I shoot a lot of black & white images. Perhaps it is because I never really found a “color look” on digital that I really like. But especially because I like the fact that the brain has to work harder and fill in the blanks with the absence of color. It communicates a feeling that is hard to replicate with color images.
In some aspects black & white is “easier” than color. You won’t have distracting bright colored objects that detract from your vision of where the viewer needs to put their attention. But on the other hand you will only have light, shadow and contrast to play with in order for the composition to work.
I like high contrast black & white. Especially shot on analog film like the one below.
While it is difficult to fully replicate the look of film on digital, it can actually come quite close. Replicating old film may also be a somewhat unambitious goal. But replicating or mimicking the feel it gives may be a better goal post.
A goal post that is also easier to reach.
It is no secret that I am a big fan of Fujifilm cameras both in terms of looks, ergonomics and the images they produce. I have a Fujifilm X-T2 that I have tried to replace, first with an X-E4 and later with an X-Pro3 both of which I ended up returning.
I do not know if it is Fujifilm’s design or their recipes that is their main selling point, but recipes are surely up there. You can still work your magic on the RAW files, but Fujifilm’s jpeg renderer does such a beautiful job.
Hence why I will do a comparison of a plugin/style I bought for Capture One to mimic Tri-X and a recipe from FujiXWeekly: Tri-X Push Process.
I primarily use the straight out of camera(SOOC) Tri-X recipe as I can handle the entire flow around transferring images from the camera to my PC on Ubuntu, which is my primary operating system. If I want to use RAW processing in Capture One I have to reboot into Windows to do so. From time to time I return to Capture One and the more cumbersome workflow in order to see whether I actually prefer the look and hence should put in the extra effort.
But time and time again I seem to prefer the SOOC Tri-X recipe. Let’s do some comparison shots.
First of all there is a little explanation needed. The Tri-X style pack I bought comes with a whole array of different Tri-X styles. The one I have used is the Medium Format (800) as I find it has a good amount of grain together with my desired level of sharpness. There is a 35mm one that has more grain and less sharpness and higher ISO-versions of all that gives even more grain.
It is easy to see a difference between the two. The top one which is SOOC is darker than the bottom one from Capture One. It seems like the Tri-X style in Capture One boosts the highlights. In this case I actually think this detracts from the overall image. It highlights the tool placed in the top left corner as well as the table it is placed upon.
The SOOC Tri-X recipe on the other hand does not do this and your eyes rests naturally on the subject in the vice.
They are not miles apart, but in this case I prefer the SOOC Tri-X recipe on top.
Below is a fun comparison where the difference between the two becomes more pronounced and actually have an impact on the final result.
As you can see with these, the bump in highlight from the Capture One style actually washes out some of the detail in the shrimps. They become almost too white, whereas the Tri-X recipe SOOC gives a lot more information.
This is probably the most extreme example I have ever seen between them. In most cases the difference is negligible and only amounts to highlights being more pronounced in the Capture One version. But this example in my opinion shows the SOOC one as the clear winner.
I can hear some of you say, that I could adjust the Capture One version to match – and I am sure that I can. But one of the main reasons for my appreciation of Fujifilm is the ability to just use a SOOC jpeg instead of having to spend time adjusting the image afterwards. So if the win is not big enough for using the extra time, then I do not want to spend that extra time. And in this case the extra time spent yielded an inferior result.
Let’s see an example where I actually find that the Capture One version is better.
So in this comparison I actually like the Capture One version better. The bump in highlights brings out a lot more detail in the plants and hedges, which are not present in the SOOC one. Could I get those highlights back in post processing – I am sure I could.
This little mini-comparison has helped me feel more confident in my current workflow where I do not use the Capture One Tri-X styles and raw files. My entire workflow is organized around the use of SOOC jpegs. I had a suspicion that I would have liked the Capture One versions better as I had a period where I used those exclusively and really liked the images it produced.
But based on my comparisons I believe I made some adjustments to my SOOC recipe and can now say that most of the time I prefer the result I get SOOC. I even like the grain. If I want more pronounced grain in my SOOC jpegs I can increase the ISO and get very consistent pleasant grain in my images.
So once again I am impressed with the abilities of my old Fujifilm X-T2. It is a hard camera to beat.
If you want to see some more Tri-X SOOC picture you can look at this older post: Roll of film 002 – Tri-X on digital.
Until next time.