Fuji have yet again raised the bar for cinematic color science, this time with the flawless pairing of F-Log and their latest film simulation LUT – Eterna.
For years, I’ve been blown away by Fuji’s colors. It started when I first picked up an X100, and saw first hand how brilliantly Fuji’s film simulation modes actually worked… At the time, these film simulations were more or less only available for stills, but over time the technology evolved to the point where now all of Fuji’s new cameras include the simulations.
If you’ve never shot with a Fuji – their film simulation modes are essentially picture profiles that allow you to bake in a filmic look in camera. They are based on actual film stocks, and are extremely close (aesthetically-speaking) to their celluloid counterparts. This is largely thanks to Fuji’s background in motion picture/stills film, which effectively laid the groundwork for their ability to implement these color palettes on their digital cameras.
Most recently, Fuji added a brand new film simulation mode – Eterna – which was released with their latest mirrorless camera, the XH1, and has since become a huge hit with Fuji users.
Eterna delivers one of the most filmic looks of any of Fuji’s simulations, producing a gorgeous, subtle color palette with perfect contrast. It seems to have been designed with filmmakers in mind, as it’s not over-stylized, allowing users to either use it as-is, or as a base for further grading.
As an X-T2 user myself, I don’t have the Eterna film simulation built into my camera, but I am still able to benefit from it by recording F-Log (internally with Fuji’s latest firmware), and applying Fuji’s official Eterna LUT in post.
This past weekend, I was finally able to experiment with combining internal F-Log with the new Eterna LUT, and was truly blown away by the results. At some point down the line, I will put together a demo video to fully showcase the footage, but for now I want to share a few screen grabs to show you what the LUT can do.
Below are a series of shots I took of myself at home, recorded in 4K mode on the XT2 using internal F-Log. I intentionally overexposed the footage (slightly), as I generally like to expose to the right when shooting digitally in order to maintain cleaner shadows when crushing the footage in post.
Let’s start by taking a look at the raw shot, straight off the card –
Now, if I weren’t using a LUT, normally I would adjust the shot manually by bringing down the exposure, adding some contrast, and bumping up the saturation. But doing so would result in this –
Clearly this image doesn’t look right. It has a green wash on it, and is in line with what you might expect from Sony color-wise. But of course, that’s because the F-Log footage was designed to be used with Fuji’s LUTs, which (amongst other adjustments) add some magenta into the image.
Here is what the shot would look like with the Eterna LUT applied –
The image is looking much better, but clearly is still overexposed. When it’s brought down a couple of stops, this is what we get –
To me, this image offers a perfect base grade. The colors are perfectly neutral, the color balance and contrast ratio is spot on, and even the highlight rolloff looks amazing. Sometimes I like to use a soft clip to make overexposed highlights look less harsh/digital looking, but in this case it seems like Fuji’s LUT is doing something similar, automatically.
Ordinarily, if I were lighting an actual scene, I wouldn’t have so many blown out areas in the frame (hair, window, etc.), but in this case I actually wanted to push the camera/dynamic range to see what would happen when the LUT was applied. Seeing how the LUT works even under poor lighting conditions would give me the confidence to work with it even in run and gun situations where I have less overall control.
Another thing I noticed was how well the base grade worked as a launching off point for applying other creative LUTs. In Resolve, on a separate node I experimented with several of my Cinematic LUTs, and they all applied to the footage beautifully. Here is one example, using a LUT from my Summer pack –
As I mentioned, in the future I will create a demo video with some before/after samples to really showcase what F-Log and Eterna are capable of… But for now, if you are a Fuji user I highly recommend shooting some material on your own and seeing for yourself.
Fuji has made their LUTs available for download here. Note, that when you download the folder, it will actually contain 3 LUTs. One of them is the Eterna LUT, and the other two are alternate translation LUTs that you can use instead. All 3 have their place, but I imagine most of you will want to go straight to the Eterna LUT as it’s the most plug-and-play option, and looks incredible right off the bat.
And for those of you who aren’t Fuji shooters, I encourage you to experiment with the XH1 or XT2 yourself and give Fuji a second look. I am in no way affiliated with them, and have never been sponsored/endorsed by Fuji in any way, but am simply a huge fan of what they are doing… I would even consider shooting an entire feature using the F-Log/Eterna combo – that’s how much I love it.
If you do experiment with the F-Log/Eterna combo, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!