As I previously mentioned, one of the reasons I grew fond of the Fuji system is their colour science and the flexibility it gives you to shoot directly in camera with the style and mood that you choose with little or no need to edit your images afterwards. In this article I will only explain a few basics about the film simulations and recipes that derive from them. If you want to have a deeper understanding of it and play yourself with the concept, I recommend you visit the “bible” of film simulations recipes which is the outstanding website Fuji X Weekly maintained by Ritchie Roesch, a true goldmine on its own on this subject.
As I’m sure you might be aware of if you are of a certain age, Fujifilm, was (and still is) a film company. When the digital camera division was created, Fuji in a very clever manner, decided to implement in their cameras the old film varieties that they once sold as film rolls. That is to say they re-created digitally the look and feel of their old films and made them available in their cameras as a simple menu option named, you guessed it, Film Simulation. Further more they also added several controls like Light, Shadows, Grain etc.. that let you tweak very precisely how your image will look like.
If you want a very precise description about all the film simulations have a look here
What is really relevant in all this story, if you have followed from the beginning, is that Fuji, as a company with huge expertise on chemistry and film emulsions is renowned for precisely that, its colour science, and it shows. In particular its beautiful rendition of skin tones is very well know and praised by photographers.
I think its now time for me to show you a small graphic example of what I’ve explained with words so far:
Let’s begin with black & white
The above images, may seem very similar between them, they indeed are but if you pay close attention, and look at them from up left to bottom right yo can clearly see that each of them is different and carries its own settings and subtle variations. To create them I have used two different film simulations. Acros + Yellow filter and Monochrome + Red filter. They all made for a different visual style, each one with its own character. It’s just like when back in the time you bought different types and brands of film rolls in order to get different moods and results with your images.
Now let’s use some colour
This time differences between images are a lot more obvious. To create them randomly I’ve used a combination of film simulations and white balance colour variation. I have used Velvia, ProNegStandard and Colour Chrome.
If you are not familiar with this system, it may not be obvious that these images above are not images to witch you apply some kind of filter afterwards like you do in LR or CaptureOne, no. This is the other way around. First you decide the parameters that you want to include in your image and then precisely setup the final look. Then you save these parameters, give them a name (thus making a sort of recipe) and use them at your will. An important point we have to grasp is that those film simulations are not mere filters. They are like a true ‘digital roll of film’ that behaves as such and react differently whether you are shooting in broad light, when it’s cloudy or at night for example. The recipes you make over these film simulations also inherit this particular characteristic. This is the beauty and how powerful is this Fujifilm system.
Use the in-camera RAW converter
Let’s say you are in a scene or environment that you are about to shoot, but you might not be exactly sure what kind of simulation and recipe is going to fit best. No problem !
- Just make a test shot on whatever settings you are on.
- Then use the in-camera RAW converter to test and try different settings till you find the exact ones that satisfy your needs.
- Shoot your session.
And now the best part for the end
Since with all Fuji cameras (that I know ) you can set as a parameter that every time you press the shutter you have two copies printed, one being Raw (called RAF) and the other JPEG you can use the film simulations to your heart’s content and go as wild as you wish since you’ll always have your raw file (with the raw data) that you can use later if you happen to want to create a different style.
Isn’t that beautiful ?!