B&W Photography

Started 11 months ago | Questions
RomanJohnston
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to Rservello, 11 months ago

Rservello wrote:

RomanJohnston wrote:

Rservello wrote:

In camera black and white doesn't affect RAW files in any way. So I don't see how that is applicable.

Not sure how this applies to the conversation.

In camera B&W conversion (or in RAW editor) does not take a lot of information in the file into consideration Colors with the same tonality that can be used in a quality B&W conversion get lost in a straight conversion in camera or in like ACR.

Roman

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You can change the PC to vivid, standard, neutral, and/or monochrome and the RAW file will be identical every time.

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Not disagreeing with your point...just not sure how that fits in the conversation.

Where is the relevance?

Roman

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Rservello
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to RomanJohnston, 11 months ago

RomanJohnston wrote:

Rservello wrote:

RomanJohnston wrote:

Rservello wrote:

In camera black and white doesn't affect RAW files in any way. So I don't see how that is applicable.

Not sure how this applies to the conversation.

In camera B&W conversion (or in RAW editor) does not take a lot of information in the file into consideration Colors with the same tonality that can be used in a quality B&W conversion get lost in a straight conversion in camera or in like ACR.

Roman

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You can change the PC to vivid, standard, neutral, and/or monochrome and the RAW file will be identical every time.

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Not disagreeing with your point...just not sure how that fits in the conversation.

Where is the relevance?

Roman

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I was replying to someone that said in camera B&W conversion wasn't good.  Well if you are shooting RAW it doesn't matter.

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jkjond
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to Lord Mox, 11 months ago

Lord Mox wrote:

My understanding of b&w is that it's less demanding when it comes to camera capability.

err, I'm not sure what you're suggesting there? Admittedly, the camera would not need to be as colour accurate (the d7000 and other models have received criticism for inaccurate flesh tones, but will still be a good b&w camera), but it still needs to capture a full spectrum of colour and dynamic range of a scene.

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RomanJohnston
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to Rservello, 11 months ago

Rservello wrote:

I was replying to someone that said in camera B&W conversion wasn't good. Well if you are shooting RAW it doesn't matter.

I am the one that said that. I was actually talking about how the features in the camera or in the features in ACR were not very good at converting a color picture into a B&W. RAW has nothing to do with the output of a conversion from the camera or via ACR.

I am saying the process of a well though out conversion will always blow away the automatic conversions.

Starting from RAW data will always give you a wonderful starting place....and a place to come back to if you flub it up...of course.

But not sure how having RAW data makes it not matter. The only thing that truly matters (besides a good quality exposure) is your process of creating a B&W from the color capture.

Roman

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Ernie Misner
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to Rservello, 11 months ago

B&W HDR's are fantastic and fun.  You can feed a single image, raw file straight into Photomatix and click on the b&w preset for starters and get amazing results fast.

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michaeladawson
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Re: Another Idea - A Dedicated Monochrome Camera
In reply to user_name, 11 months ago

user_name wrote:

Lord Mox wrote:

I've for long been an admirer of b&w photography. In the last few weeks, I've been thinking of buying a second camera as a back up to my main one. I am not a professional nor will ever be (lack the creative talent, and have a decent career that I love).

So, for a camera that will be used mainly (about 90% of the time) for black and white, what are your recommendation? I am asking in Nikon forum, because I will be using Nikon glass. I have 5 of those currently and my main is d600.

Or may be, I should approach the question from a different angle. Does black and white photography requires different features (e.g. dynamic range, resolution etc...) than color? What should be my focus in trying to find a suitable b&w camera?

(Film is out of the question as I barely can understand digital, and there are not many developing sites in my area).

I hope I made my question clear and have not confused you in anyway.

Thanks all,

-LM

You can have a digital camera converted to a monochrome camera.

Why would you do this? Removing the color filter array (RGB filter) significantly enhances the resulting picture's sharpness and resolution.

You can't achieve this resolution by simply converting the raw color file by any post processing.

One company that does this modification is MaxMax.com. Check out their website to see just how much of a dramatic difference this can make.

I don't know what your budget is, but you buy a used camera such as the D700, an inexpensive DX camera, or maybe even a used D600. The result should be very, very good. You just can't take color photographs with a converted camera.

If you are really serious about B&W then NEVER do this.  Just my opinion.  But B&W is something to be done in post processing.  You want all the color data at your disposal to be able to have full freedom of the output.  Again, my opinion, but the higher resolution you would get by doing a sensor filter conversion is more than offset by the creative freedom you would lose in post.

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Stacey_K
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Re: Another Idea - A Dedicated Monochrome Camera
In reply to michaeladawson, 11 months ago

michaeladawson wrote:

If you are really serious about B&W then NEVER do this. Just my opinion. But B&W is something to be done in post processing. You want all the color data at your disposal to be able to have full freedom of the output. Again, my opinion, but the higher resolution you would get by doing a sensor filter conversion is more than offset by the creative freedom you would lose in post.

I I remember the time when people used to previsualise their shots...

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ebanash
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to Lord Mox, 11 months ago

Lord Mox wrote:

I've for long been an admirer of b&w photography. In the last few weeks, I've been thinking of buying a second camera as a back up to my main one. I am not a professional nor will ever be (lack the creative talent, and have a decent career that I love).

So, for a camera that will be used mainly (about 90% of the time) for black and white, what are your recommendation? I am asking in Nikon forum, because I will be using Nikon glass. I have 5 of those currently and my main is d600.

Or may be, I should approach the question from a different angle. Does black and white photography requires different features (e.g. dynamic range, resolution etc...) than color? What should be my focus in trying to find a suitable b&w camera?

(Film is out of the question as I barely can understand digital, and there are not many developing sites in my area).

I hope I made my question clear and have not confused you in anyway.

Thanks all,

-LM

I do some black and white photography myself but all of my images are converted in post. I use the sliders in Lightroom to get my final product adjusting each color individually.

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j_photo
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to Lord Mox, 11 months ago

LM: IMO, like many others here, I think good B&W work is mostly achieved in processing. I agree with others, shoot color, and learn good processing technique. Or, if money is not a problem, check out the Leica M Monochrom.

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jkjond
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Re: Another Idea - A Dedicated Monochrome Camera
In reply to Stacey_K, 11 months ago

Stacey_K wrote:

michaeladawson wrote:

If you are really serious about B&W then NEVER do this. Just my opinion. But B&W is something to be done in post processing. You want all the color data at your disposal to be able to have full freedom of the output. Again, my opinion, but the higher resolution you would get by doing a sensor filter conversion is more than offset by the creative freedom you would lose in post.

I I remember the time when people used to previsualise their shots...

I find revisualisation a fascinating topic.

Adams - easy to start with him - I'd say it was essential that he did. Without pre-visualising how would he be able to select the correct filter?

On the other hand, Brandt, he reprocessed a load of his images to give them the his distinctive dark moody look years after they were first taken. Is that how he previsualised them and he didn't have the darkroom skills to achieve them until then?

How about someone like Salgado whose images are processed by other people? I've no idea how much instruction he gives, but it must be an interesting process. I've seen a McCullen image with darkroom instructions added, presumably for someone else to enhance, so still very much his vision.

A dedicated B&W sensor - do those cameras have digital filters, or do you have to use the old glass variety to alter colour reception? Either way, the camera would deskill the process to some extent as there'd be the option for instant feedback and reshooting of static subject, or fine tuning settings for specific batch shoots. But they would still require a different skill set to get the most from the machine.

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Alan Brown
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Roman and Rservello
In reply to RomanJohnston, 11 months ago

I think you are both right.. it semantics

In camera conversion is not going to fit all circumstances.. even if you do like the output mostly

However, you could shoot in B&W.. that gives you the advantage of seeing the tones on the LCD at least. where the contrast is lying...

Rservello is saying that you are not tied to those exposures if you shoot RAW.. that's his point (I think)

I think you're both right..

RomanJohnston wrote:

Rservello wrote:

I was replying to someone that said in camera B&W conversion wasn't good. Well if you are shooting RAW it doesn't matter.

I am the one that said that. I was actually talking about how the features in the camera or in the features in ACR were not very good at converting a color picture into a B&W. RAW has nothing to do with the output of a conversion from the camera or via ACR.

I am saying the process of a well though out conversion will always blow away the automatic conversions.

Starting from RAW data will always give you a wonderful starting place....and a place to come back to if you flub it up...of course.

But not sure how having RAW data makes it not matter. The only thing that truly matters (besides a good quality exposure) is your process of creating a B&W from the color capture.

Roman

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Stuart001
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to Lord Mox, 11 months ago

For me, the main difference between B&W and colour is in the perception of the object photographed.  It may seem blatantly obvious, but in coloured images colour is the driving force; in B&W it is tone.

'Photographing' in B&W is NOT simply shooting in colour and converting it; to be done successfully it requires a different aesthetic approach.  There are tons of books available on the subject, but the classics are still  Ansel Adams's books, 'The Camera', 'The Negative' and 'The Print'.  These are about film and chemicals, but the underlying thinking process is the same.

Adams, along with Minor White, Richard Zakia and Peter Lorenz, developed the 'zone' system for judging correct exposures.  While it can be complicated, it teaches a person to see in black and white, to judge the tones to make a great image.  The idea of 'zones' is just as important in digital photography--Silver Efex Pro, for instance (one of the best B&W conversion programs around) offers a preview of the 10 different zones in a B&W conversion.

It all comes down to measuring the light.  And this is a round-a-bout way of saying that perhaps you do not need another camera, but you could perhaps use an off camera light meter.  A spot-meter--the most accurate and the kind uggested by Adams--is more accurate than the in-camera meter and can be used to determine the light in a scene.  Your current camera would be fine.

But if you want to buy another camera D700 would be great, but unnecessary.  Remember that even when using film, the viewfinder is in colour and the scene is in colour.  It was just that the film was made form light-sensitive silver halides, and could not reproduce colours.  Once colour film came along many photographers changed the way they took their pictures and B&W became a different way to see the world.  The best B&W still is.

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RomanJohnston
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Re: Roman and Rservello
In reply to Alan Brown, 11 months ago

Alan Brown wrote:

I think you are both right.. it semantics

In camera conversion is not going to fit all circumstances.. even if you do like the output mostly

However, you could shoot in B&W.. that gives you the advantage of seeing the tones on the LCD at least. where the contrast is lying...

Rservello is saying that you are not tied to those exposures if you shoot RAW.. that's his point (I think)

I think you're both right..

If you ever attended Vincent's workshop and his conversion techniques, the in camera conversion or auto conversion from ACR does not take into account half the information you just recorded. Your throwing out the baby AND the bathwater. I could never go back now and just do a straight conversion.

My argument for using his conversion method have nothing to do with exposure. It has to do with subtle tonalities that would be lost in a straight conversion actually having some weight in the end product. That is why I am having a hard time understanding his comment. Its a lot like saying....The leave are green because dogs bark at the moon....lol. His arguments don't even become slightly relevant to the topic of why I recommended what I recommended. That's why I am here scratching my head.

Totally appreciate you trying to explain..but I think you confused me even more.

Roman

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jkjond
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Re: Roman and Rservello
In reply to RomanJohnston, 11 months ago

RomanJohnston wrote:

Alan Brown wrote:

I think you are both right.. it semantics

In camera conversion is not going to fit all circumstances.. even if you do like the output mostly

However, you could shoot in B&W.. that gives you the advantage of seeing the tones on the LCD at least. where the contrast is lying...

Rservello is saying that you are not tied to those exposures if you shoot RAW.. that's his point (I think)

I think you're both right..

If you ever attended Vincent's workshop and his conversion techniques, the in camera conversion or auto conversion from ACR does not take into account half the information you just recorded. Your throwing out the baby AND the bathwater. I could never go back now and just do a straight conversion.

Not true.

Roman, it seems you aren't aware that shooting in black and white mode and saving a raw file records all the colour data - you have the option to work with the camera conversion or start again from the full colour info in post processing.

Some people find it invaluable for assessing tonality on location.

I don't use it, but I believe there are options for controlling the conversion including uploading custom profiles to your camera, so you aren't tied to some lab derived algorithm.

My argument for using his conversion method have nothing to do with exposure. It has to do with subtle tonalities that would be lost in a straight conversion actually having some weight in the end product. That is why I am having a hard time understanding his comment. Its a lot like saying....The leave are green because dogs bark at the moon....lol. His arguments don't even become slightly relevant to the topic of why I recommended what I recommended. That's why I am here scratching my head.

Totally appreciate you trying to explain..but I think you confused me even more.

I hope this clarifies it for you - you can shoot black and white and keep both the baby and the bathwater.

Roman

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user_name
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That's not the way it works...
In reply to michaeladawson, 11 months ago

michaeladawson wrote:

user_name wrote:

Lord Mox wrote:

I've for long been an admirer of b&w photography. In the last few weeks, I've been thinking of buying a second camera as a back up to my main one. I am not a professional nor will ever be (lack the creative talent, and have a decent career that I love).

So, for a camera that will be used mainly (about 90% of the time) for black and white, what are your recommendation? I am asking in Nikon forum, because I will be using Nikon glass. I have 5 of those currently and my main is d600.

Or may be, I should approach the question from a different angle. Does black and white photography requires different features (e.g. dynamic range, resolution etc...) than color? What should be my focus in trying to find a suitable b&w camera?

(Film is out of the question as I barely can understand digital, and there are not many developing sites in my area).

I hope I made my question clear and have not confused you in anyway.

Thanks all,

-LM

You can have a digital camera converted to a monochrome camera.

Why would you do this? Removing the color filter array (RGB filter) significantly enhances the resulting picture's sharpness and resolution.

You can't achieve this resolution by simply converting the raw color file by any post processing.

One company that does this modification is MaxMax.com. Check out their website to see just how much of a dramatic difference this can make.

I don't know what your budget is, but you buy a used camera such as the D700, an inexpensive DX camera, or maybe even a used D600. The result should be very, very good. You just can't take color photographs with a converted camera.

If you are really serious about B&W then NEVER do this. Just my opinion. But B&W is something to be done in post processing. You want all the color data at your disposal to be able to have full freedom of the output. Again, my opinion, but the higher resolution you would get by doing a sensor filter conversion is more than offset by the creative freedom you would lose in post.

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Mike Dawson

Mike,

My understanding is that the color data is still there (all photosites are still working and used), but the Beyar filter film (color filter array) is removed on the sensor.

Obviously, doing this to a camera makes it a single use camera, but if you followed the link to Maxmax.com you will see some of the gains in image quality you get with respect to a modified camera compared to that same unmodified camera with only post-op B&W file conversion.

Everything is a trade-off, but some people are serious black and white shooters and this modification may make sense for those people.

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RomanJohnston
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Re: Roman and Rservello
In reply to jkjond, 11 months ago

jkjond wrote:

RomanJohnston wrote:

Alan Brown wrote:

I think you are both right.. it semantics

In camera conversion is not going to fit all circumstances.. even if you do like the output mostly

However, you could shoot in B&W.. that gives you the advantage of seeing the tones on the LCD at least. where the contrast is lying...

Rservello is saying that you are not tied to those exposures if you shoot RAW.. that's his point (I think)

I think you're both right..

If you ever attended Vincent's workshop and his conversion techniques, the in camera conversion or auto conversion from ACR does not take into account half the information you just recorded. Your throwing out the baby AND the bathwater. I could never go back now and just do a straight conversion.

Not true.

Roman, it seems you aren't aware that shooting in black and white mode and saving a raw file records all the colour data - you have the option to work with the camera conversion or start again from the full colour info in post processing.

Some people find it invaluable for assessing tonality on location.

I don't use it, but I believe there are options for controlling the conversion including uploading custom profiles to your camera, so you aren't tied to some lab derived algorithm.

I didn't say you CAN never go back as in the data is no longer there...I am saying I would never go back to a straight conversion after learning what I learned in the class. I know RAW files give you a "Go back" for any editing you want to do color or B&W...or any other type of editing you want to explore.  Maybe that is the sticking point I did not understand....maybe he thought I meant I could never go back and try something different instead.

As for a quick field shot....yes, I can understand it because sometimes in my editor, I do a quick assessment the same way for some of my work, including going through my old stuff to see what might work, but it is only a cursory glance to me and the true conversion would have to take into consideration ALL the subtle tones in the conversion process. And the process is not a LAB derived algorithm. It goes into each color layer RGB and allows you to see each layers tonal values and then stack the layers in a way where each layers attributes contribute to the B&W, THEN going into Silver Effects Pro only after you have pulled the most from each layer. I truly invite you to either pick up the book Oz to Kansas or go to one of his classes...his B&W work is on a completely different level and worth understanding the process.

My argument for using his conversion method have nothing to do with exposure. It has to do with subtle tonalities that would be lost in a straight conversion actually having some weight in the end product. That is why I am having a hard time understanding his comment. Its a lot like saying....The leave are green because dogs bark at the moon....lol. His arguments don't even become slightly relevant to the topic of why I recommended what I recommended. That's why I am here scratching my head.

Totally appreciate you trying to explain..but I think you confused me even more.

I hope this clarifies it for you - you can shoot black and white and keep both the baby and the bathwater.

Actually its best when you shoot and process the best color shot you can ....THEN convert it. Baby AND Bathwater....(here I think we ARE saying the same thing)

Roman

Roman

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ultimitsu
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to Lord Mox, 11 months ago

Lord Mox wrote:

In the last few weeks, I've been thinking of buying a second camera as a back up to my main one. I am not a professional nor will ever be (lack the creative talent, and have a decent career that I love).

If you are not a pro, why buy a "back up"?

So, for a camera that will be used mainly (about 90% of the time) for black and white, what are your recommendation? I am asking in Nikon forum, because I will be using Nikon glass. I have 5 of those currently and my main is d600.

Or may be, I should approach the question from a different angle. Does black and white photography requires different features (e.g. dynamic range, resolution etc...) than color? What should be my focus in trying to find a suitable b&w camera?

There is only one camera sort of made for black and white, it is a Leica M9 variant. all other digital cameras have no native black and white support. i.e. without CFA. Basically you just pick whichever camera that is best at coloured image, it will be equally good for B&W

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Lord Mox
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to Lord Mox, 11 months ago

Again, thanks everyone for the valuable information. I did learn a lot, got confused a bit, and enjoyed some of the irrelevant discussions as much :-P.

As for why I need a back up camera. I find myself sometimes in situations that are so engaging and fast moving that it makes me wish for another body with different lens to be available at that instance. Sometimes I am in situations where I need one to take video and stills at the same time (with me included in the video, not just pressing the shutter while the camera is filming).  Add to that my love for b&w. It's one thing to shoot color, and another to take a camera the whole of purpose of which is b&w. Your approach, and mentality will be quite different, I believe. Of course this is subjective.

But the purpose of my thread, is to learn the objective differences, if any. Some have mentioned Leica monochrome. I wasn't aware that such a camera exist. So when I read most of the replies that any color camera works, and that b&w occurs in post, then I wonder why is Leica making a dedicated b&w when there is no difference? That's why I made the thread...to learn whether or not there is a difference, and whether this difference is significant in anyway...for example, is resolution and dynamic range as important to b&w as they are for color?

Thanks all,

-LM

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Stacey_K
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Re: Another Idea - A Dedicated Monochrome Camera
In reply to jkjond, 11 months ago

jkjond wrote:

 But they would still require a different skill set to get the most from the machine.

Correct, mainly choosing the correct filter for the lens at the time of the shooting. There is still a lot of variety possible when post processing but you need to at least have a concept of what you are trying to portray. When I used to shoot B&W film, it was a different mindset, you had to look at the world and light differently to "see" monochrome. It wasn't a matter of going thru a bunch of color images seeing which might look interesting converted. I never would attempt to shoot color and B&W on the same outing, it's that different. Unfortunately these conversions look to be very pricy.

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RomanJohnston
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Re: B&W Photography
In reply to Lord Mox, 11 months ago

From my perspective...resolution is about the print. Screens are easy to fill. Even 4K requires about 8MP to fill.

Dynamic range does help, but I am finding often that there is more room for allowing highlights to blow out in a shot you will use for B&W. Colors often do not respond well to extreme highlights or shadows....and often that can be the magic in a B&W finished product.

Roman

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