I have always been a huge black and white fan. I used to develop my own film, do the printing myself in a darkroom and loved it. But it was time consuming. Then the switch to digital came, it was easy to "develop" the own color prints and black and white was not in my focus anymore for a long time. With the new fujifilm cameras with the Acros film simulation, I want to test black and white again or revamp my black and white love. Is there a better place to test black and white than Rome? So I took some time in Rome and have been shooting black and white in jpg and raw in parallel, to see, how good the new Acros simulation is in real life:
I needed answers on three questions:
1. Is the new Acros really as good as you can read read in the reviews
2. Would it be good enough that I don't have to go via the raw converter
3. Is the internal processing really that much better than lightroom
One important point what makes this a special and personal review is, that black and white is not black and white. There are people who love grey, and different shades or grey. But for me, I want to see black and white, that means a pictures with real black and real white and lots of contrast. So I made some modification on the Acros setting, to get the contrast I needed. And this is what I got:
What I can say about the quality is, that I'm pretty impressed. That is exactly what I want to see. blacks and whites, contrast but still a range of tones. Very nice. So the answer on the first question is really yes. It is a good film simulation. Quites nice and I like the results.
Are they good enough that I don't always have to go via a converter and silver effex, or other tools? I would say yes, they will look nice in prints, I pretty sure. And that directly our of the camera. Well done Fuji.
But how good is the internal processing compared to an external one? There are a lot of people who are saying that you can't get the same quality in lightroom, it is the fuji magic and so on. Is this right? Below there is one OOC and one developed in lightroom, with the Acros setting and and increas of the contrast via the curve. I doubt that anybody could tell wich one is the ooc and wich is the raw.
A deeper view, just to understand if there is a better grain in the ooc file, and if there are more differences. I have added no extra grain to the raw development, so on the right it is the sensor noise.
One small difference is, that there is grain in the bright white part in the ooc jpp like in a analog black and white print. That is nice. Will you see that difference in a print? I doubt.
The next difference is about the "grain" in general. I have no experience with the film Acros and high iso so I don't know if that is the real Acros grain, but for me, it look more digital on the left, than on the right. But that is a personal feeling and I might be wrong.
The face does look in the ooc jpg more waxy than in the raf. But that is really on pixelpeeping level. Will you see that difference in a print. I really don't think so, but I will test it for sure.
From my point of view, I have to disagree with a lot of other bloggers. The internal camera processing is not better or ahead of the lightroom processing. At least not in my examples. I will do some more testing about that. But on pixelpeeping level, I would say the lightroom Acros setting with a little bit of curve tweaking will give you the better results. Will that make a huge difference. No, not at all, and the ooc jpgs are still very good and usable. Another nice feature of the Fuji X-T2 and X-Pro2.
And at the end of the day I got 2 yes and one no and nice black and white picutres. Good result.
A few more black and whites from Rome: