A Fuji X Weekly reader asked me to mimic the look of some photographs that he shared with me. These were digital pictures that had been edited with software, but he was hoping to achieve this look straight-out-of-camera, if at all possible. It turns out that it is possible (although I only had three images to study, so I’m not completely certain this is an exact match, but I believe it is pretty close); however, it requires the Eterna Bleach Bypass film simulation, which, unfortunately, his camera does not have. If your camera does have Eterna Bleach Bypass, than you are fortunate because you can use this very interesting recipe!
What film does this recipe most closely mimic? The most similar film might be the (now discontinued) Konica Impresa 50, although it is certainly not an exact match. There are also some similarities to Portra that’s had the bleach skipped, although I wouldn’t say that this is an exact match for that, either. I don’t think this film simulation recipe is a faithful facsimile of any film, yet it produces a nice analog aesthetic anyway. It has strong contrast and very muted colors—almost monochrome. In a way, it’s the closest thing to black-and-white in color photography.
This recipe is only compatible with the Fujifilm X-E4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras. If you have one of those cameras, I invite you to give this recipe a try! I know that it will be an instant favorite for some of you.
Eterna Bleach Bypass Dynamic Range: DR400 Highlight: -0.5 Shadow: +1 Color: -4 Noise Reduction: -4 Sharpening: 0 Clarity: -2 Grain Effect: Weak, Small Color Chrome Effect: Strong Color Chrome Effect Blue: Weak White Balance: Auto, +3 Red & -8 Blue ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400 Exposure Compensation: 0 to +2/3 (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using this “Muted Color” film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X-E4:
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What will future cameras be like? More specifically, what do I think they’ll be like? This is an odd topic that has come up a few times recently in various places. I don’t have any inside information. I’ve never laid eyes on any top-secret still-in-development cameras. I only have my own ideas and opinions, which are probably inaccurate. I’ve certainly been wrong before, and I’m probably wrong now. Still, it’s fun to speculate.
I think, in the not-too-distant future, perhaps beginning in roughly five years, we’ll see camera manufacturers team up with software companies to offer more (and better) in-camera filters. We’re going to see more software built into cameras, and with that, I think we’ll start to see VSCO, RNI, Alien Skin, Nik Collection, and others, partner with camera manufacturers to include their popular presets integrated into gear. This will also allow RAW files to match straight-out-of-camera JPEGs (and TIFFs) simply by applying the same preset in-software as in-camera.
The Zeiss ZX1 camera has Lightroom Mobile built-in. The Pixii camera can be programmed with LUT profiles. It’s not even close to mainstream yet, but you can see the very beginning of this shift start to build. I think it is only a matter of time before you will be able to capture in-camera with (for example) the RNI Kodak Gold v.3 preset. I don’t think Canon, Sony, Nikon, or Fujifilm will be the first company to do this. Maybe Leica. Perhaps a future Panasonic S-series model. I’m not exactly sure, but it will definitely be a marketing strategy for whoever does it first.
I believe that in the beginning it will be collaborations between specific manufactures and software companies. For example, Sony might partner with VSCO, and perhaps Nikon partners with RNI. I personally hope Fujifilm partners with RNI or Alien Skin, but my guess is that Fujifilm will hold onto their film simulations, which, let’s be honest, is a similar concept. Film simulations are kind of like presets, especially since they can be customized with film simulation recipes; however, in its current state film simulations don’t go as far as what I believe is coming. I do think Fujifilm can accomplish in-house their own presets, since they do seem to have a nice head start, but I don’t know if they have the foresight to take it far enough or the R&D resources to keep up once it takes off. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out. Currently, Fujifilm’s Film Simulations, with the help of custom JPEG recipes, are the closest thing right now to what I believe is coming.
Eventually I see it morphing into more of an app model, where you can buy any company’s presets and use them on your camera, no matter the brand. Buy a Canon and download the RNI app if you want their presets, or VSCO if you want theirs. If you have a Fujifilm camera, you can use the exact same presets on that camera as you can on your Sony. This might be 10 or more years down the road, but it seems like it is inevitable that it will happen someday.
Why do I think all this is the future of photography technology? What I believe is going to happen is a stronger movement towards straight-out-of-camera. Not for bragging rights, but for three reasons: 1) it saves so much time, 2) it can be more fun, and 3) it opens up photography more to those who don’t have the desire, skills, or time to post-process their pictures. Technology will make getting post-processed-like-looks more accessible without the need to actually do it. It’s going to be easier and more automatic. You, the photographer, will have to select which look you want, and the camera will do the work for you and will deliver to you out-of-camera that look without any need for Lightroom, etc., to achieve it. Upload the picture to whatever social media or cloud storage you want right from the camera. No need for a computer, as it’s all handled by the camera. You won’t even need your phone, unless camera companies figure out that they can harness the phone’s computing power to do the work for them, and the phone becomes (wirelessly) integrated into the camera.
I could be completely wrong about all of this. I’ve certainly been wrong many times before. Nobody knows the future. I do see things moving in this direction, and in a very small way, because of my film simulation recipes, I’ve had a hand in moving it.
The first time that I saw Bruce Barnbaum‘s Chair & Shadowphotograph was over 20 years ago in college during Photography 102. Most of those classes began with a look at well-known or really good photographs, with a discussion of why these pictures were special, and Bruce’s photo was one of those. At the time I had no idea who he was. I remember being struck by how this simple image could be so moving. The Zone System was mentioned, as well as dodging and burning and perhaps some other technical stuff.
I didn’t see Chair & Shadow again for more than a decade, when it was featured on the cover of The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression. I bought the book and read it cover-to-cover. It’s a great resource for those wanting to be more artful with their images. Note that the current edition of the book has a different cover photo.
Bruce’s picture is of a simple folding chair inside a large empty room with a door cracked open. The building looks old. The picture leaves far more questions than answers. Where is this? What is the significance of this place? Why is the chair in this large and otherwise empty room? Who sits in it? Why is the door partially open? What is outside? Is this a good place or bad place? These and other unanswered questions are likely why this image produces an emotional response, and, depending on the answers your mind invents, it might be good feelings or uneasy feelings—either way, you likely had an emotional response to the photo. Ultimately the picture is about shadow and light—more shadow than light, with light piercing the darkness—and utilizes a simple (yet effective) composition to make that point.
Yesterday I visited PetaPixel and saw that they published an article (which apparently first ran in Medium Format Magazine) in which Bruce Barnbaum explains the story behind his famous photo. It was such a fun read for me, because of my own experiences with the image. Many of my unanswered questions were answered in an interesting way. I very much enjoyed it!
Then I read the comments section. Big mistake. It’s amazing how people can be so negative yet full of unsubstantiated pride. You see it everywhere on the internet, including photography websites. I suppose it is easy to do that when you can hide behind anonymity. I learned awhile back not to Google my own name, because people have said some really awful things about me, largely because they simply disagreed with something I said. You can imagine, since I encourage people to shoot JPEGs, that it rocks the boat a little.
What’s great about the Fuji X Weekly community is that you’ll find very little of this nasty negativity here. Yeah, it’s seemingly everywhere else, but not among you. You guys and gals are extraordinarily kind, and it shows. You are like the light shining through the door in Chair & Shadow, illuminating the room. It’s really refreshing, and seemingly uncommon. Thank you for being a light in the “darkness” that is the internet. You are the best community in all of photography—I’m certain of it—and I appreciate you!
There are five Fujifilm cameras that you should never, ever own. Don’t even think about it! These cameras have qualities that are downright awful. If you should buy one, you’ll certainly regret it. How do I know? Because I have personally used all five of these Fujifilm cameras, and trust me, you should never own one. Ever. They’re the worst!
What are these five foul Fujifilm cameras? What makes them so bad? Read on to find out!
Never judge a book by its cover. The X-E1 might be one of the most stylish cameras ever made, but on the inside you’ll find sluggish low-light autofocus and an unbearably antiquated menu. Where’s the focus joystick? There isn’t one. You won’t find any film simulations with the name Classic in it, either. The camera is almost 10 years old, which in digital terms is ancient. It received plenty of criticism when it was brand-new, and cameras weren’t nearly as good back then as they are now, so it must be especially awful when judged by today’s standards.
Besides, are 16 megapixels really enough? I mean, we’ve got 100-megapixel cameras now! Nobody is making cameras nowadays with such low resolution. They’re all going to laugh at you with a measly 16; that’s barely enough for social media posts, and not nearly enough for pictures of fluffy the cat. If you’re serious about photography, you need more resolution than this camera has. Lot’s more.
It’s best to avoid the Fujifilm X-E1, even though you can find it sometimes for super cheap. You get what you pay for, so it’s better to spend as much money as possible on your gear. The more you spend, the more successful you’ll be, or at least the more successful other people will assume you are. Remember, perception is reality.
Fujifilm X-A cameras are essentially cheap X-E copycats. You can buy Lucky Charms or you can buy Marshmallow Mateys; they might look similar, but do they taste the same? No. The X-A3 might resemble an X-E3, but don’t be tricked! X-E is X-Trans, yet X-A is Bayer, which might as well be Sony, and Sony isn’t Fujifilm.
When you judge books by their covers you are usually right. The X-A3 has a lot of plastic on it, and plastic cameras are basically toy cameras. No serious photographer would ever use a toy camera, because toys are for kids. The X-A3 might as well be a Holga or Diana; unfortunately, the Fujifilm model doesn’t have any of that lo-fi sugary goodness that attracts lomographers. This camera sits in a weird spot: too cheap on the outside to be loved by real photographers, too good on the inside to be loved by hipsters.
The X-M1 is an X-E1 trapped inside the body of an X-A1.
What happens when you combine the worst parts of an X-E1 with the worst parts of an X-A1? You get this Frankenstein camera. Fujifilm took all of the bad points of #4 and #5 on this list and mixed them together in what can best be described as a mistake. There’s a reason why Fujifilm never made an X-M2.
Trust me, you’ll regret putting a charged battery inside this camera to bring it to life.
The XQ1 is a pocket zoom. Remember those? They were all the rage eight years ago. Were is the keyword. Nobody uses cameras like this anymore. It was trendy for a time (not necessarily this particular model), but they’re just not cool anymore.
Besides, it has a 2/3″ sensor. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s X-Trans II, and produces results similar to the much larger and heavier and more expensive X-T1, but the sensor is so itty bitty. A postage stamp looks large in comparison! Nobody will suspect you’re a photographer if you use it—they’ll just ignore you as an out-of-town tourist or an out-of-date amateur. What’s the point in being a photographer if nobody knows it just by looking at you?
#1 – Fujifilm AX350
“Changing the film simulation is pretty much all you can do….”
The AX-what?! This pocket point-and-shoot is a camera you likely don’t remember, because it’s entirely forgettable. Intended for the tenderfoot, the AX350 was made obsolete by the cellphone. You might find one at a thrift store for the same price as a cup of coffee. Maybe a friend or relative has one in the back of some junk drawer or at the bottom of a storage box in the attic. If you find one, just leave it be. If someone offers to give you theirs for free, politely decline. Not even those who it was made for want it, and neither should you.
If you had to choose between this camera and your cellphone camera, you wouldn’t choose this one. I mean, what kind of image quality could you possibly get from such a cheap, amateurish, old, obsolete piece-of-junk? It’s best that the AX350 remains a forgotten relic of a time long past, the good ol’ days when only expensive DSLRs were capable of capturing good pictures, and you knew who was a pro (and who wasn’t) by the gear they carried.
This, of course, is satire. You probably figured that out awhile ago. I’m poking fun at negative articles and videos with titles like: The Absolute Worst Camera, Cameras You Should Never Own, Top Cameras To Avoid, The Most Hated Camera, Things I Hate About This Camera, Why I’m Disappointed With My Camera, Why I’m Selling My Gear, etc., etc.. Negativity is popular, and titles like those get views.
Any camera in the hands of a skilled photographer is a capable photographic tool. As Chase Jarvis coined, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” Do the best you can with what you have, and you’ll be surprised at the results. It’s more important to have photographic vision than expensive gear. It’s better to invest in experiences than new things.
All five of the cameras mentioned above—the X-E1, X-A3, X-M1, XQ1 and AX350—are fully capable artistic tools. Even the AX350 can produce beautiful results. There’s nothing wrong with using any of them. No matter what your camera is, it’s plenty good enough. Spend less time worrying about the gear you own, and spend more time considering what you can create with it.
I wasn’t intending to write this article. I had other things that I wanted to talk about. There are a couple new film simulation recipes I’ve created that I plan to share. I want to give my thoughts on the new GFX100S. I want to talk more about the GFX-50S that Fujifilm sent me to use. There are a couple of lens reviews that I’ve been procrastinating on. The Android version of the Fuji X Weekly App is edging closer to being finished. But, the upcoming Fujifilm X-E4 has been turning inside my brain all day, so that’s why I’m writing about it instead.
I think a lot of people had high hopes and expectations for the Fujifilm X-E4, and nobody really predicted what it ended up being. It’s like when the X-Pro3 was announced, and everyone was scratching their heads. With the X-Pro3, even though so many didn’t understand it, I think there was a pretty large curiosity towards it, and a lot of people came around to it after awhile. The X-E4 has a similar lack of understanding surrounding it, but it doesn’t carry that same curiosity, so it will likely be fairly ignored. It’s already been overshadowed by other gear announcements.
There was a post I published back in July called Shrinking Camera Market: What Fujifilm Should Do in 2021 & Beyond. I suggested that Fujifilm should make a less-expensive 100MP GFX camera. Guess what? They did! Another thing I suggested is that Fujifilm should do more to differentiate the X-E4 from the X-T30 (and the eventual X-T40) because the X-E3 and the X-T20 were so very similar (aside from camera shape). Well, it looks like they did that, too. My apologies.
The question is: what was Fujifilm thinking when they designed the X-E4? What was their vision? That’s tough to know until the tell us, if they tell us, as they might not. Until then, we’re left guessing, and most of the guesses seems to be along the lines of, “They cheapened the X-E line.” I really don’t believe that was their intention.
As I’ve thought about this, I believe the X-E4 is intended to be a minimalist’s “just shoot” camera. Looking at all of the aspects of an X-E3, the designers asked themselves, “Is this necessary?” If the answer was yes, it stayed, perhaps repositioned or redesigned. If the answer was no, to the chopping block it went! I question if the rear wheel and focus-type-selector were really unnecessary, because I think they’re both quite handy. But someone obviously didn’t think so. An ISO dial on the shutter knob (like the X100V) would have been a great addition, but that didn’t happen, unfortunately. I do believe the design of the X-E4 was very intentional, and there was a purpose to the decisions, even if I don’t fully understand them myself.
Besides being a “just shoot” camera, I think the X-E4 was intended to be a smaller pocketable-ish camera, like the X100V or the X70. Remember the X70? It was the short-lived baby-brother to the X100T, with an 18.5mm fixed-lens. Sony suddenly stopped production of the X-Trans II sensor, which the X70 used, and that killed the camera. The X-Trans III sensor was too hot to place inside the small X70 body, so an X80 never happened. Is the X-E4 actually an interchangeable-lens X80? Maybe. Attach one of Fujifilm’s pancake lenses—the 18mm f/2 or 27mm f/2.8—to the X-E4 and it could pass as an X70 successor. It wasn’t very long ago that Fujifilm said there would be no X-E4, that the X-E3 was the end of the line, so maybe the initial vision of this camera wasn’t X-E at all. Just a thought.
Where I think the Fujifilm X-E4 makes the most sense is as a lightweight, compact, carry-everywhere camera. It could nicely complement the X100V. It might be a good option to replace an aging X70. Or, if you never purchased an X70 but always wanted to, this might be a solid alternative. Maybe the XF10 never interested you because of its sluggish performance, Bayer sensor, and PASM dial, but you’d love a compact X-Trans option. Well, now you have one.
My opinion is that if you can make peace with the minimalistic redesign, and you get yourself the 18mm f/2 and/or the 27mm f/2.8—maybe even use a wrist strap instead of a neck strap—this camera could be a very nice travel/street/have-with-you-wherever-you-go option. Is it perfect? No, but what camera is?
Like a lot of you, I’m disappointed that the Fujifilm X-E4 isn’t the camera that many of us thought it could or should be, but as I’ve pondered what it is exactly that Fujifilm created, I can see its place and it does make some sort of sense. If you embrace it for what it is, and perhaps think of it more as an interchangeable-lens X80 than an X-E camera, than I think the X-E4 could actually be a wonderful and fun option.
I say all of this, but I’ve never used or even held an X-E4, so this rant should be taken with a grain of salt. I was initially bummed by the camera because my expectations were off, but now that I’ve had time to dwell on it I’m actually beginning to warm up to it. I think the X-E4, like many of the X-E cameras that came before, will go under the radar and will be under appreciated, but for those who own one, it will be a joy to use.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
I’ve become aware that someone has stolen my stuff. Sadly, it’s not the first time, nor will it be the last. Unfortunately, there are crooked people out there, and creatives are particularly vulnerable to having their work ripped off because we put our art out there for the world to see.
Someone is profiting from the film simulation recipes found on the Fuji X Weekly blog. I, Ritchie Roesch, created most of them. Some were co-created between myself and collaborators (friends of this blog). A few were not created by me, but I always ask for and receive permission before publishing them on this website, and I always give credit to the creator. But someone has published the recipes from this website on their own platform; this person never asked for nor received permission from me, and I was never cited or given any credit. Some of the recipes were renamed to something similar, but most were copied straight up. This person is collecting money through solicited donations and paid “premium” content. But most of this person’s content is mine. While this person doesn’t state that they created the recipes, they don’t state that they didn’t, which is downright misleading.
I put in so much time into this blog as a service to the Fujifilm community. It’s disheartening to say the least that someone has taken this work for their own financial benefit. Create your own recipes! Or, here’s a thought: cite your sources. Even better, reach out to me in the first place. What this person did is extremely underhanded and unethical and probably illegal. It’s really shameful.
If the person who did this (and they know who they are) reads this article, my hope is that they stop collecting money (profiting from other’s work without permission) and clearly cite their sources (instead of plagiarism). This person should also contact me. It’s not right what you did. There’s a right way and wrong way to do things, and you chose the wrong way. I ask you to please set things right. Be inspired by this website, but do not steal from it!
I get asked regularly about White Balance. My film simulation recipes require various White Balance adjustments, and sometimes, in different light situations, the results can be unusual, which can be good or bad, depending on what you are trying to achieve. So let’s discuss this, and figure out what you can do if the results aren’t what you want.
White Balance is the adjustment of color temperature (measured in Kelvin) to account for various light conditions, so that white objects appear white, and not yellow or blue or some other color. White Balance Shift is a tool to precisely fine-tune the White Balance. The intention of White Balance and White Balance Shift is to achieve a natural color balance that matches what the eye sees. But you can give your photographs whatever color balance you’d like—this is art; there are no rules.
Back when I shot film, I don’t remember hearing the term “white balance” spoken even once. There were two options: daylight film and tungsten film. The former was most common and was used in natural light situations, the the latter was less common and used in artificial light situations. I carried with me a warming filter and cooling filter to compensate for various light conditions, essentially to adjust the “white balance” when the light changed. You can actually still do this with digital photography, but the White Balance tools on your camera make it unnecessary to carry around warming and cooling filters.
Different film simulation recipes require different White Balance settings. Some use Auto, but many use Daylight or a specific Kelvin temperature or some other option. Most have a shift, as well. Often they are intended for natural light, and a few for artificial light, but when the light changes, the results can look strange sometimes. Occasionally that “strange” result might be something you really like, but often it’s probably not. When that happens, what can you do?
I’ve said for a few years now that film simulation recipes can be seasoned to taste. This means that if you aren’t getting the look you want, don’t be afraid to adjust the parameters to achieve desired results. For White Balance, this might mean selecting something different than what the recipe calls for. Will this make it look more like the film that it’s based off of? Probably not, but if it gets you the look that you want, then that’s good, right? The next time you are in some light situation that’s giving you too warm or too cool results, see if simply selecting a different White Balance (maybe even simply using Auto White Balance) fixes the issue for you.
Another option is to use a different recipe. Some film simulation recipes are intended to work well in certain light conditions. Look for one that might be a better fit for the situation. If you read the articles and view the sample pictures, that might provide a clue of when a certain recipe will work well; however, it’ll probably take some trial and error to really figure out which recipes to use when.
Other than either adjusting the White Balance to something different than what the recipe calls for or selecting a different recipe altogether, your options are to use a warming or cooling filter like in the film days or to simply embrace the unusual results. There’s not a whole lot else that you can do. My advice is to consider beforehand if the recipe will be a good fit for the light; if it’s not but you still want to use it, either accept the results for what they are or adjust the White Balance to something that will give you the results that you want. Don’t be afraid to make an adjustment to the White Balance if that’s what the situation calls for.
My most expensive lens, by far, is the Fujinon 100-400mm, which retails for $1,900. Despite the hefty price tag, I find myself not using that lens very often. Why? There are several reasons. First, the camera that I reach for the most is my Fujifilm X100V, which has a fixed lens, so I can’t use the 100-400mm with that camera. Another reason is that the focal length is very long and sometimes difficult to use; it’s not the right tool for many situations. The final reason is that it’s big and heavy, especially compared to my other lenses, and it works best when attached to a tripod, so it’s kind of a hassle to use. I paid a lot of money for this lens, so I need to use it more often.
One recent opportunity I had to use the Fujinon 100-400mm lens was photographing the sunset in Bountiful, Utah. Some distant clouds and haze created the potential for a great sunset. I set my tripod at the top of a hill that overlooked the valley below, attached the lens to the tripod, then attached my Fujifilm X-T30 to the lens. I had my Velvia film simulation recipe loaded into the camera, which is a great recipe for sunset photography because of its contrast and vibrant colors. In the film days, Velvia 50 was a top choice if you wanted stunning sunset pictures, and now with Fujifilm X cameras the Velvia film simulation is a top option.
The sunset didn’t disappoint. Actually, it was more vibrant and lovely than I could have hoped for! It was a great show that lasted about 10 minutes. Even though I had the lens on a tripod, I still kept the shutter speed high to prevent blur from shake because I didn’t tighten everything down so that I could swing the lens around. To get a faster shutter speed I had the ISO set higher than one might expect. I was doing manual exposure. I zoomed in and out, trying to find different compositions. These seven pictures were captured from that one spot within the 10 minutes of the sunset show. The 100-400mm lens allowed me to capture a variety of pictures without moving places.
These photographs aren’t in sequential order. The picture at the top of this article was actually the last exposure, and the picture above of the temple was second-to-last. The very first exposure is the last picture at the bottom of this post. The order of the rest are scrambled up. In some pictures, I think the saturation is a little too much, and perhaps the recipe too bold, but in some other pictures it was the right choice. The X-T30 is a good camera, and the 100-400mm a good lens, and they worked very well together to make these pictures possible. I need to use these together more often.
How did I find the time? I do all this “on the side” in the spare moments of my day. So many people have helped my photography over the years, and this is my way to pay it forward. Sometimes I wish that I had more time to dedicate to this website and photography, because there’s so much more that I could do.
While 2020 was definitely a big year for this blog—which was only possible because of you, the greatest audience in photography—I know that 2021 will be even bigger. There’s so much in the works, and so much that I hope to accomplish, that it’s bound to be a big year! Some great things for the Fujifilm community await, and I can’t wait to share them with you!
The two pictures below are examples of what will be the first new film simulation recipe of 2021—it’s coming soon!
I thought it would be fun to share a couple of old articles from the Fuji X Weekly blog. I’m digging back in the archives to what I published on this day last year and the year before. I might do this fairly regularly in 2021.
I don’t know if anyone found this post helpful when I published it last year. These tips can be applied to any year, not just 2020. What are the five tips? Read the manual. Understand how your gear works. Invest in experiences. Find the light. Be the person who came back. Obviously to really understand what those tips mean you have to read the article; maybe one or more of them will resonate with you, and will help you improve your pictures in the coming year. The camera pictured above is the Fujifilm X-E1 that I distressed two-and-a-half years ago.
This essay discusses the artist photographer. You might find it interesting. You might find it boring. You might disagree with what I said. Maybe you don’t care at all. If you don’t remember reading it, I invite you, if you think it might be interesting to you and you have a few minutes to spare, to click the link and give it a look. By the way, that bee picture above (which is not a bee) is an in-camera double-exposure that’s a tip of the hat to Rene Magritte.
I believe that it’s often better to spend money on experiences rather than new gear. Sometimes a book can be just as good as an experience; perhaps it can be an experience in and of itself. For Christmas my family gifted me three photography books, each one featuring the legendary photographer Ansel Adams. One of the three books was especially surprising: Polaroid Land Photography by Ansel Adams.
Did you know that Ansel Adams, the renown black-and-white landscape photographer who invented the Zone System and who was celebrated for his darkroom mastery, loved Polaroid photography? I didn’t. I was surprised to learn that one of his well-known Yosemite pictures was a Polaroid (Type 55), and this picture was found in one of the other two books I was gifted. Adams’ Polaroid book is a thorough and highly technical look at instant film. It’s the ultimate guide to Polaroid, at least from 1978 when this second edition was published. I want to share a few quotes from the book, then circle it back to this blog and Fujifilm.
“It is unfortunate that so many photographers have thought of the Land camera as a ‘toy,’ a casual device for ‘fun’ pictures, or, at best, a gadget to make record pictures! The process has revolutionized the art and craft of photography….”
It’s clear right from the beginning of the book that Adams considered the Polaroid camera a serious photographic tool. He felt it was under-appreciated and underutilized by the photographic community at large.
“By making it possible for the photographer to observe his work and his subject simultaneously, and by removing most of the manipulative barriers between the photographer and the photograph, it is hoped that many of the satisfactions of working in the early arts can be brought to a new group of photographers. The process must be concealed from—non-existent for—the photographer, who by definition need think of the art in taking and not in making photographs. In short, all that should be necessary to get a good picture is to take a good picture, and our task is to make that possible.”
—Edwin H Land, co-founder of Polaroid
Adams included that Edward Land quote in Chapter 13, Principles of One-Step Photography, and he immediately followed it with this:
“The effect of one-step processing on both amateur and professional creative photography has been revolutionary.”
Polaroid Land Photography is an extensive user’s manual—Adams referred to it as such many times—yet it is full of inspiration, both in written words and great photography. There is so much that I could quote, but I will refrain myself and add just one more.
“As with all art forms, we must accept the limitations of the medium as well as revel in the advantages.”
I was reading all this as I was simultaneously celebrating the fact that I had so easily finished the pictures of my kids opening their Christmas presents. By finished, I mean finished. I captured the pictures, and in the time it takes most people to load their RAW files onto their PC or Mac, I had already uploaded them to my phone, put them into storage, and shared them to loved ones. Done. It occurred to me that this is the modern equivalent of one-step processing.
Over the last several months I have been pondering why my different film simulation recipes are so popular. Tens of thousands of photographers across the globe, from newbies to experienced pros, are using these camera settings on their Fujifilm cameras. I get feedback daily from people telling me how these recipes have changed their photographic lives. There’s been a very real impact that this blog has had on the photography continuum. Yet the why has been illusive to me, until today.
Polaroid changed photography 50, 60, 70 years ago. The biggest name in photography not only embraced it but called it revolutionary. There are a few parallels to Polaroid cameras and film simulation recipes on Fujifilm X cameras, but the biggest is perhaps one-step processing. Yes, if you shoot RAW+JPEG, you can always reprocess the RAW, but there is fun in not having to do so if you don’t want to. There’s a certain satisfaction, not to mention time saved, in having a completed picture right out of camera that needs no editing, or maybe only some small, quick adjustments. I wonder if Ansel Adams were still around today, if he would embrace the film simulation recipe the same as he did the Polaroid. Honestly, the answer isn’t important, because so many photographers are embracing it, and it’s revolutionizing photography.
Did you see this? Fujifilm used one of my pictures!
They, of course, received my permission first. And, yes, that means I have spoken with Fujifilm, and they know that this website exists. I’m not sponsored by them or have any official association—I’m not an X-Photographer, for example. It’s good to know that they know what’s being published on Fuji X Weekly, because this audience is filled with their best customers. I published an article, Shrinking Camera Market: What Fujifilm Should Do In 2021 & Beyond, which contained what I feel is solid advice, but the best suggestions are from you all, found in the comments section. I hope Fujifilm read it, and there’s a chance they might have. I want your voice to be heard.
Back to the picture!
The image that Fujifilm used, which is the picture above, is from my article, Fujifilm X100V Hack: Turn Daylight Into Blue Hour. It was captured during the day and not during dusk or dawn like it appears to have been. Read my article if you want to know how I did it. The Fujifilm article, Using Low Key To Create High Drama, is about low-key photography, which is basically an overall dark picture where light is emphasized on only a small part of the frame. In my picture, the flower is where the light is emphasized, and the rest is pretty dark.
It’s cool to see my picture used in an educational piece by Fujifilm. I hope that it inspires you to try low-key photography, or maybe even experiment with flash and white balance. But perhaps, more importantly, it is an indication that Fujifilm is aware of what’s happening on this website, and maybe—just maybe—they’ll be influenced by this community in some way.
I just wanted to pass along to you two things: there’s a photo contest and sweepstakes that you can enter if you’d like.
I’m not a huge fan of photo contests in general. The idea is great, but the execution is often awful. There are a few different types. Some artist association will have a photo contest, but you find out that the judges have little or no photography background; it’s puzzling why the winning pictures were chosen. There are bigger contests with better prizes and well-qualified judges and prestige to go along with it, and these seem to be on the up-and-up, but they cost money to enter. These are like playing the lotto, except maybe worse, because you find out later that there was some controversy or scandal involved. Unfortunately, good photography contests seem rare, but I was made aware of one that seems to be trustworthy and worthwhile.
Incase, in conjunction with Fujifilm, is giving away a MacBook Air and Fujifilm X-T4. This is only open to U.S. residents and closes on November 22. Click here to find out more. Again, I have no affiliation with this, I’m just passing it along to you.
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Let’s talk about shutter speed! What is it? What does it do to your pictures? How do you control it to get the images that you want? For many of you, this is something you already know very well, but for others this will be helpful information.
The quick and simple definition of shutter speed is this: the amount of time that the camera’s shutter curtain is open, allowing light to reach the camera’s sensor or film. A fast shutter speed allows very little light to expose the sensor or film, while a slow shutter speed allows a lot of light to expose the sensor or film. Shutter speed is one of three elements of the exposure triangle, with aperture and ISO being the other two.
Some examples of common shutter speeds are 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and 1/500. There are, of course, many other shutter speeds, this is far from a comprehensive list. 1/15 is an example of a slow shutter speed, and 1/500 is an example of a quick shutter speed. You’ll note that these are fractions, as in fractions of a second. You’ll also note that they’re half or twice as long as the shutter speed on either side, which means that 1/60 lets in half as much light as 1/30, and 1/15 lets in twice as much light as as 1/30.
If the shutter speed is too slow, you’ll have blur from camera shake, unless you’re using a tripod. A rule of thumb for the slowest hand-held shutter speed (without the help of image stabilization) is this: whatever the focal-length of the lens is (or in the case of Fujifilm X, the 35mm-equivalent focal-length), the shutter speed should be a similar number. For example, if the lens is 12mm, which has a 35mm-equivalent focal-length of about 18mm, the slowest hand-held shutter speed is around 1/15 or 1/20. If the lens is 90mm, which has a 35mm-equivalent focal-length of 135mm, the slowest hand-held shutter speed is around 1/125. With good techniques, you can often get a sharp picture with even slower shutter speeds, but that takes practice. Otherwise, you’ll have to use a tripod.
Shutter speed is about motion, either freezing it or showing it. A slow shutter speed will show motion (such as the picture at the top of this article, where the water is blurred), while a fast shutter speed will freeze it (such as the picture directly below this paragraph, where the moving car is sharp). In the first picture below, which was captured with a 1/450 shutter speed, you’d never know that the car was zooming by, because the motion was frozen. The second picture below, which was captured with a 1/80 shutter speed, shows the motion through the car’s blur. The third picture below, which was captured with a 1/60 shutter speed, shows the motion through panning, where the car is sharp but the background blurred from the sweeping lens.
You can show motion in a photograph using a slow shutter speed, and some of that motion might not be immediately obvious. In the first picture below, the firework is moving during the exposure, showing colorful light streaks. In the second picture, the earth’s rotation makes the stars streak. In the third picture, intentionally shaking the lens creates an abstract picture through the camera’s movement.
A fast shutter speed will freeze motion. If there’s some fast-moving object that you want to capture still without blur, you need a quick shutter. This might be a car driving down the road, running kids or jumping pets. Just how fast the shutter needs to be depends on how fast the object is moving, how close it is to the lens, and the focal-length of the lens. The picture below is an example of freezing a moving object with a fast shutter speed.
It takes much practice to master the shutter, but with practice you’ll know exactly what shutter speed you need to get the picture that you want. There are many variables, so there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You might fail, but you’ll learn, which will lead to success. Be creative! Put the camera on a tripod and try some different slow shutter speeds. Try photographing your kids or pets using a fast shutter. Pretty soon you’ll be a master of the shutter, totally in control of your camera.
There are almost 100 different film simulation recipes on Fuji X Weekly! One problem with having so many different recipes to choose from is that your Fujifilm camera can only save seven custom presets at a time. If there’s more than seven recipes that you regularly use, it can be inconvenient to keep track of your favorites, especially if you’re out-and-about photographing. One person’s solution is a recipe journal that’s kept in the camera bag for easy reference. A few people have created PDFs that can be accessed from a phone. But my favorite answer is this: Film Simulation Recipe Cards!
Fuji X Weekly reader Oleksii Prytuhin created credit-card-sized cards with his favorite film simulation recipes printed on them. They can be kept in a wallet for quick and easy reference. I love this! He printed them 86x54mm on thick paper with matte lamination. Really, I wish I had a box of Film Simulation Recipe Cards for every recipe, and I could pass them out to people who ask about my camera settings. Kind of like business cards. It’s such a neat idea!
Oleksii gave me permission to share the PDF with you. If you’re interested in printing these cards for yourself, click the download button below (which will open up the file and you can download it), and print them! I want to give Oleksii a big “thank you” for creating these and sharing them. I appreciate it! If you download and print the cards, let me know in the comments. Or, if you simply think this is a great idea, leave a little feedback. Thanks!
Update: Oleksii sent me the film simulation recipe cards as JPEGs, to make it easier for those who want to add them to their phone. You can download a Word document that contains the JPEGs below. If you want to print them, the file above is what you want. If you just want to view them without printing, the file below might be better. Thanks, Oleksii!
Fuji X Weekly has been revamped! I’ve made a bunch of changes to this website, hopefully good ones.
One thing that you might notice right away is there’s a brand-new homepage, which is where you land when you type fujixweekly.com into your browser. From there you can choose where you want to go. The “old” landing page, which is the blog, is now found at fujixweekly.com/blog.
Instead of all of the film simulation recipes being located on one page, I’ve now sorted them by sensor. Having them all in one place made sense when there wasn’t nearly so many. Now that we’re approaching the 100 recipe mark, it can be difficult to find the one that you’re looking for. It should be much easier now.
There’s been many other smaller changes here and there throughout the website. I’ve been working on this for awhile, but it’s hard to know if everything works well or is actually a good change until it’s online and is put through the paces. I appreciate any feedback. I’d love to know what you like and dislike about the new look. If you find something that doesn’t work right, let me know.
I’m very excited about the new Fuji X Weekly website! If you don’t follow this blog, be sure to do so. I think many good things are just around the corner. I appreciate you coming along for the ride!
It’s been very quiet here on Fuji X Weekly, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. In fact, the opposite is true. I wanted to give you a quick update so that you know what’s going on.
First, I’ve been revamping this website. It will have a new look pretty soon. I was hoping to finish it this week, but I’m running behind, so maybe by the end of this month it will be online. I think you’ll really appreciate the changes, and it will make things easier to find.
My review of the Fujifilm X-T200 will be published soon, probably next week. Gear reviews always take a long time to write. I’ve also been working on a review of the Fujinon 80mm f/2.8 Macro, but it’s still a ways off from being published (maybe in a couple weeks).
I have two new film simulation recipes that will be posted in the coming days: one for X-Trans I and one for X-Trans II. At the bottom of this article you’ll find an example of each. I have a few in the works for X-Trans IV, but they’re not ready yet. I hope to create a new one for X-Trans III, too.
There’s plenty of great content coming, so stay tuned!
One other reason why it’s been quiet the last week is that I took a quick vacation to Montana. It was great to relax and reinvigorate my creativity! You’ll be seeing some of the pictures from that trip, too, such as the photographs in this article. I hope that you enjoy them!