As I do, I will add them to this article.

Below you will find all of my different film simulation recipes that I have created that use Acros. If you haven’t tried them all, I personally invite you to do so and see which are your favorites! My personal favorite is Tri-X Push-Process, but they each have their own usefulness and charm. Let me know in the comments which recipe you like most!

Even though the different recipes say X100F and X-Pro2, they are completely compatible with any Fujifilm X-Trans III or IV camera. For example, you don’t have to use the X100F recipes exclusively on the X100F. You can use any of my recipes on any X-Trans III camera.

Original Acros

Acros Push-Process

Agfa Scala

Ilford HP5 Plus

Tri-X Push Process

Fujifilm Classic Chrome Film Simulation Recipes

Classic Chrome is one of the most popular film simulations available on Fujifilm X-Trans cameras. It produces a look similar to quintessential Kodak color transparency films like Kodachrome and Ektachrome, which graced the pages of publications like National Geographic and Arizona Highways for many years. With all things vintage being in style, there is a huge draw to the analog-esque results produced by the Classic Chrome film simulation.

I love Classic Chrome and I have used it as the base for a bunch of different film simulation recipes. It’s possible to achieve a number of different interesting looks straight out of camera by adjusting the settings. Honestly, I think that I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. I plan to create even more film simulation recipes using Classic Chrome in the coming months. As I do, I will add them to this article.

Below you will find all of my different film simulation recipes that I have created that use Classic Chrome. If you haven’t tried them all, I personally invite you to do so and see which are your favorites! My personal favorite is Kodachrome II, but they each have their own usefulness and charm. Let me know in the comments which recipe you like most!

Even though the different recipes say X100F, X-Pro2, and X-T20, they are completely compatible with any Fujifilm X-Trans III or IV camera. For example, you don’t have to use the X100F recipes exclusively on the X100F. You can use any of my recipes on any X-Trans III camera.

My original Classic Chrome recipe.

My dramatic Classic Chrome recipe.

My Vintage Kodachrome recipe.

My Kodachrome II recipe.

My Vintage Agfacolor recipe.

My Kodak Portra recipe.

See also:

My Classic Chrome recipe for Fujifilm Bayer and X-Trans II.

If you like these recipes, be sure to follow Fuji X Weekly so that you don’t miss out when I publish a new one! Feel free to comment, as I appreciate your feedback. Please share on social media this article or any other that you found useful so that others might find it, too.

My Fujifilm X-T20 Kodak Ektachrome 100SW Film Simulation Recipe


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Ektachrome was a line of color transparency (slide) films made by Kodak that used the E-6 development process. Some people preferred it to Kodachrome because of the faster ISO (100 vs 64 or 25), more saturated colors and easier development (although Kodachrome had finer grain, a larger dynamic range and didn’t fade as easily). A lot of National Geographic photographs were shot on Ektachrome back in the day.

There were a number of varieties of Ektachrome produced over the years, and I’ve used five of them myself. My favorite was Ektachrome 100VS (VS = “very saturated”), which was Kodak’s attempt at Fujifilm Velvia. Occasionally I used Ektachrome 100SW (SW = “saturated warm”), which was introduced in 1996 and produced vivid photographs with a warm color balance. Kodak stopped production of Ektachrome 100SW in 2002 and all Ektachrome film in 2012. Just a few months ago a brand new Kodak Ektachrome film was released, although I have not tried it yet.

A Fuji X Weekly reader, Ilya Struzhkov, took my Kodachrome II recipe and made a simple modification: he used Velvia instead of Classic Chrome. He shared the results on Instagram and I immediately felt like the images had a Kodak Ektachrome 100SW aesthetic. I had to try it out myself! Sure enough, the results looked a lot like the film: saturated colors (not as much as Velvia but more than most films), a warm color balance, and shadows that easily turned black. It’s amazing that this one change to the recipe could transform it from 1970’s Kodachrome to 1990’s Ektachrome.

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The title of this film simulation recipe says “Fujifilm X-T20” but it can be used on any X-Trans III or IV camera. In fact, at the bottom of this article you’ll find some Fujifilm X100F examples. The only other change I made (besides Velvia instead of Classic Chrome) is that I set sharpening to 0 instead of +1 on the X-T20, but it’s set to +1 on the X100F. That’s just how I set up the cameras, and there really isn’t much of a differences between 0 and +1 sharpening, so either one is fine. Because the settings are essentially the same as my Kodachrome II recipe, it’s super easy to toggle between the two when out shooting. Really, it’s just brilliant!

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

Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs using my Fujifilm X-T20 Kodak Ektachrome 100SW Film Simulation recipe:

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Light Dust of Snow – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Frozen Fall – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Frosty Leaf & Grass – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Sandstone Peaks – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Evening Moonrise – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Zion Sun – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Evening On The Cliffs – Snow Canyon SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Amanda & Ritchie – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Still Water & Rocky Shore – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Old Dry Lavender – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Boots – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Ektachrome 100SW”

Fujifilm X100F:

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Autumn Tree Below Bridge Mountain – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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View From Mount Carmel Tunnel – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Juniper – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

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Sandstone Trees – Zion NP, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Ektachrome 100SW”

See also: My Fujifilm X-T20 Aged Color Film Simulation Recipe

Fujifilm X100F Review Blog

Help Fuji X Weekly

Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There's a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!

$2.00

My Fujifilm X-T20 Aged Color Film Simulation Recipe


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White Duck – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 “Aged Color”

During World War II there was a shortage of rubber, and an effort was put forth to create synthetic rubber. There were many ideas and experiments to create rubber in the lab, most of which failed. One of those failures was a silicone-based elastic substance that could bounce, float in water, and lift print off of newspaper. This substance was created by mistake while trying to invent something else. It was a twist of fate. It was a happy accident. It was Silly Putty.

Recently I was experimenting with the JPEG settings on a Fujifilm X-T20, trying to replicate the look of some different films. I’ve been working on four different film simulation settings for several months, only hitting dead ends. I haven’t been able to achieve the desired results, but I did stumble across an interesting look. Like the discovery of Silly Putty, I made a happy accident! Even though I used an X-T20 for this recipe, you could apply these settings to any X-Trans III camera and get the same exact results.

This look doesn’t quite resemble any specific film that I’m aware of. I think it produces an analog film aesthetic, even though I couldn’t tell you which one. There are a couple of films that I can see maybe some resemblance, but overall it’s not an exact match. Actually, what it reminded me of is a group of four Alien Skin Exposure presets under the “Color Films – Aged” tab called Color Photo. These presets are similar to each other but each one has a slightly varied look. My new film simulation, which I’ve named Aged Color, produces a look that resembles those Exposure presets, although I will admit that it’s more of general aesthetic than a carbon copy. It’s just what I think it most closely resembles, by coincidence.

Below are three pictures of mine that were edited with those Alien Skin Exposure Color Photo presets:

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Hidden Waterfall – Lava Hot Springs, ID

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South Pasadena – Pasadena, CA

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Three Kids In The Water – Carlsbad, CA

While Alien Skin Exposure gives you four preset options for this look, and each of those can be heavily customized, I only have one Aged Color recipe, but you are more than welcome to tweak it to your liking. I find that it produces muted yet lovely colors and slightly faded shadows. If the scene doesn’t have a lot of contrast the images can come out a little flat. The skin tones in the pictures below show a lot of red, but some of that can be attributed to cold temperatures, and I think that under normal conditions skin will look a little more natural. This film simulation recipe is an interesting option to achieve a look that is perhaps unexpected from a digital camera and looks a bit more film-like. I doubt that it’s everyone’s cup of tea, but I think some of you will really appreciate it.

PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: +2
Shadow: +3
Color: +4
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: 0
Grain Effect: Strong
White Balance: Auto, +5 Red & -3 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 (typically)

Example photos, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs captured on a Fujifilm X-T20 using my Aged Color Film Simulation recipe:

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Brother & Sister Fun – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Playground Play – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Joshua Throwing Leaves – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Evening Leaves – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Swingset Post – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Oak Tree Autumn Sun – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Last Leaves – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Sunlight Through The Branches – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Ducks Swimming In A Pond – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Late Blooms – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Dry & Yellow – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Old Town Clock – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Little White Pumpkin On The Mantel – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Lego Food Stand Creation – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Boy Reading – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Hot Coffee Brew – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Potted Succulent  – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

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Asahi Pentax SLR – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20

Fujifilm X100F Review Blog

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Fujifilm X-Trans III Sharpening & Noise Reduction

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About 11 months ago I published an article entitled Fujifilm X100F Noise Reduction & Sharpening, which detailed my opinions on these two features. I felt like this topic needed a quick refresher, but I didn’t want to rehash what I’ve already said. I think I came up with a good way to approach this topic while not repeating myself.

All Fujifilm files, whether RAW or JPEG, have some level of sharpening and noise reduction applied to them. The options found in the camera for sharpening and noise reduction are specifically for in-camera JPEGs. If you shoot RAW you apply whatever sharpening and noise reduction you’d like with the software of your choice in post-production. If you shoot JPEG you decide this using the options that Fujifilm provides inside their cameras. You cannot turn these off, and the lowest setting, -4, still applies some sharpening or noise reduction, even if a tiny amount.

I don’t think Fujifilm named the setting levels very well. It should be +1 through +9. Naming it -4 through +4 just causes confusion. Instead of thinking of 0 as zero, think of it as the middle option. 0 is really 5 on a scale of one through nine.

Sharpening and noise reduction are great because they make your photographs crisper and cleaner. They help give your images a polished look. However, too much of a good thing is not good at all. Apply too much of either and weird things start happening to your pictures. It’s a balancing act, and it’s easy to go too far.

How far is too far on Fujifilm X-Trans III cameras? That’s up to you to determine. I will give you my opinion, and you can take that for what it’s worth. I will say that for internet use or prints no larger than 8″ x 12″ it really doesn’t matter what settings you choose because it’s difficult to notice the difference between -4 and +4 when viewed that small. If you don’t pixel-peep or print large, using the default settings of 0 are a perfectly fine approach. If you do pixel-peep or print larger than 8″ x 12″ you may want to more carefully consider your choices.

Sharpening:

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Sharpening -4

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Sharpening 0

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Sharpening +4

What can be determined from the three crops above? Not much, because to notice anything you have to look much closer. If you do take the time to study them you can spot the differences. The change from -4 to +4 isn’t especially obvious, so, as you can imagine, a plus or minus of one is very difficult to perceive. My opinion is that anything from -2 to +2 sharpening is where the best results are found, and I stay in the -1 to +1 range for my own photography, which I believe is the sweet spot. I used to use +2 all of the time but I haven’t used that high of a sharpening setting in probably a year.

Noise Reduction:

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Noise Reduction -4

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Noise Reduction 0

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Noise Reduction +4

By looking at the three crops above it might seem as though there’s not much of a difference between -4 and +4 noise reduction, and you are correct, but it’s actually a bigger difference than you might initially think. In my opinion, the noise reduction setting is a little more critical than the sharpening setting as Fujifilm applies it a little heavy-handed on X-Trans III cameras. I think the best results are found between -4 and -2. In my opinion -2 can be marginal sometimes so I typically use -4 or -3.

If you aren’t pixel-peeping, and you are just sharing to Instagram or Facebook, none of this matters. Worry about sharpening and noise reduction if you like to zoom way in on your pictures or if you like to print them large. I personally worry about it, but I take great care with all of the settings so that I get exactly the results that I want. Just because I worry about something or like things a particular way doesn’t mean that you should, too. Find what works best for you, even if it’s unconventional or goes against popular opinion.