Fuji Custom Sims vs Raw Edits

Coming from a film and darkroom background I see post processing as a natural part of my digital photography workflow. I enjoy the editing process and because I don’t do any composites or heavy manipulation it’s all pretty straightforward.

Most of my black and white work adheres to a uniform style and I can prep less important images for sharing with as little as 5-10 minutes of processing per image. But that’s still a lot of editing for images that aren’t intended for print or portfolio (print work usually gets more attention, up to an hour or more per image). For casual photography, family and travel shots, I usually rely on the built in film simulations of my Fuji XT-3. Velvia is great for vibrant landscapes and the Kodachrome sim is great for more muted colors. The Acros black and white sim has a great analog look to it and is not too far off my own editing style.

While researching the details around these different film sims I stumbled upon the amazing Fuji Film Simulation Recipes page from Fuji X Weekly.

The recipes all start with one of the base film sims and add custom settings for things like Tone, Color, Grain, Sharpening, Highlights, Shadows etc.. Many are intended to mimic the look a specific film type, others are just creative ‘looks’. There’s a nice variety of sims, all organized by sensor and camera type. I quickly punched in a set of color and black and white recipes for my X-Trans IV sensor and set out do a little experimentation.

In addition to the regular recipes for Velvia and Eterna film sims, I created one of my own based on the Dramatic Monochrome recipe. I used the Acros base instead of the standard Monochrome, added the Red filter, used a Weak Grain instead of Strong Grain, and added a +1 Tone to warm up the images a bit.

What follows is a side by side comparison of my version of the Dynamic Monochrome film sim straight out of camera against the raw versions edited to my basic style in ON1 Photo Raw (film sim jpg on the left, my raw edits on the right).

FILM SIM JPG

ON1 RAW EDIT

Conclusions:

I really like the look this recipe gives me, but it’s clear I’m not nailing my particular look from post. There needs to be a bit more grain and clarity (maybe increasing sharpness). And I probably need to reduce the warm tone. The particular curves adjustments I use are probably going to be harder to mimic in camera, but I think with some experimenting I could end up with something close enough that I might occasionally post the camera jpg’s without edits, at least for the less important stuff. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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