The Photographer’s Essential Guide to Fujifilm Acros 100 and Digital (Premium)

Fujifilm has never really been as well known for black and white photography like they have for other emulsions. Indeed, Pro400H and Velvia are often the two names that every photographer associates with the brand these days. But if you had to dig really far back into history, then emulsions like Reala, Superia, Astia and others were surely of interest for many photographers.Considering this and the world’s transition into digital photography, Fujifilm Acros 100 hasn’t been talked about as much vs other emulsions like those from Ilford and Kodak. But with all this said, it’s time to talk about Acros.

What is ACROS?

Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 is at the moment, the company’s last holdout when it comes to black and white film emulsions. Some time ago, Fujifilm had other variations of the film; but these days it’s mostly regulated to the film simulation in Fujifilm’s X series digital cameras. So for that reason, lots of other photographers may have been interested in at least trying the film out to see what it’s like.

The film is a panchromatic film, which means in lay man’s terms that it’s designed to work with every color of the visible spectrum of light. The film surely can; and the odd thing is that when you work with the film and then work with the digital simulation from a camera like the Fujifilm X100F, you start to see how the two handle certain tones differently.

Unfortunately, Fujifilm Neopan Acros was never really as popular as some other options from Kodak and Ilford; or at least it’s never been talked about or marketed in the same way. At one point, Fujifilm Neopan Acros came in a 100, 400 and 1600 speed emulsions. Here’s how Fujifilm described them:

Exposing Acros 100

Despite Fujifilm’s recommendations, Fujifilm Acros 100 has been pushed by photographers to ISO 1600 with still good results. While you’d think that maybe the ISO 400 film would have been the most popular, it couldn’t compete with Tri-X. What you’ll notice with Fujifilm Acros 100 though is just how similar the exposure process can be with digital photography. In fact, Fujifilm has always recommended underexposing the film for the absolute best results at least when working with it in the 120 emulsion size. With that said, it doesn’t really follow the standard Sunny 16 laws. Here’s what we’re talking about:

Weird, huh? The laws don’t apply in the same way that normal Sunny 16 does. Either way, when you consider how much Fujifilm worked to make their digital simulation look like the film, it makes sense. More on that later though.

Due to its nature, Acros 100 was popular for studio, landscape and still life photography. Specifically, Fujifilm described it as such:

“…These features make it an excellent choice for a wide range of photographic applications, including portraits, landscape, architectural subjects, product photography, photomicrography and duplication work.”

And of course, all of this goes hand in hand with development.

Best Development Practices

Here are some of the ways that Fujifilm recommends developing your film. Of course, there are loads of other more experimental options out there when it comes to working with stuff like Caffenol, Rodinal, etc.

The Digital Simulation

Now here’s where we get to where most of you will care perhaps the most.

Not long ago, Fujifilm released the Fujifilm X Pro2. This camera incorporated a 24MP APS-C sensor inside and the camera also included a new film simulation: Acros. Later cameras such as the X-T20, X-T2 and others also incorporated the new film simulation. Acros is a million times better than the Fujifilm Monochrome mode built into their cameras. When working with film, photographers tend to keep their ISOs locked in. But this is digital, and things change.

Of course with digital photography, that mentality has greatly changed. It has transitioned into just a beautiful look that can be embraced at any ISO and by using the Fujifilm X Trans Sensor to simply embrace the grain and noise that naturally comes with digital photography. Have you shot or looked at Fujifilm Acros video at all from a Fujifilm X-T2? It’s gorgeous. For the best results, I recommend turning off the grain effect that Fujifilm will add.

Fujifilm Acros is also simulated by preset packages from a few companies like Mastin. But arguably nothing touches Fujifilm’s own simulation.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.