I don’t know the numbers, but Fuji films surely dominate the market especially with nature and landscape photographers. Fuji Velvia was first introduced in 1990, and quickly rose to become the staple film in the bags of most outdoor photographers. However, things have changed. Rarely do publishers request original transparencies as digital files are now the preferred and easier medium by which to deliver images. Further, for those photographers whose primary output is the fine print, Velvia has hardly ever been the best choice – largely due to its high contrast and limited exposure latitude. So what Fuji film should you consider if the fine print is your primary goal? I’d suggest Astia or Pro 160S for color, and Acros for black and white. Like Velvia, Astia is a transparency (slide) film, while Pro 160S is color negative and Acros is black & white negative. All three of these films provide greater exposure latitude than Velvia; scan more easily; and due to their more neutral color palettes (excluding Acros, of course) provide greater flexibility in interpreting the scan for the print. Any color film can be made to look like Velvia.
Take a look at the photo of the Fuji film comparison. Please note that this has been converted to the sRGB color space (which is a much smaller color gamut than wide-gamut Adobe RGB). Also note that this has been downsized for web display to 72ppi (a far cry from printing resolution). These two facts hamper the accuracy of this image, but what is not hampered is the obvious gains in the shadows made by using Astia or Pro 160S. Note that the transparency films (Velvia and Astia) have only been scanned and color corrected to match the transparency (no contrast adjustments). The Pro 160S (rated at ISO 100 and processed normally) has been scanned and color corrected to most closely match the transparency films. Acros has only been scanned and has NO adjustments. Fuji Velvia may appear the most colorful, but have a look at those difficult shadows; your scanner is not going to like them!
Velvia may look pretty impressive on your lightbox, but if the fine print is your primary medium, you’ll be better served using Astia or Pro 160S.
I welcome your comments!