Kevin Bjorke
Kevin Bjorke
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Adding the Fujifilm X-Pro2 to my kit has had me reviewing jpg-output custom image settings again. It's a regular topic of conversation on internet forums and reviews and blogs -- how to set up the custom functions in the X100T, on the X-T1, or, now, the X-Pro2?

There are something like a million possible permutations of settings for each of the custom collections: how to pick, and how to keep track of the selections (What did I have on C3 again?)? My choice has been to break things down along just two axes: picture type and color/monochrome. I then to set all cameras to use the same custom-settings layout so I only have to learn one setup:

The table shows the layout and details about the choices follow further down.

  Sim WB DR Shad Hi Sharp NR Color ISO Grain Notes
C1 Std AWB A 0 0 0 0 0 800 - RESET EVERYTHING.
C2 By AWB A +2 -1 +1 -1 - A3200 S B&W Street.
C3 Cc AWB A +2 -1 +1 -1 +1 A3200 W Color Street.
C4 Bg Sun 100 -1 -1 -1 -2 - 800 - B&W Studio/Flash Portraits.
C5 NPS Sun 100 -1 -1 -1 -2 0 800 - Color Studio/Flash Portraits.
C6 Bg AWB 100 -1 -1 -1 -2 - 800 - B&W Existing Light Portraits.
C7 NPS AWB 100 -1 -1 -1 -2 0 800 - Color Existing Light Portraits.

These settings don't cover every kind of shooting! But they do, at present, cover most of the situations I normally shoot. There's no such thing as "best" settings, just "best for me." I don't really shoot landscapes, I don't do macro, etc. There are no "C" modes here using Vivid/Velvia color or other mode choices that might have their place in some other shooter's toolkit. The crucial question should be: "What do I actually use my cameras for, and how quickly cen I be set up for those situations?"

Reviewing the pictures I make, I've found that almost all my shooting falls into a few simple categories: contrasty street; lower-contrast portraits of various types, using either flash or existing light, and finally (via C1) a deliberately-vague "general photography" that is usually perfectly served by the cameras with their factory settings. On rare occasions where I want to vary, I can quickly get to a known state from C1 rather than trying to guess what other setting might be good.

Each camera has its own characteristics, and so the settings are not exactly the same on each body:

  • The X100T includes ISO in custom modes, while the X-T1 and X-Pro2 use dials.
  • The X-Pro2 has a Grain control not found on the other bodies. I only apply it for my punchy "Street" settings.
  • The X-Pro2 also has Acros monochrome simulation. On the other bodies I use the standard "Black & White" but for the X-Pro2 it's Acros all the way. Longtime readers of this blog may recall that I'm an old advocate of the film stock and used to bring lots of it back with me on any trip to Japan. Try it with stand development — it's a great film!

I'd love to hear other people's thought about custom functions, and how they're most useful to them.

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