About Fujifilm and Changing Mindset

Just over one week ago, I bought a Fuji X-T20.

The main reason for me to switch from an entry-level Canon DSLR to a mirrorless and a much more expensive camera was to carry less weight around. After reading the manual and, most of all, articles explaining the experiences and settings of other people, I realised that the little camera would make a deeper change in the way I take and process my pictures.

Soap Bubbles
Soap Bubbles

Last weekend I visited Edinburgh, where I had the chance to see a photo of mine at the Shutter Hub Open exhibition at Retina Festival. The occasion was perfect to try out the new entry.

After some thinking, I’ve decided to make good use of the help the camera can give me:

  • Automatic white balance
  • Autofocus (face and eye detection switched on)  — with additional manual focus
  • Automatic ISO — chosen by the camera, among a range of ISOs selected by me
  • A film simulation mode of my choice
  • RAW + JPEG
The City from Calton Hill
The City viewed from Calton Hill

Off I went, noticing how liberating was not having to stop to change the settings every time the light changed, consequently missing the moment, and probably also the pleasure of taking pictures spontaneously.

The design of the camera is clearly beautifully vintage, so it felt natural having film simulator modes to complete the experience. During my days in Edinburgh, I used the Astia Soft.

Rainbow and Sea
Rainbow and Sea

Once at home, I started importing the pictures on my laptop to develop them. I spent a few evenings trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. The RAW files were painfully slow to import in Lightroom and then, once they were ready, the difference between them and the JPEGs was discouraging. Even if Lightroom provides Fujifilm’s camera profiles, nothing I did could make the RAW files to look like the JPEGs.

Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat from Calton Hill
Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat from Calton Hill

It seemed that by carrying on with the same process I used with the Canon, I was going to waste a lot of time. Having complete control over how a picture looks is great but, after seeing the nice and — almost — ready JPEGs, it was easy for me to consider the RAW files purely as backups.

What I am doing now is trying to get the best in-camera result, by modifying the settings for the camera mode of choice:

  • Noise reduction -2
  • Highlight tone -1
  • Shadow tone -1
  • Sharpness +1
  • Dynamic range 100%

I then import the JPGs into Lightroom and make some changes before saving them, moving the RAW files directly to an external drive.

Dean Gardens
Dean Gardens

Probably a professional photographer wouldn’t agree with this process, but for now, it makes a big difference for me.

I spent too long not taking pictures because the camera was a heavy object to carry — and because I wasn’t particularly inspired — so I really look forward to bringing the Fujifilm with me more often.

Surely the various film simulator modes allow for great creativity, and I only briefly tried the Helios-M44 on it, so I can’t wait to test it properly!

See more pictures on the project page.

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