The World of FUJIFILM Film Simulation – Episode 3: Velvia

Image courtesy Fujifilm
Image courtesy Fujifilm

Images courtesy Fujifilm Images courtesy Fujifilm
Images courtesy Fujifilm

Velvia. Fujifilm has published Episode 3 – “Velvia” in their series of “episodes” on their unique Film Simulation modes.

Velvia (or “Velvet Media”) is a reversal film FUJIFILM introduced in 1991 that quickly set the standard for landscape and nature color photography. If you like vibrant (highly saturated) colors, then dial in Velvia mode.

In fact, if you are shooting Velvia for the first time, you might think the result as overly saturated, even unrealistic. But as Fujifilm reasons in its explanation below, the idea behind Velvia is not to faithfully reproduce the true colors of the scene but “to deliver the intended emotion” of the scene: we expect and “felt” the skies to be blue and the grass to be green. If it was a glorious day that prompted you to bring out your camera and take a picture, then Velvia makes sure that the sky is vibrantly blue and the grass is vividly green — just as your eye’s mind remembered them. Blue and Green (and Red) are the superstar colors of Velvia.

Velvia Mode targets a quality of vivid colour reproduction that is best suited for a wide scope of nature photography from landscapes to flowers. In order to emphasise the vivid reproduction of skies, leaves and similar scene elements, Velvia has the highest degree of saturation of blues and greens among the 3 modes, and the harder shadow tonality results in the reproduction of well-defined vibrancy of colour. However, careful attention was paid to avoid oversaturation resulting from the high degree of colour saturation, and the result is a mode that can be used with confidence.


Here’s episode 3 (“Velvia”) of the “The World of Film Simulation”:

The World of Film Simulation episode #3

Episode #3 is about “Velvia”

Many photographers would put a smile on their face when they hear the word “Velvia”. It often sets off a discussion like which Velvia is best, the original or the 100F and etc.,

Velvia is a reversal film that FUJIFILM introduced back in 1991. Since its debut, it has gained massive popularity especially among the landscape and nature photographers, so much that the Velvia color has set a standard in the field of photography.

If “CLASSIC CHROME” is a film simulation that communicates through its tone, then “Velvia” is a film simulation that communicates through its color.

Color is the main element for “Velvia” with its unique high saturation. It has to be said, before we go any further, that FUJIFILM had designed “Velvia” with the concept of “Image Color”.

“Image Color” is the color of how photographers remember the scene. It is also the color of how the viewers expect upon looking at the photographs.

In Japanese, photography is written as “写(Copy)真(Truth)”. And some also think of photography’s meaning as “same as how it appears”. But photography, in one point of view, can be thought as the medium of emotional communication. Then the term “Copying Truth” would be inappropriate. It would also be inappropriate in terms of psychological mechanism of the photographers and the viewers.

People wouldn’t condemn painter’s work just because the model doesn’t appear the same in the painting and in reality. This goes the same for photographs. In order for a photograph to deliver the intended emotion, essential and unessential elements need to be selected.

When people look and memorize things, psychological factor is added during the process. And because of that, if the color is truly a reflection of reality, then people would often find that “the photo is missing something” or that “the color isn’t just right”. “Image Color” is indeed a bit far from the truth. But in people’s mind, the image color is the correct answer.

Back to the topic on designing of Velvia.

Even though Velvia is based upon “Image Color”, if too much editing has been done, then it goes far off from how the “Image Color” should be. So what is the recipe that link the natural color and the color in people’s mind? This was the key to designing “Velvia”.

“How can you understand the colors in my mind?”, a philosopher may ask. And the scientists and researchers try to find the answer to that question by trial & error and by feedback.

FUJIFILM is a camera manufacturer, a film manufacturer, and a print developer. We cover all process of photography and have tremendous volume of “printed” feedback as assets.

What are the colors that stay strong in people’s memory? How are the colors altered upon the process of memorization?

Much effort have been put trying to find the answer to the question, and two key color for landscape photography have emerged at last: “Blue in the sky” and “Green in the grass”.

In order to make “Blue” more memorable, a bit of magenta is being added. “Add magenta to enhance blue?” you may wonder. But by realizing just how much to add, this results in most comfortable and eye-pleasing blue. Gradation needs to be controlled as well as other elements, and recipe for each elements are implemented.

“Green” as well as other colors have gone through the same process as “Blue” to optimize each color; making the colors close to how people would remember.

It is often said that Velvia adds more depth and flavor, and that the colors are more vibrant. This is the result of the effort that have been put for the research.

The epitome of Velvia is the communication through color between the photographer and the viewer. There are certain emotions that only “Image Color” can deliver.

In film, Velvia only has sensitivity of 50 and 100. With Velvia film simulation, you can control as freely as you like. On top of that, there also is the robustness of a film simulation. We believe Velvia color reproduction have a lot more to offer if they are more utilized.

In cooperation with : R&D Div. Optical, Electronic Imaging Products Div. FUJIFILM

Here are all six of “The World of Film Simulation” episodes: