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Yesterday, I did a photowalk around Gilbert, Arizona, with my Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 27mm f/2.8. Inspired by the Route 66: Sun n Sand Motel — Trying Recipes (That Are Not Mine…) article that I published a couple of days ago, I loaded five Film Simulation Recipes that I didn’t create into my camera to try out. This post is the result of that exercise.
I found these recipes at various places across the web. The first is “Classic Neg Fade” by Luis Costa, which can be found on his website, Life, Unintended. The second is “Chrome Urban” by Jamie Chance, which can be found on his website, Jamie Chance Travels. For his recipe, I set Color Chrome Effect & Color Chrome FX Blue to Off and Clarity to -2. Next is “Diffused Chrome” by Toqeer Sethi, which can be found on the Fuji X Weekly Community Recipe page. Then there’s “Soft Cinnamon” by Justin Gould, which can be found on his website, Film.Recipes. Finally, there’s “AstiAmore” by Thomas Schwab, which can be found on the Fuji X Weekly Community Recipe page. There are, of course, many other sources on the internet where you can find Film Simulation Recipes.
I chose these specific ones simply because they seemed interesting to me, so I wanted to try them out for myself. And they’re each good. I don’t know if I used them in the situations where they work best—for example, “Diffused Chrome” seems to be more intended for night photography (yet, in daylight, it produces a soft Kodak-negative-like aesthetic). I ended up using “Soft Cinnamon” the most, although not necessarily on-purpose. “AstiAmore” is one I’ve tried before, but wanted to use again.
I’ve been thinking about community a lot lately. Oxford Languages defines “community” as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common interests….” Within the photographic realm, I do believe there’s no greater feeling of fellowship than that of those who share the common interest of Fujifilm X cameras. Yet we’re all strangers—perhaps you know a few other Fujifilm photographers, but most of us have never met. I want to do my part to foster this Fujifilm fellowship, but I’m not exactly sure what that means right now. Like a surfer who feels the wave building even before it can be seen, I feel that something is brewing, but I just can’t see it yet—I don’t have a clear vision of what it will look like.
All of this was in my mind as I received feedback from yesterday’s post, Is Fujifilm Losing Its Soul? Because that article got shared around the web (I wouldn’t call it “viral” but it did receive a lot of attention), there were non-Fuji X Weekly people commenting and messaging me. Some of it was good input, but some of it was just downright mean and nasty (you won’t find it because I deleted it). Websites like PetaPixel, DPReview, and even sadly Fujirumors, are crawling with trolls, yet this website has largely remained troll-free (yea!). Occasionally one comes along, but it’s pretty rare; however, when articles get shared to the general photographic community, sometimes nasty parasites come with that, unfortunately. I almost let that negativity stop me from sharing this article; thankfully, I didn’t. I’m privileged and honored to be part of this community, which is you guys and gals, because you are good people.
I hope that this “feeling of fellowship” can grow stronger. I think it has to go beyond the anonymity of the internet, beyond our phones and computers, and be more personal. I don’t have the “how” worked out, but perhaps that’s just around the corner. I feel the first step that I can take right now is this article, which is an impromptu casual collaboration with you. I’m always quite busy, but I hope to do more of this in the coming days, weeks, and months if I can. If there’s a particular Film Simulation Recipe that you’d like me to try, post a link to it in the comments.
“The first recipe on my camera right now….” —Luis Costa
“This setting has grown without doubt into my favorite, every day, go-to simulation.” —Jamie Chance
“This recipe has been created to be used with a fast prime to keep the noise level down….” —Toqeer Sethi
“A gentle recipe with a subtle cinnamon tone to the neutrals. Delicious!” —Justin Gould
“This recipe is a modification of Ritchie’s original Kodak Ektar 100 recipe.” —Thomas Schwab
If you don’t have the Fuji X Weekly App on your phone, download it for free today (Android, iOS)! For those who are Fuji X Weekly App Patrons, you can use the Blank Recipe Card feature to manually input recipes into the App, so if you like any or all of the ones above, you can save them to your phone and take them with you on the go. Also, if you have an iPhone, check out RitchieCam!
The possible number of potential Film Simulation Recipes is almost unlimited. For example, on my Fujifilm X-E4, there are 750 different Kelvin White Balance options that could be selected, and 361 unique White Balance Shifts that could be assigned to each of those different Kelvin options, which means that, if all other settings were identical, you could create over 270,000 different recipes just by changing the White Balance and Shift. Granted, many would look extremely similar to others, but they’d be at least a little different. My point is that there can be millions and millions of potential recipes for Fujifilm cameras, particularly the newer cameras which have more JPEG options. I’ve “only” created just under 250 recipes for Fujifilm cameras—I’ve barely scratched the surface!
Some of you have created your own Film Simulation Recipes. A handful of you have even had your recipes included on this website and in the Fuji X Weekly App. I love that you are diving into your camera settings, getting creative, and sharing the results with the community—it’s all so wonderful! I’m very honored to be a part of all this, and to have a front-row seat.
I’ve shared before where you can find many of these Film Simulation Recipes that were created by others (recipes that are not by me), but today I want to point you to some specific ones: “C1 Classic Neg” by Luis Costa (Life, Unintended), “Aged Negative” by Justin Gould (Fuji X Weekly Community Recipes), and “Kodak Portra 66” by Justin Gould (Film.Recipes). Why these ones? They looked particularly interesting to me for the subject that I wanted to use them for.
The photographs in this article were not captured with these recipes, but instead were RAW files reprocessed in-camera to apply the recipes to exposures already captured. I used my Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 27mm lens (originally with my Fujicolor Natura 1600 recipe) to photograph the burnt Sun n Sand motel in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. This hotel first opened along Route 66 in the 1950’s, had major renovations in the late-1990’s, and closed for good in 2013 after a severe storm caused major damaged. Apparently homeless moved in after it closed, and sometime later (although I couldn’t find exactly when) fire damaged much of the property. It seems to be in the process of being demolished, albeit slowly. The Sun n Sand motel has been left in a sad state, and the opportunities to photograph this somewhat-iconic site along The Mother Road are fleeting. I’m glad that I had the opportunity.
“Ironically, I think it resembles Slide film much more than Negative film!” —Luis Costa
“It reminds me of prints I made from 35mm film in the 1980s.” —Justin Gould
“Some things seem to be made to go together, and in our world of film simulations and recipes, it’s Kodak Portra and fading Americana.” —Justin Gould
If any (or all) of these Film Simulation Recipes look interesting to you, please visit Luis’ and Justin’s websites—they have many more! I haven’t personally used most of them, but there are plenty that look pretty good to me, based off of the sample pictures. I’m sure many of you will appreciate them. If you have the Fuji X Weekly App, tap the circle-with-dots icon at the top-right, and you can manually add these (or any other recipes) into the App, if you want to take them with you on the go. Don’t have the Fuji X Weekly App? Download it for free today!
This review of the Moment Tele 58mm cellphone lens is long overdue. When I started developing the RitchieCam iPhone camera app about a year ago, I figured it would be a good idea to get some external lenses for my iPhone 11, which would come in handy when needing to capture the example pictures. While there are a number of companies that offer lenses that can be attached to your cellphone, the Moment offerings stood out to me as the “better” option, so that’s what I chose.
To use Moment’s lenses, you must also use their phone case, because that’s how the lenses mount to your phone. They have a case for many phone makes and models, so there’s a good chance there’s one available for your device. The case is good quality, and has survived nearly a year of heavy use and abuse. I cannot tell you how many times that I’ve dropped my phone and thought it was done for, yet it survived unscathed, without even a scratch! While I’m sure there are cases that offer more protection, I’m pretty darn impressed with how good the Moment case has been.
One cool thing about the Moment case is that it has the “MagSafe” stuff built-in. I have this tripod-mount accessory that attaches to the case (via magnetism), which has come in handy a number of times. It’s a really good method to mount your cellphone to a tripod, if that’s something you do. There are a number of other accessories that you can buy that also use magnets to attach to your case, but the only one that I personally have used is that tripod accessory.
I had never used an external lens before with a cellphone, so I was definitely a novice when I started—I didn’t really realize how it all worked. On my iPhone 11 case, the lens mounts only over the main camera. The iPhone 11 has two rear facing cameras: 1x (26mm full-frame-equivalent) and 0.5x (13mm full-frame-equivalent). The Moment lenses cannot mount over the 13mm lens, only over the 26mm lens.
I have two Moment lenses: 18mm and 58mm. The Moment lenses are actually “conversion” lenses, and the millimeter numbers don’t actually mean anything. The 18mm is a 0.5x wide conversion lens, and the 58mm is a 2x tele conversion lens. Using the 18mm lens on the 26mm camera actually makes it 13mm, which is the same focal length of the second camera. In other words, the 18mm lens is pointless for the iPhone 11; however, I’m sure it makes sense for other cellphones. The 58mm lens makes the main camera 52mm, which is a very useful focal-length. The focal-length that these lenses will be on your cellphone depends on the focal-length of the cameras on your cellphone (either times by .5 for the 18mm lens or times by 2 for the 58mm lens). Clear as mud? I think if Moment had simply called the one lens 2x teleconverter and the other .5x wide-converter (instead of using millimeter numbers) it would save a lot of confusion. As you can imagine, the Moment Tele 58mm lens is the one that I used by far the most.
Initially I was disappointed by these lenses. I think my expectations were significantly askew. I figured that I’d be impressed by the image quality when using these lenses vs. not using them; however, the image quality will never be greater than that of the lens permanently attached to your cellphone. These lenses won’t improve on what the manufacturer installed on your device. Instead, what you get is either a longer or more wide-angle focal length without a loss in image quality. It’s much better to use the 58mm lens than “zoom by cropping” (a.k.a. digital zoom). The image quality produced by these lenses is determined mostly by the image quality produced by your phone.
The reason to use the Moment Tele 58mm lens is to double the reach of your built-in cellphone lens without degrading the image quality (or, if it does degrade the image quality, it’s extraordinarily minimal and not really noticeable). That’s what this lens does, and it does it well. It doesn’t do much else, so keep your expectations in check.
When I carry the 58mm lens with me, I get three focal-length options on my iPhone 11: 13mm (using the 0.5x camera), 26mm (using the 1x camera without the Moment lens), and 52mm (using the 1x camera with the 58mm lens). Those are all excellent focal-lengths to have available. While I prefer to use my Fujifilm cameras over my cellphone, as Chase Jarvis coined, the best camera is the one you have with you, which is sometimes my cellphone. When I do use my cellphone for photography, I appreciate having the Moment Tele 58mm lens, because it affords me additional flexibility.
I said two paragraphs ago that this lens “doesn’t do much else” which isn’t completely true. There’s a small amount of pincushion distortion, which, when combined with the distortion in the iPhone 11 camera, can do some weird things to straight lines when photographing brick walls. The solution: don’t photograph brick walls. There’s also some interesting lens flare that shows up sometimes (see picture below), which I personally like, but maybe you won’t, depending on how you feel about lens flare. The Moment lens is also softer in the corners than the 1x iPhone camera.
The build quality of the Moment Tele 58mm lens is excellent, made of metal and glass. It has six elements in four groups, and the glass has multi-layered anti-reflective coating. It comes with a lens cap and carrying bag. The lens is small enough that you can easily take it with you, although when attached to the phone, it’s unlikely that the phone will fit into your pocket (unless you have particularly large pockets).
I have used the Moment Tele 58mm lens for nearly a year now. It’s not an essential cellphone accessory, but it’s certainly nice to have around. I found the lens and the Moment case (that you are required to have in order to use the lens)—plus the tripod-mount accessory—to be useful to me. If you do a lot of cellphone photography, you might want to take a closer look at these Moment products, and consider if they might be useful to you, too. Like a lot of things in the photography world, these products are not cheap, but if you think you’ll use them regularly, they might very well be worth the cost. The best place to find these products is on Moment’s website.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
What is RitchieCam? It’s an easy-to-use streamlined camera app intended to bring one-step photography to the iPhone. You’ll find 18 analog-inspired filters so that you don’t have to edit your mobile pictures if you don’t want to. I think you will appreciate the app, yet it is designed for anyone and everyone with an iPhone, and not just photographers. You can read all about it at RitchieCam.com. The app is intended to be a useful free tool, yet for $9.99 (USD +Tax annually) you can unlock all of the filters and features for the best app experience.
The seventh issue of FXW Zine is out, and if you are a Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective subscriber, you can download it now!
What’s in the June issue? The cover story is Culleoka Kodachrome, which is a photography project that I undertook last month while in rural Texas using the Kodachrome 64 Film Simulation Recipe. There are a total of 28 photographs this month, including the cover image (above). I hope that you find it enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring!
If you haven’t joined the Creative Collective, consider subscribing today to get access to bonus articles and the FXW Zine—not just this issue, but the first six issues, too!
I stumbled across an old police car while in Branson, Missouri. If you’ve never been to Branson (I hadn’t), it’s a quirky tourist town, so finding unusual things—such as a 1950’s Ford police car—parked along a road for seemingly no reason isn’t unusual. I had my Fujifilm X-E4 with the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens with me, so I decided to snap a couple of pictures. I used the Fujicolor Natura 1600 Film Simulation Recipe for these images.
To my surprise, the car was unlocked, so I opened the doors and captured some pictures of the inside. One of the windows was broken, and it smelled strongly of mold inside, so I didn’t climb in; instead, I stood outside while reaching inside with the camera. Most of my pictures are of the inside—the outside had a ton of reflections, and I didn’t have a polarizer, so it was extremely difficult to capture the car without capturing myself, too.
I’m not an automotive expert, so I could be completely wrong, but I believe this is a 1957 Ford 300 (if you know, let me know in the comments!). Because Branson is a weird town, it’s possible that this never was an actual police car, but was simply made to look like one. Whatever the case, it’s kind of a shame that it is left the way it is because it’s clearly deteriorating. This would be a great restoration project for someone, but it’s probably not for sale. I’m just glad that I stumbled upon it, and decided to photograph it with my Fujifilm camera.
I had an epiphany today. It’s been building in my mind for several days now, but it was only today that I believe I fully understood it: photograph wherever you are. Whichever place it is that you find yourself, capture it with your camera.
When I was 16-years-old, my family moved to a small unincorporated community in Texas called Culleoka, which is north of Dallas near Lake Lavon. At that time it was in the middle of nowhere—and it still is—but the city has been inching closer and closer, and is now at its doorstep. I finished high school while there and enrolled in college. I studied photography for two years before leaving home—and Texas—at 19. That was a long time ago; however, my parents still live in the same house in Culleoka.
I bring up all of this because I realized that, despite learning photography while I lived there, and despite all of the times that I’ve visited over the years, I’ve never photographed Culleoka. I never thought this place was photographically interesting. I always traveled elsewhere with my camera, whether it was McKinney, Plano, Dallas, or any number of other towns in the region. I never photographed where I lived.
Visiting my parents now, for some reason—maybe because I’m older—I find Culleoka to be a much more interesting place. Yes, there’s still not much to see. If you blinked while driving through you’d miss it. There’s a gas station. A Dollar General, which is a fairly new addition. An auto body shop. A fireworks stand. A couple of churches. Maybe a couple hundred people live in Culleoka, many in mobile homes. There’s access to Lake Lavon at the far edge.
I regret now not photographing where I was, because there’s actually a lot of opportunity, if only I had had an open mind. I didn’t see it before. I just thought it was a boring place. Those “other places” were much more fascinating. I had to drive somewhere else to capture interesting pictures. Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you believe that wherever it is you are isn’t worth your camera’s attention, and because you see it day in and day out it is difficult to view it with fresh eyes.
How do you view a highly familiar location with fresh eyes? For me, I think it was just being away for a few years. Actually, I saw some interesting sunlight on the gas station, and a lightbulb went off in my mind. I was reminded of Wim Winders book Written in the West, which inspired me to photograph Culleoka using my Fujifilm X-E4 programmed with the Kodachrome 64 Film Simulation Recipe. Some ideas are to envision yourself as a tourist experiencing the place for the first time, simply keeping a photographic eye out for interesting light, or reading photography books where some pictures are similar to your current location.
Just because you believe that where you are is uninteresting, doesn’t mean there aren’t things worth photographing. You have to keep a constant eye out. Maybe you need to view it through a fresh perspective. Perhaps you just need to get out with your camera on a regular basis and keep at it until you finally “see it” as some new inspiration hits you—I think just getting out with your camera is the best advice that I have.
Don’t be like me and fail to photograph where you are. Just because you don’t think it is worthwhile doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile—with a fresh perspective, you’re likely to find things that actually are interesting, things you maybe passed by hundreds of times and it never caught your attention. You have a great opportunity, and perhaps an interesting series of pictures will emerge from it.
It’s an easy trap to think that you have to go someplace else in order to capture interesting pictures. I certainly believed that for awhile, even though I used to say that the job of a photographer is to find the extraordinary in the mundane. I didn’t always practice what I preached—I assumed that where I was wasn’t interesting enough—but my statement was correct: it’s my job to find what others overlook in the places I find myself, and create compelling pictures with my camera. I hope that I’ve accomplished that this time around.
Some of the pictures that I captured in Colleoka, Texas, over the last few days:
Find this Film Simulation Recipe and over 200 more on the Fuji X Weekly App, available for both Android and iPhone.
If you have an iPhone, be sure to check out my iPhone camera app: RitchieCam! Find it in the Apple App Store.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Fujifilm produced Fujicolor Natura 1600, a high-ISO color negative film, from 2003 through 2017. It was only sold in Japan, but it became renown worldwide as word got out about this wonderful film. A lot of speculation has surrounded it. Is it simply renamed Fujicolor Superia 1600? Many people think so. Is it slightly modified Superia 1600 for Japanese skin-tones? Some people think so. Is it slightly modified Superia 1600 made specifically for the Fujifilm Natura camera? Perhaps so. I haven’t found any definitive evidence to conclude if Natura 1600 is unmodified Supera 1600 or a slightly modified variant of it—if it isn’t identical, it’s very similar.
I have a Fujicolor Superia 1600 Film Simulation Recipe already, and it’s a recipe that I personally quite like. I had no desire to remake it, but (you know) one film can have many different aesthetics, depending on a whole host of factors, including (but not limited to) how it was shot, developed, and scanned. With that in mind, I looked at Fujicolor Natura 1600 examples that I found online, and from scratch (not using the Superia 1600 recipe as a starting point) I made a whole new recipe to mimic Natura 1600—not surprisingly, the settings ended up being similar to the Superia 1600 recipe. Alternatively, this could be called Fujicolor Superia 1600 v2.
A fun thing that I did for some of these pictures is set the ISO to 1600—I think the results are especially good at that particular ISO; however, it’s more practical to use a larger range of ISOs. So set the ISO to 1600 if you’d like, or set it to Auto (up to ISO 6400) if you’d prefer—I tried both, and found either to be acceptable. This particular recipe is only compatible with the Fujifilm X-T4, X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II cameras. If you have an X100V or X-Pro3 and want to use this recipe, I suggest setting Highlight to -1 and Shadow to +2. The results will be similar, but not identical.
Dynamic Range: DR400
Noise Reduction: -4
Grain Effect: Strong, Large
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Strong
White Balance: 5500K, -1 Red & -2 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +1 (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this “Fujicolor Natura 1600” Film Simulation Recipe on a Fujifilm X-E4:
Fujicolor Natura 1600 recipe compared to the Fujicolor Superia 1600 recipe:
Find this film simulation recipes and over 200 more on the Fuji X Weekly — Film Recipes App!
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I’ve called Utah home for six years, but now it’s time to move on. It’s bitter-sweet, as I will certainly miss the unbelievable natural beauty of the state, but I’m excited for the new adventures that await. Utah is a great place to live—I feel very lucky to have called it home.
What you don’t know is that (quite literally) as soon as the last episode of SOOC ended, I began packing. And loading. And everything else that goes along with moving. I’ve been extraordinarily busy, to say the least! I apologize for not being very responsive to comments and emails and such over the last couple of weeks. I’m definitely behind on that, but I hope to catch up soon. I appreciate your patience!
What now? Where am I going?
The family and I started out on an epic all-American road-trip. We’ll be traveling for five weeks (!!!), which will allow for some awesome picture opportunities (and probably a few new Film Simulation Recipes). My goal is to keep up with Fuji X Weekly and all the other projects that I have going on, including SOOC, which will be live on May 12. I think some days will be particularly productive, and some days will be especially not, but with some luck it will all work out. I just ask for a little patience during those less-productive periods.
After the road trip is complete, we will end up in Arizona. We’re saying goodbye to mountains and trees and snow and hello to deserts and cacti and sunshine. We’ll get there just in time for the heat of summer, and I hope that we survive (I mean that humorously)—my wife and I used to live there years ago (it’s where we met and got married), so in a way it is a homecoming.
Utah was very good and will be greatly missed; however, many wonderful new experiences are just around the corner, and we’re very excited for that. Be sure to follow my journey on this blog and on Instagram!
I receive a lot of feedback—while most of it is positive, some of it is negative. Negative feedback isn’t inherently bad—in fact, it can be extraordinarily valuable—so I’m happy to receive it; however, not all of it is equal: there’s constructive criticism and destructive criticism.
Just guessing, about 70% of the negative feedback could be classified as destructive criticism, which is simply a put-down. It’s negativity for the sake of negativity. It’s meant to make the person saying it feel better about themselves by way of making someone else (me in this case) feel worse about themselves. People are mean sometimes, and that’s just the way it is. The world needs less destructive criticism and more kindness—the antidote is to be the kindness that the world desperately needs.
Constructive criticism is negative feedback that is meant well and is given with the intention of being helpful. Roughly 30% of negative feedback is constructive criticism. Within this, there are two sources: those who you should listen to and those who you shouldn’t. Just because someone has a complaint about something and they mean well doesn’t mean that you should listen to them. Do you trust them? Are they an authority or have some specific experience that makes them particularly qualified to offer quality advice? I would estimate that it is fifty-fifty on whether the constructive criticism is something valuable or not. That 15% of negative feedback that is constructive and from a trustworthy source is pure gold and much appreciated—well worth weeding through the 85% that isn’t.
Sometimes there are grey areas. Sometimes it’s not clear if the criticism is constructive or destructive, or whether the source is someone I should listen to or not. I tend to spend a lot of energy on these criticisms because I’m trying to figure out if there is value in it. So I have to process it. One such “grey area” criticism that I recently received is this: the pictures in one of my articles were not good enough for the words and subject—the article demanded better pictures to illustrate the point, and because the pictures weren’t good enough, I shouldn’t have published the article. Ouch!
One thing that I’ve always struggled with is curation. Advice that I’ve received over and over and over again is that I should only show the best of the best photographs. If you only show the absolute cream-of-the-crop pictures, people will think you’re a better photographer. Perception is reality, right? People will think you’re a great photographer if all of the photographs of yours that they view are great. But if they start seeing mediocre images, they’ll think you are a mediocre photographer. The truth is that everyone—even the greatest photographers—captures “lesser” pictures sometimes, but some people don’t share those pictures, so nobody knows.
I think sometimes showing these mediocre pictures is more authentic and honest. I’m not sure where the line should drawn when trying to balance perception with vulnerability. Obviously you want people to think the best of you; however, if what you let them see is too carefully curated then you’ll come across as fake, or you’ll leave people disappointed if they do ever find out the truth. I find this to be a tough balancing act. I share more of my frames than most people do, and perhaps I do show too many “lesser” pictures, and that might not be good.
Because I share some of my mediocre pictures with you on this website, I’m able to publish more content. If I waited until I had 12 or more great photographs before publishing a Film Simulation Recipe, I’d have far, far fewer recipes. That’s always a struggle: quality vs. quantity. I have a large quantity of material, but have I not focused enough on quality? Have I sacrificed quality too often for the sake of quantity? Does the quality make the content relatable? These are questions that I ask myself, but I don’t have good answers to them. I hope that I can continuously review and refine what I do, and hopefully this website becomes better and better with time.
Am I not curating enough? I’m I publishing too much content too quickly? What is the right balance? I have to really consider these things. Perhaps these are questions you, too, are pondering. I’d love to hear what you think, especially if this is something you are working through yourself or have had to work through in the past. If you have criticisms, please try to make them constructive and not destructive, but I definitely want to hear your feedback, so leave me a note in the comments!
Do straight-out-of-camera JPEGs from Fujifilm X cameras actually resemble film?
I used to shoot film. I learned photography at the height of film, in the late-1990’s. I disliked digital when it began to get popular. Yes, I was a film snob for at least a decade, almost two. I don’t want to rehash my journey (you can read about it here), but I simply want to convey that for a long time I was a film-only guy, and I have a lot of experience with it. Now I rarely shoot film (only occasionally); instead, I use Fujifilm X cameras. I make Film Simulation Recipes that often mimic various film stocks and analog processes. I know a thing or two about film, Fujifilm, and making Fujifilm resemble film.
But does it? Can SOOC JPEGs really resemble film?
Why I’m writing this post is because I stumbled upon two articles on The Phoblogger: Fujifilm vs Film Photography and We Challenge You to Identify the Fujifilm Negative Film vs Simulation. Neither of these articles are particularly profound, and Film Simulation Recipes are not mentioned, and I’m pretty sure not used. I don’t know if any of my tips for achieving a film-look in-camera were implemented, but probably not. However, as I read these two articles I began to contemplate: what makes a film photograph special, why do we even want our digital pictures to look like film, and can they?
The answer to the first question—what makes film photographs special?—is soul. Digital and film, while very similar, have unique attributes—there are advantages and disadvantages for each. Digital is often very mathematical and clinical, which certainly serves a purpose. Film is more random and serendipitous, which is the character that gives it soul. With digital, the possibilities for an exposure are endless, but with film it is much more limited—yes, there’s a lot that can be done in the darkroom, but you’re still limited by the film itself and how it was shot. You get what you get—especially if it’s slide film—but that’s the fun of it.
You might want your digital pictures to look like film for that analog soul. How can you get the best of both worlds and achieve a film-soul in a digital picture? How can you leave some of that clinical-ness behind and replace it with randomness and serendipity? My first advice is to use Fujifilm cameras, as Fujifilm has sought to use their vast film experience to infuse a little of that soul into their digital cameras. Next, I suggest shooting JPEG using Film Simulation Recipes, which make it a you-get-what-you-get process more similar to film. Then try some of my tips for achieving a film-look in-camera, such as diffusion filters, vintage glass, high-ISO, etc., etc.. This isn’t the only method, but simply what I use and recommend.
Can you capture digital pictures that resemble film? Could they actually trick someone into thinking you shoot film when you don’t? While I think the answer to both questions is “yes” (at least to some extent), I think they’re the wrong questions. Instead, the questions should be: what process works for me? And: do my pictures have soul?
If your process doesn’t really work for you, then change it. It took me years to figure out what process works for me: shooting SOOC JPEGs using Film Simulation Recipes on Fujifilm cameras. I don’t edit (aside from minor cropping, straightening, and very occasional small adjustments), which saves me tons of time. The three pictures in this article are recently captured camera-made JPEGs using different recipes on different cameras. That process is great for me, and it might be for you, too, but it’s not for everyone because people are different. You have to do what works for you and not worry about what others are doing.
While the serendipity of film gives it soul, and some of that soul can also be found in Fujifilm cameras (and even in other cameras and processes), the number one thing that gives a picture soul is the photographer. What you do with your photography gear to craft an image is what’s most important. When you infuse a bit of yourself into your images, that’s what makes it special—much more than anything else. So whether your pictures do or don’t resemble film doesn’t matter, just as long as your process works for you and you are photographing with vision. Capture the images that you want to create in the way that you want to create them. The rest just doesn’t matter.
There’s a photographic wonderland in the Pacific Northwest that everyone should visit if they have the opportunity: Fort Stevens State Park, which sits at the furthest northwest corner of Oregon where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. It’s about a 25 minute drive west of Astoria. There are many great picture opportunities at this historic location. If it’s your first visit, you might not know what you’ll find or where to begin—this article is intended to be a guide, so be sure to bookmark this if you think you might go.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll find at this incredible apex of Oregon!
Peter Iredale Shipwreck
Probably the most famous and most photographed landmark is the Peter Iredale shipwreck. This ship was a four-mast barque sailing vessel made of steel that, in 1906, was enroute to Portland from Santa Cruz, Mexico, with a load of rocks. High winds pushed the ship off course, and it ran aground at high tide near the Fort Stevens military base. Nobody was hurt, and for whatever reason the ship was left abandoned. What’s left of the ship can still be seen to this day, and is now an iconic picture location.
There are basically two times to photograph the Peter Iredale shipwreck: higher-tides and lower-tides. At higher-tides, the boat is partially covered in water and the waves crash into the metal remains. It’s less accessible and more photographically limited at high-tide than low-tide, and you’ll definitely want a telephoto lens, but it’s still worthwhile to capture some images. You can use the grassy sand-bluffs to frame the ship. At low-tide, you can walk right up to the ship—heck, you can drive right up to the ship! It’s most ideal if you can catch the shipwreck at low-tide and at sunset (this tide chart might be helpful), and a wide-angle lens will be your friend. Most likely you won’t be the only one at the boat, and it takes some patience to not get other people in your images (or yourself in their pictures).
Finding the shipwreck is super easy. Enter the park on the Peter Iredale Road and follow the well-marked signs (Google Maps). The parking lot is not far at all from the shipwreck, so it’s easily accessible. At low-tide you can drive right onto the beach (I suggest 4-wheel-drive), which makes it even more accessible.
Fort Stevens Military Base
Fort Stevens State Park has an intriguing past—if you are a military history buff, this is a must-see place! Fort Stevens was an active military instillation from 1863 to 1947. On June 21, 1942, a Japanese submarine fired 17 shells at the base. While several of the shells hit Fort Stevens, aside from several severed power lines and some damage to a baseball diamond, they didn’t do any major destruction and nobody was hurt. This was the only attack on the 48-contiguous states during World War II.
There are a lot of old military buildings in various conditions within the state park—about 25 structures, some of which are massive—and many of these are open to the public. It could be an all-day or even multi-day event to explore them all, or, if you’re not all that interested, can be briefly experienced within less than an hour. There are three sites: Fort Stevens Historic Area (Google Maps), Observation Pillbox (Google Maps), and Battery Russell (Google Maps). The Fort Stevens Historic Area is where most of the buildings are located plus the visitor’s center. The Observation Pillbox is accessible via hiking trails. Battery Russell is located not far from the Peter Iredale shipwreck, and can be easily explored right before or just after seeing the old boat.
For photography, wide-angle lenses are probably your best bet, and a large aperture option is a good idea. Consider bringing a tripod for shooting in the dark. Those interested in military history or abandoned buildings will find Fort Stevens State Park to be a treasure-trove of photographic opportunities!
There’s about four miles of sandy beach along the Pacific Ocean within Fort Stevens State Park. There’s also additional beach access on the Columbia River side of the park, which is interesting, too—especially if you want to see large ships coming and going—but the vast ocean with its lengthy sandy-beach is the real star.
At the south end is Strawberry Knoll (Google Maps), which is a good place for 4×4 vehicles to access the beach, but for everyone else will require a short hike to the ocean, and there’s limited parking. The easiest beach access is probably at the Peter Iredale shipwreck (Google Maps), which has more parking, but is also the most visited site. As you drive north on Jetty Road, Lot A (Google Maps) has easy beach access and plenty of parking, Lot B (Google Maps) has plenty of parking but it is a short hike to beach, Lot C (Google Maps) has an observation tower, a lot of rocks, a longer hike to the beach, and tons of parking, and Lot D (Google Maps) has plenty of easy beach access and parking, but technically this is the Columbia River side, and the water will be a lot more calm. Any of these locations can be good for photography.
I recommend having both telephoto and wide-angle lenses at your disposal. High-tide and low-tide can be interesting, and sunrise, midday, and sunset all offer interesting light. There’s no right or wrong time to go, and visiting at different times and during different conditions will give you vastly different photographic opportunities. I think one could spend days, weeks, or even months photographing the beaches at Fort Stevens and not run out of inspiration.
There are miles of hiking trails, thick forests, camping, ponds, lakes, and streams within Fort Stevens State Park. There’s abundant wildlife, including deer, elk, sea lions, bald eagles, heron, puffins, and occasionally gray whales off the coast. No matter where you are in the park, there are picture opportunities literally everywhere! The landscape is just incredible, and surprisingly varied. It might be easy to overlook all of this in-between the beach, shipwreck, and abandoned base, but don’t! Keep your eyes open, your adventurous spirit eager, and your camera ready, and you’re sure to capture some amazing yet unexpected pictures.
If you have the time and energy, the Fort Stevens/Jetty Loop/Ridge Loop Trail is great—mostly paved and fairly easy, but at nine-miles is a bit long (you don’t have to cover the whole thing). Coffenbury Lake (Google Maps) is worthwhile, and somewhat accessible from the Battery Russell parking lot.
If you are a wildlife photographer, you’ll definitely want to keep your long-telephoto lens handy. If you are a landscape photographer, wide-angle lenses will often be your best bet. Having a couple cameras, one with a telephoto lens and one with a wide-angle, or perhaps a good zoom lens, is a solid strategy.
Fort Stevens State Park is one of the most spectacular locations in northwest Oregon! It is a worthwhile photographic excursion that can be experienced in a day, but if you have more time to spend in the park you will surely be rewarded for it. Some parts of the park (Coffenbury Lake and Fort Stevens Historic Area) require a daily self-pay $5 parking fee per vehicle, and camping isn’t free, but otherwise the other parts of the park don’t have any fee to access.
I used three cameras to capture these pictures: Fujifilm X-E4, Fujifilm X100V, and iPhone 11. On the Fujifilm cameras I used various Film Simulation Recipes, and on my iPhone I used the RitchieCam app. All of the pictures in this article are unedited (aside from minor straightening and cropping, they’re straight-out-of-camera images), which means that I didn’t spend hours manipulating them in software. This is a great way to save time and make photography even more enjoyable. Capturing photographs that don’t require any post-processing is a wonderful way to streamline your workflow and simplify your photographic life. When traveling, where you’re making tons of exposures and opportunities to post-process those pictures are limited, things that save you time can make a huge difference. If you own a Fujifilm camera, I invite you to try Film Simulation Recipes (check out the App!) on your next photography outing. If you own an iPhone, download the RitchieCam camera app for free today!
Multnomah Falls is an iconic scenic stop along the historic Columbia River Highway in Oregon. Found within the Columbia River Gorge, it is the tallest year-round waterfall in Oregon, and the most visited natural site in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The famous footbridge was constructed in 1915, while the gift-shop at the bottom—originally a lodge—was built in 1925, and both are on the National Register of Historic Places. It is an incredible location to experience, with beauty that rivals what one might find within National Parks.
I recently visited Multnomah Falls, and used my Fujifilm X100V and iPhone 11 to photograph this amazing spot. Unsurprisingly, I had several of my Film Simulation Recipes programmed into my X100V, and I used my RitchieCam camera app on my iPhone. Because there is a lot of mist from the falls, and it was a rainy day (as is common there), having weather-sealed cameras was important—both the X100V (as long as a filter is on the front) and the iPhone can handle getting wet, and both did get wet. Really wet.
While it might seem unnecessary to carry both an X100V and an iPhone, that turned out not to be the case for two reasons: focal-length, and ease of sharing. The X100V has a very useful 34.5mm (equivalent) focal-length lens, while the iPhone 11 has a 26mm (equivalent) camera and 13mm (equivalent) camera (if I had the “Pro” version, it would also include a 52mm camera, but alas I don’t have that model). The X100V was wide-angle enough to capture some good photographs of the falls, but the wider-angle lenses on the iPhone 11 were often better options, and I used it more than the Fujifilm camera at this location. To the second point, I was able to text pictures of the falls to some family and friends immediately—before even getting back to the car—and share with you via social media pictures of the falls within minutes. The X100V pictures were pretty quick and easy to share, too—thanks to the wonderful JPEG output of the camera—but not quite as immediate as the iPhone images.
What’s better, X100V or iPhone? For pure image quality, the Fujifilm camera is hands down better, but that only really matters if you are viewing the pictures large. Looking at them on this website or on social media, the quality difference is hard to spot, and even if you can see it, the quality difference is pretty insignificant. If you were viewing 11″ x 14″ prints of the pictures, the quality difference would still be fairly small, although if you compared them side-by-side you could tell without much trouble that the X100V is superior. But if you are viewing 16″ x 20″ prints or larger, the iPhone images just don’t hold up nearly as well as the Fujifilm. So the X100V is definitely the better tool if you might print the pictures large, but the iPhone is a capable tool if you don’t think you’ll be printing large—let’s face it, most pictures don’t get printed large, or even printed at all.
There’s no reason why both the X100V and the iPhone (or other cellphone camera) can’t both live together in peace and harmony. They’re different photographic tools that have different advantages and disadvantages, and they can both serve purposes within your photography. Film Simulation Recipes make the Fujifilm workflow more streamlined and the process more enjoyable. RitchieCam does the same thing for your iPhone photography. One tool might be better in a certain circumstance, and the other might be better in another circumstance, and perhaps both might be useful in a circumstance like Multnomah Falls.
Do you like the Fujifilm X100V pictures better, the iPhone pictures better, some of each, or none at all? Which Film Simulation Recipe that I used do you prefer? Which RitchieCam filter did the best? Let me know what you think in the comments!
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Reflections are everywhere, and sometimes we try to photographically avoid them. In fact, you might even use a polarizer filter to reduce reflections. But you can incorporate reflections into your photography and use them creatively, making them an element of your pictures. Let’s take a look!
Fujifilm sent me an X-Pro3 to try for a few weeks. I put it through its paces as best as I could in that short time, and wanted to publish a review; however, what fresh insight can I give that hasn’t already been said over and over? Instead of rehashing all the technical data you probably already have known for awhile, I thought I’d simply answer this question: Is the Fujifilm X-Pro3 still a camera worth buying in 2022? And, is this a camera that you should consider?
The X-Pro3 was originally released in November of 2019, which was more than two years ago. In the digital era, a lot of people “upgrade” their gear every two-ish years, so does that mean the X-Pro3 is beginning to feel dated? Will it seem old even though you bought it brand-new? Will the X-Pro4 be announced the day after your X-Pro3 arrives in the mail?
Fujifilm sent me a well-used X-Pro3, but it was still in great shape. The majority of the reviews you find on the internet were probably from this exact same body. I won’t say that I got it last, but more-or-less that’s true.
It’s still a very similar size, weight, shape, and design as the original X-Pro1—Fujifilm didn’t change much externally over the last decade, but what they did change has certainly caused a lot of controversy. The headline change, of course, is the backwards-mounted rear screen, which forces you to use the hybrid-viewfinder for most of your photography, and only use the rear LCD when you absolutely have to. While I thought I’d love this, I think the execution was lacking, and I found it frustrating at times. Instead of folding down, I think flipping out to the side, and then twisting up or down, would have made a lot more sense. I think removing the D-Pad was a bit of a mistake, too.
Image quality on the X-Pro3 is fantastic—exactly the same as the X100V, X-T4, and the other X-Trans IV cameras. Unfortunately, and despite this being a “premium” model, Fujifilm hasn’t given this camera the Kaizen love that it deserves, and you won’t find Eterna Bleach Bypass, half-step Highlight and Shadow adjustments, or the two new Auto White Balance options. This is a real shame, because otherwise it would feel just as up-to-date as the latest models, but instead it has a sense of being slightly dated. The X-E4, the current entry-level model, has more JPEG options than the X-Pro3, and that just doesn’t seem right to me.
Enough of the negativity, though, because the X-Pro3 is an awesome camera! I thoroughly enjoyed using it. It is such a beautiful model, and is just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. I can’t imagine anyone hating it. Yeah, it has a couple disappointing design choices, but if you are aware of those things going into the purchase, you won’t be disappointed. Best-looking body combined with Fujifilm’s fantastic film simulations is a winner in my books!
Here’s something that maybe hasn’t been talked about much: the ability to save TIFFs. Most Fujifilm models can either do RAW or JPEG (or RAW+JPEG), but you have an additional option of TIFF on the X-Pro3. I didn’t notice any image quality difference between TIFF and JPEG, but the TIFF should allow you more room for editing before the files start to degrade. There’s also the potential that the TIFFs, having more bits, do actually deliver an improved image quality, but if so it is really subtle and I couldn’t tell.
The X-Pro3, though, isn’t a practical purchase—it’s emotional. The rational side of your brain will tell you that the X-T4 is slightly better and slightly cheaper. The rational side of your brain will tell you that the X-E4 is much cheaper, smaller, and lighter, yet basically the same thing, and since you rarely shoot in the rain you don’t really need weather-sealing anyway. But the emotional side tells you that those cameras aren’t as timeless as the X-Pro line. The X-Pro3 is a beast that you’ll keep and use and love for ages. It’s your Leica, except that it’s Fujifilm.
On a more serious note, though, the X-Pro3 is a solid body that balances well with larger lenses. Sometimes, on my smaller cameras, my bigger and heavier lenses are a bit awkward to use, but not on the X-Pro3. If you often use these larger and heavier lenses, you might appreciate the larger, sturdier body of the X-Pro3.
While X-Trans V is just around the corner, I don’t believe that the X-Pro4 is going to be announced anytime soon—I think maybe in 2023, but I’d be pretty shocked if Fujifilm replaced the X-Pro3 anytime this year. I’ve certainly been wrong before, but I haven’t heard anything about an upcoming X-Pro4 on the horizon.
I think by-and-large those who would love the X-Pro3 know who they are already. If you are uncertain, that’s a pretty good indication that this camera isn’t for you. That’s not to say you’d dislike it, but you should strongly consider a different model instead. For those who are pretty confident that the X-Pro3 is the camera for them, you can know that you are probably right, and you’re going to love it. So, my conclusion is that the X-Pro3 isn’t perfect and it isn’t for everyone, but for some it will be a much appreciated, much loved, and much used camera for years to come.
I was sad to send Fujifilm their X-Pro3 back, and I’ll certainly miss it.
This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.
Example photographs, captured with a Fujifilm X-Pro3:
What is RitchieCam? It’s an easy-to-use streamlined camera intended to bring one-step photography to the iPhone. You’ll find 17 analog-inspired filters so that you don’t have to edit your mobile pictures if you don’t want to. I think you will appreciate the app, yet it is intended for anyone and everyone with an iPhone, and not just photographers. You can read all about it at ritchiecam.com.
This is a project I’ve been secretly working on for nearly a year. While I always thought it would be difficult and complicated, I had no idea just how much so! I’m extremely happy with how it turned out, yet I hope that this is just the beginning, as there are several new features and improvements already in the works, and even more on my wish-list. I’m very proud of RitchieCam, and I hope that you find it fun and useful. I personally have enjoyed using it over the last several weeks, including on a road trip to Moab, Utah.
RitchieCam is free! Or, really, it’s a “freemium” app, and for $9.99 (USD +Tax annually) you can unlock all of the filters and features.
Some pictures I captured with RitchieCam on that Moab road trip:
The rule-of-thumb that I was taught in photography school is that the minimum shutter speed should be the closest number to the focal-length of lens for sharp handheld photographs. This, of course, is assuming good techniques (such as how you stand, how you hold the camera, and how you breathe while capturing a picture). Fujifilm X cameras are crop sensor, so we have to take that into account. For example, the 23mm lens on my Fujifilm X100V is 34.5mm full-frame equivalent, so the minimum shutter speed for hand-held (not on tripod) pictures should be 1/40, perhaps 1/30 if you’re good. If you go less than that you are in real danger of “camera-shake” blur—fuzzy pictures from your movement. Even above that, if you aren’t careful, you could get it, so I personally try not to go slower than 1/60 handheld on my X100V if I can help it. If you aren’t using good techniques at all, you might even have to use 1/125 or faster to ensure sharp pictures.
But what happens when you purposefully go slower? What happens when you deliberately shake your camera during exposure for creative effect? Let’s find out!
I’m a Fujifilm fanboy, but this new Nikon looks quite nice.
Maybe you can relate: I’m a sucker for retro-inspired cameras, and the Nikon Zfc had me drooling the day that it was announced. I love Fujifilm, yet I have nothing against Nikon—I used to shoot with Nikon DSLRs, and a few of my favorite photographs were captured on Nikon cameras. I figured that if I’m interested in the Zfc, maybe some of you are, too, so I purchased one to try. At the very least I could compare it to Fujifilm X-Trans cameras, and explain the similarities and differences.
At first glance the Zfc looks like it’s in the same class as the Fujifilm X-T30. There are certainly some similarities between the two models. The Zfc has a rear screen and knob arrangement that’s more like the X-T4, so I thought it could, perhaps, even fall in-between those two models somewhere, and serve as an upper-mid-tier APS-C mirrorless camera. It’s hard to tell from looking at pictures, but that’s what I was expecting.
When I pulled the Zfc out of the box, a few things surprised me. First, the camera is bigger than I expected. It’s much larger and noticeably heavier than the Fujifilm X-E4 that I frequently shoot with. It’s a little larger and slightly heavier than my X-T30. It’s almost as big as an X-T4, although much lighter. The Fujifilm camera in my collection that’s most similar in size and weight to the Zfc is the Fujifilm X-T1.
The Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens (that came with the camera) is massive, too. I thought, perhaps, there’d be some similarities between the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens and the Nikkor glass, but other than maximum aperture and similar focal-length, these two lenses are much different. The Fujifilm lens is smaller, lighter, sharper, and superior in pretty much every way. That’s not to say that the Nikkor lens is bad, but it’s definitely not as good as the Fujinon, which happens to be my favorite lens. Nikon didn’t include an aperture ring on the 28mm f/2.8 (or any other Z glass), which I think is a big oversight.
Another surprise is how plasticky the Zfc feels. It doesn’t look plasticky, and its weight suggests that it’s not all that plasticky, but it definitely feels plasticky when you use it. I wouldn’t trust this camera to survive a hard fall. It doesn’t appear to be a cheap camera (and its price tag would confirm this), but when you use it, the feeling is that it’s a budget body, and not mid-range.
After considering where it best compares to Fujifilm models, the one I think the Zfc is most comparable to is the X-T200. If Fujifilm had put markings on the customizable unmarked knobs, the two cameras would be very similar (aside from size and weight). For those who don’t know, the X-T200 was Fujifilm’s budget option, with a price of $700 for the body or $800 bundled with a kit zoom. The X-T200 didn’t last long (both introduced and discontinued in 2020) because it didn’t sell well. Perhaps the Zfc sits a little above the X-T200, but in my opinion that’s the most similar Fujifilm model.
One last surprise is that the shutter and ISO knobs are more for looks than practical use. You see, there’s a PASM switch, and only when you are in the correct PASM position do the knobs actually do anything. If this camera had been designed correctly, PASM would be completely unnecessary, and the knobs would always do something if you turned them. It’s a much different user experience than what most Fujifilm cameras deliver, and maybe more confusing.
I understand that those who don’t have a background in classic film cameras and have only used PASM might be intimidated when trying Fujifilm X cameras for the first time. I think that’s one reason why the X-T200 and X-S10 cameras were designed the way they were: intended to be less intimidating to the uninitiated. So perhaps Nikon had that in mind with the Zfc, but this was certainly an opportunity to break the mold and offer a different experience to their users, and they just couldn’t do it—it really is a missed opportunity.
Fujifilm is known for their Film Simulations and JPEG output. I’ve published over 200 Film Simulation Recipes to achieve various looks straight-out-of-camera. I even made an App (available for both Android and Apple) for these JPEG recipes. Fujifilm used their vast experience with film to create profiles that are modeled after film. For many Fujifilm photographers, Film Simulations (and recipes) are an intrinsic element of the user experience and picture aesthetic. For Nikon, their lesser-known equivalent is called Picture Control, with a subset called Creative Picture Control. While Fujifilm’s Film Simulations are inspired by film, Nikon’s Picture Controls are inspired by feelings and mood. It’s a much different take, and not necessarily better or worse—simply a divergent approach that’s worth noting. Fujifilm infuses an analog soul into their digital images, while Nikon infuses emotions that may or may not be analog-esque into their images.
Those who are regular readers of the Fuji X Weekly blog already know this, but for those who don’t, I’m a JPEG shooter. Many years ago I was a RAW guy, but Fujifilm cameras changed that for me. Shooting JPEG saves me time while making the process more enjoyable, as I get the look I want straight-out-of-camera without the need to edit. That’s my perspective.
It’s clear to me that, over the last decade, Fujifilm has invested more R&D dollars and time into their JPEG output than Nikon has. The Zfc is a new camera, but the JPEG quality is closer to X-Trans I—which is 10-years-old now—than X-Trans IV, which is very soon to be replaced by X-Trans V. When viewing on social media or the internet, you can’t tell, but when pixel-peeping, the Fujifilm X-E4 (for example) produces sharper, more detailed images, with more pleasing noise and fewer banding and artifact issues than the Zfc. It’s not a night-and-day difference (and I’m not suggesting that the JPEGs from the Zfc are bad), but it’s definitely noticeable when viewed closely, and I personally prefer the pictures produced by the X-E4; however, it only really matters if you are pixel-peeping, cropping deeply, or printing posters, and otherwise doesn’t matter.
If you want the full Fujifilm photography experience, there’s no substitute for Fujifilm. The Nikon Zfc looks like it could deliver a similar experience, but it falls short in multiple ways. I would suggest the Fujifilm X-T30 II or X-E4 instead, which are similarly priced (cheaper actually), and are better cameras, in my opinion. The Fujifilm X-T3 WW is another solid option with a similar price point (slightly more expensive). With that said, the Zfc is still a very beautiful camera that’s fun to use and produces quality pictures.
If you already own a Nikon Z camera and lenses but like retro-styling, the Zfc is for you. An advantage of Nikon Z is that Z lenses are compatible with their full-frame mirrorless line. So perhaps you start with the Zfc and 28mm lens, but then you later add a couple lenses to your collection, and even later buy a Z7 II. Or maybe it’s the other way around: your Z7 II is big and heavy, so you add a Zfc for travel and walk-around photography, and the lenses you already own are compatible. This is why you buy a Nikon Zfc, I think.
Obviously, they’re hoping that the Zfc will convince those from other brands to try Nikon. My first thought is that those “moving up” from Micro-4/3 will be tempted by this model, although I’m not sure that this camera is convincing enough. Those dissatisfied by Sony, Canon, and Pentax might consider this model, if based on nothing more than looks, which is most likely what it would be based on because the Zfc lacks innovation that would attract photographers from other brands.
I don’t think the Zfc will snag very many from Fujifilm. Maybe if you’ve never liked the lack of PASM—maybe. But other than good-looks, which your Fujifilm camera already offers, the Zfc doesn’t give you a good reason to switch brands. I can tell you with certainty that I won’t be switching brands anytime soon.
If you like your cameras to have retro-styling, the Nikon Zfc is one of your options. It’s a good camera that’s fun to use, but it’s not as good or as fun as a Fujifilm X-Trans model, like the X-T30 II or X-E4, which are slightly less expensive. My recommendation is to buy the Nikon Zfc only if you are already invested into the Z system, or if you are planning to get into that system for the long-term. Otherwise, there are better options, and if you are looking for those better options, let me point you towards Fujifilm.
Nikon Zfc Amazon B&H
Nikon Zfc + 28mm f/2.8 Amazon B&H
Nikon Zfc + 16-50mm Amazon B&H
Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Amazon B&H
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
Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 Amazon B&H
Fujifilm X-T30 II Amazon B&H
Fujifilm X-T30 II + 15-45mm B&H
Fujifilm X-T30 II + 18-55mm B&H
Fujifilm X-T3 WW Amazon B&H
Example photographs, captured with Nikon Zfc and Fujifilm X-E4:
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The third issue of FXW Zine is out now, and if you are a Fuji X Weekly Creative Collective subscriber, you can download it now!
What’s in the February issue? The cover story is Flare For Photography, which takes a close look at lens flare. There are a total of 18 photographs this month, including the cover image (above). I hope that you find it enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring!
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I was playing around with white balance shift, and came across some settings that I thought looked interesting. I wasn’t attempting to mimic any specific film or process, but was simply experimenting with tints. I’m pretty well acquainted with white balance shift, but I was searching for inspiration—and I found it!
While this film simulation recipe wasn’t modeled after any specific film, what it reminded me of is an improperly color-corrected negative film scan. You see, color negative film is orange (because of the yellow and magenta masks), and when scanned and inverted into a positive image, it will have a green-cast that needs to be color corrected. Some scanners will do this automatically, and some will require manual adjustments. If not color corrected completely right, the picture can have a color cast that might seem a little off—in this case, slightly too green (depending on the light), but not by a lot (and not always). In any event, I think this recipe has a certain mood that’s definitely interesting in the right situations.
This “Scanned Negative” film simulation recipe is compatible with all X-Trans II cameras that have the PRO Neg. Std film simulation. The XQ1, XQ2, and X10 I believe don’t have this film simulation, so it’s not compatible with those cameras. If you have an X-Pro1 or X-E1, feel free to try this recipe, too, although the results will be slightly different.
PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: -1 (Medium-Soft)
Shadow: 0 (Standard)
Color: -2 (Low)
Sharpness: 0 (Standard)
Noise Reduction: -2 (Low)
White Balance: 5300K, -5 Red & -4 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 3200
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 to +2/3 (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured on my Fujifilm X-T1 using this “Scanned Negative” film simulation recipe:
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I figured out a simple technique for creating dreamy, surreal photographs using two cameras. It’s pretty simple, really, but it will require some specific tools. What you’ll achieve with this technique is something Lomo-looking—perhaps toy camera or even instant-film-like. If you are drawn to a soft, analog-esque aesthetic, this is something you’ll want to try!
Let’s dive in!