Fujifilm Take Notice: Ricoh Just Did What You Won’t

Captured with the new “Negative Film” Picture Control Effect on my Ricoh GR III.

Fujifilm, pay close attention: Ricoh just did with their GR III and GR IIIx what you won’t do with your X-series cameras.

Fujifilm has stated that they’re moving away from Kaizen and to expect less of it going forward, but some other camera makers—including Ricoh—are embracing it. In fact, Ricoh just added a new Picture Control Effect, which is their Film Simulations equivalent, to their GR III and IIIx cameras. This new Effect is called Negative Film, and it looks pretty good so far to me. It’s not really like anything on Fujifilm exactly—perhaps it could be described as somewhat similar to a cross between Classic Negative and PRO Neg. Std—but it does produce an aesthetic that’s easy to appreciate.

I want to point out that the GR III was released almost at the same exact time as the Fujifilm X-T30. Since the release of the X-T30, Fujifilm has introduced three new Film Simulations—Classic Negative, Eterna Bleach Bypass, and Nostalgic Neg.—plus some other JPEG options like Color Chrome FX Blue, Clarity, and Grain size. None of it has trickled down to the X-T30 (or X-T3). Even the X-Pro3 and X100V—premium models, supposedly—weren’t given the Kaizen love that they (really, Fujifilm’s customers) deserve. Yet little ol’ Ricoh not only created a new Effect for apparently no reason other than the fun of it, and they gave it to the almost four-year-old GR III just because they wanted to make their customers happy.

Captured with the new “Negative Film” Picture Control Effect on my Ricoh GR III.

I have a ton of advice that I’d give to Fujifilm if they were ever interested in hearing my opinions. I mean, I have a pretty good pulse on a big chunk of their customer base, and I’ve done more than most to bring them new customers, whether directly or indirectly, so you’d think they would be interested in hearing what I have to say. The very first suggestion that I would have for them is to do more Kaizen and not less. I get that it costs time and money, but fostering a happy long-term repeat customer base is priceless, and well worth whatever it takes to do that. A lot of photographers go from brand-to-brand-to-brand, or they begrudgingly put up with a brand for a long time because they don’t want to endure the cost and headache of switching, and there is a surprisingly large amount of disloyalty among customers. Yes, there are the outspoken fanboys—I am one for Fujifilm—but while their voices are loud, their numbers are surprisingly small. So if a brand can actually make more of their customers loyal, which they do by showing them that they matter and are appreciated, it can have a significant long-term impact. Of course, if your customers don’t think you care about them, they’ll be more quick to leave when another brand offers something new and exciting, or if they think that another brand cares more about their customers than the one they’re currently using.

Ricoh just made sure that their customers know that they care. Fujifilm, make sure that your customers know you care!

Below are some examples of photos captured using the new Negative Film Picture Control Effect on my Ricoh GR III.

See also: Ritchie’s Ricoh Recipes

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

Ricoh GR III  Amazon  B&H  Moment
Ricoh GR IIIx  Amazon  B&H  Moment

I Have A Fujifilm X-T5!

Wow! It’s been crazy the last several days. Fujifilm released the X-T5 on the 17th. Not everyone got their orders.

Let’s back this up. Amazon apparently listed the X-T5 too early on announcement day. By contract, everyone is supposed to go live no earlier than a certain time, but Amazon jumped the gun. I preordered an X-T5 on Amazon because I had reward points that I wanted to use. When the 17th came around, some people received their preorders that day. For others it shipped that day, and arrived in the next day or two. For me? Nothing. Those who ordered on Amazon were left in the dark. What I didn’t know is that Fujifilm decided to punish Amazon for their sins and not give them any cameras to sell; sadly, only Fujifilm photographers who ordered through Amazon were actually punished. Is it Amazon’s fault? Yes. Is it Fujifilm’s fault? Sure—they could have done something else to teach Amazon a lesson, while still allowing people to receive the cameras they ordered. Is it my fault? No. Is it your fault? No. But you and I didn’t get our gear when others did. I know this is a first-world problem, and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but it is something that many people have experienced.

Amazon is a huge company, and Fujifilm sales are a tiny drop in a massive bucket. If Fujifilm stopped selling to Amazon altogether, it wouldn’t hurt Amazon in any way, shape, or form. I get that Fujifilm has to hold them accountable. I get that it wasn’t fair to their other retail customers. But let’s be real: crap rolls down hill. Who ended up with the crap? Me. You, if you, too, ordered through Amazon. Fujifilm’s customers are who got punished, not Amazon. I’m sure Amazon gave two seconds to this situation, and hasn’t cared one iota since. When they get their cameras, they’ll sell every single copy, and it will have such a small impact on the bottom line that you need a powerful magnifying glass just to see it. Those trying to be patient with their Amazon preorders might have to be extremely patient—I’ve heard that it might be sometime in January before orders are shipped. I don’t know that for a fact, but it’s what I have heard, and it may or may not be true—I hope it isn’t true.

So how did I get my X-T5? I called around to local camera stores, and I found one in stock. Luckily, Foto Forum in Phoenix had a body-only copy, plus one bundled with the 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 kit zoom. I purchased the one with the lens. If you are still waiting for yours to ship, maybe call around to local camera stores to see if they still have an X-T5 in stock, and if so purchase from them instead.

That’s my story. What about you? Did you buy a Fujifilm X-T5? Did it arrive or are you still waiting?

People have already begun asking me for my impressions on this camera. I think a number of you are waiting to learn a little more about it before spending so much money. It’s way too soon to provide you with anything valuable. I’ll tell you my way-too-soon initial impressions, but please take them with a large grain of salt. I’ve only barely begun to use the camera and really haven’t had a chance to properly test it. I’ll give a full review later.

First, let’s talk about megapixels. Do you need 40? If you crop deeply, print posters, or just love to pixel-peep, then maybe. But if you don’t crop deeply, don’t print posters, or don’t pixel-peep, then you definitely don’t need 40mp—it’s way overkill. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to negatively affect the speed of the camera or even the file transfer speed when using the Fujifilm Cam Remote app. Unfortunately, it does take up more space on the SD Card, phone/computer, and storage, and uploads to my cloud storage are noticeably slower. There’s pluses and minuses to 40mp; I don’t anticipate the pluses coming in handy for me very often. For some of you, though, it is an important upgrade.

I haven’t put the autofocus improvements to the test whatsoever, but through three days of shooting, I haven’t noticed it being any more snappy than my X-E4. The only thing I noticed is that face detection locked onto a face that was far away, which I wouldn’t expect to happen on my X-E4. Since I wasn’t trying to photograph the person, it actually wasn’t a positive thing, but I can see this being an improvement. I haven’t even attempted continuous tracking or anything like that yet, so I can’t speak of it.

I was really excited for HEIF, but discovered that it disables Clarity. That’s disappointing. No HEIF for me, since I use Clarity a lot. Speaking of Clarity, I was also very disappointed that it isn’t any faster on the X-T5, and the Storing pause is identical to X-Trans IV. Fujifilm should have spent some time speeding this up, in my opinion. Oh, and somehow I keep bumping the drive switch, and accidentally switching to CL or HDR, both of which disable Clarity—I’ll have to figure out how to not bump that switch.

While the X-T5 is smaller than the X-T4, and just a little bigger than the X-T1 and X-T30, it is definitely heavy. Seems like a similar weight to the X-T4—not sure if it is or isn’t, but it’s hefty. I personally prefer the weight of the X-T1 or X-T30, but if you use large lenses a lot, you might appreciate the solid base of the X-T5.

The reason that I purchased the Fujifilm X-T5 is because this camera has the new Nostalgic Neg. film simulation. What do I think of it so far? If Eterna and Classic Chrome had a baby, it would be Nostalgic Negative. It has some similarities to both of those film simulations, with soft gradations in the shadows similar to Eterna and with some Eterna-like colors (particularly the warm colors), and with contrast, saturation, and an overall palette more similar to Classic Chrome. I’m not a huge fan of default straight-out-of-the-box Nostalgic Neg.—I was actually initially disappointed—but with some adjustments it can become magical. I love it! Nostalgic Neg. is another analog-esque film sim from Fujifilm that’s sure to become a classic. Expect some recipes soon!

I don’t have any other observations yet. I hope to do some more serious experimentations soon, and when I do I’ll share those impressions with you. In the meantime, here are some straight-out-of-camera Nostalgic Neg. pictures that I captured with my Fujifilm X-T5:

Two Ducks – Lynx Lake, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
311 – Lynx Lake, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Caution: Nature – Lynx Lake, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Believer – Lynx Lake, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Cat Clock – Prescott, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Dusk Blazer – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Spiderweb Rocks – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Don’t Shoot – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Warning – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Golden Light Chair – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Red & Gold – Prescott, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Going Out of Business – Prescott, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Hyundai – Prescott, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Short Train – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Around the Bend – Arlington, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Lakeview – Lynx Lake, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Log on the Lake – Lynx Lake, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Private Dock – Lynx Lake, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Can’t See the Forest – Lynx Lake, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5
Irrigation Mist – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5

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
Fujifilm X-T5 in silver:  Amazon  B&H

Fujifilm X-T1 Short-Term Project, Update 2

Blossomed Pink Rose – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome” – Day 9

Part 1 Part 3

I had big plans for this project for these days, but life had other plans. Specifically, Covid. I know what you’re thinking: didn’t you just have the flu a few weeks ago? Yes, I did. Now I have Covid. Well, I’m almost recovered now, but I was very sick during the days that I captured these pictures, and I was limited to what I could capture in and around the house. Most of these photographs were taken in the backyard.

If you’re not sure what this short-term project is, the concept is simple: I’m photographing only with my Fujifilm X-T1 from the announcement day of the Fujifilm X-T5 (November 2) until the release date (November 17). Why? First, even though the Fujifilm X-T1 is eight-years-old (and approaching nine), it is still such a great little camera. It took three years for Fujifilm to bring this model to the market because they wanted to get it right, and it was one of their most important cameras ever released. The Fujifilm X-T1 was one of the first, if not the first, Fujifilm cameras that widely appealed to professional photographers. It was Fujifilm’s most successful model at the time—outselling all the previous cameras—and launched the extremely successful X-T line. The X-T5 is the latest iteration. This project will give me a better understanding of how the X-T5 has evolved from the original model. It also allows me to demonstrate that previous models, including the original X-T1, are still really good.

Hopefully, now that I’m not nearly so sick and my quarantine period has ended, I can do some of the photography that I was intending to do. I want to really see what the X-T1 is capable of, and with some luck I’ll be able to do that before this project comes to a close in the coming days. Once my X-T5 arrives in the mail, the X-T1 will be going back on the shelf, at least for a little while. I don’t expect the new camera to be wildly better than the first iteration, but soon enough I’ll know for sure just how much improved it is. And, of course, I’ll write all about it, so stay tuned!

Day 6

Bright Leaves – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Fujichrome Slide
Trumpet Now & Trumpet Later – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Chrome
Triple Letter – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Monochrome

Day 7

Flower Among Leaves – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome
Spiderweb Rose – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
Rosebud – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”

Day 8

Wet Tree Leaves – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
Wet Blossom – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
Water & Thorns – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
Wet Rose – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
Sadness – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Monochrome”

Day 9

Bougainvillea Sage – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Kodak Color Negative
Rays on Leaves – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Kodak Color Negative”
Light Bulb Beams – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Kodak Color Negative”
Garden Wall – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Monochrome”

Day 10

Autumn Sky Blue – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
The Colors of Fall – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
The Beauty of Once Was – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
Sage Bloom – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
Warm Light Above a Wall – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
Chalk – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
Macro Rose – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Classic Kodak Chrome”
Bougainvillea Red – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Kodak Color Negative”

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

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

Which Film Simulation Recipes, When? — Part 1 (X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, X-T30 II + X-Trans V)

I get asked all of the time when to use which Film Simulation Recipe. With over 250 on the Fuji X Weekly App to choose from, it can be difficult to know when each recipe should be chosen. Besides, you only have C1-C7 Custom Presets on your Fujifilm camera (most of you, anyway). Which seven recipes should you have programed? When should you select them?

The problem with trying to answer this question is that it’s a highly subjective endeavor. While I might like a certain recipe for a particular situation, you might not. There’s not a right or wrong answer, just what works for you and what doesn’t—and I cannot say whether any particular recipe will work for you or not. Only you can answer that for yourself, and you have to try a recipe to know. With that said, I attempt to give good advice. In each SOOC broadcast I recommend a few recipes for various situations. Still, I’ve really struggled with how to be helpful to those asking for direction—that is until I watched a video by Grainydays, a YouTube channel about film photography, in which photographer Jason Kummerfeldt tries to give advice on when to use which film stocks. You can view it below:

Jason has a similar dilemma. Since film choice is such a personal thing, how do you say when to use which? It’s the same thing for Film Simulation Recipes. His solution is simply to demonstrate what he uses and state what he likes, and maybe you’ll like it too; I’m going to do the same thing for recipes. I’ll tell you what my preferences are, and invite you to try them too if you want. If you don’t want, that’s cool. There’s not any one way—and especially no right or wrong way—to do this. Instead, figure out what works for you, and do that. If you’re not sure, perhaps this article will be helpful to you.

I’m going to suggest seven recipes for you to program into your Fujifilm camera, and state when to use each. Since recipes are (for the most part) generationally specific, I’m going to make this a series of articles to cover most Fujifilm models. In this first one we’ll cover “newer” X-Trans IV cameras: X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II. This should also apply to X-Trans V cameras (from the reports I’ve received, X-Trans IV recipes are fully compatible with X-Trans V, although I have not tested this myself to know for certain) and newer GFX models (although the rendering will be slightly different).

C1 — Kodak Portra 400 v2 — Golden Hour

Evening Charge – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”

Kodak Portra 400 v2 is a recipe that does well at anytime during daylight hours, and as the name suggests it is a good option for portrait photography, but I’m going to recommend it specifically for “golden hour” near sunrise and sunset. This really could be your primary use-all-of-the-time recipe, and that’s why I suggest placing it in C1, but when the sun is low to the horizon, make sure that this is the one you’re shooting with. I personally use this recipe frequently.

Alternatives for “golden hour” photography:

Positive Film
Fujicolor Pro 400H
Pacific Blues
Retro Gold
Kodak Portra 800 v2

C2 — Kodachrome 64 — Midday

Denny’s Days – Beaver, UT – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodachrome 64”

Kodachrome 64 is another one that could be your go-to everyday-use recipe, but specifically I want to suggest it for daytime (non-“golden hour”) photography. Obviously it can also be used for when the sun is low to the horizon, too, but I think it is one of the best options for when the sun is not low—from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. This is one of the few recipes that you’ll almost always find programmed into my camera.

Alternatives for “midday” photography:

Bright Kodak
Fujicolor Natura 1600
Vintage Color
Nostalgia Color
Kodachrome II

C3 — Kodak High Definition Plus 200 — Overcast

Evening Clouds Over Wasatch Mountains – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak High Definition Plus 200”

If it’s thick overcast and rainy, the Kodak High Definition Plus 200 recipe is an excellent option. Yes, it’s pretty good in daylight, too (even “golden hour”), but give it a try on drab overcast days—I think you’ll really appreciate just how well it does in that situation.

Alternatives for “overcast” photography:

Elite Chrome 200
Reggie’s Portra
Kodak Max 800
Old Kodak
Kodak Brilliance

C4 — Kodak Ultramax 400 — Indoor

Table Bloom – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Kodak Ultramax 400”

For natural light indoor photography, my top choice is the Kodak Ultramax 400 recipe. This is another great all-rounder that could be used in pretty much any daytime situation and produce excellent results, but specifically I’m recommending it for natural light indoor pictures. For artificial-light indoor images, use the recipes for nighttime photography below.

Alternative for “indoor” photography:

Color Negative 400
Classic Negative
Fujicolor Negative
Fujicolor C200
Fujicolor Superia 1600

C5 — Serr’s 500T — Nighttime

11th Street – Astoria, OR – Fujifilm X100V – “Serr’s 500T”

If it’s after dark, my top choice for nighttime or artificial light photography is Serr’s 500T. This is a very blue recipe, so it isn’t a good option for many daytime situations, but from just past sunset to just prior to sunrise, this is the one that I would most recommend, especially if there are warm artificial lights.

Alternatives for “nighttime” photography:

Ektachrome 320T
CineStill 800T
Pushed CineStill 800T
Pure Negative
Fujicolor Super HG v2

C6 — Xpro ’62 — Alternative Process

Empty Diner – Reno, NV – Fujifilm X100V – “Xpro ’62”

For an alternative process recipe—a fun option for unusual results—my top recommendation is Xpro ’62. Use it anytime of the day or night, as it is surprisingly versatile. The results will be different, and perhaps unexpected, yet the experience will be a lot of fun, so give it a try!

Alternatives for “alternative process” photography:

Expired Slide
Expired Slide v2
Bleach Bypass
Pulled Fujicolor Superia
Faded Negative

C7 — Kodak Tri-X 400 — B&W

Round Window – Pismo Beach, CA – Fujifilm X100V – “Kodak Tri-X 400”

My all-time favorite recipe is Kodak Tri-X 400, so it should come as no surprise that it is my top recommendation for monochrome photography. It’s not the most popular recipe on Fuji X Weekly, but it is the most popular B&W recipe. Definitely give this one a try if you’ve never done so before.

Alternatives for “B&W” photography:

Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Moody Monochrome
Monochrome Negative
Kodak T-Max 400
Ilford Pan F Plus 50

You have plenty to choose from, because I just suggested to you 42 different Film Simulation Recipes! Of course, there are so many other recipes that I could have listed—just because one didn’t make this list doesn’t mean that it’s not good; however, I do feel that this is a good set—not only the seven suggestions, which I believe are a winning C1-C7 combination, but the alternative options, too. With that said, don’t let an exclusion from this list discourage you from trying a particular recipe, because you never know when one just “clicks” for you, and you find a new favorite. The top picture in this article was captured with a recipe that I didn’t recommend, yet I do really like that recipe and do recommend it, and I even use it myself sometimes, including recently. It’s a good reminder that this is all subjective, and you might not prefer any of my recommendations, but instead have seven that I didn’t mention as your C1-C7 custom presets. So, I guess, the conclusion is to try every recipe until you find the ones you love and fulfill your photographic needs—but, if you’re not sure, maybe start with these 42.

Next up will be recipes for “older” X-Trans IV cameras—the X-T3 and X-T30.

Part 2 Part 3

Today’s Photography Reading List

Well, because I’ve been under the weather, I’ve had the opportunity to read several books that have been sitting on my shelf for awhile. Some of these I’ve read before. Some I had previously only skimmed through. Some I hadn’t even cracked open yet. Now, with extra time on my hands, I have been able to read through a number of photography books. Below are the ones that I’ve been reading. If you are looking for some photographic resources and/or inspiration, I recommend adding these to your library—I’ve included a link to Amazon if you’re interested in purchasing any.

The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum — A great practical guide to improving your photography — Amazon

Authentic Portraits by Chris Orwig — Solid advice for improving your portrait photography — Amazon

Ansel Adams’ Yosemite by Ansel Adams — Inspirational pictures of one of my absolute favorite locations — Amazon

Lost America by Troy Paiva — A fun book of abandoned places light-painted at night — Amazon

The Way Home by June Van Cleef — A book by the person who taught me photography — Amazon

Curious Cameras by Todd Gustavson — If you like learning about unusual gear, this is the book — Amazon

Steam, Steel & Stars by O. Winston Link — Amazing B&W photography of steam trains at night — Amazon

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

See, Grab, Snap & Get Back to Rocking Out — An Interview with Bassist (& Photographer) Rob Morgan

Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F while on stage

Rob Morgan is a curious person—that’s actually the title of his acclaimed podcast series—but who is Rob Morgan? I listened to several of his podcasts in preparation for this article (which is the fourth installment of my interview series). There’s a lot of value for the artist, no matter your medium or genre, in those recordings, and I found them helpful well beyond the scope of this interview. Give one a listen, perhaps Becoming Five Stars, You’re Delusional Until You’re Not, Nobody Wants to Listen to Your Music, The Mistake of Avoiding Mistakes, or How to Fake Extreme Talent—you’re sure to be hooked!

Rob Morgan is an internationally touring bass guitar player. He’s a super talented musician that’s often in-demand. He’s a creative director for live shows and world tours. Maybe you’ve even seen him play before in an arena, dive bar, or coffee shop—he’s even performed on The Today Show. Rob’s out on tour right now, so maybe you can catch him live if he’s coming to a city near you.

Aside from the music and podcast, Rob is also a photographer. It started out as a hobby—simply another creative outlet—but has turned into something much more. His photographs have been printed in media globally and he’s regularly commissioned to photograph musicians. He often uses a Fujifilm camera loaded with a Film Simulation Recipe.

Curious yet? I hope so! Keep reading to learn much more about Rob and his photography.

Grand Tetons from Snake River overlook – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F

FXW: Hi, Rob! You play bass guitar—how did you get started with that? Why the bass?

Rob Morgan: There’s a common trope in music: a band needs a bassist, so they convince a guitar player to pick it up. Me, I’ve always been in love with the electric bass. The moment I got one for Christmas when I was 14, it was game over. I knew that was it for me, and there’s never been a Plan B. 

Pre-Show drinks in the Greenroom with Joel Bowers – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F

FXW: What are the biggest music projects that you’ve been involved with? What are your most memorable musical moments? And what are you currently doing?

Rob Morgan: I mean, if we’re talking about memorable musical moments… it’s always the weird ones that stick out, no? A drummer (mistakingly) trusting a fart fifteen seconds before going on stage and playing in front of thousands in Beijing, China—our guitar player and I laughed during the entire set, knowing he was going to need a new drum seat after this show.

But opening for Foo Fighters at Fuji Rock Music Festival in Japan a few years back while playing bass with the band Owl City was definitely up there. Getting to have a private moment with Dave Grohl and telling him how his band’s documentary Back and Forth was one of the reasons I didn’t quit music years before while in a dry spell… that felt like a full circle moment.

As for right now, I’m currently sitting on a bus as we drive through Washington on tour with Caitlyn Smith.

Backstage with Caitlyn Smith – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F

FXW: Let’s switch gears. How did you get started in photography?

Rob Morgan: Growing up, there were these photography kits for kids—it came with a film camera and instructional book—that my mom got me back in the day, but I didn’t really start diving in deep until a few years ago. I was halfway through an Asia tour when I found myself wandering around Tokyo with my friend, guitar tech and stage manager Alex Perkins, who always had a Fuji X camera on him. On a tour that big, you don’t have access to your instruments outside of shows, and through him I realized one of the things I love most about photography: at any given moment, you can enter into the creative process.

Michael Shynes on stage – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F

FXW: Tell me about your cameras. Why Fujifilm? What do you shoot with now?

Rob Morgan: You can absolutely get a killer synth sound on a laptop, but there’s something about the tactile feeling of twisting a knob to change a sound on an analog synth that I love. While on that tour, I picked up a Fujifilm X100 for the same reasons. The fact that you changed the aperture and shutter speed via actual knobs (instead of touching a screen) reminded me of the cameras I grew up with, and the X100 series is still the closest digital version of a film camera I’ve found—its small size and vintage profile also play a large part in my love for it. 

Artists and musicians (uncomfortably) can sense a large DSLR being pulled out instantly. This thing feels far less invasive and my propensity for zone-focusing and manually dialing in the exposure in advance means I can be extremely fast.

Through the years, I kept advancing through the line, moving to an X100S, X100T, X100F, X100V, and back again to my current camera, an X100F. The reason for going backwards is a pretty unpopular opinion: although the technical specs of the X100V are “better” it lost the mojo of the earlier models. The feel of the metal, the tilting screen, and even the shape all seem clunky to me, and I found myself reaching for my camera less often. 

I love the X100F’s 35mm equivalent prime lens, but I also travel with the TCL and WCL adapters. I feel like I see the world in 35mm, but If I’m taking portraits of an artist, I throw on the 50mm TCL. If I’m bringing my camera in close quarters, on stage, or in the tour bus, I like the 28mm focal length (that the WCL allows me to capture) while in the middle of it all. 

Pre-show shots with Caitlyn Smith – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F

FXW: What Film Simulation Recipes do you use and why?

Rob Morgan: Whether it’s Daniel Kramer’s photographs of Bob Dylan, the authentic moments backstage captured by Danny Clinch or the iconic photographs of Anton Corbijn… as I started paying attention to the images that moved me, I realized the majority of them were shot on Kodak Tri-X 400 film (often pushed to 3200). As I said, I treat my X100F like one of my film cameras, and, thanks to your “Pushed Tri-X” recipe, I’m able to take it a step further and make it feel like I’ve loaded the camera with a roll of that film. It’s seriously been a game-changer for me! Shooting JPEG+RAW also allows me to not question it and focus on light and composition knowing that if it calls for something else later, I have the option in my back pocket. Sometimes, I’ll switch over to your HP5 recipe to change it up, but 99% of the time I stick with Tri-X.

Danny Burke photoshoot for Klergy – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F

FXW: How does being color blind affect your photography?

Rob Morgan: It’s tough to say. I’ve always had a propensity for the timelessness of black & white photography despite being red-green color blind. Ted Grant said, “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!” I love that, and I think I’d still be shooting the way I do even if I wasn’t color blind, but it’s definitely cemented my style. Now that I shoot portraits of artists, record labels will often ask for color options, too, so I’ll shoot RAW and use a wallet-sized grey card to adjust the white balance in Lightroom. But normally, they’re bringing me in to shoot because they want my gritty B&W style.

Andrew McMahon and daughter – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F

FXW: Tell me about your behind-the-scenes photography. What do you try and convey through these pictures?

Rob Morgan: I’m fully aware of how incredibly fortunate I am to get to travel the world playing music. But, once you do anything on a regular basis, it’s easy to start taking the small moments for granted: whiskey cheers in the greenroom before walking on stage, a candid moment on the tour bus, the band goofing off during soundcheck…. Like anyone else diving into photography, I started taking photos of the world around me. As I started sharing them online, and people connected with them, I realized how rare of a vantage point I have. I’m no Linda McCartney, and I’m not married to one of The Beatles, but the candidness and behind-the-scenes trust seen in her photography have always been something that inspires my work. I’m glad artists and fans connect with the photos I’ve taken, but at the end of the day, it’s purely selfish—I want to remember all the tiny details of this wild ride.

Waiting pre-show – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F

FXW: Tell me more about your interest in street & documentary photography.

Rob Morgan: I adore the documentary photography of Dorothea Lange, and she’s often quoted as saying, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” That’s everything to me. Whether I’m on tour with an artist or traveling Europe with my wife, Sarah—as long as I stick to my rule of NO ‘CHIMPING’ (looking at a photo you just took), photography helps me to see the moment and my surroundings more clearly. The street photography approach of “F/8 and be there” (setting your aperture to f/8 and hyper-focal zone-focusing) has been massively impactful to my approach, whether backstage or wandering a new city. It’s taught me to anticipate a moment and has given me the speed to capture it, especially if I have a bass in my left hand. See a moment, grab the camera, snap the shutter, put it down, and get back to rocking out.

Frankfurt, Germany – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F

FXW: Thank you so much, Rob, for carving out some time while on tour to do this interview!

Be sure to check out Rob’s website, read his blog, listen to his podcast, watch his videos, and follow him on Instagram!

More of Rob Morgan’s wonderful pictures:

Washington State while on tour – Photo by Rob Morgan using Fujifilm X100F
Long Island Sound – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F
Oban, Scottland – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100T
In the Greenroom – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F
Caitlyn Smith – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F
Caitlyn Smith on stage – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F
Jasper Nephew doing sound check – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F
Dan Rodriguez album cover shoot – Photo by Rob Morgan with Fujifilm X100F

The photographs in this article are © Rob Morgan

Why the Fujifilm X70 is Great — 15 Frames on Kodak Portra 160 — An Impromptu Lake Trip

Ocean Kayaks – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”

You should always have a camera with you.

The Fujifilm X70 is so small that it fits into my pants pocket, making it convenient for carrying literally everywhere. When I head out the door, no matter where I’m going, I shove the X70 into my pocket, along with my wallet, keys, and phone. I don’t always use it, but sometimes the opportunity presents itself, and I’m grateful to have a camera with me.

I was recently out running some errands with my wife, Amanda, and the kids. After we finished our tasks, Amanda asked, “Want to go to Lake Pleasant, just to check it out?” I’m always up for an adventure; besides, over 20 years ago, Amanda and I used to go to this lake, and we hadn’t been back since. So I eagerly answered, “Let’s go!”

Old Dock, New Dock – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”

I hadn’t been to Lake Pleasant in a long, long time. The drive out there was vaguely familiar yet a whole lot different. Much had changed. While the body of water is still outside the city—way out in the lonely desert—the city sprawl is inching closer and closer, and the lake has seen quite a bit of development. I’m sure it happened slowly, but, because I hadn’t seen it in so long, it was a bit shocking to me. There weren’t many people there, but I’m sure on a holiday weekend or during the summer heat the place is probably extremely crowded. We didn’t stay long, but because I had a camera with me I was able to capture these 15 pictures.

One of the custom presets programmed into my Fujifilm X70 is the Kodak Portra 160 Film Simulation Recipe. I thought it would do well at this location, so I chose it. This is one of my favorite recipes for X-Trans II cameras, and it didn’t disappoint on this adventure, delivering a Kodak-like color negative film aesthetic. These pictures are unedited, aside from some minor cropping and straightening on some of them, and is how they came out of the camera.

You never know when photographic opportunities will present themselves, so it’s best to always be prepared. I would have been disappointed that I didn’t have a camera if I hadn’t had the X70 in my pocket. Instead, because I did have it, this impromptu trip to the lake yielded some interesting pictures, which will serve as reminders to this quick adventure for years to come.

Kayaker – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Short Rope off a Long Pier – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Water Wench – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Water Watching – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Paqua – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Wench & Docked Boats – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Repair Kit – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Dolly – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Slip Away – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Barrel Cactus Blue – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Pleasant Lake – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Desert Water – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”
Saguaro Hill – Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fujifilm X70 – “Kodak Portra 160”

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that I had also put my phone into my pocket, which is an iPhone 11 with the RitchieCam camera app on it. For those who don’t know, I have my very own iPhone camera App, available in the Apple App Store. Even if I had failed to bring a Fujifilm camera, I would still have had my phone. Or, in the case of this particular trip, in addition to the X70, I also had RitchieCam on my iPhone (selecting the Sunny Day filter), and I used both to capture pictures.

Deserted Boats – Lake Pleasant, AZ – iPhone 11 + RitchieCam – “Sunny Day”
Hole View – Lake Pleasant, AZ – iPhone 11 + RitchieCam – “Sunny Day”
Lake Vista – Lake Pleasant, AZ – iPhone 11 + RitchieCam – “Sunny Day”
Scorpion Bay Kayaks – Lake Pleasant, AZ – iPhone 11 + RitchieCam – “Sunny Day”
Orange Dolly – Lake Pleasant, AZ – iPhone 11 + RitchieCam – “Sunny Day”

When SOOC Digital Looks Like Film

Evening Charge – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2

Note: I wrote this article, which I stumbled across today, over two years ago, but for some reason never published it. I replaced many of the original pictures and corrected some words and grammar, but otherwise I kept it the same.

I love film photography, but digital is so much more convenient. The cost of digital photography is paid upfront, while with film there’s a per-frame cost with each exposure, which is just getting more and more expensive. I rarely shoot film anymore, but I like the look of film. The best of both worlds is when I can get a film aesthetic straight out of a digital camera. That might sound pie-in-the-sky or even pretentious; if I like the look of film, why not just shoot film? If I shoot digital, why not just edit like everyone else?

Fujifilm cameras can create something film-like while delivering digital advantages, and that’s incredible! With digital you don’t have to send off your exposures to a lab or have your own lab set up somewhere in your home. You can know immediately if your frame is any good or not—no need to wait hours or days or sometimes longer. And you are not limited to 12, 24, or 36 exposures. There’s a reason why most photographers shoot digital, yet there’s a reason why some still go through the hassle of shooting film. I think Fujifilm is kind of a bridge between the two.

Rainbow in the Woods – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1 – “Kodak Portra 160

Using software, such as Alien Skin Exposure or any of the many preset filter packs that are available, it’s very easy to turn a RAW file into something that looks analog. I’ve done that for many years, and I appreciate the results. If I can skip the software step and have a finished image straight-out-of-camera, that’s even better. That saves me some serious time! For many people, editing a picture is half the fun, but for me it’s not. I much prefer to not sit at a computer manipulating photographs. That’s just my preference, and it may or may not be yours, and that’s perfectly fine—there’s no right or wrong way, only what works for you. Shooting Fujifilm cameras using recipes to get film-like pictures straight-out-of-camera is what works for me.

I’m amazed at all the different looks that I can get out of my camera using my different Film Simulation Recipes on Fujifilm cameras. Fuji only gives so much control in-camera— they’re constantly providing more customization options with each new generation, but it’s still limited. Despite that, there’s a lot that you can do to create many different looks. It’s possible to mimic various film aesthetics without using any software. Thanks to Fujifilm’s vast experience with film, they’ve been able to infuse into their camera-made-JPEGs an analog soul that’s frankly missing from most digital pictures.

The photographs in this article are all straight-out-of-camera JPEGs that weren’t edited, with the exception of some minor cropping in some circumstances. They’re all from Fujifilm cameras, including an X-E4, X100V, X-T30, X-T20, X-Pro2, X100F and X-T1. In my opinion, in one way or another, they resemble film—an analog look from a digital camera. That’s nothing short of amazing!

10 example pictures, just to illustrate the point:

Classic Mirror – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Fujicolor Natura 1600
Welcome to Ogden – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 – “Kodachrome II
Denny’s Days – Beaver, UT – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodachrome 64
Coastal Blooms – San Simeon, CA – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Pacific Blues
Train Crossing – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Nostalgia Color
Working – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Vision3 250D
Tail of a Whale – Morro Bay, CA – Fujifilm X100V – “Kodak Tri-X 400
Dark Cloud Over The Dark Mountain – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 – “Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Push Process
Leather Gloves – Antelope Island SP, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Kodak Tri-X Push Process
Twisted Tree – Keystone, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 – “Acros

Find these Film Simulation Recipes and nearly 250 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!

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Trolls are the Worst

Trolls are like hotdogs… the “wurst”

As the owner of a somewhat popular photography blog with millions of page-views annually, it should come as no surprise that I see a lot of internet trolls. I delete a lot of these comments, because their only purpose is to stir up trouble by being purposefully mean-spirited and unreasonable. These comments literally have zero value, and if a value was assigned to such comments, it would be a negative number. The world would be a better place without these people, which is a really sad reality. I mean, what kind of legacy is that? The world is better without you? Who wants to be that person? It would seem like nobody, yet there are so many examples all over the place where that’s exactly the case. If you are a troll, stop what you are doing, and instead spend your time and energy doing something good, something that has a positive effect on those you encounter.

According to Wikipedia, an internet troll is “a person who posts inflammatory, insincere, digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as social media, newsgroup, forum, chat room, online video game, or blog), with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses, or manipulating others’ perception. This is typically for the troll’s amusement, or to achieve a specific result such as disrupting a rival’s online activities or manipulating a political process. Even so, Internet trolling can also be defined as purposefully causing confusion or harm to other users online, for no reason at all.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “to antagonize others online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content,” and, “to harass, criticize, or antagonize someone especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts.”

Unfortunately, trolls aren’t going away. This post won’t stop them. All I can do is spare you from them as much as practical. However, what I can tell you is that the number of troll comments has been increasing on this website. Also, sometimes trolls can come across initially as genuine, and, like a wolf in sheep’s clothes, only after a level of trust has been established do they reveal their true colors.

This is more valuable than a troll’s words

What is the best way to deal with trolls?

– Heed the sign: don’t feed the trolls. That simply means don’t take the bait—they’re desperately hoping for your response, so don’t give it to them. Don’t even respond to their comments—ignore them. This is the best strategy.

– Call them out. If you do find yourself in a back-and-forth with a troll, call them out. State in your response that you know they are a troll. Oftentimes, for some reason that I don’t understand, calling a troll a troll is like pouring water on the Wicked Witch of the West. I think this works because they often take the angle of being the superior person, so shedding light on their charade takes away that false position they’re hiding behind.

– Block them. I try to; however, some get through, either because they took the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothes approach, or because I let them so as to prove a point, or because their initial comment was borderline trollish, and I erred on the wrong side. Troll’s comments add no value whatsoever, so blocking these comments is a gain and not a loss.

I searched my image library for “troll” and this image came up because it is a trolley.

Today, a troll left a nasty comment on this blog (I blocked it… it was never published). The person had a unique name, so I wondered what would turn up if I Googled them. As it turns out, this person just goes around saying hateful things across the internet. That’s all they do. Literally, the only online records of this person are troll comments, mostly of the worst kind (and often repeating the same words). Likely the identity they use for these comments isn’t their real name, and perhaps they have many aliases. I took screenshots of these comments, and I was going to include them in this post, but I think it’s counterintuitive to give the person the satisfaction of that, so I’m not going to do it—I’d rather them think that they wasted their time (which they did).

Trolls are internet parasites. They suck the fun and life out of it for no reason other than they get some weird jollies from it. If you are a troll, I implore you: stop being a part of what’s wrong with the world, and instead give your life some much needed meaning by saying words of kindness and encouragement. We could all use more of that—a lot more—and a whole lot less of unnecessary spitefulness.

The Fujifilm community is absolutely wonderful! There are so many kind and helpful people who make it great, and I appreciate all you guys a heck-of-a-lot. My hope for this website has always been for it to be a positive resource for the community, and I hope that you find it to be that way. I try not to let the trolls ruin it (like they do on so many other websites), and if one does, I apologize for their awful behavior. If you have a concern about this, feel free to reach out to me anytime.

Fujifilm X70 vs Fujifilm XF10 vs Ricoh GR …in 2022

Fujifilm X70

This post is by popular demand! Ever since I started sharing pictures captured with my new-to-me Fujifilm X70, I’ve been bombarded with requests to compare the camera with the XF10 and the Ricoh GR models. And I fully understand why: there aren’t very many truly pocketable APS-C fixed-lens cameras, yet these are perfect for travel, street, and to just carry everywhere and use literally every day. There’s definitely a draw to them, and I can’t fathom why they’re not even more popular. Every photographer should want one of these, or something like them, but they often stay in a state of obscurity. I find it odd, but that’s the way it is.

We’ll start this off with a comparison of the two Fujifilm models: X70 and XF10. What’s similar and what’s different? Which one is better? Of the two, which should you buy?

At first glance you might think they’re the same camera, because they look very similar, and have nearly identical dimensions. The XF10 is lighter than the X70 because it has more plastic in its construction, and it feels like a cheaper camera (which it is). The lens is optically the same, but the X70 has an aperture ring while the XF10 doesn’t. The X70 also has a tilting rear screen, something not found on the XF10. And then there’s the dial: PASM vs Shutter Knob—regular readers of this blog know already that I don’t prefer PASM (putting it mildly), but maybe you do. The XF10 doesn’t have a hot shoe, or C1-C7 Custom Presets. The X70 has a 16-megapixel X-Trans II sensor, while the XF10 has a 24-megapixel Bayer sensor—I think, as far as image quality goes, they’re pretty similar, and I wouldn’t call one output “better” than the other. The XF10 is newer, released more than two-and-a-half years after the X70.

Fujifilm XF10

There are some things, such as Snapshot, that I like about the XF10, but there are some things, such as a generally sluggish performance, that I don’t. Between the two, it’s clear that the X70, despite being an older model released in 2016, is the more premium option, and it is the camera that I prefer of the two. The X70 is a keeper if you’ve got one; the XF10 is dispensable. With that said, the X70 can be hard to find (those who own them rarely sell them) and are often expensive. The XF10 is much easier to find, but finding a bargain on one can still be a challenge. If you are on a tight budget or don’t have much patience (and don’t mind the limitations of this model), the XF10 is a very good runner-up, but if you want the better option of these two, the X70 is the one to go with. Both models have been long discontinued, so don’t expect to find one brand-new, and if you somehow do, know that it will come with a premium price tag; otherwise, you’ll have to be satisfied with something that isn’t new but is new to you.

How does the X70 (and XF10) compare to the Ricoh GR cameras? I’m most known for my Fujifilm Film Simulation Recipes, but lesser known are my Ricoh GR Recipes; I know a thing or two about both brands. I own a GR and a GR III. The GR II is essentially the same camera as the GR (just minor improvements), so everything that I say about the GR in this discussion will apply to the GR II. The GR IIIx has a different focal-length lens, but is otherwise very similar to the GR III, so what I say about the GR III applies also to the GR IIIx. I hope this makes sense and helps to simplify things a little.

The Ricoh GR models are not as pretty as the Fujifilm models, but what they lack in beauty they make up for in compactness. While the X70 and XF10 are small, the GR cameras are really small, which makes them even easier to carry with you everywhere. The GR III is just a little smaller than the GR I & II. Functionality and feature wise, all of the GR models are more similar to the XF10 than the X70. The rear screens are fixed. There’s a PASM dial. There’s no aperture ring around the lens. The GR cameras aren’t laggy like the XF10, though, plus there’s a hot shoe.

Ricoh GR

Image quality on the GR cameras are similarly good compared to the Fujifilm models. My opinion is that the GR, which was released in 2013 and features a 16-megapixel camera, has the “worst” technical image quality of all of these cameras, but there’s some sort of pixie dust that gives it a special quality—I’m not exactly sure what it is, but there’s an unexpected appealing quality to the images (this applies also to the GR II, released in 2015). The GR III, which has a 24-megapixel sensor and was released in 2019, has superior technical image quality over the GR, but lacks a little of that pixie dust. Is technical image quality more important, or that hard-to-define special quality? Your answer will reveal which GR camera to consider. I personally like the GR III a little more than the GR.

What’s better, though: Fujifilm or Ricoh? That’s a really tough decision. I do like Fujifilm’s JPEGs a little more than Ricoh’s, but they’re both very good; the “color science” and approach to JPEG output is different, so you might prefer one over the other (I personally prefer Fujifilm’s, no surprise, but everyone is different). Between the XF10 and any of the GR models, I would go with Ricoh, but Ricoh isn’t the hands-down winner—the XF10 is nearly as good, but the GR cameras are slightly better, in my opinion. Between the X70 and Ricoh, I give the X70 the edge, because the design and shooting experience is superior. Even though the GR models are noticeably smaller and fit just a little easier into my pockets, I’d choose to take the X70 with me instead, as it’s more fun to shoot with. The GR III is the only model that you can still buy brand-new, so if you don’t want to purchase a used camera, it’s your only option.

The best case scenario is if you can own multiple cameras, because each have their advantages and disadvantages. There are times when each of the models discussed in this article could be the best choice. If you own a Fujifilm camera and a GR camera, that allows you to choose which one you think will work best for you in the situations you anticipate encountering. However, if it can only be one, I recommend the Fujifilm X70 (even though I’ve only owned it for a short time), followed very closely by the GR III, then followed very closely by the GR or GR II (get the GR II if the price is the same), then followed very closely by the XF10. Some might disagree with that ranking, but that’s my opinion. I do hope this article is helpful for those trying to decide which one to get.

None of these cameras are perfect by any means, but they are all perfect for shoving into a pocket and carrying with you everywhere. Can’t afford any of them? Don’t worry, just use your phone—if you have an iPhone, be sure to try my RitchieCam camera app! This can serve a similar purpose, and since you already have your phone on you, it’s not necessary to also carry a camera. While I have a phone with RitchieCam in my pocket, I’ll often have a Fujifilm X70 or Ricoh GR III in a pocket, too.

Fujifilm X70

Monochrome Red” recipe
Kodak Color Negative” recipe
Kodak Color Negative” recipe

Fujifilm XF10

Velvia” recipe
Classic Chrome” recipe
Monochrome” Recipe

Ricoh GR

Monochrome Negative” recipe
Negative Film” recipe
Color Chrome” recipe

Ricoh GR III

Americana Color” recipe
Vibrant Analog” recipe
Analog Film” recipe

RitchieCam

Instant Color 3” filter
Faded Film” filter
MetroColor” filter

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

Ricoh GR III Amazon B&H
Ricoh GR IIIx Amazon B&H

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The RAW vs JPEG Debate Needs to End… Again

Straight-out-of-camera JPEG from my Fujifilm X-E4 using the Pacific Blues recipe.

I read a couple of articles over the last several days that bothered me, both of which stated that you must shoot RAW. These articles come up often—it’s nothing new. I’ve written about it before, and even before that. The sentiment of “only amateurs shoot JPEG” and “you really should shoot RAW” get old. Those are tired, worn out statements that are largely based on “truths” that are no longer true. My hope with this article is to simply provide a counter-point. This blog and all of you who use Film Simulation Recipes are a strong testament that speaks louder than this article ever could, so I’ll try to keep it brief.

First, I want to make this very clear: do what works for you. If RAW works for you, do that. If JPEGs work for you, do that. If editing JPEGs works for you, do that. If film works for you, do that. Or any combination of those things or anything else, do that. Whatever you have found that works for you, that’s what you should be doing. If what you are doing isn’t really working for you, try something else. There’s no right or wrong way to do things, just different ways, some of which work for some and some of which work for others. Different strokes for different folks, right?

One reason why I think the “RAW vs JPEG” debate keeps coming up is because more-and-more photography consumers (not photographers, but those who view photographs) detest photo manipulation. Photoshop has become a bad word. Whether it’s a photo contest where the winner exceeded the editing allowed by the rules (and so has their title stripped), or the magazine cover where the girl no longer looks like how they really look, or the picture in the news where things were added or subtracted to change the meaning of the image, or the image that’s just been edited so much that it’s no longer believable—whatever the story, sometimes photography consumers feel that photography is dishonest, and the manipulation of an image equals a manipulation of the one viewing it. There appears to be a lack of honesty by photographers, particularly when they edit so much. You might agree or disagree with this sentiment, but the sentiment is real. I know this because I once defended Steve McCurry’s use of Photoshop, and because of this someone accused me in a college paper of wanting little girls to have low self-esteem.

Straight-out-of-camera JPEG from my Fujifilm X100V using the Vintage Color recipe.

I think a lot of these “RAW is better” articles and videos stem from a response to this sentiment, which is fine. I don’t blame anyone for trying to defend what they do when someone criticizes it. Trust me, I get it. Where I do have a problem is that many times in the defense of RAW the JPEG photographer is insulted. The argument is, “I have to shoot RAW because JPEGs suck.” Or, “Only amateurs use JPEG.” It’s as if the JPEG shooter must be put down in order to make the RAW shooter feel superior. That’s just lame. Yes, there was a time early in the development of digital camera technology where the straight-out-of-camera JPEG was no good and so RAW really was the only viable option for quality images, but that day has long passed, especially for (but certainly not limited to) those who use Fujifilm cameras. That argument is old and tired and no longer based in truth. It once was true, but now is a myth. Perpetuating that myth helps no one. Insulting people definitely doesn’t help.

Of course, Ansel Adams is always brought into this. Well, he was the darkroom master, so obviously he manipulated his photos to a significant degree. Usually an Ansel Adams quote is included, which proves the point that you should never rely on straight-out-of-camera pictures. Adams never would have. Except this ignores his work with Polaroids—he loved Polaroids, something a lot of people are unaware of. There’s a whole chapter (entitled One-Step Photography) in one of his books where he discusses the benefits of not having to use a darkroom. Ansel Adams is hugely inspirational, and his words are highly motivating, but I don’t think he would be strictly a RAW shooter and staunchly against straight-out-of-camera JPEGs—it is a disservice to the legendary master to just assume he would be against JPEGs.

The real arguments that should be made to defend the use of RAW are these:
– It’s my art, and as the artist I get to decide how it’s created. I understand that not everyone will like it, but a lot of people seem to, so I’m going to keep doing it my way.
– I capture undeveloped digital images that, like film, must be developed through a process, and I have a specific process for it that works well for me.
– Images have been manipulated to create the final picture since the beginning of photography—over 150 years!—so what I’m doing is nothing new and well within the traditions of the art.
– I enjoy using photo editing software, and adjusting the pictures is half the fun for me.

Straight-out-of-camera JPEG from my Fujifilm X-E4 using the Positive Film recipe.

Notice how all of those arguments are strong, and none of them insults anyone. Unfortunately, there will always be those who disagree, and you’ll never change their minds. Perhaps just being as honest and straightforward as practical will help. If you swapped the sky with another sky, just say so. If you removed people from the frame, don’t hide that fact. Don’t make the manipulations that you did a big secret, which makes people believe that you’re hiding something from them. Or do keep it a secret—it’s not really any of my business what you do or don’t do, and I don’t really care. It’s your art, after all, so you get to decide what you do and what parts of your process you want to keep a mystery.

My process is straightforward. I program Film Simulation Recipes into my cameras, and I use camera-made JPEGs that are unedited (aside from minor cropping and straightening). While I basically don’t edit anymore, I certainly used to. I used to be a RAW photographer. I used to spend up to 30 minutes on each picture in software. That process worked alright for a time, but my current process works for me now. It saves me so much time, it makes creating photographs more enjoyable, it allows me to be more in-tune with my camera and the scene (because I have to get it right in-the-field or else), and I still get the look I want—the aesthetic I would have made if I had edited a RAW image in software. I love it! But I fully understand that it’s not for everyone. If it works for you, great! If it doesn’t work for you, great! If it works for you sometimes but doesn’t other times, great! You’ve got to do what works for you, and ignore those who say that there’s only one “right” way to do things.

The “RAW vs JPEG” debate needs to end. Photography consumers don’t care how you achieved your picture, except in those cases where people feel that they were duped by a heavily manipulated image. I suggest being upfront about how much editing you did, if you did a lot—but that’s up to you, and is between you and your audience. Otherwise, nobody cares if you shot RAW and edited in-software or if it’s a straight-out-of-camera JPEG, or anything else in-between. One process isn’t better or worse than another—they each have advantages and disadvantages, so it is simply a matter of if what you are doing works for you or not. If it works, that’s awesome! If it doesn’t, then try something else. Mic dropped, debate over.

Sell That Sh*t & Buy A Fuji — An Interview with Gerardo Celasco

Photo by Gerardo Celasco

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the wonderful photography of Gerardo Celasco! Although you might not have seen his pictures before, there’s a decent chance that you’ve seen Gerardo. He’s a model-turned-actor (among other things, including internationally competing show jumping horse rider, accomplished volleyball player, and financial expert) who does photography as a hobby. He has a lot of talent, and whatever he does he does very well—photography included.

Although he was born in Miami, Gerardo grew up in El Salvador. He later moved to Texas and studied at Southern Methodist University. His home base is now in California, but he frequently travels internationally, and of course brings a camera along—a Fujifilm camera—to capture the moments.

Photo of Gerardo by Harmoni Everett

Gerardo is perhaps best known for playing Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald on the NBC drama Passions from 2006-2007. He also played Carlos Peña in Moneyball, Mark Kovac in two episodes of Bones, Xavier Castillo during Season 5 and 6 of How To Get Away With Murder, Ty Salazar in Next, and Dr. Nick Vega in a recent episode of Good Sam, among other things.

In the coming-soon-to-Netflix series Devil in Ohio Gerardo plays Detective Lopez. We’ll get more into this in a moment, but below you’ll find the trailer, which you should definitely take a moment to watch right now.

Fuji X Weekly: Hey, Gerardo! I’m truly honored for this opportunity to interview you! Let’s begin at the very beginning: where did your early interests in photography come from? Were cameras and pictures a big part of your childhood?

Gerardo Celasco: We didn’t grow up taking a lot of photos in my family and we didn’t have lots of cameras around when my siblings and I were growing up. My dad was an engineer and my mom worked in sales and retail for a shoe company in El Salvador. To this day, we still don’t take many photos when we’re together. When we’re on a trip we always say, “We have to take more group photos!” And since I always have a camera on me, I’m always the one taking the photos so I’m rarely in the pictures. 

Fuji X Weekly: How did you get started in photography?

Gerardo Celasco: I got started in photography pretty early on, but not necessarily behind the camera. When I was in high school I was asked to be the model for a campaign in El Salvador. Roberto Aguilar was the most sought out photographer in El Salvador. No one was doing what he was doing, and I got to be in front of his camera several times—it was my first time being in front of the camera. We became really close friends, and I learned so much from watching him work. He moved to Europe and became a professor in France for a few years, and is now living in London. Roberto was my first influence in photography, but I can also say he was my first influence in “performing” as well. I never went to drama school. I have a degree in Finance from Southern Methodist University—a life in entertainment wasn’t really in the cards for me growing up in El Salvador and the son of entrepreneurs.

Photo by Gerardo Celasco

Fuji X Weekly: What made you pursue photography further, take it more seriously?

Gerardo Celasco: This image [above] is my first one that shocked me when I saw it imported into my computer. I believe I shot it with a Leica D-Lux 4. There was no plan—it was on auto—and I got that “bokeh” everyone talks about. I didn’t know how that happened or how to recreate it, so that inspired me to really learn about the art form. I decided to enroll into a UCLA extension course for Photography, and did that for a few months. That’s where I learned about aperture and depth of field and things like that. 

Fuji X Weekly: What was your most memorable photography experience?

Gerardo Celasco: I think that first image I shot that shocked me is the most memorable. It’s what inspired all of my other images. I still love the photo so much. It’s very raw, very real. I can feel so much when I see it. It was shot in El Salvador in La Libertad near the beach. It was sticky and damp. The two women were working and cooking on open fire in that heat. Maybe it’s because I was there, but I feel all of that every time I see the image.

Photo by Gerardo Celasco

Fuji X Weekly: What was your first camera?

Gerardo Celasco: My first camera was one of the really small Canon PowerShots. It was a matte silver. I carried that thing everywhere—way before we had cameras in our cellular phones. The list goes on from there: Canon 20D, Leica D-Lux 4, Canon 5D Mark II, Fujifilm X100T, Sony a7, Fuji X-T2, Fuji X-Pro3—that is the trajectory into mirrorless, but more importantly how I found Fuji. I also shoot film with a Canon AE-1 Program, and my everyday—always with me—Olympus Mju II, which always sparks a conversation or a laugh when I pull it out. 

Fuji X Weekly: What made you buy your first Fujifilm camera? What do you shoot with now?

Gerardo Celasco: A trip to Morocco with my 5D led me to give up on my entire Canon photography gear. It was so heavy, and was very distracting. You couldn’t really get away with shooting discretely with a camera that size. At the time my good friend, cinematographer and camera/steadicam operator Eduardo Fierro, was a Fuji shooter. His exact words when I complained about my Canon were “Vendé esa mierda y compráte la Fuji” (which means: sell that shit and buy a Fuji!). So that’s what I did, and the X100T was my first Fuji. I now shoot with the X-Pro3, paired with a Fuji 27mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2, or 16-55 f/2.8. 

Photo by Gerardo Celasco

Fuji X Weekly: What is your favorite aspect of Fujifilm cameras?

Gerardo Celasco: What I love most about the Fuji lineup—other than the obvious size and price—is the menu and the film simulations. The user interface is great and easy to get around. But for me, the film simulations are what really sets it apart from anything else. I don’t do any post editing on my images (because I haven’t learned Capture One or Photoshop), and I shoot everything JPEG (mainly because I don’t know what to do with a RAW file, and have never felt the need for it). Fuji X Weekly is my go to App for Film Simulation Recipes. Funnily enough, I believe that is how we met: I sent you a DM on Instagram, praising all of your Film Simulation Recipes and the RitchieCam App on the iPhone.

Fuji X Weekly: That’s right! I definitely remember that day—it was a nice surprise, and a bit of a shock. By the way, which Film Simulation Recipes do you like best?

Gerardo Celasco: My favorite film simulations are Portra 400, Portra 800, and the Ilford black-and-white ones. I honestly like the output of the Fuji Portra recipes more than the images I get with my film camera using real Portra 400 film—and it’s also cheaper.

Photo by Gerardo Celasco

Fuji X Weekly: What do you photograph most now?

Gerardo Celasco: I like shooting life, but I don’t like calling it “street photography.” I don’t have a style, and I honestly don’t know what I’m doing most of the time. I just shoot when I’m inspired. And I shoot what seems interesting to me at that moment. But I never have a plan. I just simply shoot, and share my images. I don’t like the pressure of someone asking me to photograph something or an event—I get so much satisfaction in just showing up with a camera and capturing beautiful moments when I haven’t been asked to, and then sharing those moments. 

Fuji X Weekly: Who are your photographic influences?

Gerardo Celasco: I don’t have a list of photographers that have influenced me—I can probably only name a handful of them—but it’s not like I’m trying to do what they did. Vivian Maier, Ansel Adams, Garry Winograd, Henri Cartier-Bresson—those names comes to mind without me cheating and looking at my bookshelf.

Photo by Gerardo Celasco

Fuji X Weekly: How has your acting career influenced your photography?

Gerardo Celasco: Most people think that being an actor influenced my photography, but what it did was enhance it. Photography (in front or behind the camera), was my first step to becoming an actor—I’ve always felt that photography led me to my acting career. Being on set has made me more comfortable in front of the camera but at the same time it inspires me to want to shoot more. I’m always chatting up the cinematographer or the camera operators when I am on a set—mostly I’m just asking lots of questions about composition and lighting. Those men and women know so much, and I just try to learn and soak up as much as they are willing to share. Their work is what inspires me today. 

Fuji X Weekly: Tell me about your upcoming Netflix series, Devil in Ohio.

Gerardo Celasco: Ah. Devil in Ohio! I feel like you and your wife have been patiently waiting for that. I think I was shooting that when I found RitchieCam and we started talking, only to find out you were the same person behind Fuji X Weekly! We’re only a couple weeks away from the premiere day. It will air on Netflix on September 2, and all 8 episodes will be available.

The show is based on a book by the same name written by Daria Polatin. Daria is also the showrunner for the show. The story was inspired by true events, which always makes it more interesting. I would describe it as a family drama meets a suspense/thriller. It has elements of both. Emily Deschanel (who I worked with many years ago on the final episodes of Bones), plays Suzanne Mathis, a Psychiatrist who is caring for an underage girl who has turned up at hospital clearly in distress. No one comes looking for the girl, so Suzanne decides to take her into her home until they can find a family for her. Doesn’t take long to realize that the girl has escaped from a cult, putting the family and their relationships in danger. I play Detective Alex Lopez, who is a transplant from big city Chicago. He’s a fish out of water, and by-the-book, but also has no idea what he’s dealing with by taking on this case. We had a great group of actors, great directors, and an incredible crew. I hope people find it and enjoy it!

Photo by Gerardo Celasco

Fuji X Weekly: Gerardo, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to allow me to interview you—it’s been such a pleasure!

Gerardo Celasco: I’d just like to say thank you for including me in this. I’m a big fan of Fuji X Weekly, and for you to ask me to be a part of it is really cool.

Check out Gerardo Celasco on Instagram (Here and Here)—give him a follow plus “heart” some of his pictures. Mark your calendars now, and be sure to binge-watch Devil in Ohio on September 2nd!

Check out more of Gerardo’s photography below:

Photo by Gerardo Celasco
Photo by Gerardo Celasco
Photo by Gerardo Celasco
Photo by Gerardo Celasco

The photographs in this article are © Gerardo Celasco.

3 B&W Nikon Z Film Simulation Recipes + 1 Bonus Color Recipe

When the Nikon Zfc was announced in 2021, I preordered it, and waited a long time for it to come. When it finally arrived, I pulled the Zfc out of the box and began to use it, and I was quickly disappointed. I said that it was most similar to the Fujifilm X-T200, yet significantly bigger, heavier, and more expensive. Still, I put the camera through its paces, and even created 11 Nikon Z Film Simulation Recipes using the Zfc. Then the camera went back into its box, and I strongly considered selling it.

After months and months of none-use, and after moving to a different state, I decided to give the Zfc one more try, but with a significant modification: I ditched the lousy Nikkor 28mm lens in favor of the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4. Why? Because the TTArtisan lens has an aperture ring, and the Nikkor doesn’t. The TTArtisan lens is better optically than the Nikkor, too—I’m much happier with this setup. I then made three more Nikon Z recipes!

Right now I’m working on my full-review of the TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 lens (coming very soon!), and that means using it. In the process, I made four more recipes—I guess I couldn’t help myself! Three of these are black-and-white and one is color. If you add these four to the 14 others, I now have 18 Film Simulation Recipes for Nikon Z cameras!

Obviously, I made these JPEG recipes on the Zfc, so it will render differently on the full-frame models, but I’m not sure exactly how differently, as I’ve never used a full-frame Z camera. The reports have been positive, though, so I assume that they work well, including on the more expensive bodies—I just have no first-hand experience myself.

For those who might not know what “Film Simulation Recipes” are, they’re JPEG camera settings that allow you to achieve various looks (mostly analog-inspired) straight-out-of-camera, no editing needed. It can save you a lot of time by simplifying your workflow, and it can make the process of creating photographs more enjoyable.

These will be the last Nikon Z recipes that I create, as I decided not to keep the Zfc. If you are interested in buying it (bundled with the 28mm pancake and TTArtisan 25mm lenses), let me know. It’s gently used, and has spent more time in its box than out of it. Just send me a message if you are interested. Why am I selling the Zfc? Partly because I have never been fully satisfied with it, and partly because I’ve yet to figure out where it makes sense in my photographic process—it seems out of place in my bag. If sometime in the future Nikon makes a better effort on a similar camera, I’ll certainly consider buying it; however, the Zfc was just not the one for me.

Dramatic Monochromatic

Nikon Zfc — Dramatic Monochromatic

Similarities to using a red filter with B&W film.

Picture Control: Monochrome
Quick Sharp: 0.00
Sharpening: +3.00
Mid-Range Sharpening: +2.00
Clarity: +1.00
Contrast: +1.00

Brightness: +1.00
Filter Effects: Red

Toning: B&W
Active D-Lighting: High
High ISO NR: Low
White Balance: Cloudy
WB Adjust: B6.0 G6.0
ISO: up to 6400

Nikon Zfc — Dramatic Monochromatic
Nikon Zfc — Dramatic Monochromatic
Nikon Zfc — Dramatic Monochromatic
Nikon Zfc — Dramatic Monochromatic

B&W Push-Processed

Nikon Zfc — B&W Push-Process

Resembles the contrast of B&W film that has been push-processed.

Picture Control: Graphite
Effect Level: 100
Quick Sharp: 0.00
Sharpening: +2.00
Mid-Range Sharpening: +2.00
Clarity: -2.00
Contrast: +2.00
Filter Effects: Yellow

Toning: B&W
Active D-Lighting: Extra High
High ISO NR: Low
White Balance: Direct Sunlight
WB Adjust: A0.0 G0.0
ISO: up to 6400

Nikon Zfc — B&W Push-Process
Nikon Zfc — B&W Push-Process
Nikon Zfc — B&W Push-Process
Nikon Zfc — B&W Push-Process

B&W Film

Nikon Zfc — B&W Film

Reminiscent of black-and-white negative film.

Picture Control: Carbon
Effect Level: 100
Quick Sharp: 0.00
Sharpening: +1.00
Mid-Range Sharpening: +1.00
Clarity: -2.00
Contrast: +1.00
Filter Effects: Orange

Toning: B&W
Active D-Lighting: Extra High
High ISO NR: Low
White Balance: Natural Light Auto
WB Adjust: A0.0 G0.0
ISO: up to 6400

Nikon Zfc — B&W Film
Nikon Zfc — B&W Film
Nikon Zfc — B&W Film
Nikon Zfc — B&W Film

Vintage Agfacolor Fade

Nikon Zfc — Vintage Agfacolor Fade

Reminds me of Agfacolor slides from the 1930’s

Picture Control: Graphite
Effect Level: 50
Quick Sharp: 0.00
Sharpening: 0.00
Mid-Range Sharpening: +1.00
Clarity: -2.00
Contrast: +1.00
Filter Effects: Red

Toning: Blue Green 0.00
Active D-Lighting: High
High ISO NR: Low
White Balance: Incandescent
WB Adjust: A6.0 M1.0
ISO: up to 3200

Nikon Zfc — Vintage Agfacolor Fade
Nikon Zfc — Vintage Agfacolor Fade
Nikon Zfc — Vintage Agfacolor Fade
Nikon Zfc — Vintage Agfacolor Fade

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

Nikon Zfc — Amazon — B&H
TTArtisans 35mm f/1.4 — Amazon — B&H

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Happy Motoring: Abandoned Exxon — Route 66 — Santa Rosa, NM — Fujifilm X-E4 + Kodak Portra 400 v2

Happy Motoring! – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”

Back in May, while on a lengthy roadtrip, I stopped in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, for the night. A small town along historic Route 66, Santa Rosa pretty much exists to provide food, fuel, and beds for travelers passing east-and-west through The Land of Enchantment. Like a lot of old Route 66 towns, Santa Rosa has seen better days—there are many abandoned buildings along the highway, and some others that appear to not be far from their inevitable fate of abandonment.

Santa Rosa might be best known for a scene in The Grapes of Wrath, where Tom Joad watches a freight train cross a bridge over the Pecos River. Scars from The Great Depression are still visible if you look hard enough. The biggest tourist attraction is the Blue Hole, a natural swimming pond fed by a vast underground water system. While visiting Santa Rosa, I was asked by locals a couple of times, “Are you here for the Blue Hole?” I guess it’s a big deal, but I didn’t make time to see it.

I did make time to photograph a few of the abandoned buildings. One was an old Exxon gas station. This particular service station offered two grades of gas, two stalls for vehicle maintenance, and two restrooms. You could buy maps or a soda from a vending machine. Inside was an old Dairy Queen sign that I do not believe originated from this particular gas station, but probably another building elsewhere in town, perhaps owned by the same person.

Evening Charge – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”

In an empty grass-filled lot next to the gas station I found some old playground equipment. There may have been a campground or RV park there at one time, but the playground is the only thing left. I suppose on hot summer nights, the ghosts who still use the teeter-totter can get a coke from the abandoned Exxon next door.

Exploring and photographing places like this is both fascinating and frightening. It’s like a large time capsule that broke open years before being discovered, now filled with retro nostalgia and haunting decay. You don’t know what you’ll find—what’s hiding behind a corner—and even if there isn’t any danger, it’s still not safe. Going into abandoned buildings is never safe. I do believe that it’s important to photograph these places for several reasons: they’re always changing (due to nature and vandals) and will eventually be completely gone, they offer a glimpse into a previous time that’s long gone and fading from our memories, and to document the way societies deals with unwanted junk from broken lives and broken dreams. As Troy Paiva put it, these places are “steeped in Wabi-Sabi feelings of accepting loss and finding beauty and nobility in decay.”

The sun was low while I was there, preparing to set behind the western horizon—I had about 30 minutes of wonderful “golden hour” light to work with. I used my Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens attached to it to capture these images. The Film Simulation Recipe that I used for these photographs was Kodak Portra 400 v2, which is one of my favorites—the Kodak-like colors and tones are just so lovely—an excellent option for this particular scene and light.

Ring – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Unleaded Regular – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Zero Gallons Available – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Gas & Games – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Rusty Hoop – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Dark Lights – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Ice Cold Coke – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Fan Belts – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Someone Left The Lights On – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Toolbox – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Still Being Repaired – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Exxon Pumps – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
DQ Sandwich – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Exxon – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Nickel & Dimed – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Application Information – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Atlas Tires Book – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Sandia Peak – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”
Time Stands Still – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Kodak Portra 400 v2”

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-E4 Black    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Silver   Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Black + 27mm f/2.8    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X-E4 Silver + 27mm f/2.8   Amazon   B&H

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Fujifilm X100V (X-Trans IV) Film Simulation Recipe: Fujicolor Analog

Cotton On – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Analog”

I was asked to recreate the look of a certain photographer, and I noticed that a lot of their photographs had a Classic Negative aesthetic, so I thought it would be easy to mimic. It turns out that this person shoots a lot of film, including (but not limited to) Fujicolor C200 and various Superia emulsions, as well as digital (but not Fujifilm, as far as I can tell), using RNI and perhaps some other filters or presets. Nothing said what each picture had been captured with, so it became difficult to recreate. After a little frustration, I decided to select only pictures with a certain aesthetic to attempt to emulate—I believe they might have been captured on a Superia emulsion, but they might not have been—they might not even be film! I think I was able to create a pretty close facsimile to this person’s aesthetic… at least one of the many various (but still somewhat similar) looks that this photographer has.

One film can have many different looks, depending on how it was shot, developed, and printed or scanned. I do believe this “Fujicolor Analog” recipe mimics the aesthetic of a Fujifilm color negative film, but which exact film, and how handled, is uncertain. What is certain is that this is a very nice recipe that some of you will love! This Film Simulation Recipe was a Fuji X Weekly App Patron Early-Access Recipe; however, a different recipe has replaced it, and so now it’s available to everyone!

Noble Fir – Kaysville, UT – Fujifilm X100V

Because this recipe uses Classic Negative, Color Chrome FX Blue, and Clarity, it is only compatible with the Fujifilm X-Pro3, X100V, X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras (and likely the X-H2s, too, although I have not tested it). I believe those with newer GFX cameras can also use it, although it will likely render slightly different. Unfortunately, it is not compatible with the X-T3 and X-T30 or older cameras.

Classic Negative
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: -1
Shadow: 0
Color: -3
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpness: 0
Clarity: -3
Grain Effect: Weak, Small
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Strong
White Balance: 6900K, -5 Red & +5 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: 0 to +1 (typically)

Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using this “Fujicolor Analog” Film Simulation Recipe on my Fujifilm X100V & Fujifilm X-E4 cameras:

Main St Market – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Backlit Bougainvillea Flower – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Cloud Behind Trees – Buckeye, AZ – Fujifilm X-E4
Pine Trunk – Kaysville, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Burly Ladder – Kaysville, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Red Lights – Kaysville, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Utah Reeds – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Pine in the Sky – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Withering Blooms – Orem, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Peaks Above The Gap – Orem, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Arts – Draper, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Stop Spreading Germs – Draper, UT – Fujifilm X100V
Pharmacy Lift – Centerville, UT – Fujifilm X100V

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Rediscovering Old Photos of Forgotten Americana — An Interview with Legendary Photographer Troy Paiva

Chinook With a Limp
Essex, CA, 2002
Photo by Troy Paiva

If you already know who Troy Paiva is and have seen his wonderful night photographs, then you are well aware of how important his work has been to the genres of light painting, urban exploration, and Americana photography. If you don’t know who Troy is… well, you will soon be initiated, and you can thank me later. “Every once in awhile an artist bursts forth with such a profound impact on a genre of art that it forever alters its course,” photographer Ken Lee stated in a Photofocus article. “Troy Paiva is one such artist.”

What Troy is most known for is nighttime light-painted photography of abandoned, forgotten, or neglected roadside Americana. He visits abandoned buildings and old junkyards and even airplane boneyards during full-moon darkness, capturing long-exposure images using artificial lights to add pops of color that aren’t naturally there. His striking pictures have been displayed in art galleries and museum exhibits, and printed in magazines and books, including a couple of Stephen King covers.

The Star in the Window
Rhyolite, NV, 1997
Photo by Troy Paiva

My introduction to Troy Paiva came through an unusual book: Weird Arizona. He was a contributor to it (plus some of the other books in that series), and it had a little Route 66 writeup by Troy that included a picture of an abandoned gas station with a strange red glow on the ceiling. Later, I found Troy on Flickr, and even corresponded with him briefly on the location of one of his photographs. I’ve been a big fan of his photography for over a decade; however, he’s been doing this whole light-painting thing since the late-1980’s, well before I stumbled across his fantastic images.

I interviewed Troy recently, and I’m very excited and honored to share it with you. This is a very important article, because I’m certain that many of you can relate to it—I know that I can! Perhaps, like me, you have piles of old slides and/or negatives stored in a box somewhere. Nobody ever sees those pictures. What do you do with them? They can’t be any good, can they? Are they worth the trouble to dig through and scan? Will anyone care about them if you do? Are they even worth keeping? What will eventually happen to them if you do nothing? Those are questions that Troy Paiva recently wrestled with, and I think his answers are both fascinating and inspiring.

Salton City Trailer
Salton Sea, CA, 1992
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: Troy, I love your photography—your pictures and your process! I noticed that you have been revisiting your old analog images lately—daytime photos from the late 1980’s, 1990’s, and early 2000’s. What made you dig out your old slides?

Troy: Earlier this year I bumped into a set of my images on Flickr—The Mojave Carhenge from 1992—that I had scanned ages ago. They looked bad, with low resolution and converted to B&W. I wanted to find those slides and rescan them, but I put it on the back burner. Later, I needed to re-up on the long-dormant software for my film scanner to do something for a friend, so I used that opportunity to finally dig out those slides—scanning and processing them using 2022 software and skills.

I was surprised by how my perception of those pictures had changed over the course of 30 years—how old and rare and cool the cars in it were. It was weirdly timeless, like it could have been shot in 1982 or even ’72. I put them on Facebook and I got a response that supported these feelings. I looked through a few more boxes of early ’90’s daytime slides—pictures that even I hadn’t seen since the early ’90’s—which seemed to generate the same level of surprise. It didn’t take me long to realize that I should keep going. 

Welcome to Nephi
Nephi, UT, 1996
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: What camera gear did you use back then and what do you use now?

Troy: I’ve always shot with Canon cameras. In the early ’90’s it was a ’60’s vintage FX, an all-manual (broken) match-needle relic for night work, and A-1’s for metered shooting. I switched to the T90 in the late ’90’s—it was a great night shooting camera. I had several running different films. I used the FX forever, right up until 2004. Digitally, I went from the 20D to the 60D to the 6D. Once you night-shoot from a knee-high POV with a swivel screen, you never go back! All the film cameras were used—cheap. I’m pretty cavalier with equipment, and night photography has a way of wrecking and breaking your gear anyway.

In the ’90’s my lenses were constantly changing. All of them were purchased used, and lots of 3rd party junk. They’d fall apart, or get stuck on f/2.8 forever—especially the wide lenses from the early ’90’s, which were loose and wiggly in your hands and the focus fell off hard in the corners—and I’d buy another one for $25 at the flea market. All part of the character of the work: shooting junk with junk.

I used a mix of Ektachrome and Fujichrome, and a little Agfa, too. I would shoot with whatever slide film was on sale.

The Islands of Yucca
Interstate 40, AZ, 1996
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: What drew you to your subjects back then?

Troy: A lot of the signage imagery stems from my MCM graphic design background. At the time I was working as a designer at Galoob Toys, making Micro Machine-sized gas stations and car washes. I was already obsessed with abandoned roadside long before I ever got to Galoob, and taking pictures of it—day or night—was a natural part of the headspace I occupied.

N’
Fresno, CA, 1995
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: What is your process for digitalizing your slides? What challenges have you encountered?

Troy: I’ve had a Nikon IV ED film scanner since about 2001, which I’ve always used to scan my night work to put online. After moving into the digital era (in 2005), it sat largely unused. There was even a long period where it was unusable because Nikon stopped updating the software. Luckily, 3rd party software appeared at some point—I use the one from VueScan. The raw scans are not even close to right, but good enough to get them into Photoshop where I use MANY tools to make them presentable: masked sharpening/noise (grain) control, major HSB adjustments, white and black point shifts—the whole bit. Some also require perspective adjustment, cloning scratches out, creative cropping. Some mix down in a few minutes, some take a half hour to pull together.

The Yuma Cabana
Yuma, AZ, 1995
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: What differentiates your daytime pictures from your night ones? What is surprising about it?

Troy: My daytime work was more about scouting locations to potentially come back and work later that night. Many of these subjects would have been impossible to do with my full moon technique because they’re bathed with sodium vapor streetlights. Or sometimes I’d get chased back to the car by dogs or some nut racking a shotgun. In many cases, the day shots are the only record.

The daytime work always took a back seat to my experimental night work, so I rarely showed it to anyone. It just sat in storage for 25, 30 years. Occasionally I’d pull some night work for a fresh scan, completely ignoring the daytime work. Why? I wish there was some smart-sounding “I was consciously playing the long game” answer, but, apparently, I was playing it unconsciously.

It’s a part of my photography that longtime followers of my night work have never seen. It mirrors it in many ways, yet doesn’t fall into the trap of having the “light-painted night” aspect take over what the picture is about. They are just “normal” pictures of things, and that makes them easier to conceptually digest.

Also, I’m still scanning. There’s a lot I haven’t even looked at yet. I am intentionally not going through everything at once. I grab a few boxes, or all the work from one trip—cull, scan, and process. Only then do I look at the next few rolls. The picture of my slides (below) isn’t even all of it—there are about 10 carousels full, too. A lot of it is personal things of no interest to anyone but me. Several boxes have nothing worth scanning, but some… every slide gets an “Oh, wow!” when I put it on the light box for the first time.

Troy’s old film slides, mostly from the 1990’s.

FXW: What did you discover through this project?

Troy: I discovered a body of work that almost feels like someone else shot it! Sometimes memories come flooding back as I look through them; for others, it’s, “Where was that again?”

My MO was to specifically shoot the once-loved things that looked like they were on their way out. Most of it was abandoned and heavily weathered, steeped in Wabi-Sabi feelings of accepting loss and finding beauty and nobility in decay. It turns out that my hit rate was good: it seems like 90% of these subjects are now irrevocably changed or just gone. I perform Google searches on most of the sites—looking for them on street view, images, etc.—and in many cases, there doesn’t appear to be any other “intentional” pictures of them made before they disappeared. I’ve run across a couple of motel signs where the only other picture that I could find is in the John Margolies collection in the Library of Congress. It seems like everybody shoots this kind of stuff now, but in the early ‘90s, it was rare and—frankly—kinda weird. 

I haven’t parsed out what any of it means. I’m still in the middle of the scanning project, so I’m not ready to sit back and figure out what to do with it yet, except share some of it online and get it seen.

Mom’s Motel
Fresno, CA, 1995
Photo by Troy Paiva

FXW: How important is it to revisit your old pictures?

Troy: Once I started to see how much of this rare imagery I had, I began to think of Vivian Maier and Charles Phoenix. Imagine finding this motherlode of daytime and weird night photography of the long lost American roadside in a dumpster behind a Salvation Army! If I didn’t scan and share it, someday when I die that mountain of boxed slides would either end up in the dump, or a thrift store to be found and exploited and re-contextualized by someone else. The 99.9% reality is that it would most likely end up in a landfill, never to be seen by anyone. Once I realized what I was sitting on, I didn’t want any of that to happen.

Time has a way of making ALL pictures better. They’re a record of a moment in time. That moment often seems inconsequential when it happens, but someday you may not be able to experience anything like that moment again because the place or people are gone, and the picture suddenly takes on different meanings that were hidden before. Ever notice when you look at really old magazines you tend to gloss over the articles and spend most of your time looking at the advertisements? The things we don’t think are important or historic now have a tendency to be the ones that end up being more interesting later.

Liquor For Health
Yuma, AZ, 1995
Photo by Troy Paiva

I want to give a very big thanks to Troy Paiva for taking time out of his busy day to allow me to interview him and publish his words and photographs on Fuji X Weekly. Thank you, Troy! Many of these pictures have been shared on his social media pages, but a couple of them have never been published before, and you’re the very first (aside from Troy and now myself) to see them! To say that I feel honored is such an understatement.

My hope is that this article has encouraged you to take another look at the pictures you captured years and years ago. Maybe they have a different meaning today than the last time you saw them. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to do your own project similar to Troy’s. It could be time to dust off that old scanner, or even buy a new one. I think this article also illustrates that the photography you’re doing right now is important, even if it doesn’t seem so at the moment. Keep at it, and in time you’ll see the significance of the pictures you captured today.

Please visit Troy Paiva’s website: LostAmerica.com. Find him on Facebook and Instagram. Buy his six books on Amazon: Lost America, Light Painted Night Photography: The Lost America Technique, Night Vision, Boneyard, Night Salvage, and Junkyard Nights (seriously, pick up one or more of those books—you’ll be glad that you did!).

More of Troy Paiva’s daytime photography:

Have a Cuppa Kofa at Ern’s
Parker, AZ 1994
Photo by Troy Paiva
Silver State Bowl
Hawthorne, NV, 1994
Photo by Troy Paiva
The Smelly Mirror
Bombay Beach, CA, 1992
Photo by Troy Paiva
Barstow Texaco
Interstate 15, CA, 1992
Photo by Troy Paiva
Virgies West
Gallup, NM, 1992
Photo by Troy Paiva
The Squirt Fade
White Sands NP, NM, 1991
Photo by Troy Paiva
The Pigeon
Convair 880, Mojave, CA, 1991
Photo by Troy Paiva
MMM, Diesel
Interstate 15, CA, 1990
Photo by Troy Praiva
The Astro Burger 
Kramer Junction, CA, 1990
Photo by Troy Paiva
Truxton Garage
Route 66, AZ, 1989
Photo by Troy Paiva
Yard Sale 
Monument Valley, AZ, 1989
Photo by Troy Paiva

All photographs © Troy Paiva

Someone Tried to Scam Me — And Maybe You, Too

Someone attempted to scam me. Maybe they attempted to scam you, too.

It all started after I commented on pal2tech‘s video about Fujifilm’s firmware updates. I received what initially appeared to be a reply from Chris (the guy behind pal2tech) that I had won something. While I was excited for a moment, red flags and warning alarms quickly filled my brain.

The reply wasn’t from pal2tech, but from a channel called “Text me on Telegram →@Pal2tech” that had Chris’ picture on it. I quickly spotted several red flags. First, pal2tech did not mention any sort of giveaway in his videos. I searched for it and couldn’t find any. Nobody’s going to spontaneously give something away without previously announcing some sort of giveaway. Second, even if there was a giveaway, it’s highly unlikely that this is the method that anyone reputable would use to notify you. Chris wouldn’t create a new YouTube channel to inform you to text him on Telegram. The writing—the way it’s worded and the emojis—don’t sound very pal2tech-like to me. Third, the Telegram account is called “Pal2tech” but his channel is called “pal2tech” (the “p” isn’t capitalized… a small detail, but notable). All of these things pointed to a scammer who was pretending to be Chris in order to prey on his audience.

I emailed Chris and reached out to him on Instagram to inform him of this scammer, in case he wasn’t aware. I then did the unthinkable and engaged the scammer on Telegram.

On the fake Pal2tech Telegram account, I said, “Hi! I received a message that I might have won a prize.” Within a minute I received a reply, “Congratulations you were randomly selected as a winner” (no punctuation, which was another red flag).

“What did I win?” I asked.

“You won a Sony A7 IV a hoddie and two custom stickers” was the response. The red flags were a misspelled word, more lack of punctuation, and the fact that Chris would most likely give away Fujifilm gear and not Sony gear.

“Awesome!” I replied. “I hate to be cynical, but I need to verify that this is actually pal2tech.”

“Sure,” the scammer said, “I understand not everyone on the internet is honest but this is real and you can trust me”

So I asked a question that Chris would easily know. “What was Tip 10 for preventing burnout?” This question came from his 10 Tips to Prevent Burnout video. I figured the scammer could find the answer, but not quickly, and this would keep him busy for awhile. I had a second question in mind once this one was answered.

About five minutes passed before I got this message: “please give me your name and address”

I replied, “Not until you answer my question so that I can know you are actually pal2tech.”

“look,” the scammer said, obviously getting impatient with me, “if you want the prize i will send it right away and if not i will find someone else stop wasting my time”

This is when I told the scammer that I knew he wasn’t pal2tech, that he should be ashamed of his actions, and he should stop trying to steal people’s money.

I never got a reply. Instead the conversation was deleted. I was going to screenshot it, but it was completely gone. I suppose this is why they use Telegram: they can delete the evidence. The only thing left was this:

Originally, where it says “PO” in the circle at the top, was Chris’ photo, but after calling him out, the photo was removed.

I did get a response from Chris. He also posted a video about this scammer, which you can find below.

Unfortunately, people got scammed. Apparently the scammer asks for shipping-and-handling fees, and nothing (obviously) is ever shipped. It’s frustrating for those (like pal2tech) whose channel is bombarded by this spam—Chris told me that about 400 people have received a comment from the scammer similar to the one that I got. I don’t know how many went to Telegram and contacted the scammers, and how many were scammed, but apparently enough that it continues to happen. Chris posted a video back in January warning his viewers of this scam. I feel bad for those who got scammed, but they had to ignore many warnings that should have made them pause and reconsider.

You can prevent yourself from being scammed. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Look for red flags, because you’ll certainly find several if it isn’t legit. Don’t be afraid to triple verify that something is true—even if it seems on the up-and-up, it’s better to be 100% sure before giving away any of your personal information and especially your money.

I hope that I was able to occupy the attention of the scammer long enough to maybe prevent someone else from being scammed. Probably not. I hope that calling him out would make him stop picking on pal2tech’s audience. Probably not. At the very least I hope this article will bring some awareness to the scam so that maybe you won’t be caught in this trap. Knowing is half the battle (as G.I. Joe used to say), so now you know. Please let others know, too, so they won’t be scammed, either.

The Disappearing Entry-Level Camera

Fujifilm X-T200 — Fujifilm’s last entry-level camera?

I commonly get asked advice on camera gear. Most often it is which Fujifilm camera to buy, usually by someone who is trying to get into the system—either as a first “serious” camera or switching brands, typically because they want to try Film Simulation Recipes; however, I occasionally I get asked by someone (that knows that I’m “into photography”) who is looking for an entry-level camera for themselves or their teenage kid. If it’s for themselves, it’s because Johnny’s 5th birthday is coming and they want better pictures, or they’re about to take that epic vacation they’ve been saving up for and want to capture the memories. If it’s for their child, it’s because their kid has shown some interest in photography and they want to foster that. Either way, the basic entry-level model is what’s needed.

Whenever I ask about budgets, I usually hear something like, “Under $300.” Sometimes $500 is the upper limit. I’ve been told $150 before. Almost never is it $1,000. In the past the advice I gave was to buy a used entry-level DSLR, like the Nikon D3200, for example, which could often be found somewhere close to the budget—super easy for the novice, yet advanced enough that a budding photographer could learn on it. Later, I would suggest something like the Fujifilm X-T100 or X-A5, which were affordable mirrorless options (and, of course, Fujifilm). Nowadays it’s harder to make a recommendation because the entry-level camera is basically gone.

Those who are “serious” tend to know that they have to spend more to get a quality camera. Much of the time you get what you pay for; however, sometimes these entry-level models were surprisingly good—I was impressed by the image quality of the Fujifilm X-T200, for example. Those who are after quality will typically skip the entry-level and go for a mid-tier option or higher. Those who want a cheap introduction will be satisfied with a low-budget camera. A lot of people—mostly those who would never consider themselves a “real photographer”—used to buy these cheap cameras in droves, but now they don’t.

Hidden Church – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-T200 – “Golden Negative

The reason they don’t is largely because of the cellphone. The camera technology on your phone is beyond good enough for most people and purposes, and it keeps getting more and more impressive. You don’t need a bulky, inconvenient, complicated, and expensive DSLR to capture Johnny’s 5th birthday. You don’t need an interchangeable-lens camera to photograph that epic vacation. Your phone is more than capable of delivering stunning pictures that can be instantly shared. Yes, you could spend a grand on a camera and lens, you could lug it around, you could take classes or watch videos on how to use it since it’s all so confusing, and you could download a bulky photo editing program onto your computer—or just pull out your phone and let its smart technology handle it all for you with just one tap.

It wasn’t long ago that the cellphone killed the pocket point-and-shoot. Now it’s also killed entry-level interchangeable-lens cameras. While I think cellphone camera technology can be (and could continue to become) appealing to “serious” photographers, I don’t think it will have a big impact on higher-end cameras. The market is shrinking from the bottom up—not the top down. If anything, there is an increased demand for mid and high end models. But the lucrative point-and-shoot and entry-level markets are pretty much all dried up.

What does this mean? There are several things. First, those hoping to find a cheap camera will have to get an older model, because less and less are new ones being made. I definitely don’t mind using “old” gear, but others don’t always feel the same—five-year-old tech is practically obsolete and 10-year old definitely is (in some people’s opinions, not mine). Fujifilm’s last entry-level cameras—the X-A7 and X-T200—were discontinued shortly after their release, due to sluggish sales. Right now the mid-tier X-E4 is their lowest-level model, and it is certainly not a “low-end” camera. Other brands have been discontinuing their entry-level options, too. If you want a “real” camera, you’ll need to get a “serious” camera; otherwise, stick with your cellphone.

iPhone 11 with Moment 58mm lens

I think the affect on those with a budding interest in photography will be profound. Either you will learn on a cellphone (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), or you’ll pony-up for a mirrorless—those who cannot afford the mirrorless model either won’t have their interest fostered and it will fade, or will learn photography differently—good, bad, or indifferent, this will shape the future of photography in some way. Change always has some impact on the future, but we won’t know exactly what it is until we get there.

Another impact that the disappearing entry-level will have on the camera industry is that money must be made somewhere. Camera companies have to make up for the lost revenue. While the trend in tech is that things become cheaper over time, I think we’re already seeing that the top-end is not getting cheaper. It won’t just affect the top, but that is what’s most affected currently it seems; I suspect that it will have an impact across all brands and all tiers to varying degrees. Fujifilm is lucky because their Instax line is still extremely popular and profitable.

The flip side of the coin is that the cellphone camera market is (and has been) booming. Whether it is Apple or Android, the camera capabilities of your device likely had a significant impact on your decision to buy. How many lenses does it have? How much resolution? What kind of computational tricks can it do? The more people spend on cellphones, the more the technology marches forward, and the better the cameras become. It’s really quite amazing what the little telephone/computer/camera in your pocket can do!

Photo by Amanda Roesch using the RitchieCam App on an iPhone 13

Obviously those advancements mean opportunities. I took the opportunity to create the RitchieCam App to bring simplified and intuitive one-step photography to your iPhone. My wife took the opportunity to do some underwater photography—something that she wouldn’t have done with an interchangeable-lens camera, but her iPhone 13 handled it swimmingly well. What that opportunity is for you depends on you—there is an opportunity for certain, you just have to find it and make it happen.

Yes, the entry-level camera is disappearing, and will soon be gone. Much like CDs, Blockbuster, and one-hour photo labs, cheap interchangeable-lens cameras are a thing of the past. It will have an impact on photography, but whether that’s positive or negative depends on your perspective. And I do think there are both positives and negatives. Certainly camera manufacturers have been concerned for some time—if there’s a lesson to be learned, perhaps it’s to do more to bring the mobile photography tech advancements to “real” cameras, too. Those wanting a bottom-end camera are seeing their options disappear. Those hoping cameras will become cheaper as they become better will likely be disappointed, at least for a time. That might look bleak, but I also believe that photography has become more accessible.

How has photography become more accessible if it isn’t becoming more affordable? The phone-in-your-pocket is only getting better, and is being taken more seriously. There’s a reason why the pocket point-and-shoot and entry-level interchangeable-lens cameras have succumbed to it. Many more people have access to a decent camera, and the pictures are easily shared across the world—more pictures are being captured now than ever before, and that’s a huge understatement!

Captured with a Fujifilm X-E4 using the Fujicolor Natura 1600 recipe.

Fujifilm cameras have made post-processing unnecessary. I don’t know how many of you truly understand the impact of this—I have a front-row seat, and I’m just beginning to grasp the magnitude of it. Learning Lightroom and Photoshop have been a prerequisite barrier to becoming a “serious photographer” for years; however, not everyone in the world has access to photo-editing programs, not everyone has a desire (or the time) to learn them, and not everyone enjoys sitting at a computer for hours (or has the time). A lot of people have been on the outside looking in, but now they don’t have to be because the barrier has been removed (thanks to Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes). For others, it’s just a fun way to do photography, and has made the process of creating pictures more enjoyable.

Some who are just learning photography, who’ve maybe only used their cellphones previously, are buying Fujifilm cameras and using recipes and getting good results out-of-the-gate; if they had to edit their pictures, they would still be stuck on the software—they’d be making less progress and having less fun. Some who are experienced pros and have been in the business awhile have found that using recipes on Fujifilm cameras has simplified their workflow and made them more productive, while not sacrificing quality delivered to the client (true story I’ve heard several times).

Camera makers don’t like seeing a previously profitable market segment disappear, and that makes them worry about the future. Those wanting to buy a low-budget camera are finding it harder and harder to find. Things are shifting and changing within the photography and camera world. Yet, whether you just want some decent snaps of Johnny’s birthday or are just starting out in photography or are a seasoned pro—or anywhere in-between—there are great opportunities for you right now. The obstacles in your path have never been smaller.

Download the RitchieCam App for iPhone here.
Download the Fuji X Weekly App for iPhone here, and Android here.
Also, check out Ritchie’s Ricoh Recipes! Oh, and there are now recipes for Nikon Z, too.

RitchieCam Shoutout by Leigh & Raymond!!

Leigh & Raymond Photography (formally known as The Snap Chick) dropped a video with a wonderful shoutout to my RitchieCam iPhone camera App! You’ll find the video above—RitchieCam is mentioned at about the 11-minute mark. Wow! Really, wow! I’m speechless. Thank you, Leigh and Raymond, for your kindness and support!

For those who don’t know, RitchieCam is an easy-to-use streamlined camera app intended to bring one-step photography to the iPhone. There are 18 analog-inspired filters so that you don’t have to edit your mobile pictures if you don’t want to. It is intended to be simple enough to be useful for anyone and everyone with an iPhone, although it is robust enough that even seasoned photographers should find it satisfying. Visit RitchieCam.com to learn more. Also, be sure to follow RitchieCam on Instagram!

If you have an iPhone, download RitchieCam from the Apple App Store today!

Here are some photographs that I recently captured with the RitchieCam App while visiting California’s central coast:

Classic Color Filter
Classic Color Filter
Color Negative Low Filter
Analog Color Filter
Instant Color 3 Filter
Instant Color 1 Filter
B&W Fade Filter — XPan 65:24 Aspect Ratio Coming Soon!

Is Fujifilm Losing Its Soul?

After the announcement of the Fujifilm X-H2S, which has a PASM dial instead of the traditional dials of the X-H1, many people asked, “Is Fujifilm losing its soul?” I’ve had a number of Fujifilm photographers tell me that they believe so, and some have inquired if I believe so, too. What’s my opinion? Is Fujifilm indeed losing its soul?

Fujifilm has already lost its soul. It’s done gone. Elvis left the building awhile ago. The design decisions during development of the X-H2S are simply the manifestation of that lost soul.

What was this “soul” that Fujifilm lost? How can a company even have a soul?

A whole book could be written on this topic, but to summarize in a short sentence, Fujifilm’s philosophy for their X-series cameras was analog-inspired innovations with a focus on the photographer’s experience (both while using the camera for photography, and as customers of the brand). This was their soul. That philosophy, which seemed to be clearly understood, is what drove the camera department of the company (remember, Fujifilm’s main business is not photography nowadays). From the design decisions to the Kaizen firmware updates and everything in-between, this philosophy oozed out—it was both obvious and attractive, and is why Fujifilm was suddenly successful, quickly overtaking other brands, including iconic Nikon.

Fujifilm didn’t need to have a photography department at all, but they decided that, even if it was a bust, they’d still fund it and keep it going, because photography had been such an important part of their company’s heritage, and had been an important aspect of Japanese culture. They were merely the caretakers of this thing that was bigger than themselves. That’s how they looked at it, anyway, and it was noticeable and refreshing.

Somewhere along the line, however, Fujifilm began to view this differently. The photography division needed to be built bigger. It must grow. It must become more profitable. It must gain more marketshare. It must become as big as—or bigger than—Canon and Sony. I think there are actually two competing sides within Fujifilm (and maybe this battle has been taking place for awhile now): one is profit-first driven, and the other is nurture-first driven. The side I would like to see win is the latter, but the side that seems to be winning is the former.

Where this lost-soul has most obviously manifested itself is Kaizen, or the lack of it. This is a word that I hadn’t heard of until I owned a Fujifilm camera. It’s something that attracted a lot of people to the brand. It means continuous improvement—making something better over time, even though it was already purchased. Why? Part of it is duty (what you are supposed to do), and another part of it is that it creates loyalty, because it shows the customer that you care about them, and not just their money. That care will cause the customer to overlook shortcomings, because the caring is more important to them in the whole scheme of things. And long-term loyalty is more valuable to the company than short-term gains. I don’t know the exact timeline of when Fujifilm stopped caring (or, more accurately, began caring less about their customers in favor of caring more about profits), but it seems to be during the development of X-Trans IV. That’s when the profit-first people seemed to first get an upper hand on the nurture-first people. I don’t know for sure, though. What I am confident in is that, as X-Trans V rolls out, the profit-first philosophy is the current mantra of Fujifilm’s photography division—it’s Fujifilm’s current soul, unfortunately.

Am I overreacting? After all, the X-H2S is just one camera, right? There are two points that I’d like to make. First, Fujifilm removed the traditional dials on the X-H line in favor of PASM. For Fujifilm, PASM cameras are intended to attract new customers who are not interested in or are otherwise intimated by the traditional controls of their other X models. They don’t put PASM on cameras that they intend to market to their current customer base. The X-H2S is their top-of-the-line “flagship” model, the first X-Trans V… and it’s not for you. It was never intended for you. Screw you! It’s for them. Those guys with their Sonys and Canons, that’s who it’s for. We give our best to them. Our current customers who have been so loyal over the years will have to be happy with the crumbs that fall from the table. Second, X-Trans V is rolling out, while the X-T3 (their all-time top-selling model) and X-T30 are still on an island, and the X-Pro3 and X100V (premium models) don’t have as good of JPEG features as the X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II (mid or lower tier models). That’s shameful, in my opinion. Take care of your current customers first before working so hard to bring in new customers. Fujifilm is making their customer base less loyal, which will only hurt them in the long run. Nurture first.

If you build it, they will come. Fujifilm built it and they came; however, not enough for the profit-first people. They want more, but they’re barking up the wrong tree. Instead of becoming Sony in order to attract current Sony users who are unhappy with their gear (how does this makes sense to anyone?), Fujifilm should double-down on what makes them unique. What’s special about Fujifilm? Analog-inspired innovation and the photographer’s experience—that’s what’s special, or at least it used to be. There’s one other thing that’s unique, and that’s community. Fujifilm didn’t build it—instead it was built around them; however, they have not done nearly enough to embrace it and engage it. In fact, at times they’ve been standoffish to it. That needs to end, because community is Fujifilm’s greatest asset, yet they seem unsure of how to engage it, so they do so halfheartedly and from a “safe” distance.

I didn’t mean to write a negative article. When I sat down at the computer, I had no intention of typing out this post; however, it’s something that has been circling inside my mind for a few weeks now, so I suppose that it was inevitable. I really hope that it doesn’t make you feel angry towards Fujifilm. This article’s aim is to, on the off chance that this is actually read by Fujifilm, inspire reflection and perhaps even change, and secondarily put into words something that maybe you have felt but weren’t sure how to express. Perhaps this is somehow therapeutic. For me it feels good to say, even though it is negative, and I hope that getting it out in the open will somehow produce something positive.