Fujifilm SOOC Summer 2023 Photography Challenge

I just became aware that Fujifilm Middle East is currently conducting a photography contest just for straight-out-of-camera pictures! Use either the factory-default film sims or Film Simulation Recipes. No editing allowed, only camera-made JPEGs.

The rules, which can be found on Fujifilm’s website, are simple enough:

  1. MUST: Shoot RAW + JPEG
  2. CANT: Post-process outside of camera
  3. NEED: Finalists to submit RAW to verify
  4. ALLOWED: Custom Recipes
  5. COUNTRIES: UAE, KSA, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Nigeria and Pakistan
  6. DEADLINE: 23 September 2023

Third prize is a $500 coupon for Fujifilm gear, second prize is a $1,000 coupon, and first prize is a $2,000 coupon… enough for a Fujifilm X-T5 or X-H2! If you reside in one of those 11 qualifying countries, definitely consider entering this competition.

Sentinel & Merced – Yosemite NP, CA – Fujifilm X100VVintage Color Recipe

One of the judges is Fujifilm X-Photographer Bjorn Moerman. If you’ve ever watched any of the SOOC Live YouTube videos, you’ll instantly recognize him, as he regularly tunes-in and participates in the show. You’ve likely seen several of his phenomenal pictures; a few are found in the latest Viewers’ Images slideshow published just today! Many of his amazing photographs are straight-out-of-camera using Fuji X Weekly Film Simulation Recipes (including all of those seen in the SOOC Live videos). Sometimes in photography competitions you have to wonder about who the judges are and if they’re actually qualified for that role, but not in this case, especially since Bjorn is one of them.

I love the idea of this competition, and I hope that it catches on. Shooting straight-out-of-camera JPEGs is becoming a more and more popular approach, and Fujifilm photographers are on the leading edge of it. Fujifilm North America should definitely do a SOOC photo contest, too—I think it would be a huge hit, while also spreading the word that Fujifilm cameras are capable of capturing incredible pictures that don’t require editing. For many people, that realization is a game-changer, making photography more enjoyable, more efficient, and more accessible.

A Better Way To Get a Retro Film Look

Rodeo Cold – Cave Creek, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 24mm – AgfaChrome RS 100

Is there a better way to get a retro film look? In my opinion, the answer is yes!

Notice that I didn’t say the best way, only a better way. The best way to get a retro film look is to shoot actual analog film on a retro film camera; however, film is expensive and the process inconvenient. Digital is much more convenient, but digital images inherently don’t resemble film—one must manipulate them. There are numerous programs, plugins, and presets that will provide you with a film look without a lot of fuss, but it does require some level of post-processing; editing pictures is a good way to get a retro film look, but a couple downsides are 1) you must have access to (and pay for) the software and know how to use it and 2) it takes time to edit all of your pictures. There is another way, which I believe is a better way.

It’s very simple: shoot JPEGs on Fujifilm cameras programmed with analog-like Film Simulation Recipes and use vintage lenses. I say that this is a better way because you can achieve a retro film look without the hassle of picture manipulation. Better, of course, is subjective, but this is an increasingly popular method, largely because more and more photographers are deciding that it is indeed a better way for them.

Arizona Honeysuckles – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 70mm – AgfaChrome RS 100

Fujifilm cameras are an important ingredient to this because, when programming their digital output, Fujifilm utilized their film department to assist with the image rendering. In other words, using their vast film experience, they set out to infuse an analog aesthetic into their digital photographs. Film Simulation Recipes take it a step further by fine-tuning the camera settings to better replicate specific film stocks and/or processes or mimicking certain looks. There are nearly 300 Recipes on the Fuji X Weekly App (available for Android and Apple), so be sure to download it if it’s not already on your phone. You can do pretty much the same thing as Recipes with software, but it will not 100% match the straight-out-of-camera images and you will have to work for it (at least a little), while camera-made JPEGs are good-to-go without editing (the work is already done for you). This is a paradigm shift that can dramatically transform your workflow by drastically simplifying it, which saves you a lot of time, hassle, and potentially money, while simultaneously making photography more fun. Like I said: better.

The final ingredient is the glass. Modern lenses are often precision engineered, making them nearly flawless. That’s great if you want a digital look, but if you want a retro film look you should employ the same lenses that were used to shoot film, which often have flaws that give them character—an important aspect of the analog aesthetic. Find some old glass and shoot through it! You’ll need an adapter—the exact one depends on the mount of the lens—and set the camera to “Shoot Without Lens” in the Menu settings. These lenses are manual focus, which can be tricky at first, but thankfully Fujifilm provides you with some excellent tools to assist with it, making manual focus much easier and more enjoyable. Alternatively, you could use inexpensive third-party lenses, which often have similar characteristics to vintage lenses, and you won’t need a special adapter.

For the pictures in this article, I used a Fujifilm X-T5 programed with my AgfaChrome RS 100 Film Simulation Recipe shot through various tiny Pentax-110 lenses. The straight-out-of-camera results are very analog-like, and could probably pass as actual film photographs if I didn’t provide any background information. You’re not likely to think that these are out-of-camera pictures from a modern camera. If you weren’t convinced that they’re film, you’d likely assume some post-processing was done to make them appear film-like, yet they’re unedited. In any event, if you want a better way to get a retro film look, use Fujifilm cameras programmed with Film Simulation Recipes and shoot through vintage lenses. Simple. Easy. Convincing. Fun.

Colorful Wheel – Vulture City, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 24mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Turn Signal – Cave Creek, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 24mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Rockshop – Rock Springs, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 24mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Out the Upstairs Window – Rock Springs, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 24mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Pie – Rock Springs, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 24mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Kokopelli – Rock Springs, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 24mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Fuzzy – New River, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 70mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Yellow – New River, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 70mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Desert Spring – New River, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 70mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Two Cholla – New River, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 70mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Spring Lupine – New River, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 50mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Purple Lupine – New River, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 50mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Yellow Spring – New River, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 50mm – AgfaChrome RS 100
Blossoms Among Ocotillos – Vulture City, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 & Pentax-110 24mm – AgfaChrome RS 100

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

Fujifilm X-T5 in black:  Amazon  B&H  Moment
Fujifilm X-T5 in silver:  Amazon  B&H  Moment

5 Ways to Master that Vintage Film Look

Going Out of Business – Prescott, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 – “1970’s Summer” Recipe

What a wonderful surprise! Leigh & Raymond Photography (formally known as The SnapChick) posted a video explaining five ways to get a vintage film look from digital cameras. One of their tips is to shoot Fujifilm cameras and use Fuji X Weekly Film Simulation Recipes (that, of course, is an oversimplification of the tip, so be sure to watch the video). Another tip is to use the RitchieCam App on your iPhone. Whoa! I was very surprised by this unexpected double-shoutout.

For those who don’t know, I have my very own iPhone camera app called RitchieCam. The intention of it is to streamline your mobile photography workflow. It’s easy to use thanks to its intuitive design, making it useful for both novices and pros. It embraces a one-step philosophy, as the analog inspired filters deliver images that don’t require editing. If you have an iPhone, download it from the Apple App Store for free today!

Most of you are here, though, not for iPhone photography, but because you have a Fujifilm camera. Back in 2021 I published No Edit Photography: 7 Tips To Get The Film Look From Your Digital Photos, in which I gave some tips for achieving a film-like-look from your non-analog pictures. My advice was:
– Shoot with a Fujifilm camera
– Use Film Simulation Recipes
– Use diffusion filters, such as Black Pro Mist or CineBloom
– Shoot with vintage lenses
– Don’t be overly concerned with perfectly sharp pictures
– Use high-ISOs
– Overexpose and underexpose sometimes

Read the article to learn more about each tip. I recommend starting with both of the first two (Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes), and then add one or two of the other five tips. For example, if you have a Fujifilm X-T20, you might use the Kodachrome II recipe plus a vintage lens. Or, if you have a Fujifilm X100V, you might use the Fujicolor Superia 800 recipe plus a 5% CineBloom filter. Anyway, you have to find what works best for you, but if you are not sure, that article is meant to provide some direction, which is hopefully helpful to you in some way.

Thank you, Leigh and Raymond, for all the kind words and support! Your video is much appreciated by me. To those of you reading this, be sure to visit their channel, watch the video, give it a thumbs-up, and subscribe if you don’t already.