Colour Chrome Effect

The development of Colour Chrome Effect is derived from a reversal film: fortia.

My stunning XPro-3 and I think all ‘newer’ Fujifilm X-Trans IV sensor cameras, have a ‘Colour Chrome Effect’ feature. If you have had the chance to shoot with the XPro-3 or say GFX, then you already know the effect from your hands-on experience.

©Fujifilm

The development of the Colour Chrome Effect is derived from a reversal film: fortia. The film was introduced to the market in 2004 with the catchphrase “Higher contrast and more vivid colour than Velvia”. It was a limited run, so although many talked about it, only a few have had a chance to try it out.

Fortia was praised among the enthusiasts. We often received questions like “how can you adjust the setting so that it resembles fortia?” or “if you set Colour +4 in Velvia mode, would it become fortia?”

©Fujifilm

Unfortunately, no matter what you do in Velvia mode, it will never turn into fortia. The colour reproduction ideal is different, to begin with. One of the characteristics of reversal colour film is that tonality remains even in the high contrast range. This is the reason why the colour never gets saturated and achieves depth in images shot with fortia, even though the contrast is higher than Velvia.

One of the reasons that fortia was a limited run was simply that the perception of this film was that it was only useful in certain situations. But the characteristic of low saturation with high contrast is much needed in the digital era. And if we were able to simulate Velvia, PROVIA, and ASTIA successfully, we had to try fortia.

©Fujifilm

When expressing colours such as red, orange, yellow, or yellow-green in high contrast, high brightness tends to exist. If contrast and brightness both reach their peaks, there is no room for tonality. As a result, the image becomes very flat.

However, by analysing the light and information received on the sensor surface, one can detect slight gradation. Colour Chrome Effect uses this to create tonality while maintaining high contrast. As a result, an image is achieved without losing its depth.

The effect is universal. Both the Adobe RGB and sRGB users can see the difference. But there is also a side effect: processing power is required. Even the X-Processor Pro needs about 1.0 sec. to process the Colour Chrome Effect. If you are a single-shot user, then this is not a problem. But you cannot shoot continuously or set it to AF-C mode.

Fujifilm recommends that you turn off the feature while shooting, and only have it on when processing RAW files in-camera. The XPro-3 can output Super Fine JPEG mode and TIFF. You can convert the RAW files in-camera first and brush up the final image on your Mac or PC.

Fujifilm asked the image designer who created the Colour Chrome Effect to replicate the Colour Chrome Effect by using image processing software. His answer was “yes, but it would take me an hour for each image. I also need to know the sensor characteristics of each image.

©Fujifilm

The image design team does not think the film simulation is the final touch on the colour. Every photographer seeks a different colour. But if a few clicks on the camera could save you an hour of labour, then you might as well just take advantage of it.

Fujifilm aims to perfect the film simulations so that no editing will be required, but if it only means a starting point, that is also perfectly fine.

©Fujifilm

Film Simulation “CLASSIC CHROME”

Fujifilm’s Classic Chrome is not designed to reproduce an existing film but instead aims to create the ambience found in documentary-style photographs and magazines.

MANUFACTURING PHOTOGRAPHIC FILM FOR MANY years means Fujifilm has a wealth of image production know-how and our digital camera imaging technology harnesses that knowledge. Fujifilm has developed five separate colour Film Simulation modes for X Series camera that photographers can select, just as they would with the film. PROVIA, Velvia and ASTIA are designed to deliver the deep colour tones of reversal film, while PRO Neg. Std and PRO Neg. Hi emphasize skin tones. As a result, Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes have established a solid reputation, but professional photographers using the cameras have also requested different Film Simulation modes to expand their creative options.

©Fujifilm

Aiming for advances in color reproduction
The most frequent request Fujifilm received, particularly from photojournalists, was for a mode with more muted tones, so we analyzed hundreds of documentary-style images to find out exactly what kind of effect photojournalists were looking for. Fujifilm reached the conclusion that good documentary-style images allow the photographer to put something of themselves into their work, so they created a simulation mode that allows the photographer to tell the viewer a story. They also took into account the recent trend for photographs to be viewed more frequently on digital devices rather than as physical prints and worked to create a mode that looks like a print when viewed on an LCD screen in JPEG format.

Creating a Simulation mode without a reference film
Unlike previous Film Simulation modes, Fujifilm’s Classic Chrome is not designed to reproduce an existing film but instead aims to reproduce the ambience found in documentary-style photographs and magazines. The name ‘Classic Chrome’ reflects a mode reminiscent of the images each individual carries in their mind and the physical prints of such images.

The characteristics of Classic Chrome
Classic Chrome is characterised by its colours and tones. Images shot with Classic Chrome generally have low colour saturation and full-bodied tones. When Fujifilm analysed relevant images, they were particularly struck by how tones in skies were reproduced, so this became one of our key areas of focus. When the sky includes a hint of magenta, the resulting colour is rich, but with Classic Chrome Fujifilm moved in a different direction and created new colours by removing the magenta component. Classic Chrome also controls the saturation and hue of reds and greens to produce a unique chromatic balance.

Fujifilm’s Film Simulation modes are evolving with their users
In developing Classic Chrome, they have listened to the opinions of professional photographers to create a new style of colour reproduction. They believe this will provide X Series users with a new method of creativity, and Fujifilm hope photographers can put it to a variety of uses. By combining Classic Chrome with the camera’s image quality control features (including shadow tones and highlight tones) to match the scene and emotion, users can achieve a broader creative range. Fujifilm has listened to feedback from professionals and users of our cameras to further enhance our existing Film Simulation modes, and Fujifilm will hopefully continue to do so.

©Fujifilm

ACROS Film Simulation

IT HAS BEEN OVER 15 YEARS since the introduction of the ACROS film simulation. Its history began with the model FinePix F700 back in 2003. The monochrome was called ‘B&W’ back then, and the image quality it produced was highly regarded.

Old Lives – Cirencester, UK – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – “ACROS” – © Narrating Images

At the same time Fujifilm were asked what film is the ‘B&W’ simulating? The answer to the question was, ‘B&W’ is based on PROVIA, and it is not based on Monochrome film. This fact also reflected the sentiment of the Image Design team at Fujifilm, that “It is too early to name a simulation mode after any monochrome films, which are all legendary.” So now we have a film simulation mode named after the monochrome film. To have ACROS mode, it had to meet a certain standard.

What does it take to be ACROS? What kind of monochrome expression does it need to have? First, it needed to be capable of expressing details like the ACROS film, which was often praised as ‘world’s finest grain’ Secondly, it needed to achieve print-like texture, like how a photo would appear when taken by a monochrome film and printed on a photographic paper. In order to become the digital ACROS, the mode needed to achieve both subject’s detail and texture.

This tonality curve, specifically designed for ACROS, has a distinguishable characteristic compared to the existing ‘B&W’. First, from the middle to the highest, the tonality curve is rather hard. By doing so, the detail stands out, and therefore the image appears clean and sharp. It doesn’t not mean, however, that it gets overexposed easily. The highest input and output remains at the same level. The dynamic range stays the same. We should now look at the shadow part.

Here is a link to my monochrome film simulator recipe for the Fujifilm XF10.

The tonality curve becomes rather soft, unlike the hard tonality curve from the middle to the highest. It means that we do not lose the detail as much as possible on the shadow range. The essence of monochrome expression exists in the shadow area. If it is too soft, then the image becomes too loose, and if it becomes too hard, then the picture loses its depth. The optimal balance in the shadow area determines the quality of the monochrome.

Residents Only – Cirencester, UK – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – “ACROS” – © Narrating Images

It is not only about the tonality curve.
To achieve the ACROS like texture, the film-like “graininess” is another important element. To be specific, ACROS mode has a completely different noise reduction algorithm from other modes. The “graininess” of the silver-halide films are what we see as ‘noise’ in the digital data. For colour images, they are the unwanted noise, but in the monochrome images, it becomes an important texture. Turning the noise into a grain-like texture is what makes ACROS unique and different.

Other manufacturers are also implementing the idea of creating ‘graininess’ to enhance the texture. Fujifilm is not the only brand doing this. You can find ‘Grain’ filter in the readily available photo processing software, and many monochrome photographers add ‘grain’ to achieve the monochrome film-like effect. Most of them try to achieve this by adding a grain-like element to the original image. They simply add another layer of ‘dotted graininess’ on top without changing the original photo composition. So something becomes unnatural in the process.

Church Shadows – Cirencester, UK – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – “ACROS” – © Narrating Images

ACROS is different.
Fujifilm developed it from the core of the image file to achieve a very complex and natural like grain expression. Optimal and different grain expressions are added to highlight and low light areas. You would not find unnatural dotted graininess in the highlight areas just like how the monochrome film behaves. In the low light area, you would see the graininess just like how it would appear with the monochrome film. There is undulating grain within the picture. And it adds depth like no other.

ACROS also changes the output of graininess depending on the sensitivity setting. As the sensitivity gets higher, stronger grain effect becomes visible, just like the film. Fujifilm had seen the advancement of high S/N ratio of digital cameras, but people generally wanted to take photos with the lowest sensitivity possible. But with ACROS, it may be a different story.

The unique grain effect, which becomes apparent at the higher ISO sensitivity. You can intentionally set the sensitivity high to enjoy the effect. Fujifilm had so much positive feedback on ACROS since the announcement, even before getting into explaining the technical aspect. “Add ACROS to X-T1 and X100T”, “Make it happen on the next firmware update!” Fujifilm had lots of requests. But unfortunately, this is very unlikely to happen. The image design of ACROS is only achievable with the resolution of X-Trans CMOS III and the processing power of X-Processor Pro.

Church – Cirencester, UK – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – “ACROS” – © Narrating Images

The fine detail that ACROS achieves is only possible with the resolution power of 24MP. And the complex grain effect is only possible with the powerful X-Processor Pro engine. It may be possible that the same concept can be achieved without the two new devices, but they can not say that to be ACROS? The answer is “No.” Fujifilm would not release a quality that does not meet a high standard.
Fujifilm also think that it is very unlikely that any RAW conversion software would achieve what ACROS achieves. Fujifilm all know that there is excellent RAW conversion software in the market, but we also believe that the magic of X-Processor Pro is not so easily solved.

Below is the ACROS recipe I used for the photos on this page.

Film Sim : ACROS
ISO: Auto
Dynamic Range: 200%
Sharpening: -1
Highlight: +1
Shadow: +2
Noise Reduction: -4
Exposure Compensation: 0

The Crown – Cirencester, UK – Fujifilm X-Pro3 – “ACROS” – © Narrating Images