The film simulations are perhaps my favorite thing about my Fujifilm cameras. Well, maybe it’s tied with the tactile dials…but the ability to craft a final image in camera, with creative control and no editing, was a huge selling point.
I’ve utilized several film simulation recipes from other photographers over the years, most notably Kevin Mullins and Ritchie Roesch from Fuji X Weekly. So many options and really beautiful results, but as the years have passed, I’ve found myself relying on these less and less.
Firstly, because my gear is old and the recipes they use have evolved to allow for greater control with additional settings not available on my cameras. The Fuji X Weekly recipes are especially difficult to employ quickly because my older gear can’t save a custom white balance shift for each recipe, which means I have to readjust my white balance settings each time I want to change to a different recipe, even if the rest of the adjustments are saved as a custom setting. Given that I’m all about quick and easy (too much messing around with settings means I’ll lose my motivation to go shoot), you can see how this might be a deterrent to using these recipes.
Ultimately, I felt it was time to create something of my own, and while I actually really love several of Kevin’s recipes, and still use the older versions from time to time, he doesn’t employ the Astia film simulation at all and guess what? It’s my favorite sooc color simulation.
It seemed time to create my own rather than continuing to tweak others’. And as there aren’t a lot of options out there for recipes suited for X Trans II sensors (that I could find anyway – seems everyone has updated their blog posts to align with newer sensors), I thought I’d share them here. I’ve gone ahead and used “Auto” white balance for all my recipes and depending on the light that day, I may make specific color shift adjustments to compensate for clouds or golden hour – basically warm it up or cool it down if needed. But again, I like to start with Auto and go from there.
Well, as I said, Astia is my favorite of the color simulations. I love how the colors are somehow soft and yet very pigmented at the same time. I’ve set up a custom setting on all three of my cameras and the goal was simple – to look realistic, but not harsh. While I’m certainly not trying to emulate a particular film stock, it does remind me of shooting film. I prefer to shoot it at an ISO of 800-1600 to incorporate a bit of grain and give it more of an analog feel.
Film Simulation: Astia
Dynamic Range: 100%
Highlight Tone: -1
Shadow Tone: -2
Noise Reduction: -2
Black and white photography has long since had my heart. It’s my go-to, my first love. There is something soulful about it. It possesses a timeless quality that is absent in color photographs. Color dates a photo. Black and white keeps it relevant as future generations relate to the emotion and the composition rather than the time period.
When it came to customizing a b&w film simulation, I took the opposite approach. While I may like my colors soft, I like my monochrome images to be bold, punchy and full of contrast. Even simple, mundane objects appear more interesting with deep shadows and when I want to remember the textures of daily life in a way that resonates with me, this is the recipe I employ. As with my Astia recipe, I like a bit of grain so I prefer to shoot this one with an ISO of 800-1600 as well. Personal preference, of course.
Film Simulation: Monochrome
Dynamic Range: 400% (a minimum ISO of 640 is required)
Highlight Tone: 0
Shadow Tone: +2
Noise Reduction: -2
Classic Chrome was all the rage among street photographers when it was released and it is well suited to an urban environment, but I’ll be honest, I don’t love it. It feels cold and sterile to me. So, I set about finding a way to make it work in my favor. What I found was that if I toned down the contrast in the shadows and added a bit more color, I was pleased with the results. I prefer as little grain as possible here so I try to keep my ISO on the lower end.
Crispy Chrome (If you haven’t noticed by now, I really like alliterations)
Film Simulation: Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: 200%
Highlight Tone: -1
Shadow Tone: -1
Noise Reduction: -2
These are really the only three film simulation recipes I’ve created that I actually use. I know some people might program all seven slots, but I am often paralyzed by choice so I find I’m more productive if I give myself some stricter parameters to work within. I find these three recipes cover just about anything I want to shoot. I might occasionally opt to use Provia or add a colored filter to my black and white images, but it’s rare.
I also want to touch briefly on ISO. I use Auto ISO almost exclusively on both my X70 and my X-E2s. Each can store three Auto ISO settings and I will select the one that’s the best fit for what I’m shooting. With my X-T1, I can only store one Auto ISO setting so I keep it pretty broad. However, the X-T1 also has a dedicated ISO dial and it’s a feature I wish I had on my other two cameras because I do prefer it to using Auto ISO. I just like being able to look at the top of my camera and see the exposure triangle.
Unfortunately, none of my cameras is able to name recipes so in order to keep them straight and remember which is programmed where, I simply load them into my cameras in alphabetical order. So, Analog Astia is #1, Bold B&W is #2, and Crispy Chrome is #3.
I encourage you to experiment and create your own in camera recipe, or perhaps a Lightroom preset (or several) that presents your images the way YOU want them to be seen – a style all your own.