Subscribe to get access
Read more of this content when you join the Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective today. Click here to learn more.
The Fujifilm X100V was an overnight sensation two-and-a-half years after it was released. Yes, it sold well for Fujifilm during those 30 months prior to the explosion in demand, but, beginning last fall, the X100V was suddenly the one camera model that everyone wanted, yet few could get.
Fujifilm couldn’t make enough copies of the camera to keep up with the newfound demand. The X100V was out-of-stock everywhere. The backorder list quickly grew long. A large camera store told me months ago that if there were no new orders, and at the current rate that Fujifilm was manufacturing the X100V, it would take them six months just to fulfill all of those backorders; however, the backorder list was growing faster than Fujifilm was delivering new cameras.
Some of those who did have an X100V—even a used one—were selling them at significantly inflated prices. I saw one listed at $1,000 above MSRP in one instance. And people were actually buying them! The price for older versions, such as the X100F, but going back all the way to the 12-year-old original X100, also increased and became more difficult to find. Even other Fujifilm series, such as the X-E line (and even Ricoh GR), saw a bump in demand as people looked for alternatives to the X100V.
It’s been about nine months since the craze began and it hasn’t slowed. The X100V has been an in-demand model during that time, but Fujifilm just can’t keep up with it, due to things like parts shortages and balancing manufacturing demands with the also-hot-selling X-T5. Ideally Fujifilm would have been able to truly capitalize on their fortuitous situation, but they really haven’t. Perhaps the only thing that Fujifilm has been able to do is continue to limp the manufacturing of this model a little longer than they originally anticipated, delaying the discontinuation date by as much as a year.
When you look at the history of the X100-series, a release pattern emerges. The X100S came out about two years after the original X100, the X100T came out about two years after the X100S, and the X100F was released about two years after the X100T; however, the X100V was released three years after the X100F, and we’re already beyond the three-year-mark since the X100V came out. I believe that Fujifilm would have liked to have announced the next X100-series camera, which I’ll call the X100Z, back in February, but that obviously didn’t happen. I anticipate that it will be February 2024.
Why didn’t it happen in 2023? The X100V is selling faster than they can be made. What’s the hurry in releasing a successor? I do believe the issues that plagued not only Fujifilm but also most of the tech industry are still problematic to an extent, and this gives Fujifilm more time to get their parts supply and manufacturing operations back on track. I bet Fujifilm is hoping to make just enough copies of the X100V to give a glimmer of hope that one can be obtained with enough patience—and that the buzz continues for a bit longer—but not so many that the demand is deflated when the X100Z (or whatever Fujifilm will call it) is announced in eight months or so. Honestly, Fujifilm should release one or two limited-run special-edition X100V versions between now and then.
The X100-series doesn’t change much with a new release. The improvements are just enough to make you desire the new model, but are never groundbreaking. There’s not going to be a redesign. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. What can we expect in an X100Z? What do I wish for?
I do believe the biggest “upgrade” will be the 40-megapixel X-Trans V sensor and processor. While I actually prefer the 26-megapixel sensor in general (as 40mp is overkill for most people), as I’ve thought about it, this sensor makes a lot of sense in an X100 because of the Digital Teleconverter, something I used far more frequently on my recent trip to California’s Central Coast than I had at any point in the two years prior. The X100V has 35mm full-frame-equivalent lens, and the Digital Teleconverter, which is a digital zoom with some smart upscaling, produces a 50mm-equivalent or 70mm-equivalent picture, adding versatility to the fixed-lens camera. There is a noticeable loss in quality when set to 70mm, but it’s still surprisingly good; however, the 40mp sensor would make this feature better and more practical for routine use. In fact, Fujifilm could even add 80mm if they wanted. The one thing I’d like Fujifilm to fix with regards to the Digital Teleconverter is scale the faux Grain, because Strong/Large Grain looks massive when using the 70mm option, but it should appear to be the same size as if the Digital Teleconverter wasn’t used.
The new sensor and processor will bring several improvements to the spec sheet for both stills and video. Autofocus will see a boost. In an age of diminishing returns, I don’t think any of that makes a big difference, but the marketing department will still use it to promote the camera and reviewers will still use it to get clicks and likes.
Will the X100Z have IBIS? Fujifilm has made some significant strides with their In-Body-Image-Stabilization, but I’d be mildly surprised if the new model has it. The argument is that the Ricoh GR III has IBIS, and it’s a much older and smaller camera, so why can’t the X100-series? First, IBIS isn’t really needed in the GR III and it’s pretty mediocre anyway, so it’s often overstated as a feature in that model. I do think it makes more sense in the X100-series than in the Ricoh, but if it makes the body larger or more expensive, Fujifilm will have to carefully consider the potential consequences of that. I think, with the higher-resolution sensor, a digital stabilizer for video would be sufficient.
What I would love to see in the Fujifilm X100Z are more film simulations and JPEG options. Of course that’s what I’d love to see, since I make Film Simulation Recipes. What I don’t think Fujifilm or the photography community in-general realizes is that the ability to get analog-like results straight-out-of-camera is what’s largely driving the interest in the X100V. While many long-time Fujifilm photographers purchased the X100V, for a lot of people the camera is (or would be if they could find one in stock) their first Fujifilm—whether they mainly shoot Canon, Sony, Nikon, etc., or it’s their first “real” camera—and it makes a lot of sense because it doesn’t require investing in a whole system. They can get their feet wet with something fun, and maybe later they’ll jump into the deep end. In the meantime, they’ve got a cool camera that doesn’t require sitting in front of a computer to get great results. Not only does this drive camera sales, but it is also a big reason why many end up sticking around and not moving onto something else.
So what would I like Fujifilm to add to the X100Z? Obviously Eterna Bleach Bypass and Nostalgic Neg. will be included, but I think Fujifilm should strongly consider introducing a new film sim with this camera. Some ideas are Fujicolor Pro 400H (that with overexposure behaves similarly to the film), Fujicolor Pro 800Z (would make a lot of sense if they name the camera X100Z), Fujichrome Sensia, Fujichrome Fortia, cross-process, infrared, Instax, Neopan 400CN, etc.—there are still a ton that Fujifilm could and should do. Some JPEG options that I’d like to see are mid-tone adjustments (additional to Highlight and Shadow), black-point (a.k.a. fade, to lift blacks), split-toning (for both B&W and color pictures), more Grain options (Weak, Medium, Strong; Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large; plus maybe various patters?), and maybe even a tint slider for the major colors to tweak their rendering? I think Fujifilm has to be careful balancing new features with simplicity, so that the many options don’t become overwhelming—in other words, pick a couple of things to add and not everything, as much as I’d love to have everything.
The X100Z will be a very successful camera for Fujifilm, and for a lot of people standing in the long line for an X100V, this new model can’t get here fast enough. There won’t likely be a huge difference between the two versions—just the new sensor and some new features, but it will nonetheless be a nice refresh. While it might seem to be a long ways off, Fujifilm will announce this camera in the not-too-distant future, and it will be here before you know it. In the meantime, I’ve included below a video published today by Leigh & Raymond Photography that discusses this very topic.
What’s different about Fujifilm cameras that make me want to pick them up and shoot with them? This is something that I was thinking about today. I concluded that the experience of shooting with the cameras and the images produced by the cameras are what makes me want to use them more than other brands.
What is the Fujifilm shooting experience? Is it the retro styling? The manual knobs and rings? The optical viewfinder on camera series like the X-Pro and X100? What-you-see-is-what-you-get, perhaps? I think yes to all of those, but even more it’s about the feeling in the moment. That’s a very abstract explanation, so let’s see if I can do better.
When I have a Fujifilm camera in my hands with the retro styling, tactile manual controls, perhaps even through an optical viewfinder or maybe via an EVF showing me exactly what the final picture will look like, the moment slows, and it’s just me and my gear for an instant. I feel the sense of possibilities (as Rush put it in the song Camera Eye). It’s not about quickness. It’s not about resolution—it’s not about any specs of any sort. It’s just that instant and how it feels and that’s all. It feels different with a Fujifilm camera (like the X-Pro1, pictured at the top) because the body is designed significantly dissimilar from most digital cameras. “If I like a moment,” as Sean O’Connell stated in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, “I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera.” I know I just took that quote completely out of context, but for me, Fujifilm cameras aren’t a distraction, but an extension of my creative self, something I cannot say about any other digital camera I’ve ever owned. Perhaps if Sean was shooting with a Fujifilm instead of a Nikon, he would have captured a picture of the cat (joking, of course).
The other aspect of Fujifilm cameras worth noting is image quality. Again, this has nothing to do with resolution, dynamic range, lens sharpness or any technical specs whatsoever. It’s about the feel of the pictures. Fujifilm has a long history with film photography, and they felt it important to somehow infuse some analog aspects into their digital images. You can get straight-out-of-camera pictures from Fujifilm cameras that look less digital and more film-like than other brands. In fact, I’ve seen Fujifilm pictures captured using Film Simulation Recipes trick unsuspecting film pros into thinking the picture they were viewing was shot on film and not digital (true stories!). And, yes, with software and manipulation, you can achieve this with most modern cameras, but I’m talking SOOC, as in unedited. Fujifilm cameras have gotten better at this with time—thanks to new JPEG options, film simulations, and improved processing—but even the early models were quite capable.
To the second point—that the JPEG output from Fujifilm cameras is unique, wonderful, and an important aspect of the experience—I feel that Fujifilm has been on the right track with this, and it’s been getting better and better with each generation. I think there’s a bit of that analog-esque quality going all they way back to the very beginning—every Fujifilm camera has that soul—but the newer models especially have it. I know that some of you might disagree with this assessment, but that’s my opinion.
To the first point, I feel that Fujifilm has taken a divergent path lately, and has pursued pure specs and popular designs over experience—or, at least the experience that I spoke of—with most of their recent models. That’s not to say the cameras aren’t good or that people won’t love them or that Fujifilm shouldn’t have made them, just simply that it’s not going to provide the same experience (which is true); whether or not that is better or worse depends on your perspective. I might mourn it and you might celebrate it, and that’s ok—we can still be friends.
Today I dusted off my 11-year-old Fujifilm X-Pro1, attached a TTArtisan f/0.95 lens, and shot with that combo today. I programmed the Ektachrome Film Simulation Recipe, but to give the images a little more film-like character, I lightly post processed them in the RNI App using the Fuji Astia 100F v3 filter set to 40% intensity (so as to not overly manipulate the original aesthetic… I didn’t want to lose all of the original look, only slightly change it) and Grain set to 25% strength. I don’t normally edit my pictures—in fact, I had to download the RNI App because it had been so long since I last used it—but sometimes I wish the old models had some of the JPEG options found on the new cameras. Funny enough, though, the edited pictures are actually pretty similar to my Reminiscent Print Recipe, so I probably should have just shot with that and saved myself some time. Oh, well—lesson learned.
Even though this camera is ancient compared to the latest models, I personally prefer the shooting experience with it over some of my other (newer) cameras. If the Fujifilm X-Pro1 was my one and only camera, I’d be happy with it. But since I have an X100V, X-E4, and X-T5, which are the three models I’m using the most right now (all of which offer the Fujifilm experience I mentioned earlier—the X100V in particular), the X-Pro1 spends most of the time on the shelf. I happily put it to use today! Below are the pictures:
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
A couple of weeks ago I had this realization that I hadn’t been using my Fujifilm X100V as much as I would have liked to or normally would have. I was grabbing some of my other cameras, like the Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujifilm X-T5, instead. But I really like shooting with my X100V—it’s my “desert island” camera; if I could only ever shoot with one for the rest of my life, it would be the X100V.
While having the realization that the camera was collecting more dust than usual, I also noticed that the light was changing and becoming favorable for photography. I snatched the X100V, set it to my Vintage Vibes Film Simulation Recipe, and headed out the door, in search of an interesting picture opportunity nearby.
Just as the sun was nearing the horizon, I found a spot in the desert with some pops of late-spring color. I decided this was my opportunity, so I began capturing images. The light didn’t last long, and the bugs were becoming a nuisance; nevertheless, I was able to snap a few interesting pictures before heading home.
Perhaps more important than the images, I used the camera that I love most. I dusted it off, put it in my hand, took some steps outside, and pressed the shutter release button. Whether or not the pictures turned out was less critical than the act of actively using it. Yes, pictures are important, but so is the experience—actually, the experience is probably the most important. If you haven’t used your beloved gear much lately, be sure to get it in your hands ASAP and take some pictures!
The May issue of FXW Zine is out now! Creative Collective subscribers can download it today. Not a Creative Collective subscriber? Join to gain access to this issue plus all pervious issues of FXW Zine and the many bonus articles.
What’s in this month’s publication? We take a look at revisiting subjects or locations in hopes of getting a better—or at least different—photograph.
I shot a 36-exposure roll of Fujichrome Fortia 50 on my Fujifilm X100V.
Right now you are thinking one of a few things. What is Fujichrome Fortia 50? Fortia was discontinued a long time ago, and is well expired now and difficult to find. Anyway, you can’t shoot film in a Fujifilm X100V! There’s not a Fujichrome Fortia 50 Film Simulation Recipe, is there? All of that and more will be explained in this article!
My journey to Fujifilm wasn’t a straight path. Like many worthwhile adventures, there were a lot of twists and turns, and even moments where I nearly gave up. I’ve yet to chronicle this camera odyssey, so I thought I’d share it with you today. Perhaps you can relate, or maybe it will somehow assist you on your own journey.
In autumn of 1998 I enrolled in Photography 101 in college, where I learned to develop and print film in a darkroom. My first camera was a Canon AE-1, which I absolutely loved. Digital photography was in its infancy back then; I could tell a digital picture from film very easily, so I steered clear of it. I was one of those “holdouts” who stubbornly refused to go digital, and continued to shoot film even though it was no longer popular.
In 2009 I was asked to photograph my uncle-in-law’s wedding, which would happen the following spring. Realizing that the cost of film and development wouldn’t be that much less than the price of a new DSLR, I figured the time was finally right to give digital photography a try. My first DSLR was a Pentax K-x. I had a couple of Pentax SLRs, and I could use those K-Mount lenses on any Pentax DSLR—being able to use lenses that I already owned was a big upside. While the K-x was a budget model (not the cheapest, though), it was their newest, so I took a chance and went for it.
I didn’t realize how much of a learning curve there would be. Photography is photography, I thought, but I was very wrong. I had never used PASM—on my film cameras, if I wanted to adjust the aperture, I turned a ring on the lens; if I wanted to adjust the shutter speed, I turned a knob on top of the camera; and ISO was set by the film. Choosing the shooting mode and using command wheels to adjust aspects of the exposure triangle was foreign to me. Crop-sensor was another new concept, which affects focal lengths and depth-of-field, something I didn’t even consider. With film, it’s often better to overexpose a little than underexpose, but with digital it is the opposite, because you can lift shadows but you cannot unclip clipped highlights. Post-processing with software… I had a lot of experience in the darkroom, but Lightroom… curves and sliders and layers and masking, that was all new to me, and it was not easy. I did not enjoy any of this.
Still, I had that wedding to photograph, so I begrudgingly trudged ahead, trying to become competent with my K-x.
For the next couple of years I was shooting more film than digital, but the film canisters were piling up in my refrigerator. My wife was getting tired of sharing fridge space with my film, but money was tight and I could only afford to get a couple of rolls developed here and there. I almost sold my K-x to fund the development of the film, but instead decided to just shoot more digital until my current stash of exposed film could be processed.
In 2012 I purchased my second model: a Samsung NX200. Yes, Samsung briefly had a line of mirrorless interchangeable-lens APS-C cameras that were actually quite innovative. By this time I had accumulated enough experience with digital photography—both operating digital cameras and post-processing with software—that it was becoming more comfortable and enjoyable, which made me want to shoot more.
I used that Samsung a lot… until one day when someone stole my camera bag from my car. Both the K-x and NX200 and all of my lenses were inside. Thankfully, I had good insurance, which replaced the K-x with a Pentax K30, and the NX200 with an NX210, plus they replaced the lenses. For about a month I didn’t have a digital camera, but once the insurance delivered, I had upgraded gear, and my zest for photography picked up right where it left off.
Funny enough, the stolen camera gear was recovered when the thief tried to pawn it. Because I had kept a record of the serial numbers, when I filed the police report the cameras were added to a list that was distributed to local second-hand shops; the pawn shop clerk saw that the gear was stolen, so they alerted the police. It took awhile, but I was able to acquire my stuff back, and suddenly I had four digital cameras!
I didn’t need four cameras, so I sold both of the Pentax bodies and the Samsung NX210, and used the funds to buy a Sigma DP2 Merrill (plus more NX lenses). I kept the NX200 for when I wanted an interchangeable-lens option. I liked this setup because the Sigma was small and pocketable, and the Samsung was smaller than a DSLR yet just as versatile.
The photographs from the Sigma DP2 Merrill were absolutely fantastic—finally as good as or perhaps even better than many of the film emulsions that I used. It was the first time that I felt this way about the quality of digital images. I finally truly embraced digital photography. I was in love with the pictures; however, the camera was far from perfect. Battery life was similar to a roll of film. You couldn’t stray far from base ISO. The camera itself was uninspiring. The RAW files were a complete pain to process. The photographs were amazing, but it was frustrating, difficult, and often time-consuming to achieve it. It was the epitome of love-hate.
For the next year, I used the Sigma for about 75% of my photography and the Samsung for about 25%. Man, that DP2 Merrill was a pain, but boy-oh-boy were the pictures good! Even though it had a fixed 30mm (45mm-equivalent) lens, I didn’t feel hindered by that limitation very often, and when I did the Samsung was eager to go.
A friend loaned my their Nikon D3200 to try for a few weeks, then I gave it back. The image quality was impressive for such a cheap body, but I was happy enough with the gear I had that I wasn’t tempted to switch brands.
While cellphones had had a camera built into them for many years, I never felt that they were useful photographic tools until I got a Nokia Lumia 1020. This cellphone was a legitimate camera! Not a decent cellphone that happens to have a so-so camera, but a decent camera that happens to have a so-so cellphone. While the Sigma was quite compact and easily carried, the Nokia was even more so, which means that I literally always had it with me.
For about another year, I used the DP2 Merrill for about 50% of my photography, the Lumia 1020 for around 35%, and the Samsung was down to roughly only 15%. During this time two things happened: I was getting burnt out on post-processing the Sigma files, which was extraordinarily time consuming, and the Samsung began acting weird sometimes. Perhaps that’s why I used my cellphone so much.
In 2015 I sold the NX200 (and the lenses for it), and went all-in on the Nikon D3300, returning to the DSLR. This was Nikon’s low-budget model, but (because I had previously tried the D3200) I knew it would work fine for me; I spent more money on lenses instead. I really liked the quality of the pictures from this camera, but it didn’t take me long to remember that I didn’t care much for DSLRs. While the D3300 was very small and lightweight for a DSLR, it was still bulky, and less convenient to carry around.
I preferred the D3300 process—the shooting experience and especially the editing—over the Sigma, so I used the DP2 Merrill less and less. I have several thousand unprocessed RAW Sigma files still sitting on an old computer that’s in a box in the closet, and I’m sure they’ll be lost to time soon enough. Within a few months of purchasing the Nikon, I was only using the D3300 and cellphone, and not the DP2 Merrill.
It was a tough decision that I occasionally regret, but I reluctantly sold the Sigma DP2 Merrill. I set out to replace it with something somewhat equivalent—good image quality in a small, pocketable body—but with easier images to deal with. I wanted something that would be better than a DSLR for travel or just carrying around. I landed on the Sony RX100 II, which had a smaller sensor and a zoom lens.
It was definitely good to have a smaller option; however, while the camera certainly was good, I was never really happy with it. Perhaps I was too closely comparing the images to the Sigma, which was unfair to do. Sadly, despite trying, the RX100 II never found its place in my workflow, and was often underutilized.
I didn’t even own the Sony RX100 II a whole year before I sold it. During this time I was photographing less, while simultaneously shooting more film than I had the previous few years. Soon the D3300 and my cellphone were the only digital cameras that I owned, and I was using the Lumia 1020 more than the Nikon.
My wife had a Canon PowerShot N digicam. This little weird square camera actually took interesting pictures. I borrowed it on several occasions, including a trip to the eastern Sierras and Yosemite National Park, where I often chose it over the Nikon.
I realized that I don’t enjoy big cameras. I appreciate smaller models because they’re easier to carry around and don’t get in the way of whatever else is happening around you. I feel sometimes that one has to choose whether they’ll be a photographer or just a regular person in the moment; however, small cameras allow you to be both, but often the compromise is image quality.
Even though some of my favorite pictures (up to that point) were captured on the Nikon D3300, in early 2016 I sold it, and seriously contemplated getting out of digital photography completely, and just shoot film. Instead, I purchased a Panasonic Lumix ZS40, which was similar to the RX100 but cheaper and not as good. For about four months my only digital models were this and my cellphone.
I also replaced my aging Nokia Lumia 1020 with an LG G4. The Nokia was barely being supported, so the phone side of it was becoming less practical. While the LG phone was not terrible for photography, I did not like it as a camera nearly as much as the Nokia; however, it was a much better phone overall.
This period of my photography is a bit of an empty hole. I nearly stopped. I was burnt out by a lot of things—some photography related and some not—and there just wasn’t the same joy in it that there once was.
But, then everything changed. I always had an interest in Fujifilm cameras since the original X100 was released, but never purchased one. In the summer of 2016, after months of not owning a “real” camera (aside from several analog models), I found a good deal on a used X-E1, so I bought it. When I first tried the X-E1, I instantly fell back in love with photography! The design—the retro tactile dials like my film cameras—just made so much sense to me. Why weren’t all digital cameras like this?!
Because I loved the camera so much, I was suddenly photographing a lot. I mean, a lot. The old problem of spending hours and hours editing pictures was returning, but at least the joy of photography was back. I sold the Panasonic, and used the X-E1 pretty much exclusively. Even the film cameras were going unused.
After one year, I traded out my beloved X-E1 for a Fujifilm X100F. Because the Sigma DP2 Merrill held such a special spot in my soul, I had high hopes that the X100F could basically do the same for me. It could be my “DP2” without the ridiculous editing hassle and without the shortcomings of that camera. At base-ISO the DP2 Merrill is really difficult to beat, but overall I found that I like the X100-series better. Much better, in fact.
Something very important happened at this time that must be pointed out: I figured out that the Fujifilm JPEGs were actually really good. I realized that the unedited straight-out-of-camera JPEGs didn’t look all that much different than my post-processed RAW files, and by tweaking the settings I could get even closer. Why was I spending all of this time editing RAW files when the camera could do the work for me? This realization literally changed my life. This was when I began making Film Simulation Recipes, which saves me so much time, and has allowed me to become a much more prolific photographer, while avoiding getting bogged down in the stuff that sucks the fun out of it.
This article is already much too long, so I want to skip over my journey within Fujifilm. Maybe I’ll save that for another time. Currently I own a number of X-series models—nine bodies, to be exact—and I have owned or used a number of others. In a moment I’ll tell you what I’m shooting with in 2023.
I have had the opportunity to try several non-Fujifilm cameras over the last few years. I’m a proud Fujifilm fanboy, but that does not mean I’m not curious about or are not interested in other brands. I’ve tried Canon, Sony, Nikon, Ricoh, and Apple. They’re all good. They all have positive attributes. For me it’s no contest: Fujifilm is hands-down the best—I love Fujifilm cameras, and I cannot envision being a photographer without at least one; however, everyone has their own tastes and appreciations, and you might disagree with my assessments.
So what am I shooting with now? Which cameras am I currently using?
Below are my top-ten most-used models so far in 2023, half of which are Fujifilm, which means five are not Fujifilm. I’ve placed them in order of most-used to least-used. As the year goes on I’m sure this list will change, at least a little. Without further ado, here are the camera’s I’ve been shooting with in 2023:
Ricoh GR III
Nikon CoolPix S7c
Fujifilm FinePix AX350
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Fujifilm X-T5 in black: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X-T5 in silver: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X100V in black: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X100V in silver: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X-E4 in black: Amazon B&H Moment
Fujifilm X-E4 in silver: Amazon B&H Moment
Ricoh GR III: Amazon B&H Moment
There’s an easy way to get a filmic look from your iPhone!
I set out to help my wife, Amanda, get a filmic look from her cellphone images. Her “main” camera is a Fujifilm X-T4, but she also shoots quite a bit on her iPhone 13 Pro; her interest in photography and videography began with the iPhone. The filmic aesthetic is highly sought after, but not always easy to achieve; however, I found a good way to get it on the iPhone, so read on to find out how you can do it, too!
What exactly is a filmic look? I would describe it as a cinematic film aesthetic. Think stills from a motion picture, or photographs captured with cinema film that has had the Remjet layer removed. This wasn’t an attempt to mimic any specific movie or emulsion, but just achieve a general filmic look through cellphone photography—make it seem less digital and more analog-like, except without all of the editing that is traditionally required. As a mother of four and behind-the-scenes Fuji X Weekly cohort, Amanda is quite busy, and doesn’t have time for extensive editing, so post-processing pictures could not be a prerequisite for achieving a filmic aesthetic.
I started with a Sandmarc case for her iPhone 13 Pro because Sandmarc has an adapter, which they call Step Up Ring Filter Mount, that allows you to use filters on your cellphone camera. This adapter has 40.5mm threads, and, using a 40.5mm-49mm step up ring that I already owned, I was able to mount my 20% CineBloom diffusion filter to Amanda’s iPhone. I felt that this filter would be a key component to achieving a filmic look, and the Sandmarc case with the Step Up Ring Filter Mount plus the 40.5mm-49mm step up ring was the easiest way to get that CineBloom filter onto her iPhone.
I’m sure the Sandmarc case isn’t the only one that allows you to use filters, but it is the one we got, and so far it seems to be a quality product. It works well and is reasonably inexpensive, so it’s easy to recommend. It did take a fall; while the case kept the phone safe and undamaged (which is great!), it did leave a noticeable mark on the case itself. Another note: Sandmarc has their own line of filters—including a diffusion filter—but we used the 20% CineBloom because I already own it for my Fujifilm X100V. I personally really like CineBlooms, but the brand of diffusion filter doesn’t really matter all that much, I don’t think.
On the iPhone 13 Pro, you can attach the filter over the main 26mm camera or over the telephoto 77mm camera, but not over the ultra-wide 13mm camera. You can only use it on one camera at a time, so it does take some of the convenience out of using the iPhone for photography—not only do you have to carry the filter, but also screw it over the correct lens. Not a dealbreaker for this method, but certainly a limitation that one should be aware of.
The camera app that Amanda uses is RitchieCam, which has filters inspired by film, crafted to have an analog essence. Designed with a one-step philosophy, RitchieCam produces photos that are ready to be shared or printed the instant that they’re captured. RitchieCam was recently enthusiastically endorsed by Leigh & Raymond Photography as their favorite iPhone camera app—it was one of their five suggested ways for achieving a film look on a digital camera. RitchieCam is my very own camera app; download it for free today from the Apple App Store!
I said that the 20% CineBloom was key to getting a filmic look because diffusion filters take the digital edge off of digital pictures. It blooms the highlights and softens the shadows more like negative film. Also, diffusion filters have been a cinematographic tool long before they were popular for still photography, so the aesthetic produced by these filters is inherently filmic. Below is an example of what a diffusion filter does to an image. I chose this particular set because the difference is obvious; oftentimes the effect is a little less apparent, especially if there is not a bright light source (such as the sun) in or near the frame. The strongest CineBloom is 20%, so if you find it to be too strong, consider the 10% or 5% options instead—sometimes subtlety is preferable.
Below are some of Amanda’s pictures captured with her iPhone 13 Pro using RitchieCam and the 20% CineBloom filter, made possible by the Sandmarc case and filter adapter. Combining RitchieCam with a diffusion filter produces images with a filmic quality, and, because editing isn’t required, this process works well for those who don’t have time to post-process their pictures, or who only want to do quick adjustments.
I get asked at least once per week which Film Simulation Recipe was used for a picture in the Fuji X Weekly homepage gallery. It’s my fault for not telling you. I should have made it much more obvious. Maybe I should make posts with galleries (but actually include the recipes used so that you don’t have to wonder)? If you see a particular picture you like, perhaps you’ll be inspired to try that recipe.
Anyway, this article is simply an explanation of which recipe was used for each picture in the homepage gallery. If you’ve ever wondered, now you know. I’ll probably change out some of the images within the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for that.
Find these Film Simulation Recipes and over 250 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!
I’ve never really cared for Fujifilm’s Provia film simulation. I mean, it’s alright, but I like most of the other options better, and I wondered why they made it the “standard” film simulation. It doesn’t much resemble real Provia film—why even call it Provia?—yet it is front-and-center on all Fujifilm models.
I Recently stumbled across a fascinating article that helped me better understand why I don’t like Provia, and why the other film sims look the way they do. Exibartstreet.com translated and summarized an interview of two Fujifilm managers who discussed at length the different film simulations found on Fujifilm cameras (the original interview articles can be found here and here, and is two years old). I now have a little better understanding of Fujifilm’s philosophy behind the creation of their profiles.
Specifically to Provia, I discovered that I was never supposed to like it. It wasn’t designed for me. “When it comes to Provia,” one of the Fujifilm managers stated, “photographers that started with film find it hard, but photographers that only shoot digitally find it just right.” Well, I started with film; I don’t know if I’d describe it as “hard” but it is far from “just right” for me personally. “Provia aims at the greatest common denominator that makes you feel ‘beautiful’ at a glance.” In other words, they weren’t trying to mimic any emulsions, but create a profile that looks nice to those who have only ever shot with digital cameras. “In my personal opinion, I would like to change the name ‘film simulation,'” the Fujifilm manager said. “Film simulation is not film imitation.”
Diving into the interview, we discover that Velvia was, in fact, modeled after the film of the same name, but digital sensor and processor limitations have made it difficult to reproduce the film’s aesthetic; however, beginning with X-Trans III, Fujifilm has been able to get closer. Enabling Color Chrome Effect allows you to achieve the appropriate color depth.
The Astia film simulation looks so much different than real Astia film. “We often receive comments that ‘reproducibility is different from Astia of silver salt,'” the manager explained. “The reason for this is that ‘the image quality design is not aimed at silver salt Astia.’ You may wonder what it means to bear the name of Astia even though it is different, but it is not completely unrelated. In fact, both film and digital are aiming at the same place. In other words, the film simulation ‘Astia’ was developed to bring it closer to the ‘ideal Astia’ that the development team aimed for when developing the silver salt film Astia.” Put more simply, the film simulation is the aesthetic that Fujifilm would have produced with the film if they could have.
Classic Chrome was modeled after an unmentioned slide film… they can’t say Kodak.
PRO Neg. Std and PRO Neg. Hi were not modeled after any specific emulsions, but are for faithful color reproduction. “The main difference is the tone curve. PRO Neg. Hi is adjusted to tighten the shadows and tighten the highlights. On the other hand, the color design is the same.”
The Eterna film simulation was modeled after Eterna motion picture film. Regarding Eterna Bleach Bypass, “This setting is equivalent to ‘half of the silver remaining’ on film….”
“Classic Negative is a very special kind of film simulation, designed so that the appearance of colors changes depending on the brightness. Therefore, I make adjustments so that dark tones are cyan, and bright tones are magenta. Classic Negative… was originally ‘Superia.'” It’s clear that this film simulation was carefully crafted to closely mimic Superia film. “To tell you the truth, I feel that Classic Negative was a little too bold.” I think Fujifilm should consider going “too bold” more often!
There’s a heck-of-a-lot more said in the interview that’s quite fascinating. I think Fujifilm doesn’t want its users to interpret “film simulation” as “film imitation” because not all of their film sims are intended to mimic film. Some are, and some are not. But, even the ones that are not, the digital side teamed up with the film side to assist in designing all of the film simulations—including Provia/Std—and I think their careful attention to detail and vast film experience translates into profiles that can be made to resemble film, even if the film sim was never intended to. Still, the film simulations that are, in fact, modeled after film are my favorites.
This is the third and final installment of this series. As a reminder, I photographed 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 was intended to give me a better understanding of how the X-T5 has evolved from the original model. It also allowed me to demonstrate that previous models, including the original X-T1, are still really good.
I wanted to try some things with the X-T1 that I wasn’t able to do in the first 10 days, including wildlife and low-light. I had been sick, which made this a much more difficult project than I had anticipated, so I tried to make the most of the last five days. In the end I didn’t do everything that I wanted, but I was able to do a lot, and I’m happy with how it all came together.
I was really impressed with the Fujifilm X-T1—even in 2022, it is an excellent body that’s quite capable of capturing beautiful photographs. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting with it, more than I thought I would. The only shortcoming that I encountered was in dim light, the autofocus tended to hunt. This didn’t prevent me from getting the pictures, but it did make me work a little harder to do it. Otherwise, the camera performed exceptionally well in a whole host of situations. If you have one, it’s definitely a keeper. If you are in the market for a used Fujifilm model, this is one that I have no problems recommending. Is the X-T5 better? Sure. Is the X-T4 better? Yeah. Is the X-T3 better? Affirmative. Is the X-T2 better? I’m certain that it is. But, the X-T1 is still really good, and the newer iterations aren’t miles ahead—each new model is marginally better than the previous, which means that the latest is only four small steps ahead; ahead indeed, but the ol’ X-T1 holds its own surprisingly well.
I hope that you enjoyed this short-term project as much as I did!
In my series, Which Film Simulation Recipes, When?, I’m trying to help out those who are unsure what Film Simulation Recipe to use in a given situation (after all, there are more than 250 to choose from). One of those situation is when you’re shooting in overcast conditions on a dreary day. I provide a recipe suggestion, plus five alternatives, to try. This topic was also discussed briefly in the last SOOC broadcast. The problem is that it’s all subjective; what I think might work well on a rainy day, you might disagree with. The aesthetic that I like you might not. Everyone has their own opinions.
What makes a Film Simulation Recipe work well on an overcast day? First, I think it needs to accentuate the mood. To me, that’s most important, although feelings are abstract and variable, so the task of saying “this recipe has the right mood” is difficult. Whether it should be punchy or muted, warm or cool, depends on the mood you want to convey. The recipe also needs to be able to handle the grey sky and not blow it out, while also dealing with low-contrast situations that you’re likely to encounter. It also has to look good at higher ISOs, because if it’s thick overcast, you’re likely dealing with higher ISOs (thankfully, most recipes do well at higher ISOs because of the X-Trans sensor and processing).
Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry published an excellent article today tackling this topic that I want to direct you to (click here—I promise that it is worth your time to do so). Obviously she doesn’t look at every recipe or even most recipes, but she does a comparison of a handful of them, and you can decide for yourself which one (or ones), if any, stand out to you as something to try. Since it is subjective, what she likes—or what I like—might be much different than what you like, and that’s perfectly ok—it’s about finding what works for you. Nathalie and I are both trying to take you on a path of discovery, so that you can find the recipes that work for you, and in the process you’re likely to find some that aren’t your style.
The best path to discovery involves action. You have to try a recipe in a given situation to figure out if it does well or not, and if you appreciate the results of it. You have to be willing to fail—by fail, I simply mean that you might find a recipe that you don’t like to use in a given situation while attempting to find one that you do like for that situation. In a way, it’s a little like playing the classic board game Clue. Was it Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Candlestick? Maybe. You have to suggest it to find out. Will the Elite Chrome 200 recipe work well for you on a rainy day? Maybe. I can suggest it, but you need to try it for yourself to find out. Nathalie’s article might be particularly helpful to you, because she did the hard work, and one of those recipes that she used might just stand out to you as one to try the next time you are photographing in the rain.
Now it’s your turn! What is your favorite Film Simulation Recipe to use on overcast, dreary, rainy days? Let me know in the comments!
Don’t have the Fuji X Weekly App? Download it today for free! Consider becoming a Patron to unlock the best App experience and to support this website.
This Creative Collective article is a followup to Comparing 10 Recipes For Indoor Photography and Fujifilm X-T30 & X-T3 Film Simulation Recipe: Cinematic Negative. Specifically, I’m going to discuss light rendering in a practical sense, color casts, and mood; how all of that relates to Film Simulation Recipes and photography, and how you can use it to your advantage to better control your images, and the emotions that they convey to those viewing them.
When people discuss their camera gear, they mostly talk about their camera bodies and lenses. Photography accessories are sometimes overlooked, but they can be just as important. While I’m most commonly asked about cameras and lenses, occasionally someone inquires about my “other” gear, wanting to know what I use and why, and what I recommend. In this article I’ll briefly discuss each camera accessory that I use and why I use it.
The way that I’m going to do this article is I’ll talk about which accessories I currently use with various camera bodies. I’ll begin with the Fujifilm X100V and continue on until I’ve covered all of the different accessories.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Fujifilm X100V Accessories
I don’t have a lot of accessories for my Fujifilm X100V, but the ones I do have are very important. First, I have a Hoagle filter adapter (Amazon). Using a filter adapter on the X100V (in conjunction with a filter) makes the camera weather-sealed, as the only part that isn’t weather-sealed is the front lens element—simply screwing on a filter fixes this, but it requires an adapter. There are a number of brands who sell one, including Fujifilm themselves (Amazon), but I use Hoagle because it’s cheap and it works. I always use a filter, either a Fotasy 49mm UV filter (Amazon), or one of several diffusion filters: Tiffen 1/4 Black Pro Mist (Amazon), which I used in conjunction with the KodaNeg Film Simulation Recipes, 5% CineBloom (Amazon), 10% CineBloom (B&H), or 20% CineBloom (Amazon). Of these filters, the 5% CineBloom and Fotasy UV are the two most commonly used, and the 20% CineBloom is the least used. Shooting with diffusion filters is the third suggestion in my 7 Tips to Get the Film Look From Your Digital Photos article. You can also stack them to achieve a dreamy look.
What else? I found the camera strap used on eBay. I have a Monfrotto Compact Action Aluminum Tripod (B&H), which I do use occasionally with this camera (and my other cameras). Otherwise, that’s it.
Fujifilm X-E4 Accessories
I don’t really have any accessories for my Fujifilm X-E4, but I thought I’d take a moment to talk about lens adaptors. Fujifilm cameras are especially great when paired with vintage lenses, which typically have more character than modern glass. This is the fourth suggestion in my 7 Tips to Get the Film Look From Your Digital Photos article. To use vintage lenses, you’ll need an adapter, and I currently have three: M42-to-Fuji-X, M39-to-Fuji-X, and Pentax-110-to-Fuji-X. The M42 and M39 adapters are nondescript ones I purchased on eBay for cheap six years ago, but the Fotasy M42 (Amazon) and M39 (Amazon) would work just fine, and are inexpensive. My Pentax-110 adapter is made by Fotasy (Amazon).
Another thing worth noting is that, because of the compact size of the X-E4 and X100V, the National Geographic NG 2344 Earth Explorer Mall Shoulder Bag (Amazon) works really well for me, better than any other camera bag I’ve ever owned—I don’t travel without it.
Fujifilm X-T30 Accessories
I don’t have a lot to add with my Fujifilm X-T30, so I’ll take the opportunity to bring up SD cards and batteries. Because I’ve been shooting for awhile, I have tons of memory cards lying around, but the one I use the most is SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB (Amazon), which I own several of. I have a number of spare Fujifilm NP-W126S batteries (Amazon); I do own a couple third-party batteries, but I don’t like using them, and only do so in a pinch, which is very infrequently. I love the Nitecore USB Camera Battery Charger (Amazon), which just so happens to fit really well in one of the pockets in my camera bag.
Fujifilm X70 Accessories
My Fujifilm X70 came with an official Fujifilm leather half-case (Amazon), which I absolutely love! If mine hadn’t come with this, I probably wouldn’t have purchased the case because I wouldn’t have realized what I was missing. Definitely “worth it” in my opinion; however, I’m sure some of the cheaper third-party options are nearly as good for a fraction of the cost.
Fujifilm X-H1 Accessories
The final accessory that I want to bring up for my Fujifilm gear is my studio lighting: Phottix Nuada R3 II two-light kit (Amazon). I don’t use artificial lights very often, but occasionally I do (like here and when I do the SOOC broadcasts), and the Phottix Nuada R3 II is absolutely great. Best lights I’ve ever owned—bright, versatile, compact, lightweight. I’m sure they’re not for everyone, but if you’re thinking about buying some studio lights and are unsure what to get, I do recommend this kit.
iPhone 11 Accessories
Since I created my very own iPhone camera app—RitchieCam—it should come as no surprise that I have a couple of iPhone accessories: Moment Tele 58mm lens (Amazon) and Moment MagSafe Tripod Mount (Amazon), which require a Moment cellphone case (Amazon). Completely worthwhile, in my opinion.
I own a shelf-full of different accessories that I’ve collected over the last nearly 25 years, but the ones mentioned in this article are the ones that I actually use. There are a number of items that I have used before, but have parted ways with or sit collecting dust, so I didn’t mention them. I’m sure I could list a number of accessories that I wish I had, but this article is about what I currently use. For some of you, this list might seem surprisingly short. For some of you, this list might appear to have unnecessary or redundant items. A lot of times I think that less is more, particularly with camera gear, but if there’s something you’ll actually use, it’s likely worth having around.
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
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
You might have a favorite Film Simulation Recipe, but when the light changes you’re disappointed with the results. This is a pretty common problem, and not unique to Fujifilm or even a new issue to photography. This happens because many of my recipes are modeled after or are inspired by analog film, and this is a long-time film problem.
With a few rare exceptions, film is either daylight balanced (usually around 5500K) or tungsten balanced (typically 3200K)—one for use in daylight, and the other for use in artificial light. If you encountered light outside of the temperature that the film was intended to be shot in, you would either accept the results or use a color correction filter (described in this article) to fix the imbalance. Many Film Simulation Recipes have this same issue: they’re intended to be used in a specific light condition, and outside of that they might not produce the best results.
When shooting film, your best option is to use the correct film for the situation; with recipes, I think this is also the best solution. Sometimes this isn’t practical, and so you could use color correction filters (both with film and film simulations), although carrying around a bag full of filters isn’t an especially convenient option. With digital, you have an added solution: adjust the white balance, which is essentially the digital equivalent of using color correction filters. For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the first option, which is selecting a Film Simulation Recipe that does well in the light situation that you find yourself shooting in.
With over 250 Film Simulation Recipes on this website (and the Fuji X Weekly App), it can be hard to know which ones perform best in which light. In this article (and hopefully additional articles in the future), we’re going to compare how 10 recipes perform in various light conditions. It should be enlightening, and hopefully you’ll have a better understanding of when to use which recipes.
Before we jump into it, I think it’s important to briefly discuss Kelvin. The measurement of the temperature (warm or cold) of light is called Kelvin, and the scale is pretty large, ranging from 0 to 20000—the lower the number, the warmer the light, and the higher the number, the cooler the light. The typical temperature of a candle flame is 1900K. Artificial light (incandescent lights, halogen bulbs, fluorescent tubes, etc.) is usually between 2800K and 4300K, depending on the specific bulbs being used. “Golden Hour” light (sunrise and sunset) is around 3500K. Morning and afternoon sunlight (outside of golden hour) is typically between 4500K and 5000K, while midday sunlight is typically 5600K. Overcast sky often ranges from 6000K to 9000K, and shade can be 8000K to 10000K. Your camera’s white balance is designed to “balance” these temperatures so that white is white—a warm light will need a cool white balance, and a cool light will need a warm white balance.
With that prerequisite understanding, let’s take a look at how 10 different Film Simulation Recipes handle various Kelvin temperature light conditions.
Every Sunday from October through April, the Maricopa Live Steamers model railroad club offers free 7 1/2″ gauge train rides through the desert in north Glendale, Arizona. My kids love trains (what kids don’t?), and so my wife and I took them out on an excursion. The club has an extensive setup in the desert—over 18 miles of track—and members from across several states come to operate their scale equipment there. One day each week, except during the heat of summer, the club is open to the public, giving free train rides to anyone who wishes to traverse through the creosote and sand.
I brought along my Fujifilm X100V to capture the experience, with the Fujichrome Sensia 100 Film Simulation Recipe programmed into the camera. To make this recipe compatible with the X100V, I set Grain size to Small, Color Chrome FX Blue to Off, and Clarity to 0. The X100V is such a great camera for adventures like this, being compact and quiet, yet completely capable of fantastic image quality. My Fujifilm X70 would have worked just as well, but one advantage of the X100V is the viewfinder, which came in handy in the harsh midday light.
Fujichrome Sensia 100 was an inexpensive general-purpose daylight-balanced slide film made by Fujifilm from 1994 through 2011. There were three different iterations of the emulsion during that time. It was a popular film for cross-processing (developing in C41 chemistry); otherwise, it was primarily used for documenting family vacations, and was marketed to amateurs and hobbyists. My Film Simulation Recipe mimics the film only as a happy accident, as I wasn’t trying to create a facsimile of Sensia, but it is surprisingly similar nonetheless.
Below are camera-made JPEGs captured with the Fujichrome Sensia 100 Film Simulation Recipe on my Fujifilm X100V while at the Maricopa Live Steamers model railroad club:
On October 20, Nathalie and I will be introducing the Fujichrome Sensia 100 Film Simulation Recipe on SOOC as the next recipe-of-the-month. Mark your calendars now, and I hope to see you then!
Find this Film Simulation Recipe and 250 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 more of Gerardo’s photography below:
The photographs in this article are © Gerardo Celasco.
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.
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.
Help Fuji X Weekly
Nobody pays me to write the content found on fujixweekly.com. There’s a real cost to operating and maintaining this site, not to mention all the time that I pour into it. If you appreciated this article, please consider making a one-time gift contribution. Thank you!
I wanted to follow-up my interview with Troy Paiva (click here to read it), which wasn’t directly related to Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes (although it was highly relatable), with something directly connected to the topics that are typically found on the Fuji X Weekly blog. Just as I was contemplating who I was going to interview and what the exact subject might be, I received a message from Matt Giesow of VAST Media, a photo and video production company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “I have been running my production company for nearly five years now,” Matt told me, “and picking up a Fuji has been a breath of fresh air.” He stated that using Film Simulation Recipes on his camera allowed him to deliver some images immediately to the client, and that his JPEG workflow is “so nice.”
His words echoed in my head for the rest of that day. I felt similarly when I first started in Fujifilm: it was like a breath of fresh air—cool, crisp, mountain air. That was before I had even discovered the great JPEG output of the cameras, and before I had begun to make recipes. It must be even more refreshing nowadays, with so many resources available—such as Fuji X Weekly. It’s an honor to help others also experience that “fresh air” that Fujifilm cameras can provide. I knew that I wanted the next interview to be with Matt, so the following morning I asked if he’d be willing. Thankfully, he was very enthusiastic, and we were able to accomplish it rather quickly. So, without any further delay, here’s my interview with Matt Giesow!
FXW: Hi, Matt! Thank you so much for taking time out of your day today to do this interview! Let’s begin at the beginning. Tell me how you got started in photography?
Matt Giesow: Hey, Ritchie! I’m a self-taught photographer, dating back to 2017 from “YouTube University”—that, and being on staff at a pretty creative church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, created a great launching pad into the world of photography and videography.
FXW: What was your first camera?
Matt Giesow: An iPhone 4 and the VSCO app. My first camera purchased to learn photography on was the Canon 80D.
FXW: What were your early photographic interests?
Matt Giesow: I remember when instagram first came out, I tried to make my shots look like film using Insta’s built-in filters [laughter]. Today and I’m still interested in photographing people, places, and things with a nostalgic vintage look.
FXW: What are your current photographic interests? What do you shoot just for fun?
Matt Giesow: I enjoy street photography. Exploring cities—both ones I know and ones that I’ve not yet been to—and finding hidden gems to capture. I also enjoy photographing my family (I’m a proud dad), documenting all of our memories.
FXW: Tell me about your production company. How did you get started with that?
Matt Giesow: VAST Media started about four years ago with a desire for me to create what could exist. We primarily focus within architecture and the real estate market. I have grown the business from a solo entrepreneur to a full team and a full service company now. It’s been amazing to be a part of it from day one—with the vision of the company—to now continuing to work within the company and have several people alongside me helping to move it forward.
FXW: What services do you provide?
Matt Giesow: VAST provides real estate listing marketing, brand advertising, and full-scale video production for anyone—from a business owner to a real estate agent to major organizations—that need to share their brand and story.
FXW: What else would you like people to know about VAST Media?
Matt Giesow: What I want people to know is that VAST Media is more than a single person with a camera. From the moment it launched, my goal was to make it not about me but about we. Often people get stuck relying on one solo creative. I wanted to create a brand that, no matter who showed up from my team, was consistent, and the brand was apparent—it’s all under one umbrella, and the product was not contingent upon a single person.
FXW: What made you pick up a Fujifilm camera?
Matt Giesow: Shooting with Sony cameras throughout most of my professional career, I always wondered about owning a Fuji. This last year I began to experiment with 35mm film photography. I realized very quickly that I love the process of shooting film, but I always want my images right away [laughter]. I found the solution to my problem on the Fuji X Weekly website, where I discovered Film Simulation Recipes. I began to see what shooters like me were doing to scratch that itch. I headed to eBay and quickly found an overpriced Fujifilm X100V and went for it. The X100V is my first and only Fujifilm camera at the moment.
FXW: What do you like most about it?
Matt Giesow: It’s been a dream to shoot with! So small—it’s a daily carry. I find myself pulling the car off numerous times throughout the day to get out and snap something that, in the past, I would have used my iPhone to capture. I love shooting straight out of camera with the film simulations baked in. It’s totally changed the way I shoot! Enjoying the process now, something that only 35mm film had given me before.
FXW: Which Film Simulation Recipes do you like best and why?
Matt Giesow: Classic Negative is my go-to recipe in most scenarios for color. It fits the vibe and style that for years I tried to edit my Sony photos to look like. It’s perfect for street photography, travel—the reds are just gorgeous! Reggie’s Portra and Kodak Gold 200 are some other big favorites. For black-and-white, Ilford XP2 Super 400 is my go-to for darker, punchier pictures, and Ilford HP5 Plus 400 is my favorite for slightly softer, less contrasty black and white photos.
FXW: How has using Fujifilm cameras impacted your professional photography and your personal photography?
Matt Giesow: Honestly, picking up a FujiFilm camera has been a breath of fresh air. Over the years I’ve invested a great deal in filling our gear lockers at VAST Media, but I’ve never had a personal connection with a camera quite like I do with my X100V. For me, shooting with a fixed focal length, and working so hard to nail the perfect shot in-camera is causing me to sharpen areas of my craft that I didn’t even realize were dull. This in turn has kindled a new passion for photography that makes me feel like I did back in the beginning. The X100V doesn’t replace my ”professional” arsenal, but it’s a happy addition to every set I am on. The ability to take incredible behind-the-scenes photos on-set straight out of camera and deliver something right to the client’s hands before leaving is something very new—and I love it!
FXW: In wrapping this up, is there anything else you’d like to say?
Matt Giesow: A big “thank you” to you, Ritchie, for Fuji X Weekly! The Fuji community is just a different breed—friendly, helpful, and encouraging. It’s so great.
FXW: Thanks again, Matt, for allowing me to interview you!
Matt Giesow: Cheers!
All of the photographs in this article are © Matt Giesow, who captured them using his Fujifilm X100V and various Film Simulation Recipes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
All photographs © Troy Paiva