Wednesday 29 July 2020

Film Simulations on Your Nikon

Creek on 118
D750, Nikkor 20mm f2.8 AF

Fuji gets a LOT of love, and deservedly so for their Film Simulations, one of the signature features of the X and GFX camera lines.

Nikon on the other hand has delivered a more powerful capability starting with the D3 & D300, and left it largely ignored and poorly documented.

Fuji put a lot of time and effort into developing their Film Simulations, but there remains a lot of customization that Fuji users have done, and have traded recipes online. Sadly you can't simply export a recipe and share it with others, you can only document your settings.

Nikon on the other hand has stuck with a set of generic Picture Controls, their name for the various JPEG settings that you can pick when shooting Nikon. Far more poorly known is the fact that you can load anywhere from 3 to 9 custom Picture Controls onto your compatible Nikon camera, in addition to being able to edit the Picture Controls using the Nikon Picture Control Utility 2 app on your PC or Mac. And the camera can also edit and export Picture Controls.

There is at least one public repository of Picture Controls, along with an online editor at and this one included many similar options to the Fuji ones (Kodachrome 2 should match up with Classic Chrome). You can download from there and then import them on your camera directly by putting the files in a folder on the card called NIKON\CUSTOMPC\ or use the PCU2 app to manage them and write the ones selected to the card.

Why Nikon hasn't done anything more with this amazing feature, I don't know. It would be well worth them licensing some classic film names (I'm sure Kodak's remains would happily license their brands to Nikon for a reasonable cost).

The only downside is custom Picture Controls are only respected by Capture NX-D right now, and who wants to actually use that, so unlike Fuji's Film Simulations, they're less useful for the RAW shooter (although there may be some support coming in CaptureOne now that they have an official Nikon variant)

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