Black and White - different means to the same end?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by wardcbm, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. wardcbm

    wardcbm TPF Noob!

    Jan 27, 2005
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    Hypothetically, what would the differences be in the end result if one were to take exactly the same shot with same shutter, ISO, aperture settings etc. and the same lens...

    a) With black and white white film

    b) With black and white C-41 film

    c) With a digital camera set to black and white mode

    d) In colour, and then convert to black and white with photoshop?

    What are the advantages or disadvantages of each process, and how much of the final result is really dependant upon what is done with the file / negative?


  2. Big Mike

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

    Dec 16, 2003
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    The easy answer is that with the first two, you end up with an exposed piece of film and with the second two, you end up with a digital file. :roll: sorry :p

    The taking of the picture is only the beginning. If your end product is the print, there are many, many other factors than just the medium you used to capture the image.

    Look at Ansel Adams, he probably spent more thought, time & effort in the printing stage than he did actually getting the image in the first place.
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

    Aug 25, 2003
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    Lawrence, KS
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    a) Highest dynamic range possible with a single exposure. Able to control tones, and where they fall on the tonal scale with exposure and development changes. Available in a wide variety of speeds. Easy to print in a traditional darkroom on BW paper. Requires processing that has been phased out by many labs, although there is a lot of flexibility in processing styles and materials if you process it yourself.

    b) Huge exposure latitude. Little ability to modify tones with development changes. It only comes in one speed (ISO 400), but most manufacturers say you can shoot it from ISO 100 to 800 with the standard C-41 development. Unless it is one of the few varieties designed for traditional BW paper, it'll have an orange base, which makes it troublesome for hand printing on BW paper, but great for 1 hour BW on color paper. Very easy to get it developed anywhere.

    c and d) Instant feedback is wonderful. No need to deal with mindless lab lackies. Dynamic range is pretty tight in a single exposure. Switch "film speed" with the flick of a switch. Easy to process to exact specifications in Adobe PS.

    I've always been advised that Adobe will do a better job converting to greyscale than the functions built into the cameras.

    We have this discussion all the time. Many say that the end is what is important, and that a good photo is a good photo regardless of how it was made. Personally, I can't separate the two. How I get there has a big influence on the final results. Different tools for different folks in different moods at different times for different subjects, and all of them are making a few good photographs and a lot of crappy photographs ;)

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