Shooting JPG with Fuji film simulations

One of the primary reasons I have a huge fondness for Fujifilm are their 15 odd film simulations available in camera. You see the film sim you select when viewing a shot taken if shooting RAW since a small JPG is embedded as part of the metadata of the image. I take those RAW files into my post processing software and apply the Fujifilm camera profile to the image and thats my starting point for processing. I usually don’t stray too far from that base in terms of changes. Being able to see the image in camera after a shot does give me an idea of what my finished image will resemble. I do admit that none of the post processing software is EXACT in terms of what the camera converts for a given film simulation. Sometimes, that bothers me.

I do use one camera, my Fujifilm X100T, in JPG only mode. I still bring the images into Lightroom, or not, depending on what I want to do. Most of the X100T’s images wind up posted on social media so with them being JPG in camera, I can just send them to my phone too for immediate posting. I find that I really like those images! So if you follow me, most of what you see is probably an out of camera JPG.

I was giving my friend George some Lightroom processing tips the other day. He shoots Fujifilm too and shoots in RAW mode as do many photographers. RAW files allow for broader processing if needed and for a lot of creativity after the image is taken, again if needed. In most camera systems this need for creativity is required because none of them can produce the stunning results possible from the Fujifilm in camera JPG’s and their film simulations. I mentioned to my friend George, who is not super enamored with post processing anyway (none of really are unless you are a graphic designer) that maybe he should shoot JPG using Lr to just apply a curve or some extra sharpening to spruce up a picture. Smaller file size overall and much easier to work with. It occurred to me, why then aren’t I using JPG more?

Fuji’s film simulations are sort of vanilla right out the door. They are designed to approximate certain films they manufactured from the start, many of which are legendary for their color and detail. They simulate slide and color negative as well as black and white films. Fuji cameras do allow a fair amount of adjustment to any of the film simulations via menu instructions and you can store these “recipes” in camera and select them as a scene dictates. With newer versions of Fuji cameras, you can custom name these “recipes”. I have known of this forever but oddly, I have made very little use of it. Like I said, I shoot RAW mostly and post process these “looks” into my pictures. Its the way I worked traditionally. Except for the X100T…which I shoot like a film camera…and enjoy using for fun shots more than any other…hmmmm. Yeah, a light bulb flashed on in my head.

Yes, my work cameras will for the most part stay on their RAW settings. I do shoot JPG for work when its an event or a shoot and print job where I shoot red carpet, step and repeat style. Everything else is RAW and that won’t change. But lately, and in the future, I plan to use my work cameras to shoot for myself and a lot of my personal work can be JPG. Especially black and white. As a matter of fact I think my black and white results will be better since I can use the excellent in camera ACROS black and white film simulation which has this grain engine built in to simulate grain for noise. I cannot replicate this grain structure in post either and it drives me nuts!

Yesterday I spent a few cups of coffee surfing the web for info on film simulations settings. It turns out there are a huge number of experiments out there that have created some most excellent results using the basic simulations provided by Fuji. Those basic Fuji simulations then are the foundations for some very creative results. Richie Roesch of Fuji X Weekly has done a huge amount of work on film simulations for a few different Fuji sensors. His version of Kodachrome II (which he credits to another author) is fantastic. Dan Bailey also has a nice article about his foray into adjusting film sims. Another site is http://petetakespictures.com . There are a lot of them out there. I have tried Kodachrome II with my X100T and my X-Pro2. I have now decided to use my X-Pro2 for just JPG work too so that will give me two camera devoted to JPG shooting, with one being able to use interchangeable lenses.

Kodachrome II film simulation using the X-Pro2 and 27mm 2.8 lens

Kodachrome II film simulation using the X-Pro2 and 27mm 2.8 lens

Kodachrome II film simulation using the X100T

Kodachrome II film simulation using the X100T

The above pictures show the film like look produced in camera using the adjusted Fujifilm Classic Chrome film simulation. These are adjusted from Classic Chrome to the Kodachrome II settings as published by Fuji X Weekly. They have the colors, and they have the grain. I do want to be able to make more filmic images like this. Its a direction I want to take.

I will modify film simulations further here and there but these articles certainly provide the ground work to get started on this neat, new project. I’m looking forward to this exercise so stay tuned for more as I experiment. I will grow this out to my medium format GFX50s too starting with black and white. I plan to do an entire photo shoot, hopefully a portrait and fashion type shoot using film simulations. Maybe this will finally provide me with my own style and look, something I have wanted ever since I went digital. I missed film but loved the capability of shooting digital. Now, I think I can have both!