As a photographer who has shot film exclusively since 2013, I find it amusing to write a post about a digital camera series from Fujifilm, the GFX. But here we are and I have quite a bit to say on the subject, so let’s go.
January 2023: Kodak announces yet another price hike, to be effective in March 2023. I put together a shopping cart with enough E100 for a year or so at pre-March 2023 prices in an effort to get ahead of the price hike. For some reason, I cannot hit buy. The idea of dropping more money on slide film gives me pause. Meanwhile, the Sony A7RII that I bought to scan my film beckons as a possibility. It is, after all, a 42MP camera that I use for my film scans. I begin playing with the Sony and actually using it as a camera and the idea of starting to shoot digitally again becomes interesting — particularly as a lot of people have put a lot of time into film emulations and profiles compared to 2012.
Fast forward a little and this youtube video from Kyle McDougall and the availability of an adapter to adapt my Mamiya 7 lenses to the GFX system had my interest piqued. Could one really get an image that looked similar enough to film in a fraction of the time with one of these cameras? Could one do this using software that was readily available in Linux? I set out to find out and began researching everything that I could find on the GFX. I soon found this video and this one by no stream and that really made me start to think that this was actually not only possible but quite plausible. I then found these sample images from the GFX 50S II and decided to get started seeing how I could fare with making them look like film. I learned real quickly that my choice of running Darktable on Linux would be somewhat limiting for the commercially available film emulation packages that target Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, etc. I soon found the t3mujinpack film emulation presets for Darktable and started playing with these. Somewhere along the line, I became aware that Darktable could use LUTs (Lookup Tables) and found that there are a lot of free LUTs out there to play with, including these film profile LUTs. All of this was able to get me close enough to decide that there was some definite merit in the idea. So now, the next steps in the experiment could only be taken with a GFX in hand, so I bought a used Fujifilm GFX 50S and the Mamiya 7 to GFX adapter so that I could use my existing lenses with the camera.
The GFX 50S is an amazing camera that produces files with serious latitude. One could use the built-in film presets and just shoot jpegs with this camera and be perfectly fine. But I wanted to see just how far I could take this.
As an E100 shooter, I was very disappointed with the set of Ektachrome presets that I had found online, mainly due to the fact that they are built on an older version of Ektachrome and none of them made my digital files look anything like E100. So I started looking deep across the internet, sometimes disappointed that I didn’t run Photoshop or Lightroom so I couldn’t take advantage of the myriad commercial film packs that promise such great results. But then I found Thomas Andp’s film styles at https://andpfilmstyles.com/ and Thomas had an E100 film profile! At the price of only 5 euros, it was very much in the range of worth a shot and so I tried that one and the results immediately reminded me of a frame of E100! At this point, I was getting pretty excited about the possibilities available through this combo. Long story short, I started trying other film styles from his site and they all started delivering exactly what I was looking for. I also found the following for black and white film as I was looking for an Eastman 5363 LUT (also hard to find): https://creativemarket.com/Raztrend/5819267-Eastman-Kodak-Black-White-Films-LUTs. These have been excellent as well.
With a good set of LUTs finally defined, I worked at refining my processes around saturation, levels, and adding grain to the images to get close to film. I realized along the way that matching the look of film exactly isn’t really possible (hence why film still has a magic and I’m not about to abandon it), but that it is possible to get a style that’s close enough that you can shoot digital or film and have a congruent looking portfolio where none of the images scream “film” or “digital” and that was a good realization to achieve.
So enough blathering, let’s see some examples of what the GFX with these LUTs and workflow can produce:
So if you’re dissuaded by the fact that a 5-pack of E100 in 120 now costs $83, you may be interested in taking a similar route.