Film Simulations on Nikon

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
michaeladawson Forum Pro • Posts: 14,466
Re: Film Simulations on Nikon

David Lumsden wrote:

michaeladawson wrote:

David Lumsden wrote:

Fuji simulations are a deep dive into color least according to Fuji. Nikon Picture Control, OTOH, offers Brightness, Contrast, and Sharpness, but the only color manipulations available are global Saturation, Hue and, to a certain degree, Clarity. Until NPC offers granular control of every aspect of every color, it cannot hope to achieve the subtle gradations of a Fuji simulation like classic chrome. Wish it could.

Yes, it's not clear what Fuji actually puts into their film simulations that are in the camera. As far as color goes is it really anything more than saturation and hue? I don't know. However, the user cannot change much about the simulation.

I think there is more to it than just saturation and hue. Fuji claims to go deep into “color science” based on their decades of color film experience. I tend to believe them, particularly with respect to Classic chrome, because I have messed around in post processing trying to get a similar look and the only hint of success I have had was by tweaking all of the color variables that I will list below.

Well, apps like LR and ACR come with Fuji film simulations that are pretty close to what Fuji delivers in-camera.  I'm not sure how they do it.  If you use Adobe's Profile Editor program to make custom profiles you have the ability to move all the colors around.  I haven't gotten into this in any advanced way.  I've only used their utility to make a custom profile from a ColorChecker card.

Nikon's Picture Control Utility is pretty powerful though in the ability to manipulate the tone curve.

I don’t follow you here. Have you found a specific means of altering the tone curve in the picture control utility that can then be applied to a preset in the camera? Or are you referring to the Effect Level Control that is only present in the pre-cooked presets, i.e. pink, denim, dream, etc.? So far, the only way I have found to manipulate the tone curve effectively is in post processing software.

I've never made one myself but that's what Nikon's Picture Control Utility app is for.  I don't know if you can change the tone curve of one of Nikon's preset picture controls, but you can certainly alter the tone curve if you are rolling your own profile.

I don't know how Nikon makes their own preset picture controls.  But they've got a number of profiles that have some pretty big color alterations.  Is it just saturation, hue, and tone curve?  I don't know.

Nikon could make the tone curve even more powerful if they allowed you to tweak the tone curve for each of the RGB channels. Another nice advancement would be to allow saturation adjustments on each channel as well.

Completely agreed. Without such access, the tonal subtleties of the best Fuji simulations would be unattainable.

One of the things I don't think photographers really put much thought into with the use of these film simulations is white balance. They'll pick a film simulation like Classic Chrome and then use auto white balance. Or set a while balance.

Agreed again. The first thing I do in post processing a shot for a Classic Chrome feeling is to warm up the white balance.

Yes.  Color film has it's own "white balance".  If you take daylight balanced film and shoot it under direct sun or on a heavy overcast day you are going to get two different looks.  So in some purist sense one should manually set the white balance in the camera to a set value regardless of the light conditions.  Although, as I said, back in the old days you could always put a filter on the lens to warm or cool the output.

FWIW, here are the steps I have been modifying in my quest for cc. In all cases, the modifications are modest, at least at first.


CONTRAST lower (sometimes)


EXPOSURE (sometimes) lower

REDS (saturation up) (brightness down)

BLUES (saturation down) (white balance warmer)

Here’s one I’m working on now:

The cyan tinted skies certainly have that classic vintage film look.Β 

I'm usually after accurate color reproduction rather than some film look.  As a result I don't really use profiles that much.  I went through a period of learning about L*a*b color from books by Dan Margulis.  For a while I was a big fan of his Picture Postcard workflow.

Although I don't process that way much anymore I still use his L*a*b color guidelines for correct "natural color".  For instance, in Photoshop a "correct" blue sky should always have a negative "a" (green/magenta) value, but never less than around -7.  Clouds should not have a negative "a" value (green tint).  So I bring my nature shots into Photoshop and use L*a*b color to verify my colors.  It it's off I go back to ACR and adjust color temperature and tint.

I do something similar with portraits and skin tones.  I go into Photoshop and use the CMYK color tool.  I modify my white balance until I have the right ratio of M and Y, regardless of what might be indicated by a white card.

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Mike Dawson

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