Fujifilm X100V New Feature: Clarity

49895522693_4c7fb8a8da_c

49896039986_4e25d72713_c

The Fujifilm X100V has a new feature called Clarity. It actually first appeared on the X-Pro3, and it’s also on the new X-T4, but the X100V is the first camera that I’ve used with it. I’m always very happy whenever Fujifilm gives us new JPEG options, as it allows me to  more accurately achieve the look that I’m after in-camera. I can create better film simulation recipes when I’m given more tools, and the X100V indeed has some new tools.

If you’ve ever done RAW processing, you’ve probably seen a Clarity tool within your software of choice. Maybe you use it all of the time, maybe you’ve never touched it. What exactly Clarity does with each software is slightly different, but the gist of it is that it increases mid-tone contrast, while (mostly) leaving the highlights and shadows untouched. This makes the image appear more contrasty while not blocking up shadows or blowing out highlights. Because Clarity often adds micro-contrast (contrast to fine lines), it can make an image appear to be sharper and more finely detailed than it actually is. Some software programs include sharpening within Clarity. Too much Clarity can often make a picture look unnatural and “over baked”.

I like the idea of having a Clarity option on my Fujifilm camera, but I was really unsure of how it would look. Is it actually a good tool? Does it produce pleasing results? Where should I set it on my camera?

In the manual Fujifilm states that Clarity increases or decreases “definition” while minimally altering highlights and shadows. The camera has the options of -5 to +5, with 0 being the default setting. Let’s take a look at some examples to see what exactly this new feature does to photographs.

49892763202_6c01d8de25_c

Clarity -5

49892408381_167bedaf4d_c

Clarity 0

49891886188_79bb8f010c_c

Clarity +5

You can see from the photographs above that there’s a noticeable difference between Clarity set at -5, 0 and +5. There’s a significant contrast difference between the three pictures. Even highlights and shadows are affected. The first picture looks “soft” while the third picture boarders being “over-baked” with too much definition. Let’s take a closer look at some crops, and add -2 and +2 while we’re at it.

49892765167_221356e1c8_c

Clarity -5

49892735342_c9449969ba_c

Clarity -2

49892412141_2b30dc4606_c

Clarity 0

49891880468_8976f6df39_c

Clarity +2

49892402096_8e39e0e314_c-1

Clarity +5

When you look closely, you can appreciate using minus Clarity for softening skin. At -2 there’s a small difference, but by -5 there’s a big difference. The X100V has a new lens, and it’s sharper, especially when wide open. Some people (myself included) appreciated the softness of f/2 on the old X100 series lens for artistic effect, but the X100V is tack sharp across the board at all apertures. However, -5 Clarity will give a similar softness at any aperture as the old X100 lens does at f/2. Portrait photographers might especially appreciate selecting a minus Clarity option, and somewhere in the range of -2 to -5 seems to be nice.

On the other side, +5 Clarity is definitely too much for some circumstances, particularly portraits. Even +2 might be pushing it in this case, although the results are acceptable in my book. I find that minus Clarity is better when skin is involved, but you can use plus Clarity for more dramatic portraits, although I’d limit it to no higher than +3, unless you’re trying to accentuate something like wrinkled skin and a greying beard, in which case up to +5 might be acceptable. Outside of portraits, I like adding Clarity, and I find that +2 or +3 is a good range for me.

Here are some more examples:

49905695932_c38abc3285_c

Clarity -5

49905677622_daf7e88b1a_c

Clarity -3

49904880833_cacc546574_c

Clarity 0

49905678827_a7121c1d59_c

Clarity +3

49905396406_3966d09b54_c

Clarity +5

49905394201_37cd835a6d_c

Clarity -5

49904867803_8b1b5e5abd_c

Clarity -3

49905396826_b3d68b04a9_c

Clarity 0

49905686017_54a5c2e734_c

Clarity +3

49904880638_a3b91d4297_c

Clarity +5

The difference between -5 and +5 Clarity is pretty significant, but the in-between differences aren’t huge. It’s difficult to notice a plus or minus one difference. Going up or down two spots is a bit more obvious, although if you’re not closely comparing side-by-side examples you might not pick up on it. I think you’re perfectly fine selecting any of the Clarity options, but for portraits I’d consider using minus Clarity, unless you’re want a dramatic portrait look. For everything else adding a little Clarity helps the picture to pop more. I personally like Clarity set at +2.

Because Clarity adds contrast and does affect highlights and shadows, if you go higher than +3 Clarity, consider decreasing Highlight and Shadow by one to compensate. Also, if you go lower than -3 Clarity, consider increasing Highlight and Shadow by one to compensate. The X-T4 can do .5 Highlight and Shadow adjustments (please, Fujifilm, update the X100V to allow this, too), and that’s probably closer to what you need to compensate for the increased or decreased contrast due to selecting the far ends of Clarity. Just be aware that when you change the Clarity setting, you are changing the picture’s contrast.

49891543332_6c16170d08_c

+3 Clarity

Something that I need to point out is that when Clarity is set to anything other than 0, it takes the camera longer to save the file. Fujifilm actually recommends setting Clarity to 0 and adding it later by reprocessing the RAW files in-camera. If you need to shoot quickly, this might be a good option, but if you’re not in a hurry, I’d just set it to what you want it to be so that you don’t have to change it later. Yes, it does slow you down, but if you’re not in a hurry, it’s not a big deal.

In my opinion Fujifilm did a good job of implementing Clarity on the X100V. It’s a useful tool. Those who appreciated the softness of f/2 on the older models will appreciate using minus Clarity on the new model. Those who want to add just a little more punch to their pictures will like using plus Clarity. Each situation might benefit from a Clarity adjustment, and you’ll have to decide which setting is the best for the scene. Whether it’s adding or subtracting Clarity, this is a feature you’ll find me using often. Fujifilm’s inclusion of Clarity on the X100V is something that I’m extremely happy with.

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 Black    Amazon   B&H
Fujifilm X100V Silver   Amazon   B&H

Fujifilm X100F Review Blog

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!

$2.00

Defending Tatsuo Suzuki

This will be a controversial post. I’m a bit hesitant to publish it, because it will cause a stir, and I’m not looking for trouble. The Fuji X Weekly audience has been extraordinarily civil, which is something I’m extremely grateful for, as the internet can oftentimes be the exact opposite of civil. The internet has a way of bringing out the worst in people, perhaps because they can hide behind anonymity, or maybe there is a disconnect that makes interactions seem a bit less human; whatever the reason, people sometimes are rude or downright mean on the web. I’m asking right up front for civility and human kindness in regards to this article.

The video at the top, entitled My Milestone, was produced by Fujifilm to promote the X100V. It was promptly removed by Fujifilm because of public outcry. The featured photographer, Tatsuo Suzuki, is controversial, not for his images, but for how he captures those images. This video created quite a stir on the internet, and the worst in people showed up strongly in the comments of various articles regarding the video.

Here’s another video that shows Suzuki’s photographs and technique:

It seems as though the majority of people are against Suzuki’s style and agree that the video is controversial, and they believe that Fujifilm should never have associated themselves with him. Fujirumors and PetaPixel even conducted polls that confirm it. Now Suzuki is no longer a Fuji X Ambassador, either because Fujifilm dropped him or he dropped them. I’m going to go against popular opinion and defend Tatsuo Suzuki. The reaction to the Fujifilm video has been a huge overreaction.

As best as I can gather, what Suzuki did in the video that sparked all the outrage is demonstrate his “aggressive” style of shooting. He’s very much “in your face” as he walks the streets of Tokyo with his camera. It comes across as rude, as he invades people’s personal bubbles. My opinion is that he does this because, in Japan, people are extremely guarded, and the photographs that he captures, which are very good, would be impossible with any other technique. It’s the technique that he chooses to use in order to fulfill his photographic vision. It’s abrasive, yes, but also effective.

Suzuki is not the first to use this aggressive technique nor is he the most extreme with it. Bruce Gilden, Garry Winogrand and Eric Kim come to mind, and I’m sure there are many others. These are all successful and celebrated, albeit controversial, photographers, including Suzuki. They are far from the only controversial photographers out there. Even the legendary Steve McCurry has been called controversial at times. My point is this: just because you disagree with something doesn’t make it wrong.

49474460228_901325865e_c

Man In Red – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

Was Suzuki doing anything illegal? No. In Japan, and many parts of the world, this type of photography is legal. Was he acting different than you or most people might act in public? Yes. Just because you don’t go around taking unsolicited closeup pictures of strangers doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to do so. Is it strange? Yes. Wrong? Not necessarily.

There’s a trend right now to shut down debate when faced with a differing opinion. If there’s something that you disagree with, it’s become common to attack the person whom one disagrees with. It used to be that people could “agree to disagree” and still be kind and caring and remain friends. Nowadays, if someone says or does something that you disagree with, you might attack their character and call them all sorts of names, demanding that they be stripped of their dignity until they change their ways. That’s exactly what I’ve seen in this debate. It’s really nasty and harmful. Those who go to war with their words against someone who did or said something that they disagree with, those people are the ones that stop dialogue, who encourage hate, and stifle civility. It’s good to say, “I don’t appreciate the way he conducts himself.” It’s not alright to call him all sorts of mean names and tear apart his character bit by bit.

I don’t know Tatsuo Suzuki personally. For all I know he’s the nicest guy in the world. Perhaps he helps little old ladies cross the street and rescues cats from trees and does all sorts of good deeds. Maybe he’s the “jerk” that people have been calling him, but maybe that couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t know. I don’t know. Why assume the worst in him when you don’t know him? We’d all be better off if we assumed the best in others.

43106076230_60344f2273_c

Ghosts of the Past – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm XF10

When I do street photography, I like to be the guy that nobody notices who stealthily gets the shot without being seen. One of the big reasons why I do this is fear, but I tell myself that it’s also out of respect for those I might be photographing. Is that really the best approach? I noticed that a lot of people called Suzuki a “creep” because of how he conducts himself when he photographs. But what is creepier: the guy in the shadows hiding and lurking or the guy who makes it completely obvious to everyone around him exactly what he’s doing? While it’s much more shocking to see Suzuki at work, I wonder how shocked people would be to find out someone has been secretly photographing them without them noticing? While ignorance is bliss, I do think being open and honest is better than being secretive and sneaky. Most people don’t have the guts to be open and honest in candid street photography, so they hide.

You might be saying to all of this, “So what?” There’s something that happened to me a number of years ago. Somebody that I don’t know wrote a college paper on the evils of Photoshop. They argued that manipulating photographs of woman was causing a self-esteem crisis among young girls. I had written an article (for a different photography blog) defending Steve McCurry’s use of Photoshop. Remember when that was a big deal? Anyway, whoever this person was that wrote the paper quoted (really, misquoted) me in it, taking my words out of context, and made it seem as though I wanted young girls to have self-esteem problems. It was completely absurd! The university published this paper on their website. Someone that didn’t know me assumed the worst in me based on a quote that they didn’t understand, and unfairly attacked my character. That was completely wrong of them to do it! The lesson here is that we have to be very cautious not to do the same to others that this person did to me. Thankfully, I don’t think anybody cared what the paper said and nothing negative came out of it. In the case of Suzuki, someone did care what was said and something negative did come out of it.

Fujifilm knew who Tatsuo Suzuki was when they invited him to be an ambassador. They knew who he was when they made the promotional video for their product. They should have stood by him and defended him. If they lost a few customers over it, that’s alright because they knew who he was and despite that (because of that?) decided to partner with him. It seems pretty crummy to toss him aside just because some people complained. It also seems crummy that people don’t care to understand Suzuki’s point of view, and prefer the easy route of character assassination instead. I think that the best advice moving forward is to take a deep breath and examine ourselves first before biting someone’s head off. We have two ears and one mouth, so we should be quick to listen and slow to speak. Or, in this case, slow to type.

Fujifilm X100V

Fujifilm X100V

Fujifilm just announced the much anticipated X100V, which replaces the much loved X100F. The X100 series hasn’t changed much externally since it began. This is one of the most beautifully designed cameras in the digital era, so why change it? There’s no reason, so Fujifilm doesn’t. The X100V looks nearly identical to the original X100. What’s different is internal.

Fujifilm redesigned the lens. It looks the same and has the same specs, but with improved sharpness, particularly corner sharpness wide-open. The rear screen now tilts and is a touch-screen. Unfortunately, and this is perhaps the biggest external change, the D-Pad is now gone, but this isn’t a huge deal, as you get used to the touch controls pretty quickly. The viewfinder has been given a small upgrade. The X100V is weather-resistant, which is not the same as weather-sealed; it’s designed to handle the elements a little better than previous versions.

The biggest upgrade for this camera is the X-Trans IV sensor and processor. This is the same sensor and processor found in the X-T3, X-T30 and X-Pro3, yet the X100V has the new features found in the X-Pro3 that aren’t (yet) found in the X-T3 and X-T30, including the Classic Negative film simulation. The X100V is faster, more feature-rich, and has better video capabilities than the X100F.

Fujifilm X100V

Is the X100V a camera that you should buy? Whenever a new camera is released, it’s easy to want it. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype. It’s easy to have camera envy. The X100V will be a fantastic camera, no doubt about it! The X100 series cameras are easy to love. But should you really drop everything and order your copy today?

My opinion is this: if you already own the X100F, keep it! The upgrade isn’t significant enough to justify buying the new model. The X100F and the X100V are very similar to each other. If you wear out your X100F, then buy the new model, but if it still works just fine, don’t change cameras. If you have an older model, such as the original X100, X100S or X100T and are considering upgrading, I say sure, why not? But if those cameras still work and bring you joy, why rush to get the new model? If you are trying to decide between the X100F and X100V and money is no issue, go with the X100V, which is a little better than its predecessor. But if you are like most people and have a tight budget, the X100F is nearly as good and can be found for a little cheaper.

The X100V will be released on February 27 with an MSRP of $1,400.

This post contains affiliate links. I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking my links.

Fujifilm X100V black:   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X100V silver:   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X100F black:   B&H   Amazon
Fujifilm X100F silver:   B&H   Amazon

An interesting side note: I predicted that this version of the X100 would be called the X100V way back in September of 2017. The “S” in X100S stands for second, the “T” in X100T stands for third, and the “F” in X100F stands for fourth, so nobody really knew what the next one would be called. Some predicted X200, or X110, or X110F, or X100N (“N” for new or next), or X100A (because A is the first letter of the alphabet), or X100Z (because Z is the last letter of the aphabet). I took a guess at “V” because it’s the Roman numeral for five, and this is the fifth iteration of the X100. I have no idea what the next one after the X100V might be called. Any guesses?