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Moz

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I know that in a sax forum this is totally off-topic but I don't know this many people in any other situation so perhaps I may ask just one question about photography.

I have been taking photographs seriously since I was eighteen and as I'm coming up to fifty six I consider myself to be pretty experienced in the ways of f-stops, exposure values, zone systems, DoF, almost everything in fact. I developed my own films in the past and have been using digital for several years now but one thing I don't know and browsing isn't helping...

...if I use my camera to take a [digital] photo in black and white, is it going to give exactly the same result as if I took the picture in colour then converted it to black and white using software? Does the camera just convert a colour image or does it use it's extra resources to create a better b&w photo?

A definitive answer by some knowledgeable digital buff would make my life complete (how melodramatic is that?).

Cheers

Martin
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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No is the short answer.

Much better to shoot all in colour(raw), then convert. That way you can blend the channels/use colour filters as you want. And you have the time to experiment, which you probably won't have in the field. Plus you have a lot more control over contrast, shadow/highlight detail. There ae a couple of packages around which'll simultate the grain of the old flims if you want - really gritty Tri-X anyone?
 

gypsy

Member
Messages
40
Hello Martin,

I hope you don't mind me sticking my oar in here, and I hope I don't seem too pedantic, but the CCD or CMOS chip in your camera takes all photographs in black and white and in the case of Jpegs it is the Jpeg engine in the camera that converts the photo into colour. Thus if you compare Jpegs from say a Canon camera to an Olympus camera you would see significant differences in the interpretation of their colours. If you then import the Jpegs into something like Photoshop and convert to black and white all you are doing is going back to a near original image from the chip. I say near original image because a Jpeg is a compressed file and during the compression it throws away some of the detail in the in the photo.

Both Kev and Nick are correct in pointing you towards using raw as all the detail is retained in the resulting file, of course,with a much larger file size than a Jpeg. No matter what processing you do to a raw file in a raw converter you never actually change the raw file itself. The raw converter (like a Jpeg engine) applies its own colour interpretation the the base raw file and you will find that there are differences in this between different raw converters.

One other thing that you will notice when you open a raw file is that it will not appear as sharp as a Jpeg file - this is because the Jpeg engine does some in camera sharpening. The sharpening of a raw file is done in the raw converter.

As a result of the processes described above it does not make any difference whether you shoot in black and white or colour.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Albert
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Hello Martin,

I hope you don't mind me sticking my oar in here, and I hope I don't seem too pedantic, but the CCD or CMOS chip in your camera takes all photographs in black and white and in the case of Jpegs it is the Jpeg engine in the camera that converts the photo into colour. Thus if you compare Jpegs from say a Canon camera to an Olympus camera you would see significant differences in the interpretation of their colours. If you then import the Jpegs into something like Photoshop and convert to black and white all you are doing is going back to a near original image from the chip. I say near original image because a Jpeg is a compressed file and during the compression it throws away some of the detail in the in the photo.

...it does not make any difference whether you shoot in black and white or colour.
Sorry, Albert, but this is very misleading. And ultimately incorrect.

With the exception of Foveon sensors, which are only found in Sigma cameras, each sensor site on the camera sensor, be it CCD or CMOS, has a coloured filter over it. Red, green or blue. So each pixel in the raw image records the level of either red, green or blue - but not all three. It is in no way a monochrome image, despite what the popular press would claim. It is not a grey scale image. It's a colour image, with each pixel storing the value of a different pimary colour. In a mono/greyscale image, each pixel would store the brightness (L) value only.

Fooveon sensors work in a different way and record all three colours at each pixel site. It's always a true colour image.

Usually the pattern of filters is arranged into what's known as a Bayer matrix (Foveon excluded), although other models can/have been used. In camera processing (or Raw conversion software) reconstructs the assumed levels of the missing colours in each pixel, by extrapolation from it's surrounding neighbours.

Thus it's desireable to create mono images from colour originals, as it allows you to vary the influence of the different colour channels in the final mono image. This is impossible when post processing an image created in camera as B&W.
 
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half diminished

Senior Member
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1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
...if I use my camera to take a [digital] photo in black and white, is it going to give exactly the same result as if I took the picture in colour then converted it to black and white using software? Does the camera just convert a colour image or does it use it's extra resources to create a better b&w photo?

A definitive answer by some knowledgeable digital buff would make my life complete (how melodramatic is that?).

Cheers

Martin
Martin

Trying to keep it simple :w00t:

If you shoot in jpeg, some cameras allow you to shoot in B&W and that's that - you get a B&W jpeg produced 'in camera' that it's then hard to modify without causing problems/degrading the image quality. So there's two issues, jpeg quality and the fact that the camera decides on the conversion.

Shoot in RAW however and you have all the colour info which you can then use in PP to convert the image into B&W and this gives you infinite fine control over the tonality/contrast etc in the final image which it would be hard to do or adjust 'after the fact' when shooting jpeg in B&W. You also start with the highest quality from the outset.

I always shoot in RAW and then use Lightroom Beta 3 and PS CS4 which allow B&W conversion in 5 or 6 different ways and the ability to tweak the colour balance finely. I also have Silver EFX Pro which can produce brilliant results too.
 
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Moz

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
841
Location
North of Liskeard, Cornwall
Thank you. I feel I have the answer now. Kevgermany, I believe you are correct in your description, I seem to remember stuff like this from several years ago. I shall take in colour with one exception: I like to use red filters to darken the blue sky and if I take a colour picture I'll get a red-coloured picture.

Cheers

Martin
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just north of Munich
I shall take in colour with one exception: I like to use red filters to darken the blue sky and if I take a colour picture I'll get a red-coloured picture.
lol

nope - take the shot in colour without a filter (maybe still use a CP to bring the clouds out more). When you convert to mono either reduce the blue channel, or apply a red filter. Same effect, but you can control the amount of filter as you convert to BW.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Martin, have been thinking a bit deeper. It occurred to me that you're still using filters a lot on digital, especially film type filters. Most are unnecessary with digital cameras as they can be applied in post processing, with a lot more control. Apart from very special situations, about all that there's any use for are CP, ND Grads (sometimes, if there's too much contrast for the camera to handle) and straight ND (for blurring water). The rest can be left at home. Speeds up your shooting immensely. The other thing I'd say is expose as bright as you can, without clipping the highlights. Use the histogram. Then darken/increase contrast as necessary in post processing. Doing this preserves all the detail, especially in the shadows, the area where digital is weakest. Net result is that out of the camera images will look thin, lifeless, but the important detail is preserved. Then modify on your computer to get the tones you want.
 
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Moz

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
841
Location
North of Liskeard, Cornwall
Martin, have been thinking a bit deeper. It occurred to me that you're still using filters a lot on digital, especially film type filters. Most are unnecessary with digital cameras as they can be applied in post processing, with a lot more control. Apart from very special situations, about all that there's any use for are CP, ND Grads (sometimes, if there's too much contrast for the camera to handle) and straight ND (for blurring water). The rest can be left at home. Speeds up your shooting immensely. The other thing I'd say is expose as bright as you can, without clipping the highlights. Use the histogram. Then darken/increase contrast as necessary in post processing. Doing this preserves all the detail, especially in the shadows, the area where digital is weakest. Net result is that out of the camera images will look thin, lifeless, but the important detail is preserved. Then modify on your computer to get the tones you want.
This has all been very enlightening. I must confess I thought I knew it all when it came to photography but I am being dragged kicking and screaming out from the past where I did very well with my trusty all-manual Nikon FM2. Many things that came as second nature (after a lot of work) when taking pictures on film have been rendered pointless with the advent of digital photography, such is progress.

I still feel though that digital does not give as good a monochrome result as film, it seems to lack the bite; but then perhaps that's just what I want to think. :crying:

Cheers

Martin
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just north of Munich
Take a look at this guy's work: http://www.symplimages.com/

Some stunning BW work as well as great colour. Digital....
Disclaimer - I'm probably biased cos he was a moderator on a photo forum, where I'm also a moderator.

My thoughts (hopefully final), before Pete shuts us down.... Just as film B&W was really made in the darkroom, so digital B&W is made in the computer.New tools, new techniques and they all take a lot of learning. It may just be that you need to adjust your thinking more towards the digital techniques. Certainly digital printing gives great results with the newer Baryt papers.
 
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