The Fujifilm X-Pro2 and erm Kodachrome?

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Continuing the blog serialisation of my popular X-Pro Series lust/hate/love story:

Part 133: The Fujifilm X-Pro2 and erm Kodachrome?

So as seems to be the deal these days… I kick off the article regaling boring you with some detail of my personal life, and then tying it in to what I want to talk about!


And this week is no exception!


Now irrefutably middle aged, I’ve decided to join a gym 🙂 I haven’t really worked this into my weekly routine yet, meaning we’re not far from Sunday’s publish date, and I haven’t really had any time (or energy) to write what I was planning. The plan goes: get up, get to the gym, come home, shower and do something productive. The reality goes: get up, get to the gym, come home shower, eat, relax, nap and oh the whole day’s gone.


So I was seeking some inspiration in lieu of my failed article plan… where to find it


Facebook! Good (sic) Old (sic) Facebook.


Something of photographical interest landed in my news feed!


David Granick’s (1912-80) Kodachrome photographs of London


I truly enjoyed these pictures, I was born in London (in the 1970s) and my Dad lived there for the first three decades of his life, and he met my Mum there, (my Mum moved to London from Yorkshire in 1967), so I immediately had a pseudo emotive reaction to seeing my home (my folks moved from London when I was a baby) city as my parents would have known it.


But this nostalgia got me thinking… It got me thinking about Kodachrome. Film is pretty nostalgic at the best of times!


But there’s something about the Kodachrome reversal film that people (myself very much included) seem to find romantic.


You can read about Kodachrome in many places, but let’s go with Wikipedia


Not only was Kodachrome used in many famous pictures, but also by many famous photographers.


I sincerely feel that the Kodachrome look has a place in the collective hivemind of photographers, or put another way, if there was a film stock Rock and Roll hall of fame, then Kodachrome would be in there some where next to Led Zeppelin 🙂


Kodachrome has now been discontinued.


But everyone and their dog seems to offer a Kodachrome film simulation. Not Fujifilm of course, because that’s a different company!


So for fun, for craps and giggles and not at all in a very scientific way I thought I’d try to run the same X-Pro2 file through as many Kodachrome simulations as I could lay my hands on


Now these haven’t all been very much (or very well) edited… a quick little go here and there… I just wanted to show as many digital re-imagined versions of Kodachrome as I could.


First up is Alien Skin.


This is the version you can find (for free) with Color Ef-Ex Pro


DxO is neither free nor supports Fujifilm X-Trans. But occasionally they give away their film packs that you can use on Tiff or Jpeg files


Before On1 released On1 RAW, they had On1 Photo. Yup, there’s a Kodachrome film sim buried in there too!


If you’re very into vintage film sims, then you might have heard of RNI. They have more Kodachrome versions than you can shake a stick at!!


Similarly to RNI, XEQUALS also have a wide range of vintage film sims, and Kodachrome is well represented


Fujifilm don’t offer (obviously) a Kodachrome film sim. But their software partner SilkyPix does (even the free version, RFC that you can download from Fuji’s website)


Sometimes people say that Fujifilm’s Classic Chrome film sim is like Kodachrome !!! Well here’s CC with a whole lotta tweaking!! (Seriously I think you’d be better off starting with Astia personally, but here’s CC for the sake of it)


As I said, these aren’t serious edits – on many of them the colour cast is so bad that it could be real vintage film


stock 😀 😀 but in another far more real way, none of these digital charades comes close to capturing the soft and nuanced charm of the Kodachrome photographs in the linked article.


These edits of mine are, by and large, simply open the .RAF and apply the presest, with some slight tweaks if the preset (some of them feature aggressive tone curves for example) makes a huge mess of the exposure. If we (erm I) wanted to do this seriously, I think we’d pick a preset, then work it to our tastes and the needs of the shot we were working on, much the same as we do working with an image without using a preset!


What I find fascinating about these various takes on (pretty much) the same thing (Kodachrome existed in various forms, 1940s Kodachrome won’t look like 1990s Kodachrome) is which aspect of the emulated film stock the software house has wished to focus on. For some it’s open shadows and intense yet soft colour, for others it’s the saturation and high visual impact. It’s a bit like listening to an original famous song, then hearing all of the various cover versions that other artists have done.


Although my edits could be greatly improved upon, I don’t think any of these film sims come close to capturing the majesty that’s inherent within David Granick’s photographs that I’ve shared in the link above. I’m not convinced that any of Fujifilm’s native film simulations do too…


….and I find myself wondering why not? A photograph is so much more than sharpness and dynamic range etc. Fundamentally a photograph is content…. and these images from David Granick, if you strip away the nostalgia, if you forget the bygone era and ignore the wabi-sabi mood and purely look at the images… the tones and the colours are still wonderful, and for my tastes the look of these pictures is captivating


I think that when we’re presented with something that captivates, we really should try and identify what it is, and see if we can in some small way harness this for our own work


I’m not trying to be dismissive of digital or Fujifilm (although if anyone could present the rich look of colour film via a preset then surely it’s them..) or even shop bought presets in general…


…I think I’m reaching for something that’s hard to articulate… With film we picked a brand/product and that gave us what we got. An analogue preset basically, and this “preset” charmed us and made us smile. The look of the film was ultimately decided by the manufacturer and the developer (give or take the exposure choices of the photographer)


With digital we can pick and chose how our final image will look after the shot and change our minds and make multiple copies, yet I’m finding that the notion of simply choosing a manufacturer supplied look to our images doesn’t hold the same appeal…. maybe because it’s inherently easy and readily apparent that we didn’t make it, and unlike film there is a way to make your own film stock look


I quite enjoyed hacking around with the CC film simulation to try (and fail) to make it look more ‘Kodachromey’


I wonder if this isn’t something that I’ll explore further…


When you try these “LR film pack presets” the instructions are very clear, they’re meant as a starting point, start here and cook up your own look. No reason why Fujifilm’s native profiles can’t be used the same way….


….I bet Pro Neg Standard is a good base… saturate the key colours in the shot and add contrast as required.


If anyone has any tips and tricks RE modifying the Fujifilm sims from RAW, then please get in touch


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