#1123. A Recipe For Disaster

By Ian Varkevisser | Art & Creativity

Jul 09

When Fujifilm entered the digital camera market they did so with a firm intent to pay homage to their film heritage both in the styling of their cameras and in their attention to detail in the colour science of their film simulations.

For years the mantra in the digital photography world was ‘I shoot RAW’. In recent years though the novelty of spending hours in front of a computer screen developing images has worn somewhat thin. Along with a nostalgia for the film days, the superior in camera jpeg engine and the ability to create very flexible custom settings an almost cult like following has developed in the Fujifilm underworld.

The somewhat recent ability to connect to Fujifilms cameras via proprietary software ( X Raw Studio ) creating ‘recipes’, as they are known by the disciples, and to use the in camera engine to develop the images has lead to a plethora of recipes to emulate old film stock. Kodachrome 64, Kodachrome II, Ectachrome 100SW, Kodak Porta 160, Agfa Optima, Lomography Colour 100, Cross Process to name but just a few. And the list goes on and on as can be seen on the ever popular website https://fujixweekly.com/. The X ninjas are striking back with the new clarion call ‘I only shoot jpeg’ and enjoy more coffee time.

Even with the oldest of cameras in the Fujifilm range between the possibility of setting Film Simulation, Colour Saturation, Dynamic Range , Tone Curve , Noise Reduction, Sharpness, White Balance and White Balance offset there is the ability to create 565 million different recipes/variations, theoretically speaking . Now excluding push /pull using exposure compensation and ISO adjustments to emulate grain, and all the newer customisable settings on the more recent in their line up – I think you get the picture.

Rather than slavishly follow the trend to create recipes aiming to emulate old film stock I thought it would be an interesting exercise to select 4 villages in my local area and define the characteristics of those villages in everyday terms. Then to attempt to create a ‘recipe’ which reflects the character of those villages and name it after them.

Welcome to my backyard. Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek and Simonstown.


Gritty, run down, hippy, neglected,surfers.

Dynamic Range400%
Film SimulationClassic Chrome
White Balance5300K +4B:-5R
Highlight Tone+1
Shadow Tone0
Noise Reduction-2
Exposure Comp-1/3

Kalk Bay

Vibrant, colourful, bohemian, cool, hip, arty.

Dynamic Range200%
Film SimulationVelvia
White Balance5900K +3B:+3R
Sharpness 0
Highlight Tone-1
Shadow Tone+1
Noise Reduction-1
Exposure Comp+1/3

Fish Hoek

Dreary, dull, stuck in a 70s timewarp, outdated.

Dynamic Range100%
Film SimulationPro Neg Std
White Balance7100K -4B:+2R
Highlight Tone-2
Shadow Tone-2
Noise Reduction+1
Exposure Comp+2/3


Old world charm, sophisticated, gentrified, arty.

Dynamic Range100%
Film SimulationAstia
White Balance5600K +3B:+3
Highlight Tone+1
Shadow Tone-1
Noise Reduction+2
Exposure Comp0

The above have been created on the older technology in the Fujifilm line up, the X-T10 which has the xtrans II sensor and ‘limited’ in camera customisation ability compared to features on newer models. They will therefore also work on the newer cameras in the line up. Feel free to try them out and modify them to your taste on the Fujifilm camera of your choice or to engage in a similar exercise in your own backyard with whatever camera make you own.


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  • Michelle says:

    what a fun post! really enjoyed this one. i don’t even shoot fuji but i loved seeing the effects of all your different “recipes” and how you used them to communicate a sense of place.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Michelle,

      It was partly a fun exercise , partly experimental and partly a thought provoking post. One of my objectives will be to experiment and find a ‘recipe’ suitable for street photography in the end, that I may use to shoot straight jpeg , spend no time on post processing, have a definitive film style and spend all the post shooting time simply on harshly editing the results. i.e. final image selection so that they meet the very demanding standards of my editor.

  • pete guaron says:

    Refreshingly different, Ian! I’ve never owned a Fuji – I think Pascal has, but then he seems to have worked through the lot!

    It’s hard to engage in some of these technical issues, when you’re simply using experience to guide you and the technical stuff seems more suited to an engineer lusting after a master’s degree.

    But I’ve come across some interesting articles about RAW vs JPEG in recent times.

    One in particular – ran a hundred images. taken with identical gear under identical conditions – side by side – on the one hand, RAW – and on the other, JPEGs Sometimes one produced the better image, sometimes the other one did.

    And there didn’t seem to be any pattern to it, any particular reason for it.

    JPEGs of course capture less information.

    But for the most part, I haven’t been able to find much difference unless the images are enlarged to a high degree.

    And then there’s the bleeding obvious. Most images these days are never printed. They live out their miserable lives in cyber space. And there, it’s best – apparently – most of the time – if they are RGB. Adobe RGB doesn’t travel as well, in cyber space. Before I waste my time converting images to another colour gamut like that, thought, I’d want to know a lot more about it.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      HI Pete,

      Surprisingly little technical involved in it to be honest and potentially a lot to be gained in space and time saving. If an educated eye struggles to find a distinct reason for not shooting jpeg under certain conditions it is worth pursuing for those very reasons. That is not to say there would be conditions when I would not resort to shooting RAW. Does gear matter though in this instance ?

      • pete guaron says:

        Hi Ian

        Well gear can matter – to this extent at least – both my main cameras shoot dual cards. So I can shoot TIF (Nikon for “RAW”) in one and JPEG in the other. It actually makes sense – because I was once stuck with only a single card, which SHOULD have given me a thousand more shots, but something went wrong and it restricted me to only another 100 or so. And I couldn’t get another card for a week or so! – because I was out in a more remote area, with no pro camera shops anywhere.
        But what it also gives me is:
        – backup – in case of any disasters with a card – and I’ve had one of those, too!
        – I can choose between the RAW and the JPEG images for each shot, during post – both shot identically! – and as I said, I was surprised to learn how often one is better than the other – without any pattern I can see, as to which is likely to be the better image.

  • Frank Field says:

    Ian — My days of shooting start in the early 1970s and I must say that many of these “looks” bring back memories. In the film era, 99% of my shooting was on slide film, at first Kodachrome then moving into various E6 formulations. Your images do show that the simulations do not bring back the very narrow dynamic range of the E6 films, fortunately. As I recall, Velvia was about 4-stops while you could approach 5-stops with Provia if very carefully exposed. Good post, thank you! Frank

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Frank ,

      Thanks for that technical insight into film. If my post gets just one person to look more deeply into their camera’s ability, whatever make, I will consider it having served its purpose.

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