My Fujifilm X-Pro2 Dramatic Classic Chrome Film Simulation Recipe


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Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

This film simulation recipe, which I’m calling Dramatic Classic Chrome, is the first that I’ve created for the Fujifilm X-Pro2. Up until this point all of them have been for the X100F; however, what I’ve discovered is that these settings are 100% compatible with all X-Trans III cameras. I figured that this was the case, but it wasn’t until my X-Pro2 arrived in the mail a few weeks ago that I was able to verify it. Any of my recipes will work on the X100F, X-Pro2, X-T2, X-T20, X-E3 and X-H1, even though the title says, “My X100F Film Simulation Recipe” or “My X-Pro2 Film Simulation Recipe.” Use this on any and all X-Trans III cameras, including the X100F.

I was experimenting with the JPEG settings on my X-Pro2, and specifically I was attempting something that looked vintage-film-like, perhaps similar to cross-processed slide film. I didn’t have a specific film in mind, just a certain look. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to achieve exactly what I had in mind, but what I did create I like, and I think it’s actually a good Classic Chrome recipe. It’s a little bit grittier and dramatic than my standard recipe.

Interestingly enough, the look changes a bit depending on the light and lens. In high contrast situations, you’ll get a high contrast image, with dark shadows and bright highlights. In low contrast situations, you’ll get a good amount of contrast with shadows and highlights that retain their details. This film simulation definitely has a film-like quality, but not any specific film or process. Perhaps it’s in the neighborhood of Agfa transparency film that’s been cross-processed, but that’s not really accurate. Maybe Ektar that’s been push-processed a couple stops? I’m not sure about that, either.

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Securely In Father’s Arms – Mount Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

One thing that I did different with this film simulation recipe is set Dynamic Range to auto. In auto the camera almost always chose DR100, so you could just set it to DR100 instead of auto and get the same results. I did not use DR200 because I wanted more contrast, although on a couple occasions, in really high contrast scenes, the camera chose DR200. I’ve yet to find a situation where the camera chose DR400.

Something else to point out is, while I have the saturation set to 0 in this recipe, on some photographs I changed it to +1 and some other photographs I changed it to -1, situation specific. I think 0 is good for most pictures, but some seem to look better with just a little more or a little less color saturation.

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR-Auto
Highlight: +3
Shadow: +3
Color: 0
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: +1
Grain Effect: Strong
White Balance: Auto, -1 Red & +1 Blue
ISO: Auto up to 12800
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 or +2/3 (typically)

Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs, using my Fujifilm X-Pro2 Dramatic Classic Chrome Film Simulation recipe:

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Monumental – Mount Rushmore, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Starry Nites – Park City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 23mm

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Waiting To Arrive – SLC, UT – Fuji X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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National Drink – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 23mm

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Red Drum – Unitah, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 23mm

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Bike Flag – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 23mm

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Empty Carts – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 23mm

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Yellow Door – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 23mm

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Train of Thought – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Instamatic – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16-50mm

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White Flower Blossoms – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & Meike 35mm

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Yellow Pots – Park City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 23mm

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Radius Lines – Park City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 23mm

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Slow – Park City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 23mm

 

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My Fujifilm X100F Fujicolor Superia 800 Film Simulation Recipe (PRO Neg. Std)


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Caramel Macchiato – Sandy, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Back in the days when I shot a lot of film, I would typically use ISOs of 25, 50, 64, 100 and 160. I would consider ISO 400 film as my go-to high-ISO choice (yes, I considered ISO 400 to be high-ISO!), but sometimes that wasn’t enough. For black-and-white photography there were several good options (mostly involving push-process), yet for color the choices for good film with ISOs above 400 were few and far between. When I needed something faster than ISO 400 for color work, the two options that I typically went with were Fujicolor Pro 800Z and Fujicolor Superia 800.

Fujicolor Pro 800Z was a good indoor portrait film. It had muted colors, low contrast, a very slight yellow cast, accurate skin tones, and fine grain (for ISO 800 film). It was quite popular among wedding and event photographers. For low-light pictures of people it was the best option. I used it a few times.

Fujicolor Superia 800 was a better film choice for things other than portraits. Of the two films, it had more color saturation, more contrast, a green cast, less accurate skin tones and more grain. It was the more bold, gritty, punchy choice of the two. Not that it was particularly wild (because it wasn’t), but Pro 800Z, while it could be beautiful, was especially bland (which is why it was good for pictures of people). I used Superia 800 a lot more frequently than Pro 800Z.

With this in mind, I set out to create a facsimile to Superia 800 with my Fujifilm X100F. I wanted in-camera to create the look of the high-speed film. I experimented with different film simulations and settings, and was able to achieve something similar to the film, using PRO Neg. Std as the starting point. It’s not a 100% match, but I feel like it’s convincing enough that I might be able to fool someone into thinking that I used actual film instead of digital capture.

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Sketching By A Window – Sandy, UT – Fujifilm X100F

One issue that I have with this film simulation recipe is the film grain. Even with a strong grain effect selected, it’s not quite as grainy as Superia 800 (specifically, the faux grain is too small). In fact, it might not even be as grainy as Pro 800Z! If there was an extra-strength grain effect option I would choose that instead, but alas there is not. I think it is grainy enough to give the right impression, even if inaccurate.

Another thing that’s not quite right about my film simulation recipe is that skin tones are too accurate when compared to the film. Superia 800 did not render human skin as nicely as these settings do. Even though it’s not true to the film in this regard, it might be viewed as a positive and not a negative.

Otherwise, my Fujicolor Superia 800 Film Simulation recipe produces a convincing analog film look, delivering pleasing results in a variety of situations. I’ve been using it extensively since I created it a week ago. I’m very happy with how it renders photographs, so I anticipate it being one of my go-to film simulation options. I think it’s one of the best ones that I’ve discovered so far. I invite you to give it a try yourself!

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

Example photos, all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs captured using my Fujicolor Superia 800 Film Simulation recipe:

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Dormant Red – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Abandoned Bridge Over Weber River – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Weber Canyon Moonrise – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Watch Out For The T-Rex – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Lost Trail – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Baby Swing – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Neighborhood Stroll With Johanna – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Hanging Print – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Parked Alone – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Pigeon Window – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Disabled Illumination – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Illuminated Beauty – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Coffee Table – Sandy, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Coffee Shop Latte – Sandy, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Caramel Coffee – Sandy, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Raspberry Cookies – Sandy, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Cake Slice For Two – Sandy, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Delicious Cake – Sandy, UT – Fujifilm X100F

See also:
My Fujifilm X100F PRO Neg. Hi Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Vintage Kodachrome Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Classic Chrome Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Astia Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Velvia Film Simulation Recipe

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My Fujifilm X100F PRO Neg. Hi Film Simulation Recipe (Portraits)


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Jo – Sun City West, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

I’m not a portrait photographer, although I have done some portrait photography. I’m not a wedding photographer, although I have done some wedding photography. Whether capturing pictures of people is the bread-and-butter of your photography or just something you do occasionally, you’ll likely want some go-to camera settings for these types of images.

I really like the way camera-made JPEGs look on my Fujifilm X100F. I use the different Film Simulations extensively. I have different recipes for different looks and situations. For people pictures in color, I frequently use Classic Chrome or Astia. Lately, though, I’ve been using PRO Neg. Hi much of the time for portraits.

Astia and PRO Neg. Hi are the two film simulations that are most similar to each other. Put them side-by-side and it can be difficult to tell which is which because the differences are so subtle. PRO Neg. Hi is slightly softer in the highlights and slightly harsher in the shadows. Also, Astia has just a bit more color saturation, and has a barely noticeable shift towards red. As far as I can tell they’re otherwise identical and basically interchangeable. I tend to use Astia more for non-people pictures and PRO Neg. Hi more for people pictures, although this isn’t a hard and fast rule.

I’m not 100% sure which film PRO Neg. Hi is supposed to simulate. It’s not an exact match for any. Sometimes I think it’s closer to Fujicolor Pro 160C and sometimes I think it’s closer to Fujichrome Provia 400X (note that the Provia Film Simulation does not match actual Provia film). Based on the name, my guess is that PRO Neg. Hi is supposed to simulate Fujicolor Pro 160C, but, according to my fading memory of shooting the film, it’s off by a little.

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Ready To Party Like A Mother-In-Law – Sun City West, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

It’s not all that important if PRO Neg. Hi is a perfect match to an actual film stock or not. It produces good results that are especially excellent for pictures of people. It has punchy colors and contrast (but not too punchy like Velvia) while still rendering appealing skin tones. It’s a good film simulation that you should try if you haven’t done so already.

One thing to note is that the shadow setting is very situation specific. I have found that -2 is sometimes better, 0 is sometimes better, but most often -1 is good. DR100 sometimes works better in low-contrast scenes, but DR200 is preferable in normal lighting conditions. For photographs without people, +2 or even +3 on color produces good results.

PRO Neg. Hi
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: -1
Shadow: -1
Color: +1
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: +1
Grain Effect: Weak
White Balance: Auto
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +2/3 (typically)
Flash: On (typically)

Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs, of my PRO Neg. Hi Film Simulation recipe:

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Happiness Is Holiday Family Fun – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi 

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Christmas Cousins – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Aunt, Great Aunt – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Christmas Dinner – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Happy Sisters – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Three Sisters – Peoria, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Christmas Joy – Scottsdale, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Obverse Converse – Youngtown, AZ – Fujifilm X100F – PRO Neg. Hi

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Authenticity & Photography

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Ilford Harman Technology – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Photography is losing its credibility. Photos aren’t seen as honest anymore. People don’t trust pictures. It’s a crisis that nobody’s talking about.

I’ve noticed this for awhile now. When photography consumers (those who view photos) look at pictures, they are skeptical. They assume the photos have been altered. They think it’s a false representation of reality. They believe that the photographer is lying to them. They think right away that they are being bamboozled.

You’ve heard the phrase “pictures never lie” and the term “photographic evidence” but the truth is every picture lies. Photos are inherently deceitful. Every photograph is the truth as seen through stained glass windows. The photographer makes all sorts of decisions before the exposure is even made that have big implications on the outcome. It’s “reality” through the photographer’s mind, not what anyone else might view as reality. Photography is an extraordinarily biased endeavor, as it should be.

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Evening In Temple Square – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

But that’s not the issue. People understand that each photographer will approach a subject differently. We all have our own experiences, thoughts and emotions that become the prism through which we view the world. Everyone is unique, and so everyone has the ability to create unique pictures.

The problem is manipulation. People are altering their photographs to a tremendous degree. Photographers are relying heavily on Photoshop to achieve their vision, and photography consumers feel like they’re being tricked. Even though it is the digital file that’s being manipulated, the viewer feels as though they themselves are the ones being manipulated. They’re being deceived. They’re being lied to.

I saw recently a photograph posted online that had been obviously altered significantly because it was impossible for the scene to exist. It defied reality. It was a composite of multiple photographs, some green-screen work, and some other digital wizardry. A person commented that this image wasn’t photography, but some other form of digital art, and it was incorrect to call it photography. He was fiercely attacked for making his statement, and the argument was made that if a camera was used then it must be a photograph.

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Dying Tree At Grand Canyon Rim – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

Imagine if someone made an airplane out of a lawnmower (this is an actual thing, by the way). Is it a lawnmower or an airplane? I see that it has wings. I see the propeller spin. I see it fly through the air. I don’t see it cutting any grass. It’s an airplane made from lawnmower parts. It no longer serves its original purpose due to its modifications, so it cannot be called a lawnmower anymore. This is clear, yet people insist on calling digital art that at one point was an exposure from a camera “photography” even though it no longer resembles that original exposure.

When it is clear that significant manipulations have been made to a photograph, it is a disservice to insist that it be referred to as a photograph. Photography consumers can spot it from a mile away, and they’re saying it’s not a photograph. It makes them feel as though the photographer is trying to pull the wool over their eyes when they call it something that it is clearly not.

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” People want honesty. They want authenticity. They don’t like being tricked. They don’t like being played a fool. Photography consumers have become skeptical and cynical. “Once bitten, twice shy,” as the saying goes.

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Wasatch September – American Fork Canyon, UT – Fujifilm X100F

I get asked frequently when showing my pictures, “How much did you Photoshop this?” They’re not really interested in what tweaking I did. They are simply verifying their suspicions that I have manipulated the picture. It’s false. It’s a lie. It’s been Photoshopped.

The word “Photoshop” has become a bad word. It’s derogatory, whether fairly or not. A lot of photography consumers don’t like Photoshop, or at least what they believe Photoshop is and what they believe it means to use it. Sure, strong arguments can be made that photographers have been manipulating images since the invention of the camera, that doing so is nothing the great photographers of past generations didn’t themselves do. What’s different today is the degree and frequency of manipulation.

Over the last couple of years a lot of photojournalists have made headlines for manipulating their pictures. Not adjustments to contrast and color saturation, but removing or adding things. In one case, taking someone else’s pictures and adding them to their own to make a story that didn’t exist. Photojournalists have gotten themselves in hot water numerous times for manipulating the story by way of manipulating their pictures. The viewers come away feeling as though they were the ones being manipulated.

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Man In The Straw Hat – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

There is a lack of trust, and understandably so. You can’t take a photograph at face value. And maybe you never could, but it is especially true today. Photograph manipulation is so common that many people assume all pictures have been edited to some degree. Some photographers have taken post-processing to levels never before imagined thanks to advancements in digital technology, so it can be tough to know what’s real and what’s not.

I no longer shoot RAW, but instead rely on out-of-camera JPEGs. Fujifilm cameras have the best JPEG processor in the business, and the X100F that I use creates especially excellent JPEGs that don’t typically require post-processing. The Film Simulation options have a film-like quality to them.

Lately, when showing my recent photographs, I’ve been asked, “How much did you Photoshop this?” I’ve answered, “Not at all, this is exactly as it came out of the camera, completely unedited.” The responses have been, “Oh, wow, that’s great!” And, “Amazing!” And, “Who needs Photoshop?” It’s the exact opposite reaction from what I got before, because I proved their suspicions wrong. The picture wasn’t manipulated. It was authentic. It had more credibility. It wasn’t fake in the eyes of the viewer.

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KeyBank Building – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Now before anyone jumps on me saying that I’m anti-Photoshop, I want to make it very clear that I’m not. I have no issues whatsoever with anyone using software to help create the images that they want to create. I’ve edited tens of thousands of pictures, and I will continue using software to edit exposures that need it. What I have said isn’t about me, but about the attitudes of photography consumers.

There is a growing anti-Photoshop movement, and it’s not from photographers but from photography consumers. It’s been building for years, but it seems to be gaining momentum lately. Within some circles, Photoshop is a curse word, the new “f” word. A sentiment that’s been widening is that Photoshop equals fake. These people believe that if you use software to manipulate your photos, then they’re fake. You are a liar. Many people don’t care whatsoever how a picture was made, but a group that’s increasing fast does indeed care!

Instead of looking at this negatively, I believe there is an opportunity. You could set yourself apart by becoming a more authentic photographer. Create more in-camera and less in-software. Be more real. Be more genuine. Be more honest. That’s what the anti-Photoshop photography consumers are asking for.

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Salt Lake Towers – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

It’s not pandering to the crowd to do so. You can please those who care how an image was made and those that don’t care at the same time, by creating great pictures with only limited use of post-processing tools. If you disregard the anti-Photoshoppers you will only alienate potential consumers, so there is a downside to ignoring this crisis. You might even fight against it and double-down on digital editing; however, it’s hard to fight against a rising tide.

My recommendation is to look for ways to rely less on post-processing software and rely more on your camera skills. When you do edit, be as upfront about it as possible. If you did extensive manipulation, maybe consider calling the image something other than a photograph. Try using camera-made JPEGs, and if your camera isn’t good at making them, consider a Fujifilm product, such as the X100F. Or maybe shoot film.

Be truthful, that’s what people want. People think that you’re manipulating them through your images, and they really want you to prove them wrong. You’d be surprised at how impressed people are when you show them an excellent photograph that wasn’t touched with editing software. There is a significant group that is much more enthralled by what you can do with your camera than what you can do with your computer. They don’t care how good you are with software, they care how skilled you are as a photographer. And they don’t like feeling as though you’re trying to fool them. They want honest pictures. They appreciate authentic photographers.

My Fujifilm X100F Acros Push-Process Film Simulation Recipe


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Back in the days before digital photography I’d sometimes push-process my black-and-white film. The technique involved underexposing the film (typically by one or two stops) and then developing for longer times. Essentially you underexpose in camera and overexpose in development, creating a correct exposure. This results in images with more contrast and stronger grain.

There are a couple reasons why one would push-process their film. First, you could shoot with less light. A lot of people used to consider ISO 400 to be a high-ISO film, but pushing that film two stops would make it ISO 1600 (really high-ISO). Second, the push-process aesthetic is bold and gritty, and you could achieve more dramatic results. So you might choose to push-process out of necessity or artistic vision or sometimes both.

The Fujifilm X100F has a great black-and-white Film Simulation called Acros, named after their Neopan Acros film. It looks wonderful, with a true film-like quality. I use this Film Simulation often. But sometimes I want a bolder, gritter, more dramatic black-and-white picture than my Acros Film Simulation recipe provides. So I created a new recipe that resembles film that has been push-processed. In other words, it has noticeably more contrast and grain.

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Turbulence – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F – Acros Push-Process

There are a few important things to understand about the Acros Film Simulation. First, Fujifilm programmed the amount of grain to increase as you increase the ISO. Next, the higher you go above ISO 800 the smaller the dynamic range gets. Finally, the Digital Teleconverter can effect noise and grain, most noticeably at high ISOs.

My Acros Push-Process Film Simulation recipe resembles black-and-white film that has been push-processed anywhere from one to one-and-a-half stops. I think sometimes it looks more like ISO 100 film that has been pushed and sometimes it looks more like ISO 400 film that has been pushed. A lot depends on the ISO that the camera is set to. It’s rarely as dramatic or gritty as one could achieve with actual film, but it produces great results in the right situations. I’d actually like to see Fujifilm add a push-process Film Simulation option to their X cameras.

The differences between this Film Simulation recipe and my original Acros recipe are increased highlights and shadows (for stronger contrast), a slight refinement to noise reduction and sharpening, and the added grain effect. The changes aren’t major, but the results are noticeably different.

Acros/Acros+R/Acros+G
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlights: +4
Shadows: +3
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: +1
Grain Effect: Strong
ISO: Auto up to 6400 (typically)
Exposure Compensation: +1 (typically)

Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs captured using my Acros Push-Process Film Simulation recipe:

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Evening Reflection Monochrome – Magna, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Dramatic Window – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Thoughts Grow With A Cup of Joe – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Coffee Stop – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Proud Pilot – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Phone Photographer – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Cellphone Capture – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Jesus Statue – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Waiting Is The Hard Part – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Thou Shalt Not – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Pull – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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No Overnight Parking – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Michael’s – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Samick Guitar – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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LDS Temple – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Salt Lake Towers – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Temple Gate – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Church Fountain – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Little Church In The City – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Evening In Temple Square – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X100F

See also:
My Fujifilm X100F Classic Chrome Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Vintage Kodachrome Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Velvia Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Astia Film Simulation Recipe

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My Fujifilm X100F Vintage Kodachrome Film Simulation Recipe


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Kodak Colors – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summer
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day

Kodachrome is probably the most iconic photographic film ever made. It was legendary, and many people saw the world through its colors. Kodak produced Kodachrome film from 1935 through 2009, when it was suddenly discontinued.

The Kodachrome name has been used for many different films over the years. The first Kodachrome product was a two-glass-plate color negative that was introduced in 1915. Like all other color photography methods of its time, the results weren’t particularly good and the product not especially successful.

In 1935 Kodak released its next Kodachrome, which was a color transparency film with an ISO of 10. This Kodachrome was the first color film that produced reasonably accurate colors and was the first commercially successful color film. It became the standard film for color photography for a couple decades, and was even Ansel Adams’ preferred choice for color work. The December 1946 issue of Arizona Highways, which was the first all-color magazine in the world, featured Barry Goldwater’s Kodachrome images.

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Kodak Transparencies – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

Kodak made significant improvements to Kodachrome, and in 1961 released Kodachrome II. This film boasted more accurate colors, sharper images, finer grain, and a faster ISO of 25. While it was still similar to the previous Kodachrome, it was better in pretty much every way. A year later Kodachrome-X was introduced, which had an ISO of 64.

Another generation of Kodachrome, which came out in 1974, saw Kodachrome II replaced by Kodachrome 25 and Kodachrome-X replaced by Kodachrome 64. The differences between this version and the previous weren’t huge and image quality was nearly identical. The biggest change was going from the K-12 to the K-14 development process (which was a little less complex, but still complex). This generation of Kodachrome is what most people think of when they picture (pun intended) the film, gracing the pages of magazines like National Geographic.

I personally have shot plenty of Kodachrome, mostly Kodachrome 64. It was a good general use film that produced sharp images and pleasing colors. I haven’t used it in more than a decade. Its days are gone. Even if you can find an old roll of the film, there are no labs in the world that will develop it.

Plenty of people have attempted to mimic the Kodachrome look with their digital images. It’s not as simple as it sounds. Alien Skin Exposure software has what is likely the best one-size-fits-all Kodachrome presets, but I don’t think they’re exactly right because the results vary from camera to camera.

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L.A. Trolley – Perris, CA – Nikon D3300, Alien Skin Exposure 1935-1960 Kodachrome preset.

Besides, it all depends on exactly what Kodachrome look you are after. There are different versions, including about a dozen that I didn’t mention above, each with their own slightly varied look. Perhaps filters were used in conjunction with the film (which was more common in the film era than the digital era). How it was viewed, whether projected, light table, printed or scanned, also effected the appearance. Kodachrome has a long shelf life if stored in a dark, cool space, but if not stored properly it can fade or become damaged, and maybe you prefer one of those looks over the other. It’s really tough to pin down exactly what Kodachrome looks like because there are so many variables.

Fujifilm X cameras, such as the X100F that I own, have different Film Simulation options. One of those is called Classic Chrome, which is supposed to mimic the general look of Kodak color transparency film. Some have suggested that Classic Chrome imitates Kodachrome, but I think it more closely resembles Ektachrome.

A couple of days ago I accidentally discovered a vintage Kodachrome recipe for my Fujifilm X100F, based on Classic Chrome. By “accidentally” I mean that I had no intentions of creating a Kodachrome look. I captured a RAW image and played around with it in the camera’s built-in RAW editor. I was trying to see what crazy looks I could get if I really messed around with the settings. One of the versions that I created reminded me of vintage Kodachrome.

I dug out my old Kodachrome slides, plus my grandparent’s really old Kodachrome slides (which I happen to have at my house), looked at some vintage magazines and did some internet searches, and studied what real Kodachrome looks like. Relying strictly on my fading memory isn’t always the best idea, so having actual samples to compare was useful. Thankfully I found plenty of old Kodachrome pictures from many different eras to examine.

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Rubber Boots – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F, original “Vintage Kodachrome” image.

The original picture (above) that I thought looked like vintage Kodachrome was somewhat close to the 1935-1960 version of Kodachrome, but it needed some adjustments. I played around a little more and I think that I have created a pretty good Film Simulation recipe for that generation of the film. Some images seem more convincing than others, but overall I believe it is surprisingly accurate.

One thing that I’m not completely thrilled about with the recipe is the film grain. I think that strong is too strong and weak is too weak. I wish that there was a medium option, but there’s not. On real Kodachrome the grain is not uniform and tends to clump, and so the grain looks much different than Fujifilm’s more regular faux grain. Beginning with Kodachrome II the grain was more fine, and so I definitely wouldn’t pick strong grain if I was trying to simulate a later version. The reason that I chose strong instead of weak is because it furthers the impression of vintage, despite the inaccuracy.

A characteristic of the 1935-1960 Kodachrome is the color shift. Blues veered toward cyan, reds were a bit darker, and skin tones had more of a bronze/orange look. It wasn’t as true-to-life as later versions of the film, but for its time it was considered very accurate.

I think my Vintage Kodachrome Film Simulation recipe is a great way to create in-camera retro-styled images. The example photographs in this post are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. It’s pretty darn close to that first era of Kodachrome slide film, and while not 100% accurate, it definitely has the right aesthetic to be convincing.

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

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Books On A Mantel – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Two Thirds – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Pumpkin – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Leaves In The Grass – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Leaves Around A Tree – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Bicycle Trail – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Through The Fall Forest – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Autumn In The Woods – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Golden Forest – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Changing Leaves – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Changing Forest – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Red Autumn Leaf – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Seeds of Gold – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Boy Unsure – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Respect – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Autumn Canopy – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Weber River Autumn – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Log Above The Riverbank – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

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Weber River In October – Uintah, UT – Fujifilm X100F “Vintage Kodachrome”

See also:
My Fujifilm X100F Acros Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Velvia Film Simulation Recipe
My Fujifilm X100F Astia Film Simulation Recipe

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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Fujifilm X100F Dynamic Range Settings

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Autumn At Mill Creek – Bountiful, UT – FujiFilm X100F Astia @ DR200 – captured on a sunny afternoon with strong highlights and deep shadows.

Fujifilm X cameras, including the X100F that I own, have three Dynamic Range settings: DR100, DR200 and DR400. Let’s explore what these setting are and what it means for your pictures.

To begin with, it’s important to understand that the X-Trans sensors found inside Fujifilm cameras are actually made by Sony. Once upon a time digital camera sensors would increase the energy pumped into them to make the photosites more sensitive to light in order to increase ISO. At some point Sony figured out that doing so was unnecessary, that the camera, even in very dark areas, was recording a lot of information. Thus, the “ISO-less” sensor was born.

An ISO-less sensor, which modern Sony-made sensors are, increases ISO by simply increasing the luminosity levels with software. You can try this at home by capturing an exposure at ISO 6400 and a RAW exposure at ISO 200 underexposed by five stops, then brighten the underexposed file in software to the correct exposure. You’ll notice that the the two files now look the same.

In other words, the camera is actually capturing every shot at base ISO and increasing the brightness after the exposure for whatever ISO was selected. You are completely unaware, and it is automatically done, even to RAW files. That’s why they call it ISO-less.

What this means is that there are a lot of details that can be pulled out of the shadows of your RAW files. The highlights can clip rather sharply and there isn’t a lot of room for error, but you have tons of room in the shadows. It’s best to underexpose to protect the highlights and increase the luminosity in post.

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Vibrant Forest – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F Velvia @ DR200 – contrast from back-lit trees are handled well, with shadows that are strong but not devoid of details.

 

That’s great for RAW shooters, but what about those who prefer JPEG? Fujifilm built into their cameras the Dynamic Range settings, which allows the benefits of the ISO-less sensor to be applied to JPEGs.

Have you ever wondered why base ISO on Fujifilm X cameras is ISO 200? It’s actually a software trick. The real base ISO on the sensor is ISO 100 (which is available as an “extended ISO”), but the camera applies a curve in software to pull more details out of the shadows, essentially underexposing the scene and then increasing the luminosity of everything (except the highlights) to maximize the dynamic range. This is also why some people claim that Fujifilm “cheats” with their ISOs.

The Dynamic Range settings don’t mean anything to RAW files, but they have a big effect on JPEGs. They allow you to retain shadow details and prevent clipped highlights.

The default setting is Dynamic Range 100 (DR100). This is the standard Dynamic Range option and it cannot be turned off (except by selected extended ISO 100). Dynamic Range 200 (DR200) is next, and if it is selected the minimum ISO is 400 (instead of ISO 200). The third option is Dynamic Range 400 (DR400), and if it is selected the minimum ISO is 800. There is also an option to let the camera auto-decide which Dynamic Range setting to use.

The reason that the minimum ISO increases is because the camera is increasing the luminosity in the files (except for the highlights) to an equivalent of that ISO. The good news is that there really isn’t an image quality difference between ISO 200 and ISO 800, so there should be no hesitation using ISO 800 if you want a larger dynamic range.

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Autumn Forest Light – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F Astia @ DR200 – sunlight created deep shadows, but they are handled quite well by the camera.

A lot of people keep the Dynamic Range set at the default DR100, and that’s fine for them. I think it works well in low contrast situations. For normal everyday use I prefer DR200 because it does a great job of capturing the dynamic range of most scenes while not looking flat. DR400 is a good option for scenes with a large dynamic range (it seems nearly impossible to clip highlights), but if there isn’t enough contrast in the scene your images will look flat (but contrast could be added in post-processing).

Which Dynamic Range setting is best and which you should choose depends on the situation. I don’t think DR100 is strong enough, and you are more likely to experience clipped highlights and deep black shadows with it selected. DR400 seems too strong, but if you plan to post-process the JPEG this gives you the most latitude for editing (then again, if you are going to post-process, why not shoot RAW?). DR200 seems to be the “just right” option that delivers results similar to what I’d achieve if I had edited a RAW exposure.

That’s putting it simply because there’s a lot more to it than that. Each scene has to be judged individually. If the light is even and there’s little contrast in the scene perhaps DR100 gives you the best look. Each Film Simulation has different amounts of contrast, so maybe DR200 works good for one and DR100 or DR400 works best for another. And it also depends on what exactly you’ve got highlights and shadows set to within your Film Simulation.

There are a lot of moving parts and things to consider when determining which Dynamic Range setting to select. There are many variables that might make you adjust it. I find myself using DR200 most of the time, and occasionally adjusting it up or down if I need to.

In conclusion, the Fujifilm Dynamic Range settings are a great way for JPEG users to take advantage of the large dynamic range capabilities of the X-Trans sensor. It has no effect on RAW, you will have to apply your own curves to pull out the shadow details if you are a RAW shooter. It’s a neat trick that Fuji uses to elevate their out-of-camera JPEGs to a level beyond that of other camera brands. It’s just a matter of figuring out which settings are best for each situation.

Update:

A reader contacted me to explain how I got this wrong, that the Dynamic Range settings only protect highlights and don’t effect shadows. That’s true, but because highlights are protected, I’m exposing a little more than I would otherwise, making the image a little brighter, including shadows. My exposure compensation is typically dialed between +2/3 and +1-1/3, situation specific, which would give me blown highlights without DR. So while the Dynamic Range options don’t directly increase the dynamic range within the shadows, they indirectly do.

My Fujifilm X100F Astia Film Simulation Recipe



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Fujifilm Astia 100F color reversal (slide) film was popular among portrait and fashion photographers because of its excellent skin tone reproduction. It was known for low contrast and low color saturation, as well as having a slight warm/yellow cast and creamy highlights.

Astia would be pretty low on your list of choices for anything other than pictures of people. Because of this I only ever shot one roll of Astia 100F film.

The Astia Film Simulation on Fujifilm cameras doesn’t match real Astia film. It has far too much contrast and saturation, and the cast is more orange-red than yellow. But that doesn’t make it unworthy of your use. In fact, on the X-E1 that I used to own, it was my favorite choice and I used it probably 80% of the time.

Astia is not my favorite choice for color on my X100F. Classic Chrome is my go-to option, and I select Velvia (which has been noticeably improved) when I want something more bold. There is still a time and place for Astia, and I do use it occasionally.

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Autumn Forest Light – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F Astia

Something interesting that I discovered back on the X-E1, and it is still true on the X100F, is that Astia and Pro Neg Hi are nearly identical. Put them side-by-side and it can be tough to tell which is which. Astia has just a hair more color saturation and is just a tad warmer. Adjust color by one and customize the white balance and the two options are completely interchangeable.

One thing that I like about the Astia Film Simulation is that it strikes a good balance, sort of the Goldilocks of the Film Simulation options. Not too little or too much contrast, not too little or too much saturation, not too little or too much warmth–for many situations it is just a good choice. It won’t wow you but it won’t underwhelm you, either. I think it is a better standard Film Simulation than the standard (Provia) option.

I have customized my Astia Film Simulation to my liking. It is not intended to be more faithful to the actual film. I think if you were to adjust my settings to be -2 color and take a little red out of the white-balance you would be pretty close to actual Astia film. That’s not the look I want, so I stick with my custom recipe, which I think is better than Astia film ever was for things other than portraits.

Astia
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: -1
Shadow: -2
Color: +1
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: +1
Grain Effect: Weak
White Balance: Auto
ISO: Auto up to ISO 12800
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 (typically)

Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs captured using my Astia Film Simulation recipe:

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Leaf On The Windshield  – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Autumn Apple – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Red Leaf In The Water – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Downtown Tree In October – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Autumn At Mill Creek – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Sunlight In The Forest – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Leaf In The Stream – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Pumpkin Donut – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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FED 5c & Film – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Blue Sky High Rise – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Tired & Sad – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Downtown Tourists – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Temple Square – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Pantheon & Patriotism – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

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Zions Bank Building – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

See also: My Fujifilm X100F Acros Film Simulation Recipe

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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Fujifilm X100F – Digital Teleconverter + High ISO

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I talked about how the Digital Teleconverter on the Fujifilm X100F adds versatility, and I talked about how great the camera does at high-ISO photography, but I never talked about how these two things do together. I’ve noticed some things about using the Digital Teleconverter at high-ISOs that I’d like to discuss.

Does the Digital Teleconverter limit how high you can go on your ISO settings? The answer is simple: yes. But it’s actually a little bit more complicated than that, so let me dig a little deeper.

I’ve already discussed exactly what the Digital Teleconverter is, and I don’t want to spend much time rehashing that, but basically it’s a digital zoom (zoom-by-cropping) that receives some smart upscaling and sharpening to make the file appear to have more resolution than it actually does. It’s a software trick that allows you to print larger than you might otherwise be able to. You can do this yourself with software on your computer, or you can let the X100F do it for you (which is the Digital Teleconverter).

I’ve also discussed that the practical high-ISO limit on the Fujifilm X100F is 12800, which is very high. Yes, some cameras with larger sensors can go a stop or so higher, but ISO 12800 is way up there, much higher than I ever imagined ISOs going even just 10 years ago.

When using the 50mm Digital Teleconverter (16 megapixel crop) setting, ISO 12800 doesn’t look all that usable. If you want soft and grainy looking black-and-white images, you can get away with ISO 12800 using Acros and the 50mm option. I’ve produced acceptable results this way. However, for the most part, ISO 6400 seems like a more practical high-ISO limit for this situation.

When using the 75mm Digital Teleconverter (12 megapixel crop) setting, anything above ISO 6400 doesn’t look all that usable. ISO 6400 looks alright for soft and grainy looking black-and-white images using Acros. For the most part, ISO 3200 seems like a more practical high-ISO limit for the 75mm Digital Teleconverter.

You might have noticed a trend, and that’s a one stop loss for the 50mm option and a two stop loss for the 75mm option. It’s not that the camera is performing worse, it’s that you are looking much more closely at the exposure (because of the crop). You can more clearly see the degradation in image quality that happens at the higher ISOs. It’s kind of like pixel-peeping–you don’t notice certain things when viewing normally, but they become obvious when you zoom in.

If you use the Digital Teleconverter along with auto-ISO, pay careful attention to the ISO that the camera is selecting. You may need to set it yourself (very quickly and easily done via the knob on top of the camera). My recommendation is to go no higher than ISO 6400 with the 50mm setting and no more than ISO 3200 with the 75mm setting. You can get away with higher sometimes (especially if it’s only for web use), but for best results keep the ISO a little lower than you otherwise would.

Fujifilm X100F Advanced Filter: Toy Camera, Part 1

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There’s a feature on the Fujifilm X100F called “Advanced Filters” that has some JPEG options that aren’t really anything advanced. These are not intended for the professional users, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t fun to play with.

One of these Advanced Filters is Toy Camera, which is supposed to make an effect like using a Holga or Diana camera and cross-processing slide film. There’s not a whole lot you can customize or change within Toy Camera, so you get what you get.

The effect is kind of interesting, but not something you’d want to do often. Also, it wouldn’t be difficult to replicate the look using Nik Analog Efex, Alien Skin Exposure or VSCO. It’s nice that the camera will do it for you, but you have to really like how the camera produces it.

I’m not in love with the look myself. I mean, I like the vintage camera and cross-processed look, especially when it comes from an actual vintage camera and actual cross-processed slide film, but the Toy Camera effect on the X100F just doesn’t quite do it for me. I think that Fujifilm could improve this feature significantly by making it more similar to the Film Simulations.

For this experiment I used the Toy Camera Advanced Filter for the first time. I set the aspect ratio to 1:1 because when I use an actual Holga camera I shoot the 120 film in square frames. I gave myself 12 exposures to try it out on, figuring if I shot a roll of 120 film with a square format I’d have 12 exposures. These are the “best” of the twelve:

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Epic – South Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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Pumpkin Coffee Lid – Woods Cross, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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Bucks – Woods Cross, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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– South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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Coffee Shop Smile – Bountiful, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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Green Leaves & Red Berries – Kaysville, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

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Red Post In Concrete – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F Toy Camera

Fujifilm X100F: 8-Bit JPEG or 14-Bit RAW?

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After writing Digital Film – Why I Shoot JPEGs With the Fujifilm X100Fone piece of feedback that I received was in regards to bit-depth. JPEG produces an 8-bit file while RAW on the X100F produces a 14-bit file. Why wouldn’t I want more bit-depth? Why would I ever choose 8-bit over 14-bit?

You may be confused about what exactly all this bit stuff is about, so let me briefly explain. Computers use a language comprised of a series of zeros and ones, which is known as binary code. A “bit” is a single digit, either a zero or a one. An eight digit string of zeros and ones would be 8-bit (JPEG files are 8-bit). Likewise a fourteen digit string of zeros and ones would be 14-bit (RAW files are typically 12, 14 or 16-bit). For every dot (or square, really) in a picture there are three separate strings of zeros and ones stored, one for each color channel (red, green and blue).

The entire photograph is stored this way. It’s a seemingly endless string of zeros and ones. Literally thousands of strings of zeros and ones. If you put all of those numbers together in software, it makes an image that can be viewed. An 8-bit file is significantly smaller than a 14-bit file.

More is always better, right? Well, it depends. A larger file contains much more information than a smaller file. You have a larger amount to play with. But it also takes up more memory, which will effect storage and software speed.

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Bicycle Blue – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Because a 14-bit file has a lot more information, it can hold up better to manipulation. If you are going to be making significant adjustments to your pictures, you’ll probably want as much information as you can get. An 8-bit file can handle some editing, but it’s not difficult to push it too far, and the image will begin to degrade. Banding is a common side effect of this.

8-bit is capable of recording more colors than the human eye can perceive. It can handle smooth gradations. If you don’t significantly alter your 8-bit files, there are no practical advantages to 14-bit. It’s only when you try to change the data too much after the fact (adjusting color and luminance) that 14-bit comes in handy.

My Fujifilm X100F captures an exposure in 14-bit whether in RAW or JPEG format. After the exposure, if I save in JPEG, the software processes the 14-bit file and throws away 6-bits of data, information that has been deemed unnecessary. It compress the file to 8-bit. It’s the same as if you edited the RAW file on your computer and saved the finished image in JPEG format.

The reason that a lot of people choose 14-bit (RAW) over 8-bit (JPEG) is because their cameras don’t make very good JPEGs, so they have to post-process their pictures. They’re going to be manipulating the files a bunch, so more bit-depth comes in handy.

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Hair & Lips – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

The Fujifilm X100F is capable of creating excellent JPEGs that rarely require any manipulation. It’s pretty incredible, yet it’s sad, considering where digital technology is today, that most cameras make substandard JPEGs. Your camera doesn’t have to be bad at JPEGs, and thankfully Fujifilm bucks the trend by committing to JPEG quality. Other camera makers should follow suit.

There are people who will swear that 14-bit is superior to 8-bit, and will scoff at those who think 8-bit is plenty good. I have seen where a single RAW file is edited and then converted to a TIFF (which retains all the data) and a JPEG (which throws away some of the data). It’s the same picture, just one is 14-bit and one is 8-bit. Then a massive crop is made from each file and the two are compared side-by-side. The person will proclaim, “Look, the TIFF is better!” And I look at it and don’t see any difference. “Maybe, just maybe, there is a little more shadow detail,” I say to myself. Maybe.

But nobody looks at images that closely. And nobody in real life compares two versions of the same image side-by-side. If you placed an enlargement on a wall and asked viewers to determine if it had been printed from an 8-bit JPEG or a 14-bit TIFF, nobody could answer correctly outside of a lucky guess. And, perhaps more importantly, nobody would care.

A larger bit-depth is only advantageous if you will be manipulating your images. If your camera makes junk JPEGs, then you’ll be doing just that. But if your camera makes great straight-out-of-camera JPEGs, then you won’t be editing the files, and there is no advantage to the larger bit-depth. And that’s why I don’t really care about bit-depth when it comes to the X100F.

Digital Film – Why I Shoot JPEGs With The Fujifilm X100F

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I don’t shoot RAW with my Fujifilm X100F. I rely on camera-made JPEGs.

Wait! Don’t click the X in the corner! Let me explain.

Those who shoot JPEGs have been unfairly stigmatized. It’s kind of crazy. You will find on message boards, social media posts, and in the comment section of websites this argument that RAW is for pros and JPEG is for amateurs.

And it’s not true. Or not completely true. But it’s touted as if it’s common knowledge.

There are many professional photographers who don’t use RAW. Perhaps they don’t have time to mess with it (constantly off to new assignments or their photos are needed immediately). Maybe their clients demand straight-out-of-camera JPEGs (think photojournalists). Or they simply like the look of their camera-made JPEGs (mostly, this is Fujifilm users). Whatever the reason, there are many pros that prefer JPEGs over RAW. No, really, this is a fact.

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And vice versa. There are plenty of amateurs that shoot RAW because someone on the internet said that they should. They don’t know what they’re doing or why, but they’re doing it anyway because they don’t want to be thought of as amateurish.

So if professional photographers are using JPEG and amateurs are using RAW, what does this do for that argument that RAW is for pros and JPEG is for amateurs? It shows that it is poppycock–empty words by people who try to make themselves seem superior.

“But, really, you should learn how to use RAW,” someone is saying in their heads right now. If that’s you, here is something you should know: I’ve been shooting and editing RAW files for a decade. I’ve shot tens of thousands of RAW exposures. I know all about RAW. I might even have more experience with it than you. So stop.

It’s ridiculous that I have to qualify this before I even begin to type the rest of this article. But if I don’t, everything else that I want to say will be dismissed. People will tune out.

Digital Film

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Sitting Large – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

It’s been well known for several years now that Fujifilm has the best JPEG engine in the business. Yes, Canon and Nikon both make good JPEGs, but there is just something about those from Fujifilm cameras–that Fujifilm look!

With the X100F, Fujifilm has elevated the camera-made JPEG to a whole new level. They made several significant improvements. They added a new monochrome setting and film grain. This is a big deal!

Before I get ahead of myself, I want to talk a little about how Fujifilm rethought the whole camera-made JPEG concept. They approached it differently, and it shows in the results.

You are probably well aware that Fujifilm was a popular film manufacturer well before digital photography was big. They still make film. The soul of the company is analog film photography.

Fujifilm took their knowledge and experience with film and applied it to their digital cameras. They designed and programmed that analog soul into their modern cameras.

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Hair & Lips – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Instead of traditional JPEG settings, Fujifilm made Film Simulations, which mimic the look of different 35mm films. My favorites are Acros and Classic Chrome. They even have fake (yet convincing) film grain as an option. They tried to make their JPEGs look less digital and more film-like.

You can see this in how they process digital noise. It looks completely different on Fujifilm cameras. They did their best to make the noise look less digital and more organic, more like film grain.

Fujifilm also came up a neat little trick for maximizing dynamic range. Basically, the camera underexposes to prevent clipped highlights, then increases the shadows and midtones to the appropriate level. It’s very seamless, but the results are far superior to the narrow dynamic range found on typical camera-made JPEGs.

Because of things like that, Fujifilm JPEGs are better than everyone else’s. I call it Digital Film.

RAW Because You Have To

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KeyBank Building – SLC, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Let’s face it, the reason that almost everyone who shoots RAW does so is because they have to, and not because they want to. Their cameras make JPEGs that aren’t good enough. If their JPEGs didn’t stink so bad, they’d certainly rely on them. But since they aren’t reliable, people choose RAW format instead.

But camera-made JPEGs don’t have to stink. Your camera could be programmed in such a way that the strait-out-of-camera JPEGs look like how you would make them look if you shot RAW and post-processed them on your computer. The technology exists. Camera makers just haven’t included it in their products.

If the JPEGs produced by your camera matched the look of your post-processed RAW files, why would you continue to shoot RAW? Why wouldn’t you save a whole ton of time and money and shoot JPEG instead?

The Fujifilm X100F is the first camera that I have ever used that I feel produces JPEGs that match how I would edit my RAW files. It creates in-camera the look that I want. That’s why I don’t shoot RAW. That’s why I am now a JPEG only guy.

Consistency

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Lightning Strikes Antelope Island – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F

When I shot film (I still do occasionally), and I shot a lot of it, I had my go-to options. I used Velvia 50, Ektachrome 100VS and 100SW, and Kodachrome 25 and 64 for color. I used Ilford Delta 100 and 400 for black and white. I used plenty of other films over the years, but those were my main options.

When you shot film, you exposed a whole roll of it, typically 24 or 36 exposures. All of the images you captured had a consistent look because they were captured using the same film. When you embarked on a project, you used the same film for the entirety of that project.

Even thinking long term, my images had a consistent look because most were captured with one of a handful of different films. Over the course of years, even decades, there was a uniformity to the look of my pictures.

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Ilford Harman Technology – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

That’s a lot harder to accomplish digitally because there are so many options and ways to customize each image. For example, Alien Skin Exposure X2 has over 500 one-click presets that can be heavily customized. With so many choices, it takes some serious discipline and restraint to stick with just a few. Creating and applying an undeviating style to your RAW workflow is something that’s rarely realized.

I think it’s better to have a consistent look that you can easily recognize. Especially within projects. It shouldn’t be all over the place. It looks incoherent if its inconsistent.

By shooting JPEG and relying on the Film Simulations found in the X100F, I can get back to the consistent look that I achieved as a film shooter. I have a few custom recipes that I use, and because of that there is a uniformity that my pictures lacked for a long time.

Authenticity

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Haugen – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100F

There’s been a lot of controversy lately with photographer’s use of Photoshop. Some very big names have shown up in the news. There’s been many debates on how much editing is too much. It’s all subjective, and so the line will always remain grey. Besides, people have been manipulating pictures since the early days of photography.

But there is a point when a photograph loses its authenticity. Its not hard to move from photography into graphic design or digital artistry. Photography is less believable now than it used to be.

I get asked often, “Is that how it really looked? How much did you Photoshop this?” People look at photography as a mix of reality and fantasy. They don’t take it at face value anymore. It lacks truth, it lacks authenticity.

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Man In The Straw Hat – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

It’s like the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I think people are tired of being fooled and tricked by pictures that have been heavily manipulated.

Many news outlets have begun requiring that only straight-out-of-camera JPEGs be submitted. There have been too many examples where some photograph in a big story turned out to be significantly edited. Now many news outlets want only what the camera captured, no manipulation please! This is to save the integrity of the genre, which has lost significant credibility.

Shooting JPEGs allows you to answer, “This is how the camera captured it. I didn’t use Photoshop or any other software. This is straight from the camera unedited.” This isn’t for bragging rights. There is value in creating authentic pictures, and this is becoming more true every day.

Conclusion

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Yashica Rangefinder & Fujicolor – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F

Several weeks ago I was asked to photograph for someone, and he needed the pictures immediately. He paid me a higher premium for this service. I made my exposures and, using the screen on the back of my X100F, deleted the ones that weren’t good. After I was finished I uploaded the pictures directly to his laptop. From the moment that I arrived to the delivery of the finished pictures was about an hour–photoshoot completely finished and check in my hand.

As I was driving away, I thought that this is how it should be every time. In the past I would have spent a day post-processing the pictures. But since the straight-out-of-camera JPEGs look so darn good, I felt more than comfortable delivering them to the client unedited. And this person contacted me twice afterwards to tell me just how pleased he was with the pictures. “They were perfect,” he said.

I save so much time and money by not shooting RAW. There are plenty of good reasons to choose JPEG instead, all of which I laid out above. All of the photographs in this article that were captured using the X100F are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. I just wish that there wasn’t such a stigmatic attitude towards it. But times are changing, and technology is advancing, and I think that the lowly camera-made JPEG will see new life in the upcoming years.