Published on: 16th Sep 2016The past couple of months everybody in the Fujifilm community were just talking about the new X-Pro2 and now the X-T2 cameras, and with good reason. You see and hear the same things over and over - any new model can only have so many improvements (I think). I wrote the below article a month after the release of the X-Pro2, but never published it. Now with the release of the X-T2 I am seeing the same trends, so maybe I must publish it after-all.
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Look at this 2002 forum entry!
"Question: Feb 22, 2002; 09:56 p.m.:Last week, I finally got hold of Fuji's new b/w emulsion, Neopan 100 Acros. Usually, when I try a new film, I expect it to come close to my favourite films of all time (Agfapan APX 25, now defunct, and Kodak Panatomic-X 32, gone 10 years now), but not quite. Well, after developing 9 min. in Edwal FG7 at 1:15 dilution, I was stunned with how the tonal-range and contrast nearly jumped off the negative! I finally found a film I consider better than Agfa 25 or Pan-X. However, when I viewed the negatives under an 8X loupe, I found the grain slightly larger than Pan-X, and about 2-3 larger than Agfa 25 (which is the finest grain film I've ever used). Anyone out there found a developer that gives fine grain to Fuji Neopan 100 Acros without sacrificing tonality or contrast? It's a new film, so I was surprised to find no traffic on photo.net about it. Or, perhaps film is now "passe", now that everyone's gone digital.
Answer 1: Feb 23, 2002; 01:08 a.m.:A "fine grain" developer doesn't create fine grain, it HOLDS the grain of the emulsion as laid down in manufacture. Grain crystals can be enlarged, however, through various agencies. To increase contrast, try undexposing and overdeveloping.
Answer 2: Feb 23, 2002; 09:28 a.m.:I'm not sure if it is available in the US, but Fuji makes a developer called "Microfine" which it recommends for use with Acros 100 (the film known as Neopan 100 in the US). At 68 degrees I give it about nine and a half minutes, and the results are quite pleasing, both in terms of tonality and maximizing the potential of the film's grain. ..."
There you have it, this guy was happy to move on from 25 or 32 ISO to 100! Another win for Fujifilm. But I am digressing...
Announcement: New monochrome ACROS film simulation for smooth tones, deep blacks and rich texturesThe above settings are from one of the popular Fujifilm X-Photographers. One of the guys that will have a great following. A person that would most likely be mimicked by newcomers - newcomers that do not have any darkroom experience. This is his suggested settings for street photography! Especially when shooting in monochrome with the new acros film similation!
These settings basically negates any dynamic range. My first digital camera of 2004 would have had a better dynamic range than these settings.Why a +2 sharpness? When the Nikon D800 came out with its 4.88µm pixel pitch, I had to dial down the sharpness setting to -2 in order to get "normal" looking photos. Fujifilm's x-trans sensor is marketed as having very sharp looking photos with very fine detail because there is no need for a anti-alias filter. The 24 megapixel APC size sensor will have a pixel pitch of about 3.93µm! So, seems to me over sharpness became the norm now, "normal" looking photos must have a white band around every high contrast area in the photo.
Shadows +3? (WTF!). Apparently, normal looking photos consists of black and white, detail in shadows is not normal anymore - in fact, it must be avoided.
I must give him some credit here - there was a phase in digital photography that the opposite was the desire of every post processor, everybody shot 3 exposures, run it through some (poorly designed) HDR action and created very bland looking photos with large halos and without any blacks. If I need to choose between those bland looking unrealistic HDR photos and this new pure black trend, then the pure black trend will even be my choice. But I hope I never, ever have to choose between these two extremes.
This is obviously a fad.
I found another "popular" street photographer with a great following who is selling Lightroom actions for black and white photography. Based on his own photos, I guess his post processing settings are:
I searched on the internet amongst the old masters - especially the street photography masters - trying to see if this is the reason for this new trend, but I failed to find photos with such a look - even way back more than 100 years.
If you want to follow somebody, then Damein Lovegrove, with his portrait photo to show off the Acros simulation, is the trend I hope you will be wanting to follow.
Even if you would love to follow this "low tonality" fad, remember it is hopefully only that. Shoot your photos with as much detail as possible, and rather use post processing to get your "low tonality fix". Then, one day in the future, you could always go back to them and create realistic looking photos that you do not need to hide from commentary.
I am from the old school, for me the world consists not only of black and white, but all the tones from black to white. The wedding couple at the top of this article is an example of the acros film simulation with the default in-camera settings. Do you what more contrast? Maybe more black? Ah, maybe darker highlights...
(If you have read up to here and did not click on a photo yet, do so to see them in larger format and also to browse through the rest of this gallery)