IN FOCUS is a series of articles where we ask some of the UK X-Photographers to give us advice, provide insight into their photography and share some of their favourite images of all time. In this blog, we asked our photographers what Film Simulation modes they use and why.
Fujifilm knows film. The clue is in the name. And they’ve spent a lot of time and effort bringing classic film traits to life in the current range of digital cameras.
Each Film Simulation mode* has unique properties to help you express your creativity without the need for time-consuming post-production. Varying degrees of Saturation and Tonality are composed with just the right balance to bring each Film Simulation mode to life.
The camera’s Electronic Viewfinder can show the effects of the selected Film Simulation mode before the shot is taken, and if you shoot RAW, the in-camera RAW processing function allows any of the Film Simulations to be applied post-capture, broadening your shooting options.
Which Film Simulation mode is best for your shot?
I cannot tell you this, but I can recommend certain Film Simulation types that lend themselves to particular photography subjects. However, just treat this like an initial guide and explore for yourself to find your own style.
I would recommend Astia or Pro Neg. Std. Astia’s soft tones are perfect for capturing beautiful skin tones. Pro Neg Std. takes the look slightly further by also lowering the colour saturation.
Click on any of the images for a larger view.
Provia / Standard
Pro Neg Std
I recommend Classic Chrome or Monochrome. Photography is often called the “Art of omission”. Classic Chrome and Monochrome settings omit the element of colour in order emphasise the story you want to tell.
Provia / Standard
Monochrome +R Filter
Landscapes / Seascapes / Cityscapes
I recommend Velvia. At the opposite end of the scale from Classic Chrome, Velvia uses colour as the main element. It adds more depth and the colours become more vibrant. There are certain emotions that only image colour can deliver and this is where Velvia comes in.
Velvia / Vivid
The images below were all created using the X-T1’s in-built RAW file converter and are all JPGs straight out of the camera.
Velvia / Vivid
ASTIA / Soft
Pro Neg. Hi
Pro Neg. Std
All of the Film Simulation profiles have been developed (pun intended) by people with years of experience working with film to allow you to really alter the feel of the image without the need for lots of time-consuming post processing. Try it yourself and let us know how you get on in the comments below.
If you’ve got a big enough memory card, set your camera to save “RAW+JPG” and then use the in-camera RAW File Converter to convert the same image into different Film Simulation modes after the shot has been taken.
* The number of Film Simulation modes available on your camera will vary.
My wedding workflow for the past few years whilst shooting with Nikon DSLR’s has consisted purely of shooting RAW and processing the files initially in Lightroom and with some additional tweaks in Photoshop with Nik and OnOne software plugins. The aim is to produce a set of colour and exposure corrected JPEGS for supply to our clients. Since switching to Fuji for most of our wedding work I wanted to compare the film simulations in ‘real life’ shooting situations. Just to clarify, this is not about shooting JPEG only which I know some photographers do but this is part of a bigger picture in exploring the possibilities of producing ‘in camera’ JPEGS from the RAW files for supply direct to the client with little or no external processing after the wedding.
The original RAW files were transferred back to a memory card and then processed in camera. All other settings eg colour. shadow,etc. were 0. The images are in the same order from top to bottom L-R as the film simulation selections in the camera’s menu, starting with the unprocessed RAW file then Provia, Velvia, Astia, Pro Neg Hi, Pro Neg Standard, BW, BW Yellow, BW Red, BW Green, Sepia.
The first set of images (above) are some Bridal portraits taken in the reception room as we were rained off for outside shooting.
There was a large expanse of windows with natural, overcast daylight behind me.
Of the colour versions I don’t think it will come as any great surprise that Velvia is just a bit too saturated for this type of image and personally I find Pro Neg Standard to ‘flat’. That leaves Provia, Astia and Pro Neg Hi. Of these Astia has produced the warmest image, closely followed by Provia and then Pro Neg Hi. Astia will be my first choice for similar lighting / subject in the future.
So far as the black and white versions, my choice here for skin tone would be the Red filter but the overall contrast has reduced with Green producing the darkest lips. I think I might be wary in using the green filter as a ‘redder’ skin tone could cause the skin to darken more than I would wish.
This was at Bride’s home before the wedding (above). There was a window to camera right but it was quite dull outside and it provided very little light so we set up our Lupolux LED650 with a showercap diffuser to camera right.
Once again the winner for me is ‘Astia’, however they are all acceptable, even ‘Velvia’ hasn’t gone too far with a nice boost to the flowers. Of the black and whites, ‘Red’ has given the lightest skin tones and ‘Green’ the greatest contrast. Yes, you guessed – still a thumbs down for ‘Sepia’.
The lighting was gorgeous here, with the sun low and diffused slightly through clouds to camera left. (Above)
Would be quite happy to use ‘Velvia’ here. It hasn’t affected skin tones too much – and wow! – those Fuji greens! I was a bit surprised at the very little difference with the black and white filters. Understandably the ‘green’ filter has produced the lightest image with ‘red’ providing the most contrast – just. Still wouldn’t use ‘sepia’
Whilst putting this test together it became possible via an update to apply ‘Classic Chrome’ to existing X-T1 RAW files using Lightroom (5.7). Below are the 3 files with this mode.
For me ‘classic chrome’ is just a little on the ‘grungy’ side and I’m not quite sure yet where it might fit in with our current style of wedding shooting / editing. However, I can’t wait to use this in lots of other genres, especially ‘street’ and some ‘urban portraits’.
As mentioned at the beginning of the post, the aim here was to find out how usable the film simulations are straight out of camera in ‘real life’ wedding shooting. I am working on switching film simulation modes during the wedding to suit particular lighting and subject matter and then using the resultant JPEGS as part of our workflow to supply direct to our clients with no further post processing. DR settings are also going to play a big part in this, especially when shooting high contrast scenes. We will continue to shoot both RAW and fine JPEG and will of course use the RAW files as needed for post processing if the need arises.
To be honest I’m knocked out by the quality of JPEGS produced in camera, the noise reduction is also truly amazing. I would prefer a stronger filter effect with the black and whites as there isn’t a great deal of difference between them all.
For me the Sepia simulation is very limited for our particular requirements and I don’t envisage using it at all.
For full resolution image examples, please click here.
Fujifilm still produces colour negative and reversal film for enthusiasts and this legacy continues to have a place in the digital arena – with the X-series of cameras giving you an option to select from a variety of Film Simulation modes.
In essence, the Film Simulation modes enable you to decide on the look of your image in terms of colour saturation and contrast, or simply lose colour altogether and go for a black & white effect. The beauty is, the camera does it all for you. All you have to do is decide what look you want for the image you’re shooting.
The standard Film Simulation options in all X-series cameras are Provia, Velvia, Astia, Monochrome (black & white) and Sepia. However, some models include PRO Neg Hi, PRO Neg Standard, and filters for the Monochrome mode.
You’ll find the options by going into the Shooting Menu and looking in the first set of controls. It’s the same tab where ISO, Image Quality and Image Size are set, just scroll further down. It’s impossible to tell you exactly which Film Simulation to use for a given situation because it’s all a matter of taste, but we can give you some pointers. If you just want a general setting because you shoot a wide range of subjects then stick with Provia; Fujifilm has chosen it as its standard setting. But if you prefer a richer, punchier look, perhaps for landscapes or nature, then Velvia will give you exactly that. Astia, on the other hand, offers a softer, more subtle rendition of colours, so would work well for portraits.
The Monochrome and Sepia Film Simulation options do exactly what they say on the tin. Monochrome will work for most subjects and gives your image a timeless feel. Sepia should probably be used more sparingly but can certainly work well at retro events when you want to give a portrait or a scene a classic old-school appearance. If your camera has the two PRO Neg options these are best for shooting portraits: Standard expands the hues available for skin tones and is intended for studio work, while Hi gives a slightly more contrasty look and is fine-tuned for outdoor portraits.
Film Simulation bracketing
Experimentation is key with the Film Simulation modes and Fujifilm has actually made this really easy on most X-series models thanks to Film Simulation Bracketing. This is found directly beneath Film Simulation in the Shooting Menu and is perfect for when you want to play around and work out what kind of image you like or if you’re simply feeling indecisive. Exactly how it’s set varies from camera to camera but here’s how it’s done on the X-Pro1…
TIP: If you shoot in RAW+JPEG mode, you can preview and shoot with the Film Simulation mode you have selected, but the original RAW file will also be saved. You can revert to standard or even change the Film Simulation mode using the RAW File Converter built into the camera itself.