Acros: The end of a love affair5 min read

One of the reasons why I bought a Fujifilm X100F was the Acros film simulation. Most of my images are black and white and the X100F was the first camera (except the Leica Monochrome) that offered a dedicated black and white mode. Sure every digital camera can do black and white but virtually all cameras simply desaturate the color channels. Fujifilm promised to use the “color science” from their film simulations for a special black and white mode.

“It’s not you it may be me”

It came as no surprise that I used Acros almost exclusively for my black and white work. There was a kind of pop and grit which I was missing from normal black and white modes. But my love affair with Acros seems to be ending. I already wrote here that never used simulated film grain, which was the product of film’s technical limitations. Digital sensors broke these limitations but brought their own with them called sensor noise. Why would I want to recreate film’s inherent weakness when I can get a much cleaner and sharper image from a digital sensor. It is like using a modern lens and then simulate softness and distortion. Why not use old lenses or film in the first place? I digress.

Fake grain is the reason why I no longer want to use Acros. Zoomed in or printed large enough the fake grain becomes noticeable. And the film simulation has this grain built-in, there is no way to switch it off. It is especially disturbing with portraits or skin tones. Nevertheless Acros looks good on screen or with smaller prints. Therefore I decided to make an experiment. Fujifilm offers a film simulation bracketing mode. The camera takes one picture and creates three files with different film simulations from that exposure. I added Classic Chrome so you can compare the color images as well. Use the slider to compare Acros and Monochrome. I will tell you at the end which one was which.

Comparisons

Acros vs MonochromeAcros vs MonochromeAcros vs MonochromeAcros vs Monochrome
Acros vs MonochromeAcros vs Monochrome

Garbage or lucky find. This time it was only junk. Still I love those boxes it is always a little treasure hunt.

Acros vs MonochromeAcros vs MonochromeAcros vs MonochromeAcros vs Monochrome
Acros vs MonochromeAcros vs Monochrome

The little chairs do not look comfortable but that is beside the point. They are inviting because they allow me to sit down and watch people do their shopping. One of my pleasures in life and preferably together with a good friend.

Acros vs MonochromeAcros vs MonochromeAcros vs MonochromeAcros vs Monochrome
Acros vs MonochromeAcros vs Monochrome

Shortly local traders and artisans will offer their wares. The bright colored canopy ought to attract people. But this was a wet and windy day so the stalls and stands were closed.

Acros vs MonochromeAcros vs MonochromeAcros vs MonochromeAcros vs Monochrome

An old Starbucks. Already closed even before the lockdowns due to low demand. But just a few hundred meters further someone opened a nice local coffee shop. People want something local and that is a good thing. Nevertheless local coffee shops with fair traded coffee are as much part of capitalism as Starbucks franchises. It is us customers who decide.

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Here is a detailed shot so you can compare the fake grain. Images on the left were done in Monochrome and on the right in Acros.

Conclusion

Looking at the images I feel that the monochrome ones are slightly warmer, clearer but lack some contrast. The mid range tones are weaker. The Acros images seem to be sharper because the grain enhances edge definition but they lack some clarity and detail. But seen on a display the difference is not all too big as long as do not zoom in.

But my decision is made. I am using Monochrome instead of Acros not the least because I can get consistent looks between my X-T3 and X70 (which lacks Acros). And these images show that bog standard Monochrome can produce some expressive photos.

Photographic notes:
All photos were taken with the Fujifilm X-T3 and a TTArtisan 35mm F1.4. It was a rainy day and my little daughter followed me with her wooden camera and took shots of everything I shot. Other pedestrians and shoppers were delighted 🙂

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