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I’ve received a lot of questions about my Fujifilm settings for travel photography. I wanted to take some time to address which settings I use and, more importantly, why.
I think this last part is the key piece of information missing from many blogs that tell you what to do but leave out why.
These are just my recommendations; ideas to get you started.
I’m going to try to leave this as generic as possible since different Fujifilm lines have different settings. Not all cameras have all of these settings. I’m also not going to go over every setting. But I hope this is enough to get you started no matter which Fujifilm X you own, whether it’s the X-T100, X-T2, X-T30, X-Pro3, and so on.
You may also encounter settings in your camera that are grayed out and you can’t change. Read this article to troubleshoot grayed-out settings in Fujifilm cameras.
If you have any questions about settings not mentioned here, please leave a comment so that others can see and I’ll answer ASAP.
You can also learn about these settings and more by checking out my Fujifilm X Course Membership – save 20% on your subscription for the first 3 months with this link only for my blog readers!
Image Quality Setting
MEDIUM 3:2. This only matters if you’re recording JPEG or RAW+JPEG. Your RAW output is going to be Large 3:2 no matter what. But the camera can crop and downsize your JPEG output if you’d like.
The Medium size, on a 24MP sensor, is resized to 12MP, with dimensions of 4000 x 3000 pixels. That’s plenty big! It’s massive for display on blogs & social media, and enough to give you great prints up to 11″x14″ and up to 24″x30″ if you need to. If your photos are only destined to social media or the family digital album, you could even go down to Small, which is 25% of the full sensor output (3000 x 2000 pixels on a 24MP camera).
Despite what you may want to believe, bigger is not always better.
While a square or letterbox format can make your photos uniquely cool, I wouldn’t let the camera crop them at capture unless you’re doing some kind of creative challenge. Do it later in a post-processing program, which you can even do on a smartphone in Snapseed or Lightroom. Record the full 3:2 rectangular shape.
FINE+RAW. I record both RAW and JPEG for reasons you can read here. And I always want the best JPEG file quality possible, which is Fine. Anything below that will have more information “discarded” when the JPEG is saved. Memory cards can hold so much information these days that there’s no reason to reduce the JPEG quality.
Lossless Compressed. Yes, Uncompressed is “better” than Lossless Compressed – if you’re zooming in to 100% on high-definition monitors and doing scientific analysis of each pixel. But that’s not how people look at pictures. Lossless Compressed will still give you stunning RAW files that on the outside you’ll never be able to tell from Compressed. And they’re much smaller, allowing you to fit more files on a card and more quickly transfer files.
Just note that some programs, like Mac Finder and Photos, can’t “decode” the Fujifilm RAW compression. Capture One, Lightroom, and other paid programs can.
Long Exposure NR
OFF. This feature attempts to reduce noise in long exposures by taking another “reference” exposure after your original exposure to map out “hot” pixels and remove them. This will double your exposure time on long exposures, and the benefit for travel photographers usually isn’t worth it. I’d rather be able to take photos in more rapid succession.
sRGB. There’s a lot of misinformation out there that says Adobe RGB is better than sRGB. I fell for it for a long time. It’s true that Adobe RGB color space is bigger than sRGB, but that doesn’t make it better for photography. You should only choose Adobe RGB if you have specialty printing equipment in your home studio and are familiar with color mapping.
Everyone else should be selecting sRGB. Phones, TVs, computer monitors, tablets, etc. are all in the sRGB color space. If you want your colors displayed accurately, your photos should be speaking the same language as your viewers’ devices, in sRGB.
I’m not going to go over settings like Highlight Tone, Shadow Tone, Color, Film Simulation, etc. in this post. These aren’t really Fujifilm settings for travel, but rather dependent on your own style. You can read more information about specific posts I’ve written about:
- Creating Fujifilm Custom JPEG Recipes
- Highlight & Shadow Tone
- How Dynamic Range Works
- Dynamic Range vs Dynamic Range Priority
- Film Simulation Comparisons
- Reasons for Using Manual White Balance
- Color Chrome Effect and Color Chrome FX Blue
ALL. If you have your focus joystick set up to activate the Focus Area screen, you can also cycle through all AF Modes using the command dial with this set. So you don’t have to come here into the menu to do it. It’s super helpful and makes things faster.
AF-C Custom Setting
1. This is the best general Fujifilm setting for travel photographers, dictating how your continuous autofocus tracking behaves.
Store AF Mode by Orientation
Focus Area Only. This is one of my favorite focus/display settings that I never knew about. It’ll speed up your shooting when using autofocus since you can store where your autofocus area is in both horizontal and vertical orientation.
AF Point Display
OFF. Having your active autofocus points displayed on the screen is an unnecessary distraction. You’ll still have the “box” showing where your AF area is.
Number of Focus Points
The smaller number. That’ll help you move your autofocus area quicker, and there’s still plenty of AF points with that smaller number. The higher number might work if you’re clamped down on a tripod and don’t want to move the camera, but that’s not what travel photographers do.
OFF. Turning this on is a colossal waste of battery. Your camera will try to focus all the time, not just when you tell it to.
OFF. This helps your autofocus in low light. However, it only has an effective range of a few feet, and it can be incredibly annoying to strangers when you’re taking environmental portraits. The camera will instead temporarily boost the ISO to focus, and this works just fine.
As desired. These are some really cool manual focus tools and you can read more about them here.
OFF. Turning this on will magnify your focus area automatically when you touch the manual focus ring. While the magnification is super-helpful, the automatic nature of it can be distracting. I’ve instead programmed my rear command dial to Focus Check.
Interlock Spot AE & Focus Area
OFF. This is another cool feature, but as far as Fujifilm settings for travel, it’s best to leave this off so that you have more consistent exposures as you move that focus point around (if you’re in Spot metering).
Depth of Field Scale
Film Format Basis. I used to have this set to Pixel Basis for “accuracy.” But I never looked at the scale while using Pixel Basis. Whenever I did want the scale was when I needed to focus without bringing my camera to my face, setting a smaller aperture like f/8 or f/11 and guessing my subject’s distance. That’s when Film Format Basis helps.
Release. Sometimes you’ll need to be able to press the shutter all the way for the photo when a focus lock isn’t achieved. You’ll need Release selected to be able to do this.
OFF. Only turn this on if you’re shooting under fluorescent lighting.
2 (Shooting Only). This will help you save your battery. It only activates your lens’ image stabilization when actively shooting.
My Fujifilm travel settings for AUTO ISO are best explained in this post all about AUTO ISO. Watch the video, see what AUTO ISO does, and how to use it.
Red Eye Removal
OFF. There are ways to fix this in post-processing, even on smartphones. I’d rather have more control over it than leaving it to the camera.
TTL Lock Mode
Lock with Metering Flash. That’ll give you more consistent results when you use the TTL-LOCK function. The flash output will be locked based on a pre-flash meter and used for subsequent photos to ensure the same flash output.
Be sure to format your memory card every time you use a new one, and periodically after that! It’ll “clean out the digital cobwebs” in your memory card and prepare it for shooting, decreasing the chances of corruption. Just make sure you’ve downloaded all of the existing photos first since it will erase the card!
Set your home date and time.
Highlight Local and set the local time whenever you’re traveling. This’ll preserve your home time zone but let you adjust your traveling time zone.
Create your own menu of your most commonly-used items in this menu. Considering Fujifilm settings for travel photography, I’d include Face/Eye Detection, AF Mode, Focus Area, Interlock Spot AE & Focus Area, Interval Timer Shooting, Flash Function Setting, and Drive Setting. You get 16 items. Read this article for more information on how to customize My Menu.
When Switched On. I prefer to do this when switched ON so it’ll get rid of any dust right before I’m shooting, especially after changing a lens. But it does slow down the startup time slightly. If you’d rather have a faster startup (see what the difference is on your own), switch it to When Switched Off.
Turn off all sounds. They draw attention to you and, in my opinion, can be pretty annoying. You can be a travel photographer without them.
AUTO. The camera does a great job of adjusting the brightness automatically, dimming it when able to save the battery.
0. As a default, leave it here. Only turn it up when absolutely necessary, which will help save the battery.
OFF. This is what turns on the automatic image review after you take each photo. Turning this ON will drain your battery faster. But more importantly, it’s a distraction, and if you’re tempted to review every photo, you’re going to miss the moment happening right in front of you. Review them only when you need to using the Playback button.
Preview Pic Effect
ON. Some Fujifilm cameras have this setting, allowing you to see how all of your image and exposure settings will affect your final JPEG photo. It’s why mirrorless cameras are great. Leaving it ON will let you see what your picture will look like before pressing the shutter. If you only care about what your RAW file will look like you can turn it OFF.
Natural Live View
OFF. Cameras that don’t have Preview Pic Effect have this setting, which does the same thing, but when OFF. If you only care about what your RAW file will look like you can turn it ON.
Grid 9. There are so many reasons why a simple grid can help your compositions, other than just following that old “rule of thirds.” Grid 9 is the least distracting and most helpful. Be sure to enable Framing Guideline in Disp Custom Settings.
Disp. Custom Setting
I like to enable (check) Framing Guideline, Electronic Level, Histogram, and Live View Highlight Alert. They’re all off by default.
- The Framing Guideline, as mentioned above, is a very useful compositional tool.
- The Electronic Level is very helpful for landscapes and cityscapes, though it can be distracting and unnecessary when you’ve switched to street photography and environmental portraits.
- The Histogram is an essential exposure tool. Learn how to use the histogram in this post.
- The Live View Highlight Alert isn’t available in all Fujifilm cameras. Some people don’t like it, but I prefer having the warning when my exposure settings will make highlight areas appear pure white. Those overexposed areas will flash black & white.
Focus Lever Setting
ON. Enable that focus joystick for cameras that have it.
Function (Fn)/AE-L/AF-L Setting
I’m not going to assume to know how you want all of your buttons programmed. But I do have some recommendations for Fujifilm travel settings you should have quick access to. These are listed in order of what I’d give priority to. Program them how you wish.
- White Balance: Being able to quickly adjust your White Balance is important in travel photography, when you’re in and out of different lighting, especially when recording JPEG. Not so critical if you’re only recording RAW.
- AWB Lock Only: When using Auto White Balance, “lock it in” when it looks right for more consistent colors.
- Focus Area: Set the focus area and size. This is programmed to joysticks in cameras that have them.
- Shutter Type: Quickly enable Electronic Shutter when you want to be silent & discreet. Otherwise, you should be using Mechanical Shutter since there are some disadvantages to Silent Shutter.
- Focus Check: Magnify your focus area to check your manual focus.
- Self Timer: Set 2 seconds to stabilize the camera before shutter release, or 10 seconds to get in the photo.
- Wireless Communication: Transfer photos to your smartphone for quick sharing.
- Face/Eye Detection Setting: Quickly enable & disable face & eye detection. I only like to have it active when people are in my frame. It misbehaves otherwise.
Selector Button Setting
Fn Button. For cameras that have the selector button pad, this gives you more options to program custom buttons.
ISO Dial Setting (A)
COMMAND. Allows quick control for changing AUTO ISO programs by pressing & turning the Command Dial.
As desired. Turning any of these ON will enable autofocus when you press the shutter halfway. If you’d rather use the AF-L/AF-ON button on the back of the camera to command autofocus instead of the shutter (back-button focus), turn these OFF. This gives you better control over focus.
ON. For travel photography, it’s best to lock the exposure when the shutter is pressed halfway. Other types of photographers are better off not locking the exposure, but this is good for travel photography.
Shoot Without Card
OFF. A good, “hey dummy, you don’t have a memory card installed” reminder.
AE/AF Lock. To lock both the focus and exposure.
AUTO+MANUAL. To give you full control of lenses without aperture rings on the lens barrel.
Auto Power Off
1, 2, or 5 Min. I prefer the camera shuts off after 2 minutes of inactivity. I can always wake it back up with the shutter button. But turning this OFF is a good way to waste your battery!
Standard/Normal. The High/Boost settings are great for sports & action photographers, but for travel photography, Standard/Normal is perfectly fine. And it’ll make your battery last longer.
Save Data Settings
CONT. You’re probably going to be taking a lot of photos and changing memory cards at some point during your travels. Setting this to Continuous will keep a sequential file numbering system even after you change memory cards. This helps with organization, rather than having the file number reset to 0000 after changing a memory card.
Card Slot Setting
As desired. If you have a camera with multiple card slots, you have the option of duplicating everything to two cards (BACKUP), RAW on one card and JPEG on another (RAW/JPEG), or just recording everything sequentially from one card to another when the first one is full (SEQUENTIAL). I’ll do SEQUENTIAL unless I’m doing commissioned work, in which case I’ll use BACKUP.
Author/Copyright Set. Make sure your name is recorded in the file’s metadata! It’s helpful to be able to prove ownership when your photos are poached.
Bluetooth ON. This is a very low-power draw connection. You won’t use it all the time, but it’s fine to leave it on.
Auto Image Transfer
OFF. You don’t want every picture you take to be automatically transferred to your phone. Not only will it waste your battery, but it will quickly fill up your phone!
Smartphone Sync Setting
TIME & LOCATION. It’s useful to have an accurate time stamp. I also enable location syncing (for geotagging) here, for when I want my photos to be geotagged, but use the GEOTAGGING menu option below to disable it. I disable geotagging when I’m working in environmentally sensitive areas or with vulnerable populations.
Instax Printer Connection Setting
If you have a portable Instax printer like the SP-2, enter its pin number here. Are you not traveling with an Instax? You should! It’s a great way to make friends and build international relations!
Resize for Smartphone
ON. Photos will be downsized to 3MP for transferring to your smartphone. This won’t affect the original file. But it will speed up transfers, saving the battery, and the photos are perfectly sized for social media posting.
OFF. See my above reasons for keeping geotagging off. I think travel photographers have a responsibility to respect the places they travel to and the people they meet, and geotagging has made things out of control. I only turn this on when it really doesn’t matter.
The Quick Menu
Read this post for ideas on programming the Q menu.
These Fujifilm settings for travel photography are recommendations only
Did this get you on the right track to set up your Fujifilm camera to make it a travel photography machine?
These settings are just my recommendations. I surely don’t think that things must be done this way. But I hope my experience and my reasoning helps you make your own decisions.
If you’d like to explore any of these settings further, try the Fujifilm X Course Membership, which includes an exclusive 20% off your first 3 months for blog readers.
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