In the era of the digital cameras, where things are so much easier (and sometimes more complicated, too), we have the chance to configure the digital camera, in my case, a Fujifilm X-Pro2, so the settings we make can offer us consistency, speed and comfort when photographing. As the time passes by and technology progresses, the menus of the digital cameras get more complex, as the cameras can perform a lot more functions, including video capture, applying some creative effects on the image, processing the RAW files right inside the camera and so on. Who would have thought about Bluetooth and Wi-Fi inside our cameras, a few years ago? Well, someone did and now we use those features, to gain speed in sharing and transferring the files to a portable device.
Getting back to Fujifilm mirrorless cameras and especially to the X-Pro2 (which is the camera I am happily using now), the level of customizing your camera goes quite deep, at least for my expectations. You can shoot in RAW, or JPEG, or both combined and you can customize the quality and size of each type of image file. To get a complete overview of the totality of the menu settings for Fujifilm X-Pro2, the best way is to download and read the PDF user manual. I won’t get into that kind of technical details, but I’ll tell you about the settings that I use for the Color Profiles.
When shooting in RAW, your image file will contain all the information that your sensor is capable of delivering and when shooting in JPEG, the processor will apply an image compression (based on a very smart software) and save your captured image in a file that is smaller in size, easier to handle. If you know your camera, your settings are correctly done, you take care of the composition and everything is right in the camera (color profile, white balance, lighting conditions, etc) you can have a perfectly fine image, in JPEG, without the need to process your RAW files. As I have said in a previous article, with Fujifilm I have gained the freedom to shoot in JPEG, as I think Fujifilm delivers the best image quality in JPEG mode, compared to Olympus, Canon, Nikon and Panasonic (at least on a “smaller than Full Frame” level). Of course, when a paid job is in question, or no matter your motivation, you need the maximum quality your camera can deliver (and you are prepared to spend time and effort post-processing your RAW files), then shooting in RAW sounds like the right thing to do. But if your photography is for yourself, then I think that JPEG files from Fujifilm are great enough to satisfy your needs.
For shooting in JPEG mode, you need to customize your Color Profiles. In this short article I will talk about my customized color profiles. This is based on my personal preferences and you might find my choice of settings, useful, or not. But you can enjoy the freedom of customizing your color profiles, following your style and tastes in photography. At this time of writing, I am using the X-Pro2 with software ver. 4.0. I have 7 Color Profiles that I can customize to my needs, as I enjoy photographing a lot more that post-processing and I would immediately trade the time we spend in front of the PC with Photoshop on, for some more time and chances to actually photograph. This is why I enjoy so much shooting in JPEG, hence the need to make the images as good as possible at the camera level, thus there is no need to alter them, afterwards (or at least not so much).
When I go into the Menu, I select “I.Q.” which stands for Image Quality Settings and on that page, I have “Select Custom Setting” and “Edit/Save Custom Setting”. When I choose to edit and save the custom settings, I have 7 color profiles. I will write them down for you, then I’ll explain the reason for my choices. Now, it is possible to give names for each color profile.
- STANDARD. DR Auto; Film simulation: ASTIA; Grain OFF; White Balance Auto; Highlights -2; Shadows -2; Color 0; Sharpness 0; NR -2.
- COLORFUL. DR Auto; Film simulation: VELVIA; Grain OFF; White Balance Auto; Highlights -2; Shadows -2; Color -1; Sharpness 0; NR -2.
- ACROS. DR Auto; Film simulation: ACROS + R Filter; Grain OFF; White Balance Auto; Highlights -2; Shadows +2; Sharpness +2; NR -2.
- CHROME. DR Auto; Film simulation: CLASSIC CHROME; Grain OFF; White Balance Auto; Highlights -2; Shadows -2; Color +3; Sharpness +1; NR -2.
- ETERNA PORTRAIT. DR 100%; Film simulation: PRO NEG Standard; Grain OFF; White Balance Auto; Highlights -2; Shadows -2; Color -1; Sharpness -1; NR -3.
- BW PORTRAIT. DR 100%; Film simulation: ACROS + G Filter; Grain OFF; White Balance Auto; Highlights -2; Shadows -2; Sharpness -1; NR -2.
- BW RED POWER. DR Auto; Film simulation: MONOCHROME + R Filter; Grain OFF; White Balance Auto; Highlights -2; Shadows +2; Sharpness +1; NR -1.
Hey! What is with the 5th one? X-Pro2 with ETERNA simulation? 🙂 I’ll explain later.
- This is the standard color profile that I use for general purposes, where no special effects are needed. ASTIA simulation offers softer color and contrast.
- This is the one when I need more punch in color and contrast, but as you notice, Color -1 means that I find VELVIA simulation a bit too saturated.
- ACROS is very much appreciated but the BW fans. Setting the Red Filter on, enhances the contrast and darkens the skies, for a more powerful monochrome look. Shadows +2 will emphasize on the contrast and the differences between the highlights and the shadows.
- CLASSIC CHROME is a wonderful film simulation, but in my version, I need it to offer more color and contrast, this is why choices are Color +3 and Sharpness +1.
- Well, it is not ETERNA. This is not yet available for X-Pro2 (although I wish it would be, on a future firmware update in the Fujifilm’s kaizen philosophy that we all love so much). As I like ETERNA simulation, I thought about a way to imitate it, by using PRO NEG STANDARD film simulation which offers soft colors, ideal for portraits and then subtract some color and put everything on Minus, for a more discreet look, with less contrast. I think, by manipulating the White Balance and setting a more warm tone, we might be getting close to what ETERNA really looks like.
- ACROS again, with a Green Filter on is a profile I use for monochrome photography and it works well for BW portraits, too.
- Again, a black and white profile using MONOCHROME with the Red Filter on, where Shadows +2 offer a more powerful and contrasty look.
As you can see, I don’t use Grain (not yet) and the general bias is to have Sharpness and Noise Reduction on negative levels. Also, very important: the Highlights and the Shadows are almost always at their minimum levels; together with Dynamic Range set on Auto (where DR can easily go to 400%) it helps me getting the maximum dynamic range this camera can do, while shooting in JPEG. You can easily add contrast, later, but if you choose VELVIA simulation with all other settings on 0, or positive values, you will certainly gain a lot of punchy contrast and vivid colors, but you will surely lose dynamic range and some details in the shadow areas. This is why, on a “quick look” over my settings, it seems they are made for less vivid, less glittery images, but it’s better to have the possibility to add contrast, saturation, vibrance and changing the color curves in simple, fast steps, than loosing dynamic range.
The best thing you can do is to experiment with different settings, make some tests and see what your ideal color profile might look like, in order to provide you the images that represent your style in photography. Good luck and may the Light be with you!
All photos and text – © Sebastian Boatca 2018 / www.sebastianboatca.com