Black and White

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Ridge08, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. Ridge08 macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Is it better to set your camera to b/w before taking the shot or to edit the color on the computer later?

    What I`m asking is whether any detail is lost or gained by choosing one or the other.

    I know it gives me more flexibility to edit later if I shoot in color. I`m assuming that I know for certain before I take the shot that I want the picture in b/w.

    Any advice much appreciated!

    (If it makes a difference, the camera is a Nikon D40).
  2. r.j.s Moderator emeritus


    Mar 7, 2007
    Always do it later on the computer, it gives you much more control over how the final product turns out.
  3. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    If you shoot in RAW, you're getting everything the sensor has to offer. If you're shooting in a B&W JPEG mode, you're getting a subset of what the sensor can capture, so yes, something is lost.
  4. Ridge08 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Thanks for the info! So far, I`ve been doing as you`ve advised: shooting in color and editing later. I`ll keep it that way!
  5. Nicholie macrumors regular

    Jul 6, 2008
    Huntsville, Al
    I've always shot in color just to be sure I had an opportunity at both images, color and B&W.

    If you're on a more modern DSLR, some will let you do some in camera RAW processing, including letting you turn it B&W. This is good to do if you're intentionally aiming to get a image for B&W conversion, and want an idea of how it will look in the field.

    For clarity's sake Monochrome = B&W

    (not technically, but in application normally)
  6. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 12, 2005
    Method #1: Convert to B&W in PS using the channel mixer. Don't just click desaturate.

    Method #2: My new favorite tool is Silver Efex Pro from Nik Software. AWESOME B&W plugin!!! No more channel mixer for me.
  7. Ridge08 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Why not click `desaturate`?

    (I know nothing about image editing).
  8. jbernie macrumors 6502a


    Nov 25, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Unless you are 100% sure they you will never never ever need a color copy of the photo, always take it in color and change later.

    Refer to pg157 of "Understanding Exposure", when Bryan Peterson finally got a shot of the Ukranian security guard smiling he was in B&W mode and the guard had a gold tooth which you will never see because he was in B&W mode.

    Get everything you can with the initial shot and then modify later.
  9. NintendoChick macrumors regular

    Jun 30, 2008
    You loose contrast, etc.

    I usually apply a black to white color gradient, then up brightness and contrast both by 7 as a start, and go from there...
  10. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    Ridge, out of curiosity, what type of keyboard are you typing on? And with what letter set?

    All of your apostrophes seem backwards (not ', but instead as they appear when I hit the tilde key, `)
  11. Ridge08 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    I`m on a Japanese computer. (I live there). It`s whatever letter set came as default on my Macbook. The other annoying thing, apart from the tilde-apostrophes, is the lack of a plus key (+). That`s actually worse because so many zoom-in shortcuts are set to cmd +.
  12. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Do it on your computer. Software like Aperture makes it easy to give you various black & white conversions. Back in the day, you used colored filters to achieve the same effect.

    I wouldn't use the in-camera conversion: not because it's necessarily bad, but because you don't have any more options afterwards to change the conversion.
  13. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
  14. GotMyOrangeCrus macrumors regular

    Great piece of software!!
  15. GotMyOrangeCrus macrumors regular

    LOL. are you talking about those nasty orange filters that you used to make black and white prints from color negs on color paper? I absolutely hated those things and they never worked very well. The image was always extremely muddy compared to the original image. I forgot all about those things and I actually think I still have my set of filters down in my darkroom. Mine were Ilford if I am not mistaken.
  16. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    Just to chime in, I agree with the general idea of shooting in color and converting in software later - whether you shoot JPG or RAW. To go against that grain, I recently had an assignment that was required to be in B&W so I just shot it that way in the camera to save myself the time converting a large number of photos after the fact (I use iPhoto, not Aperture, so I don't think I have access to any sort of batch conversion; please correct me if I'm wrong).

    Since I knew these shots HAD to be in B&W, and I KNEW I wasn't going to want them for anything afterward (they were just some silly "still life" type shots for a design and communication course) there was no big deal having the camera do the processing internally. They came out nicely (contrasty and whatnot) and I was able to look at my shot in it's final form right away on the review screen, which I felt helped me get the images I needed faster.
  17. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    No, I'm sure he was talking about red, yellow and other filters placed in front of the camera lens when using black and white film. Almost all of the black and white conversion software has a way to simulate the effects of those camera-lens filters
  18. GotMyOrangeCrus macrumors regular

    Ah, my bad. I still shoot film for all of my B&W so I really wouldn't know how well the colored filters perform in the digital setting.
  19. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    They are mostly useless. The only thing a red filter does on a DSLR is block light and make noise worse. May as well attach an ND filter.

    Well there is one case where a color filter can be used over the lens of a DSLR. Under water the light is so lacking in red that you can clip the blue and green while under exposing the red so they sometimes use orange filters to balance the light to the point where normal digital wite balance technique will work again.

    I'm sure there are other very specialized uses for filters but I think in every case it would be that you are trying to keep the three color channels in rough balance due to a very skewed light source. Any any case nothing to do with B&W.

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