Fujifilm has garnered a well-deserved reputation for having the most attractive and faithful color reproduction in the photography world. Beautiful images straight out of camera with faithful skin tone reproduction, natural skies, and rich foliage continue to attract more and more photographers to FUJIFILM cameras every day.
Fujifilm’s expertise in the field of color reproduction comes from its long and illustrious history. The company has been involved in photography since 1934 and started developing TV cameras in 1962, perfecting lens construction and color reproduction throughout decades of experience in the field.
To allow digital photographers to achieve the look of classic FUJIFILM stock from the analog era, newer cameras, such as the FUJIFILM GFX 50S, offer nine Film Simulation modes. Two of these, ACROS and MONOCHROME, have three filter options each, bringing the total number of achievable looks to 15.
And for maximum creativity, the powerful FUJIFILM X-H1 camera has 10 Film Simulation modes, offering 16 possible looks. These include a new Film Simulation named ETERNA that is designed with video in mind.
How to Access FUJIFILM Film Simulations
To access the FUJIFILM Film Simulations on a FUJIFILM GFX 50S, first press the press MENU/OK button, then navigate to the IMAGE QUALITY SETTING tab and select FILM SIMULATION.
Film Simulations are also available on X Series cameras, although the particular Film Simulations available will depend on the model of your camera. Consult your camera’s manual for more information on which Film Simulation modes are available and how to access them.
What do FUJIFILM Film Simulations do?
Each FUJIFILM Film Simulation has its own characteristics and is associated with one or more genre of photography. However, part of the fun of using Film Simulations is in trying them in unexpected and creative ways, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
PROVIA / Standard
This is the default Film Simulation mode for the FUJIFILM GFX 50S, so when you first turn your camera on and shoot an image, this is the Film Simulation mode that will be applied. It provides faithful color reproduction and is ideal for a wide variety of subjects, because it doesn’t add extensive contrast, sharpness or distort colors.
This Film Simulation mode is based on the classic FUJICHROME PROVIA analog film stock, which was a professional-quality, medium-speed, daylight-type color reversal film (a film type used to create slides) with ultrafine grain. It was designed to provide medium color saturation and contrast so it was suited to a wide range of applications, such as product, landscape, nature, fashion photography, and portraiture. Its adaptability makes it the ideal default Film Simulation.
Velvia / Vivid
The next FUJIFILM Film Simulation mode is Velvia, which gives a vibrant image that really pops. Because it boosts color saturation, it is great for enhancing colors in landscape and nature photography.
This Film Simulation mode is based on the celebrated FUJICHROME Velvia film stock, which was a professional-quality, medium-speed, daylight-type, color reversal film with ultrafine grain and enhanced color saturation. Like its digital counterpart, it was suited to scenery and nature photography as well as other subjects that required vibrant color reproduction and high image quality.
ASTIA / Soft
Astia gives a slightly softer look in terms of color and contrast, which makes for an elegant and subdued image. It is a great choice for portraits and other subjects for which harsher contrast and color could detract from the image.
This mode’s analog forerunner, FUJICHROME Astia, boasted the softest tone reproduction among the 100F films. It was thought to be well suited to fashion, interior, product, and portrait photography thanks to its fine grain, smooth skin tone continuity, and ability to accurately reproduce delicate hues.
This FUJIFILM Film Simulation mode provides soft colors and enhanced shadow contrast for a sophisticated, stylish look. Because only the shadow contrast is boosted, highlights are well controlled while dark tones are deepened. This results in a subdued and mature feeling that works well with dramatic lighting and retro-style subjects.
Unlike the above Film Simulation modes, CLASSIC CHROME is not designed to reproduce a single, existing variety of film stock, but instead aims to reproduce the ambience of documentary-style photographs and magazines. As such, it has a slightly desaturated and timeless look.
A black and white Film Simulation mode that is rich in detail and sharpness, ACROS was inspired by the classic Neopan 100 Acros film stock. This was a medium speed, high image quality negative film that was known for its excellent grain quality, rich gradation, and outstanding sharpness.
This Film Simulation includes three filtered modes – ACROS+Ye, ACROS+R and ACROS+G – increasing the number of possible ACROS looks to four. ACROS+Ye and ACROS+R are great for creating moody skies in landscape images, while ACROS+G gives good contrast for skin tones and well-defined lips, resulting in beautiful black and white portrait shots.
This film simulation offers a classic black-and-white look with a smooth character. It is a great general-use Film Simulation that also offers three filter options – MONOCHROME+Ye, MONOCHROME+ R, and MONOCHROME+G – so you can tailor it to your liking. The yellow (Ye) filter gently enhances contrast and darkens skies, the red (R) filter enhances contrast and darkens skies even more, and the green (G) filter is favored among portrait photographers.
The Sepia Film Simulation mode adds a reddish-brown color cast to images. The word sepia has its origins in the rich brown pigment derived from the ink sac of the common cuttlefish, which is Sepia in Greek and Latin. Sepia ink was used as writing ink in Greco-Roman societies and it continued to be used as an artistic drawing material until the 19th century.
Certain photo prints begin to look sepia toned as they age, and others were chemically treated for archival purposes, which again created the sepia look. As a result, sepia effects continue to be applied to images in the digital age to give them a vintage look.
PRO Neg.Std is another good choice for portraits. It’s known for its soft gradations in color and beautiful skin tones. Colors are fairly soft and shadows are treated gently, making it great for lifestyle portraiture and even street photography. PRO Neg.Std is neutral enough to record subtle nuances within vivid colors, giving a restrained and calm aesthetic.
PRO Neg.Hi is designed for portrait and fashion photography. It features soft skin tones but offers a touch more color vibrancy and harder shadows than PRO Neg.Std. It’s great for emphasizing line, form and texture and offers slightly enhanced contrast across the board.
Hope springs ETERNA…
But wait, the FUJIFILM Film Simulation story doesn’t end there. Lucky owners of the FUJIFILM X-H1 will be the first to have the opportunity to try out ETERNA, the latest addition to Fujifilm’s growing family of Film Simulation modes.
Ideal for those who shoot movies, this mode simulates the classic ETERNA 500 motion picture film, providing understated colors and rich shadow tones to improve your post-production workflow.
Find out more about the FUJIFILM X-H1 here.
Apply FUJIFILM Film Simulations in Post
If you shoot RAW files, don’t forget that the Film Simulations available in your camera can also be applied to your RAW files later in Adobe Lightroom. To apply a Film Simulation mode on your PC or Mac, simply select the file in Lightroom, navigate to the Develop Module, then scroll down to the Camera Calibration panel and click on Profile.
From here, you can select from a list of Film Simulations to see which one looks best with your shot. Note that the number of Film Simulations available in Lightroom will depend on the model of the camera used to take the shot.
Try it for Yourself
So, now you know a little more about the various Film Simulations and the effects they create, why not try it for yourself? If you’d like to try out several different Film Simulations at once while shooting JPEGs, access the Drive options (see your camera’s manual for more information on how to do this) and select FILM SIMULATION BKT.
Once the Film Simulation Bracket option is selected, pressing the shutter button will take one shot, which will be processed multiple times with different Film Simulation modes, according to the settings selected in the Shooting Menu.
And don’t forget that there’s plenty more you can do with Film Simulations. They can be combined with tone and sharpness settings and even applied to video, too. Try them out for yourself next time you’re out shooting and discover how Film Simulation modes can enhance your photography.