Fuji Film Comparison

Fuji films comparison. Velvia, Astia, Pro 160S, Acros.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!

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.

11 thoughts on “Fuji Film Comparison

  1. Pingback: Media Districts Entertainment Blog » Fuji Film Comparison

  2. Those are some nice comparisons Michael. I’ve only scanned about 150 slides, but I do agree about Velvia being difficult to process. One image took about 40 hours worth of work to get close to the slide. The other film I used a little bit of was Provia and I thought that was much easier to scan due to the shadow details.

  3. Thank you, Richard! Somebody else commented that Provia had been left out. For what it’s worth, I’ve never been a fan of Provia and IMO any gains the film offers over Velvia are fairly minor, thus my exclusion. If you want more latitude (and IMO a better film) than Velvia, I’d recommend Astia.

    Thanks, Richard!

  4. Hi Michael,

    Nice post. I agree that Velvia is not good for the digital workflow, not to mention the awful blue casts it takes in shadows or snow.

    I primarily use Provia, and like it. I’m interested to here your specific critiques of it, as I have no complaints and find it vastly superior to Velvia for its greater dynamic range and more accurate colors.

    I have about 4 boxes of Astia in the fridge which I will eventually use up. I’ve only used Astia a few times and found it to be a little flat on the color (as seen in the Fuji image). But that is not really a big issue I guess, with the scanning/PS workflow.

  5. Hi Jack: thanks for your comment.

    You’re now the second person to ask why I excluded Provia! This examination was not meant to be thorough, but I should have included it. Since Provia seems to have a reasonably small fan base and the comparison was put together primarily for our workshops, I excluded it.

    My opinion: I’ve never been fond of the ‘blue fog’ that seems to upset the color balance on the whole, and the gains are only a marginal improvement over Velvia. Out of fairness, I have not exposed Provia for a number of years, so perhaps the emulsion has improved.

    You’re right; Astia is a little flat (which is why I like it!), but it gives me lots of room to ‘play’ in the print. I’m a bigger fan of burning than dodging and I’d rather not have to perform ‘rescue’ on a chrome or negative, so I prefer wide latitude chromes or negatives. Once you use enough Astia, it will look normal to you and Velvia will look quite abnormal!

    Thanks for looking and commenting, Jack! BTW, I took a brief glimpse at your new mountainphotographer blog, and it looks great. I need to spend more time looking and reading, but that ski-sailing on the Eiger got my palms sweaty!

  6. Hi Michael,

    I was initially of an opinion that matches yours, i.e. that you can make a shot taken with a negative film or even a digial shot, and make it look like Velvia. I’ve tried really hard to do this and can’t manage it though – Velvia does something particularly interesting I think in that it creates saturation without distortion which is very difficult (impossible in my case) to duplicate in photoshop. When I want that sort of saturation boost (overcast, cloudy days for instance) then I can’t seem to get it from other films. Also, the contrast range is actually an advantage if you have a low contrast subject. If you only have 256 brightness levels to play with and you take a picture of a low contrast subject with NPS160, you may only end up using 100 of those levels – this means you’ll end up with digital ‘banding’ (or at least your subtle tonal and colour transitions won’t be as subtle as they could have been). With Velvia you will spread you low contrast across all 256 brightness levels. I also wonder what you think of Velvia 50 as I personally don’t like either of the Velvia 100s (too magenta and too green at times – nearly always colour problems).


  7. Hi Tim: thanks for your comments.

    My first feeling is, if one ultimately wants the Velvia ‘look’, then they should stick with Velvia (while acknowledging that there are compromises with using this film). I’m speaking in generalizations when I say that the saturated Velvia look can be duplicated by lower contrast reversal and negative films. I only mean to imply that saturation can be effectively increased to varying degrees. As to trying to match exactly another emulsion, why would you? Every film has it’s pluses and minuses and should be used on its individual merits. Indeed, Pro 160S has delicate color and tonality which I love; I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that one crank up the saturation to replicate Velvia – that would destroy the beautiful qualities of Pro 160S.

    As for my own work, the only color saturation control I use today is REDUCTION. This is largely to do with my constantly changing taste, so Pro 160S and Astia suit me just fine.

    It’s been some years since I’ve used any Velvia films (other than the comparison image you saw in this post). I have only very little experience with one of the Velvia 100’s, and V50 is just not to my liking with the type of work I’m doing today (which is largely b/w!).

    Thanks, Tim!

  8. Nice comparison! Thank you for the post. But in your comparison I prefer the Velvia. I prefer the increased saturation and contrast. I don’t need to see into the shadows!

  9. Hi Tim: that looks like a great and thorough post! I’ll have to read it when I have a little more time.

    What do you mean by “converting”? If I’m not sending a neg out for drum scanning, then it gets scanned on my Epson V700 using EpsonScan with the film type set as “Color Negative”. Simple as that!

    My Verito was mounted by SK Grimes: http://www.skgrimes.com/

    Thanks for your follow-up, Tim!

  10. Pingback: Did Velvia Film Change Landscape Photography? » Landscape Photography Blogger

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