Fuji X100: Film Simulation Modes Compared

Fuji X100 | 7 sec, f/8, ISO 200

Passing through Ferry Plaza on  my way home from downtown SF tonight, I made a quick stop to capture some long-exposure images of the Ferry Building during dusk. This is actually the first time I’ve done a shot like this with the X100, and it didn’t disappoint. To get the shots I wanted, I mounted the X100 on a small gorilla pod I carry around in the car with me (you know, just in case).

Another thing I tried for the first time today was bracketing the X100’s film simulation modes (just an experiment, I don’t shoot this way typically) as a quick way to visually compare Provia, Astia, and Velvia, side-by-side. I most typically use Astia, and depending on the situation, Provia. Velvia? Almost never. It was interesting to see the same shot processed in three different ways by the camera however, and doing so throughout the day pretty much confirmed Astia as my film sim of choice:

Fuji X100 | 1/900 sec, f/8, ISO 200

Velvia just seems to crunch the blacks down too much. In most cases, it seems like Provia is just too open in the shadows. Astia looks like a great middle ground between the two.

Fuji X100 |  1/170 sec, f/11, ISO 200

Again, not enough oomph in Provia, and too much saturation and contrast in Velvia. Goldilocks would pick Astia.

Fuji X100 | 1/450 sec, f/11, ISO 200

Kind of a wash in this series, which goes to show that picking a film sim for the x100 really depends on the situation. I frequently  get asked which film settings are best for the X100. I say, just experiment with your picture settings and see what you personally like best for a given environment.

Fuji X100 | 1/250 sec, f/16, ISO 800

I do like the rich blue sky I get with Velvia in this series, but  again, I feel like I’m losing too much shadow detail. Provia looks a little bland, and again, Astia is looking just right.

Fuji X100 | 7.5 sec, f/8, ISO 200

Of course, if you shoot RAW with the camera none of this matters, as you can process the images yourself. I’ve been getting such nice JPEGs from the X100, however, that for most of my shooting I have yet to see the need to record a RAW file. It’s worth noting however that if you’re just not sure which simulation to pick, the X100 does feature in-camera RAW editing. I personally prefer actual shooting over post-processing images on a tiny LCD screen though, and again, I’m 95% in Astia anyway. But enough about workflow since it’s not really the point of this post.

Fuji X100 | 8 sec, f/8, ISO 200

Taking these night shots tonight made a me a little nostalgic for the times I used to do night photography a lot more often. I’m thinking of revisiting some of the areas in the city where I used to do a lot of night photography, but this time with the X100. Should be fun…if I can find the time =)

25 thoughts on “Fuji X100: Film Simulation Modes Compared

  1. I actually took the plunge and went on the RAW wagon with X100 as well. I just couldn’t make up my mind about the film simulation and having to change it around means I would just forget what film I selected and shoot all day with the wrong film 🙂

    Also I like that I’m able to recover more in the highlights and shadows when I’m out shooting on the streets, where you sometimes barely get the chance to make one shot, so can’t afford to get it wrong.

    But I agree, Astia seems like a good choice and it was also the one I went with most of the time.

    1. I’m kind of a “find something that works and stick to it” kind of guy, so I don’t find myself juggling my picture settings all that much. That being said, the beauty of RAW is indeed the latitude it gives you. If it’s anything more than a casual snapshot, I’m totally for shooting RAW.

  2. Awesome comparision; i agree, velvia a little too saturated for my taste and i luv the blues in astia. I’m really wanting something like the x100 as a causaul camera with very capable jpeg output – I just don’t have time to fuss around with RAW for ‘all around causual shots’, which I currently do. I just wish I can drop a 50mm equivalent on this camera instead of a 35. My dilemma: get this now or save the money for the D700 replacement – well, I guess I’ll decide when Nikon make their announcement at month end….
    Great job with the blog Jon, especially the last several using the x100!!

    1. Thanks Jay! I personally prefer the 35mm (equiv) focal length for the X100. Since it’s the only lens I have to work with on the camera, the not-too-wide, not-too-long focal length feels just right for general snaps. I was thinking of waiting to see what’s up and coming from Nikon, but for some reason I’m not all that excited about the next generation of DSLRs. Maybe it’s the fact that I find the X100 to be so small, light, and refreshingly fun to use, coupled with the fact that I can’t think of anything I need that my D700 won’t give me.

  3. Excellent mode comparisons. I would have to side with the look of Astia, followed by Velvia. Night photography is an area that’s quite foreign to me, but I hope to find the time to explore. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thanks John. It’s been foreign to me too, at least as of late. There’s something very therapeutic about it though, especially if the weather is nice!

  4. Your reviews & comparisons are always so in-depth and easy to read — love that. I have been seriously considering this as a camera for when I can’t lug my DSLR around.

  5. Nice comparison! It’s so nice that the camera can do all the processing for you. Colors looks just right with Astia. Looks like you caught the elevator in the Hyatt with another guest? Last time I went there, you needed a key to go in the elevators.

    1. Thanks Jas! Yes, a key is required but only at certain times. If you go early enough in the evening, you have more public access to the hotel. =)

  6. you’re right, astia seems to be the best choice – it seems to fall between the two in terms of color saturation and contrast. are you sure you aren’t paid by fujifilm to write all these review posts about the x100 🙂

  7. Nice interesring post. I have had my x100 for 2 months, took a few jpegs then moved to raw. Well so much extra work post editing and hard to get results without becoming a pc geek has led me back to remembering why I bought the x100 in the first place, “to take pictures” I just want to capture what I see and not make an image that wasnt real in the first place. Thanks for your post, a camera such as th x100 has these films sims, a nice sensor and a good lens and in my book thats enough. Now I have to do my own experiments to find which film i am happiest with. Once again thanks for your examamples.

  8. Great comparison! I was wondering I where you set the noise redution? Standard or lower? I tend to sometime go for the medium low setting so I can keep a little bit of detail at high ISO. And Low NR when I shoot B&W for that grainy look which, IMO, the X100 does quite well!

  9. I was wondering if you’ve had a look at how Astia compares to ProNegHi, and which you might think is generally better? I like the look of Astia but it seems to stray a bit towards green.

  10. I switched to Astia on the very first day I bought Fuji X-E1 and kept the setting for a long time. Now a days I shoot in NegH and like it also.

  11. This is a really stupid question, but I can’t seem to get the film simulations to show up on my files on my computer even when I am shooting in JPEG only mode. What am I doing wrong?!?!

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