Velvia as a portrait film(simulation) – a study

My daughter recently looked through some of the photos I took of her riding and said “now the photos look good”. What had changed? I forgot to change to some neutral film simulation and used Velvia for the photos.

Okay, everybody say that Velvia isn’t suitable for people photos and I have avoided Velvia when giving SOOC photos to people I am photographing. Who would want red face in her/his photo? My daughter didn’t look at the face in the photo but the look of the photo as whole.

I had already long time ago given up of the idea to get the pastel greens Fuji 160NS or 400H have, out of any film simulation. So I did my NS160 Capture One -style without any WYSIWYG-version of in-camera settings.

But in the latest week I have played with the Fujifilm X RAW Studio to test how some color casts look with different film simulations. I found interesting color cast with Astia and thought it is pointing, at least partly, towards the green look Fujifilm is bashed or liked for. Anyway I tried the color cast on different film simulations and found out that both Astia and Velvia looked nice with it. My settings started to wander to a bit extreme direction and I needed some material photographed with DR400. And after taking at least some raw-files with DR400 I could see how the film simulations looked when I gave them overexposure (+2/3 seemed necessary).

With Astia I ended to the following settings:

Image Quality: Fine
Push/Pull +2/3 EV
Dynamic Range DR400
Film Simulation Astia/Soft
Grain Effect OFF
White Balance As Shot WB
WB Shift R-2 B-3
Highlight Tone -1
Shadow Tone -1
Color -2
Sharpness -2
Noise Reduction +4

The image I got with Astia looks like this:

Astia with “FujiPro” color cast

With Velvia I ended up with the following settings:

Image Quality: Fine
Push/Pull +2/3 EV
Dynamic Range DR400
Film Simulation Velvia/Vivid
Grain Effect OFF
White Balance As Shot WB
WB Shift R-2 B-3
Highlight Tone -2
Shadow Tone -1
Color -4
Sharpness -2
Noise Reduction +4

The image I got with Velvia looks like this:

Velvia with “FujiPro” color cast

What I observed was that the greens got more towards the pastel look I relate to the Fujifilm 160NS and 400H films, especially with the Velvia settings. Astia still has it’s yellow cast apparent even with color -2.

I have zero people photographs I can share here, but having tested the look with people photographs I would say that portrait photography is possible with Velvia at least with the settings I used here. And as an extra the look is much more toward overexposed 400H than any other film simulation (like the ProNegStd which is supposed to look like Fuji’s Pro films). The auto white balance setting might not always work, so You might need to set the white balance according to the lighting (color temperature). I got many AWB photos with yellow color cast, and that is not the intended look.

I include here as a reference a photo taken at Velvia’s basic settings (all settings zeroed and AWB 0, except DR is at 400%) so that You can see the difference of the above settings:

Velvia at base (zero) settings

I am not claiming I achieved anything worthy with this experiment. Especially the color cast is not suitable to use for something that calls for neutral colors. But I share these settings so that someone else can experiment with them too.

One setting You might wonder is the Noise Reduction of +4. As I tried to “mimic” 400H look I wanted the skin of people look more “waxy” than usual. The effect of Noise Reduction at least in X-H1 I use is very subtle, but it still is in the right direction.

What I learned during this experiment is that You have to decide beforehand if You are going to use DR of 200 or 400% in camera. Even when using raw-files You cannot raise the DR setting above the one You used when photographing the subject. If You don’t care about in-camera film simulation settings and use raw and post process Your photos with Capture One to get Your desired look, then I certainly would leave the DR at 100%. But if the SOOC in-camera look is important or You are going to use Fujifilm X Raw Studio for post processing, I would almost always (when the light levels aren’t too high and You can’t use neutral density filter) use DR of at least 200%, probably even that 400% setting. DR400 in itself seems to look a bit flat and 200% is more widely useful.

7 thoughts on “Velvia as a portrait film(simulation) – a study

    1. Hi!
      Caucasian skin type. And the skin won’t look realistic because of the color cast, for that one might need to give up of the wb-shift (revert to 0,0). More conservative middle-ground would be -2B and -1R for the AWB, but in the end this whole thing is only an experiment. It was interesting that You can get Velvia into the territory of portrait-films with lowered saturation and contrast. And with this color shift it was interesting to get those pastel greens.

      I also made a Capture One -style out of the official Velvia -curve with quite similar tweaks. There the color shift was more succesful as it doesn’t colorize the skin so much. But I hesitated to publish it at the same as the emphasis for this post was the in-camera settings.

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      1. So it seems, then reverting to AWB shift to 0 is wisest. But in the end there are the better film simulations available for portraits 🙂.

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  1. Hello. I tried your settings with Velvia and I should say the skin tones is good. But other colours are still too saturated especially if a model is in bright colourful clothes. I couldn’t get anything better for all round soocs ProNeg Std with shadows +1, highlights -1, color +2, wb sunlight -1 red, DR200. I don’t like skintones being waxy, still it is more or less pastel and nice.

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    1. Thanks for commenting. 🙂 I don’t know did Fuji ever think how much their film simulations will be tweaked. Personally I would love to settle on some of the offered film simulations as is, but find them too contrasty out of the box. And I still miss pastel looking 400h or 160 simulation. Fuji decided to offer the pro neg film simulations for portrait/fashion use but their “signature” look of 400h missing is an odd omission from Fuji’s part. I don’t fancy personally so much of the strange ones like Classic Chrome or Classic Negative and prefer the Pro look simulations.

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