Reala Ace for my X-T5

It is finally here! Fujifilm has released firmware 4.0 for the X-T5 which brings the long-awaited Reala Ace film simulation to this camera. As you know, I love film simulations and recipes for shooting beautiful looking jpegs straight out of camera. So getting the use of a new film simulation via a firmware update is, like welcoming a new member to the family. It’s a big deal for me and a good reason to celebrate.

The X-T5 is not the only camera that received a firmware update. Reala Ace is now available for all cameras with the X-Trans V sensor (X-T5, X-H2, X-H2s and X-S20) via the firmware updates released today.

Even if you do not follow social media and haven’t heard about the announcement of the firmware updates, simply connecting your camera to the Fujifilm XApp will announce that new firmware is available. Better still, the update can be run from inside the app in a matter of minutes. This process has never been easier and I love the XApp for this. I also love it for many other reasons, but before I digress, you better get your camera connected to the XApp and run your update. Depending on which camera you own, it will look something like this. Just follow the prompts. It’s easy, peasy, lemonsqueezy.

And voila! Just like that: Hello Reala Ace!

While in party mood, my excitement also made me think it’s funny how this addition to the film simulation family is such a big deal. It’s been talked about for quite sometime and I have even received many messages from members in the community asking me if I knew the exact release date of the new firmware. This level of anticipation is unheard of. It’s not like film simulations are new. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that everyone is excited and that film simulations are now a thing. I just wonder what changed? And when?

Fujifilm has been creating film simulations since the early 2000’s. The FinePix S3 Pro which was released in 2004 had film simulations, simply called Standard, F1 and F2. That’s 20 years ago. Let that sink in for a minute… What camera were you shooting on at that time? Did you own a camera then? Golly, maybe you weren’t even born yet? Twenty years is a long time… Anyway in 2006 Fujifilm released the FinePix S5 Pro which introduced Fujichrome, a new film simulation with a more attractive name. And the first camera that styled the film simulations as we know them today, was the Fujifilm FinePix S100FS which was released in 2008. It offered the first iteration of PROVIA and Velvia (together with SOFT and PORTRAIT). Yet, none of these film simulations were a big deal. Although the cameras were extremely well received by the industry, reading the reviews about those cameras didn’t share the same excitement for the film simulations, if they got a mention at all. A review of the FinePix S5 Pro published in USA Today made me smile. I quote:

”The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro has two settings that fall into this [picture effects mode] category: its D-Range dynamic range expansion, and its film emulation mode. Both change the appearance of the image by electronic means, rather than with optics or mechanics. Film emulation is the less interesting of the two. The film modes vary saturation and contrast, and Fujifilm says they act like film with different curves – they handle the transitions in portrait highlights differently. The differences are subtle enough to be of questionable use.”

Oh how far we have come. 

Fujifilm has been talking about how film simulations can be used to emulate a film look for users of digital cameras for ages. They have published tutorials on how to use film simulation modes for more than a decade, for example there are articles dating as far back as November 2013 that advertise that film simulations continue their film legacy in digital cameras and are the gateway for creating specific looks in-camera. Over the years, many articles have been published as a resource for users that sheds light on this underrated feature. Yet, despite this, it seems litle traction was gained in the community. Only the most dedicated Fujifilm fans knew about the jewels, “hidden” inside Fujifilm cameras and even fewer actually applied image quality settings to their jpegs in camera.

My claim to fame, for the longest time, was shooting CLASSIC CHROME in camera, but then editing RAW files in Lightroom. I only started using film simulation recipes “properly” in 2020. At the time, I was one of a few in my circle that used recipes and shot jpegs straight out of camera.

Sample jpegs shot straight out of camera on my X100S and X100F

As little as two years ago, when talking to other photographers, I would have to give long explanations about what Fujifilm film simulations were and why I chose to shoot with recipes. It was not mainstream. It was not something that the photography industry, nor “serious photographers”, took seriously. Even online searches would only bring up a small number of resources. It was as if the world was deaf and blind to the magic that Fujifilm cameras had been capable of creating for so long.

Ritchie Roesch, from Fuji-X Weekly – one of the key creators of recipes – and I have been broadcasting SOOC, a live show on YouTube since July 2021. Since then we have had many conversations in which we have tried to understand why recipes were not as popular as we thought they should be. We couldn’t make sense of it.

And then, fast forward to May 2024, almost out of the blue, Fujifilm released the first X-Series camera to feature a dedicated film simulation dial – the X-T50. They also launched a website dedicated to film simulations.

Right now, social media is abuzz with the exchange of experiences of using Fujifilm film simulation recipes. A Google search for Fujifilm film simulations today and it resulted in 2,650,000 hits.

Other camera manufacturers have also hopped on the bandwagon. Panasonic launched a Real time LUT function with the Lumix S9 and Nikon announced their Nikon Imaging Cloud, a testimony to the fact that, in 2024, “film looks” are a big deal.

So, what happened?

I am not sure if we can pinpoint a single event that broke the barrier after 20 years. Some say that influencers made the Fujifilm X100V and film simulation recipes viral on TikTok in 2023 and that resulted in the X100V being sold out all over the world as well as film simulation recipes gaining popularity. Maybe that was it. Maybe the time was just right. Maybe it just took the world 19 years to catch up with the visionaries at Fujifilm. Maybe, in 2004, Fujifilm was so far ahead of the game that the world of photography was not ready then. As a reminder, way back when, the photography industry was focussed on releasing cameras with more pixels (well, I guess that hasn’t changed), editing RAW files and the latest Photoshop features, while Fujifilm was paving the way for an in-camera jpeg workflow that could change the photography industry forever. And here we are, just scratching the tip of the iceberg. Fascinating.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why we are here today. Fact is, Reala Ace is now available across all cameras with the X-Trans V sensor and I can finally use it on my X-T5. The icing on the cake, is that I can now also load my own “Easy Reala Ace” film simulation recipe too.

All images are jpegs straight out of camera shot with my “Easy Reala Ace” recipe on my X100VI

I am really excited that Kaizen is not dead, that the film simulation recipe community is vibrant and growing – exponentially so – and as a result, many more Fujifilm users can enjoy beautiful looking jpegs straight out of camera.

Today is a great day. 

Thank you Fujifilm.

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  • dnllce
    June 27, 2024 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Nathalie, a very interesting and useful article, thank you :o) And as always your pictures are inspiring.

    • Nathalie Boucry
      June 27, 2024 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m happy to hear that you found it useful.

  • Torsten
    June 27, 2024 at 7:48 pm

    Ich bin einer der Menschen, die seit dem Erscheinen von Reala Ace darauf warten, dass diese Simulation auch auf Kameras mit einem ASP-C Sensor gebracht wird. Anfänglich sagte Fujifilm ja, dass diese Sim nur für GF-X Kameras verfügbar sein wird, da sie für die Mittelformat Sensoren entwickelt wurde.

    Das fand ich sehr Schade, denn die Präsentation damals bei der mit einer Fotografin welche die neue GF-X und Reala Ace auf einem Städtetrip dabei hatte, die hat mich richtig eingefangen. Das waren so ehrliche Bilder, Bilder so wie man das Leben in echt gesehen hat, einfach ohne Rezept nur mit der Simulation.

    Das machte mich richtig traurig, dass ich diese Sim nie besitzen sollen würde, denn eine GF-X Kamera kann ich mir als Hobbyfotograf nicht leisten. Heute war es dann soweit, Reala Ace kam auf meine X-T 5 und ich bin geflasht, die Bilder sind so fein, so klar und bei allen Reglern auf 0, sieht das RAW neben dem JPG 100% gleich aus, das ist der Hammer!

    Gute Arbeit Fuji – ich liebe es!

    Gruß Torsten


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