12.18.2020

F-Log: What Is It and Should You Use It?

The F-Log feature on X Series cameras offers additional versatility to filmmakers, but does require some extra work to make the most of it. Here’s why it could be worth the effort.

F-Log is Fujifilm’s version of Log recording. It’s not available on every FUJIFILM X Series model, but if you’re serious about your filmmaking projects, then you should be using a model that offers the functionality.

Log recording is sometimes confused with RAW video, but while the two share similar characteristics, they are not the same. RAW, as you’ll already know from making stills, is simply unprocessed data that’s coming off the sensor. In this basic form it’s a data file, nothing more, which needs processing software to turn it into a still image. RAW video is the same – it isn’t a video file until it has been processed.

X Series cameras don’t yet feature RAW video recording, but F-Log is an excellent alternative; the key difference being that F-Log is a video file from the start, with information – such as white balance and ISO – baked into it when it’s recorded in-camera.

Where the two file types are similar is the way they look. They’re an intentionally flat, low-contrast way of recording video.

Why Do You Want Low Contrast?

Creating low-contrast footage is all about preserving detail. This is important, because video footage struggles more than still photos to record dynamic range. But by creating in F-Log, detail in the very brightest and darkest parts of the scene is better reproduced. You may not need this in every filmmaking situation, of course, but if you’re working in scenarios where contrast is high, such as on a bright day or in an interior lit with spotlights, it could be a way to avoid blown-out highlights and featureless shadows.

Beyond that, however, F-Log footage is also more easily color graded during the editing and post-production workflow – it lets you create projects that have a very polished, Hollywood look about them. Many video editing apps, such as Final Cut Pro® from Apple® or Adobe® Premiere® Pro, let you do this by applying individual color shifts to the shadows, mid-tones, and highlights. You can either play around to find your own recipes, or download a look up table (LUT), which recreates a pre-programmed color-graded look and feel.

There are lots of third-party LUTs available, as well as an official FUJIFILM LUT that creates the look and feel of FUJIFILM ETERNA cinema film – this can be downloaded from the FUJIFILM website.

Adobe® Premiere® Pro software

To switch into F-Log Recording mode:

  • Press MENU OK and navigate to the MOVIE SETTINGS menu tab.
  • Scroll down to F-Log RECORDING and select ON.

You‘ll be able to preview the low-contrast F-Log effect as you’re filming. It’s worth noting that when you create your next video, you should decide whether to use F-Log or not from the start. F-Log does allow a great deal of freedom in post-production, but it can be tricky to convincingly mix F-Log and non-F-Log footage together without evident shifts in color and exposure. Experimentation is key to ensure that F-Log enables you to realize the kind of look and feel you want in your movies, so be sure do that before committing to using it on a project that really matters.

Your Next Steps

  • CHALLENGE Record your next creative filmmaking project in F-Log and grade it in your favorite editing software. Post your clips to social media with the hashtag #MyFujifilmLegacy and #FLog. You can also submit your work here for a chance to be featured on our social media channels.  

Header image © MacKenzie Cockerill