The Classic Negative film simulation that comes with the latest Fuji cams (like the X-Pro3 and X-T4) offers the most gorgeous look to digital images that I can currently imagine. It even beats Classic Chrome, my go-to film simulation, perhaps because it is a tad more saturated and does interesting things with the red channel. I recently stepped out of my comfort zone and engaged in a bit of street photography at the beach in the little town of Yport, Normandy. An excellent setting for Classic Negative, it appeared. The thing is that I currently shoot with an X-Pro2, which does neither have the film sim in camera, nor does it provide access to dedicated profiles in any RAW converter (which is a shame really because there should be no technical barriers; there are probably only commercial ones). Not long ago, however, I happened to come across a freely available Capture One style developed by a guy called Gavin Seim, which turned out to be a very good approximation of Classic Negative.* It may not be perfect and probably does not respond the same to exposure variations as the in-camera film sim does, but it comes very close to the Classic Negative samples I have seen so far. Just take a look at the examples below.
Some street — or should I say beach? — shots from Yport, Normandy. Shot with the X-Pro2 and XF14mmF2.8 lens. Images were processed in Capture One Pro 20 using the Classic Negative style developed by Gavin Seim.
As you can see, the colors are less muted than those of Classic Chrome, making the photos look more vibrant. Especially the reds have a nice pop and are shifted a bit towards orange, which is great because reds tend to be rather dominant in digital images. Blues also look really nice, with a subtle shift towards green. Talking about greens: There are not many of them in these shots, but they are also nicely muted and shifted towards teal.
All in all, I’m really pleased with these shots, not only because of the Classic Negative style applied, but also because they made me rediscover my 14mm Fujinon, which I normally only use for landscape work. The lens turns out to be really great for street photography because you can get close to your subject without being suspicious. That is, you can point the camera to something neutral, pretending to be interested in the background, for example, and still “catch” your subject in the corners of the frame. Because of the minimal levels of distortion that the lens produces — which is amazing at this focal length — people remain pretty well in shape.
The Classic Negative style has definitely calmed down my “envy” towards X-Pro3 users, who can apply the film sim both in camera and as an ICC profile in Capture One. This is one more reason for me to keep using my X-Pro2 for a bit longer.
*I know that there are more Classic Negative hacks out there, such as the one where you tweak the in-camera JPEG settings and another one where you mess with the EXIF data and fool Capture One into treating X-Pro2 files as if they came from an X-Pro3 (or any other Fuji cam supporting Classic Negative), but I find most of these rather cumbersome.