Convert Color to B&W on PS or Shoot Monochrome??

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by apertureman, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. apertureman

    apertureman TPF Noob!

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    I have a question about digital Black & White photography using Nikon D90:

    What is better? (please elaborate)


    1. Shoot normally and convert to Grayscale on Photoshop later.

    2. Set Picture Control to Monochrome and then shoot.


    Thank you!
     
  2. Buckster

    Buckster Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    My take on it: Shoot RAW / Color, and convert later.

    Reason: It gives you the ability to work with the colors as if you were shooting black and white film using various filters in front of the lens. Example: B&W shooters will often place a red or orange filter in front of the lens to make skies and other blue-cast features in a photo darker and more dramatic. Other colored filters are used for other purposes.

    By converting in PS later, you can apply various amounts of each color to bring out the best contrast and tones in your conversion process, and even make several 'filter-variations' from a single photo if you want to.
     
  3. SrBiscuit

    SrBiscuit TPF Noob!

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  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    As suggested, shoot RAW (almost always a good idea). The RAW files will be in color.

    Also, as mentioned, it's much more flexible to take control of the conversion and do it with software.
     
  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    SHoot RAW + JPEG Large-Fine, in monochrome mode with appropriate adjustments to sharpening, tone curve,and saturation based on the subject matter and the lighting at hand. That way, you will get a beautiful out of camera JPEG file in monochrome, but the RAW data will have all the color information.

    When capturing in RAW + JPEG mode in monochrome, you can evaluate the lighting and composition without the unneeded and sometimes distracting element of color--monochrome pictures are not color pictures, and lines and shapes and mass are critical in B&W photography, and are more evident when color has been removed on the camera's LCD screen. A good B&W image is often quite different from a color image.

    If you want to previsualize and compose pictures that will eventually be seen in B&W, I say *shoot* RAW+ JPEG in monochrome mode. The Canon d-slr bodies have beautiful monochrome mode, with sepia toning and yellow filtration effect yielding a lovely B&W effect.
     
  6. marp

    marp TPF Noob!

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    Well, I am new to this, but I if I want to shoot B&W I shoot RAW and set picture style to monochrome. Don't know about nikon, but my canon eos 1000d stores the jpeg preview in B&W and I also have the RAW which is in color. This way, I can see how the picture looks in B&W and still tweak it later on PC.
     
  7. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As Derrel and Buckster said already you can apply a lot of settings mixing various colour channels together when converting to black and white, which gives you the ability for instance to replicate a number 25A red filter in software.

    What wasn't really mentioned is that there's no one way to convert to black and white. In photoshop you can use the channel mixer, you can desaturate the image, or you can switch to LAB mode and drop the A and B channels, just to mention a few options. Each produce vastly different results.
     
  8. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    They are both the same except the level of control you have.

    Digital cameras always shoot RAW images and always in color, period. No camera setting ever changes this.

    What your camera settings change is whether the camera saves the RAW or whether it processes it into a conventional bitmap, usually JPEG, using the settings you've made in the camera. Whatever you choose, your image is shot RAW and postprocessed in either the software in the camera or on a separate computer. There is no such thing as a digital image that is not postprocessed.

    When you save the RAW and do the conversion in more powerful software, like PS, you have much more control than with the "snapshot" class software built into the camera. You can control the balance of the different color channels when converting. This gives you a lot of tonal control.
     
  9. Pugs

    Pugs TPF Noob!

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    This is an excellent answer!
     
  10. maxmax

    maxmax TPF Noob!

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    Shooting in RAW and converting in post is probably the best. You may want to try using a red or green filter as well. Our testing has shown a higher sharpness (MTF) under pure green or red light. Test was done with an APO UV-VIS-IR Coastal Optics lens that has minimal chromatic aberration. Result could be related to the response of silicone (the sensor) to light. You can see some of the tests results at

    B&W Conversion

    A true monochrome camera is much, much sharper than a color camera. If you want to get a B/W image, that's the optimal way to go.
     
  11. John Sampson

    John Sampson TPF Noob!

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    Both. Try black and white film in an analogue camera and process the film and pictures in a darkroom yourself. Digital is just a tiny portion of what we call photography. If you have the nerve, you can move on to processing colour film as well.
     

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