b&w originals vs b&w conversion

gardanni

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i'm thinking of getting a digital camera, but my most compelling photos are b&w. the ability to take good b&w photos is a factor in my decision to go digital. with that in mind, how does a color image converted to b&w compare to an image that was originally taken in b&w? how does this get reflected in the digital world? it is definitely NOT my plan to spend lots of time manipulating images manually.


thanks all!

dan
 

bhop

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If you're talking digital cameras only, you'll get better results converting them yourself and making your own adjustments than letting the camera do it for you.
 

cameramike

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i notice on my canon that b\w is just horrific, it does way to many greys and not enough pure blacks and whites. so defiantly going to want to do it in post.
 

frXnz kafka

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Do a search and you'll probably find thousands of threads about this.

To sum it up: If you're shooting digital, shoot in color.
 

Alpha

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In my honest opinion, a wonderful black and white print from digital RAW requires two things. First, it requires a lot of time spent manipulating the image in a professional post-processing application such as photoshop-- more so than you would ordinarily spend printing in a darkroom unless you are very meticulous with your testing, and make frequent use of dodging, burning, and other masking. On the upside, you only have to do all of this tweaking once, as opposed to every time you make a print. The second thing you need is a very very good, professional digital print shop, or a fair bit of time and a significant investment to setup the printing yourself-- if you want to be able to take advantage of inkjet printing's wide tone range.

As a side note, one thing I've noticed about many digital black and white landscapes is that on average the sky tends to be much much darker than it would with black and white film. It's a dead-giveaway that the shot is digital. I would theorize that this has something to do with digital sensors having extended sensitivity at some wavelength (probably red) but I have no real scientific data to confirm that (yet).
 

That One Guy

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If you're talking digital cameras only, you'll get better results converting them yourself and making your own adjustments than letting the camera do it for you.

i agree :thumbup:
 

Rick Waldroup

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Dan, I was in the same boat as you. Almost all of my personal work for the last 30 years was shot with B&W film. When I went completely digital, the first thing I started looking for was a really good conversion program to convert my digital files to B&W. At the time, when I first went digital, the only PP software I had was PS Elements 2.0, which I still use extensively today.

I tried several different software packages and I eventually settled on the B&W Conversion Pro from The Imaging Factory. Unfortunately, that company is now out of business. It is a great conversion program because it works based on the colors in the original image. This became a plug-in to my PS Elements 2.

However, there are now several software packages for B&W conversion. Alien Skin is one and it also allows you to dial in a certain film look- Tri-X, Ilford products, etc. You can also dial in film grain and so on.

Max is right about the way digital seems to treat the sky. Back in the early days of digital, it was really easy to tell a film shot from a digital shot. It is not as easy today, however, because of new and better conversion software.
 

MACollum

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i notice on my canon that b\w is just horrific, it does way to many greys and not enough pure blacks and whites. so defiantly going to want to do it in post.

Did you just leave the camera in its default BW mode? I found that you can apply filter effects from the menu. (There's always something new to be learned when rereading the manual. :wink:) This would be a problem if you wanted to do different ones during one shoot though, because you really have to dig to get to the menu. I prefer to do conversions in PP so I only used it once just to see what it could do.
 

Garbz

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If you shoot in colour and convert afterwards you have a host of options to make the image look like it was taken with any colour filter. I mean anything from a Number 8 Yellow filter, Number 25 Red filter, 38A blue filter, 56 light green filter.

All of these necessities for black and white are at your fingertips when shooting in colour and converting yourself.
 
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gardanni

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Thank you for all the very useful responses (including the 'search, search search!). I think I will go ahead with my plans to get a digital camera -- it is too convenient not to -- but I will probably do some shooting in parallel. I realize that the results will differ in various respects (sometimes digital will be worse, sometimes, presumably, better), and I think I'd just need to have actual images in front of me to facilitate my 'learning curve'.

I appreciate your input!
 

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