Does shooting in Monochrome offer higher resolution?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by nateo200, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. nateo200 macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #1
    Does shooting in Monochrome offer higher resolution? It seams I can make a monochrome image a billion times sharper than even my best color pictures, I swear if I take my 85mm 1.8 out and stop it to 5.6 and shoot in great light I can scale the image to double the actual resolution....I'm asking as both a video guy and stills guy. I've always known the reasoning for the science behind it (at least with bayer) but RED has a nice little article:
    http://www.red.com/learn/red-101/color-monochrome-camera-sensors
    The article may seam definitive to some but I still would like others to chime in...

    Anyways If I wanted to shoot video on a DSLR would I gain more resolution by shooting in monochrome? Or would I have to have a camera with a removed color filter like the Epic Monochrome or Leica Monochrome?

    How about stills? Obviously with RAW in camera is just a preview but would the final image be higher resolution?

    I find this stuff not only terrifically interesting but also good practical knowledge since I want to definitely shoot a Monochrome short film one day and in the mean time would like to experiment. I was thinking of shooting some charts but I also want get input from the various photo and video professionals. I posted in the photo section since photographers naturally tend to want to know why/how/when more often than videographers (not a dig :D), besides I'm sure my fellow video section guys will stumble in here.
     
  2. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

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    #2
    Short answer no, you are using the same color sensor and and just converting to B&W.
     
  3. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #3
    True black and white sensors do everything at a sensor level where as colour sensors do it after the data is captured therefore not allowing the image to be sharper if using a B&W mode or not.
     
  4. swordio777, Nov 24, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013

    swordio777 macrumors 6502

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    #4
    As others have already said - no, it's not possible that shooting in B&W can produce more resolution. However I suppose there is a possibility that the algorithm used to sharpen the jpeg when you shoot in B&W mode could be different to the one used when shooting in colour mode, making it appear sharper - this would obviously only affect the jpeg preview though.

    You also mentioned the Leica monochrome & Red Epic monochrome. While it's true that they have sensors specifically designed for monochromatic imaging, ironically they will never be able to create as good B&W images as a camera which captures the data in colour.
     
  5. BJMRamage macrumors 68020

    BJMRamage

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    #5
    a B&W image allows you to "see" clearer. You aren't looking at color and tone and you can tend to loose "focus" whereas the B&W the color is a non-issue, so you can focus more on 'what matters' and see clarity that the color can 'muddy-up'
     
  6. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #6
    Why do you think this is?
     
  7. swordio777 macrumors 6502

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    #7
    In a word: Channels.

    Want the Ansel Adams-style black sky with fluffy white clouds? You need the blue channel. Otherwise you're just applying contrast to differing shades of grey.
    Same story if you want to make your green trees really pop, or want smooth skin in high contrast - you need the individual coloured channels through which to boost or mask your edits.

    While monochromatic sensor can capture a large dynamic range, they throw away the colour data, so you're stuck with a single flat greyscale to apply your edits through.
     
  8. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #8
    Could you not shoot with filters?

    Surely the Ansel Adams argument is moot as he shot on B&W film which didn't have colour channels?

    Not trying to argue against your point just interested in learning more!
     
  9. swordio777 macrumors 6502

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    #9
    You could, but it's more work and the results still won't be as good. Filters are always a compromise because you're limited to using just one. If I start with a colour image I can do the equivalent of applying 2 or more filters in photoshop with ease.

    Yes & no. I don't really think the point is moot because we're not comparing apples with apples. A digital greyscale file is not the same as a B&W film negative / glass plate / any other analogue format.

    Adams was a genius and while it's true he used a red filter to darken skies, he also did a HUGE amount of processing work to create his images (adding most of the contrast at the printing stage using masks and coloured bulbs to control adjustments).

    Technology has changed a lot - we don't print digital files in the same way as film, and don't process/edit/retouch them in the same way either. Adams lived in a time before photoshop, but we don't. So why make a conscious choice to limit our options by starting with a greyscale image?

    Likewise, not trying to argue here. Just enjoy a good discussion about it :)

    Please don't read my original post & think I'm saying that monochrome cameras are no good - that's not what I'm saying at all. All I'm saying is that with the technology we have available today, colour files CAN create a better B&W than a greyscale image as you have more information to work with.
     
  10. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    You get a lot more resolution from a monochrome sensor and increased light sensitivity. Granted you do need color filters, as you would with black and white film, to get the best results, but the potential is there for much sharper images.

    How large are you printing, though? That's the question. As for video, most cameras oversample so you're ok for 2k or 1080p delivery.
     
  11. nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #11
    Well duh....thats one of my intentions for wanting to shoot in B&W, same reason Martin Scorsese shot 'Raging Bull' on B&W with its gorgeous Eastmen Double-X. I know of the psychological/visual impact of looking at a monochrome image but I'm more concerned about technical sharpness, aka pixel peeping.

    How so? Can you explain?
     
  12. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #12
    I think that's where it comes down to opinion. I would take the extra low light qualities and sharpness over a normal EPIC if the end result was B&W. Different shooting styles take different approaches. I don't know if it's that different at all but I am looking at this from a purely moving image point of view rather than still photography.

    If it was stills I would just opt for a fovean sensor which doesn't have the low light of a B&W sensor but has the sharpness and the flexibility in post in terms of colour channels.

    He's been have a bit of a discussion above with me about it!
     
  13. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    It's all about choosing the tool that suits you. You are the creative. If you want to use colour filters (which are a perfectly acceptable way of manipulating contrast) then do so, if you prefer channel work on the computer, then do that. If we are serious creatives it's a bit patronising to say one method is inherently better than the other. What does that even mean?

    Black and white is a very broad medium, with photographers working in all kinds of methods, from home-made glass plate to the most modern of the modern. It's the work that matters, and the method must suit your approach, your thinking and your style.
     
  14. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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    #14
    Remember that with a DSLR the job is to first and foremost, capture data in a raw file dump from the sensor. You can additionally tell the camera to make a jpg from the raw file (which throws away data) or use the raw file to post process. Just as making a jpg throws away data.......even worse....a filter keeps you from capturing data. The more the filter effect...the greater the data loss.

    So capture all the data you can in the field. Then later decide how much data you want to use or discard when you make your final image. But always capture as much as possible in the field.
     
  15. swordio777 macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Yeah, I'm doing the opposite tbh - coming at it purely from a stills pov.

    It's interesting though. Have you used one? I'd be keen to try one just to see what the low-light performance is like. Obviously the RED site portrays it that each photosite is gathering 3 times as much light because it's absorbing all colours of light, not just one. But surely that can't mean it makes a brighter image for a given shutter speed / ISO?? Is it just outputting a file that's really flat & insipid because of the massive dynamic range it contains?? (personally, that's what I'd want to see so I'm in complete control of the contrast)
     
  16. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    #16
    I have used the EPIC and had the option to use the monochrome but as yet I haven't.

    It doesn't have a different illumination at the same ISO but instead it's base ISO is 2000 meaning that essentially it should be noiseless. It's important to remember that the ISO isn't baked into the image like it is with a DSLR so it's possible to adjust your ISO in post.

    Like the normal EPIC it shoots RedRaw and you can set your own LUT to the footage in camera e.g. RedLogFilm, RedGamma etc. Shooting raw means that you have all the data available to you in your editor to do with as you please.
     
  17. nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #17
    With a base ISO of 2000 you could theoretically shoot ISO 4000 or even 6400 clean right? I mean the regular EPIC is sitting at what 800 ISO? Digital image noise is allot more pleasant when its in monochrome too.
     
  18. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    I'm not sure the Epic M is the cleanest camera; remember that the Epic pushes poorly over 800 ISO relative to other cameras. But the footage I cut with it definitely showed a nicer noise pattern. The image from it is very nice.
     
  19. nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #19
    So would high quality screw on filters help achieve higher sharpness with a color camera? Blue channel seams to exhibit allot of noise on most cameras so maybe blocking that out would help? I think it might effect the tones negatively though or maybe not? Maybe case by case.

    I can definitely say the Epic (not sure about the monochrome version or the latest dragon) is not the cleanest camera, particularly with tungsten lighting I see noise for some strange reason...then again I don't shoot/edit RED footage on the regular just some things I've noticed.

    So are you saying you've edited monochrome footage from the Monochrome Epic? I'm waiting to see some movies shot on the Monochrome Epic just to be amazed and because I like Monochrome obviously....wondering if you could get that Eastman Double-X look (a la Raging Bull) with the Monochrome Epic down to the T...I just watch that movie and stare in aw at the beauty of that film stock and hope to see something similar...too many people I know say they won't watch B&W movies which is ridiculous but yeah. I believe David Fincher is working with the Monochrome Epic on something if I'm not mistaken..
     
  20. Policar macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    I've done post work on it, my friend shot with one. The Epic has a chunky blue noise pattern at 3200K in the shadows that's really not very nice, but it's a good camera in other respects. The Monochrome is noisy in some situations, but has a nicer texture for sure.

    I believe Fincher shot the following with the Epic M:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsUsVbTj2AY

    http://adage.com/article/creativity...r-directs-rooney-mara-calvin-klein-ad/243090/

    I'm a way bigger fan of the first video. It's cleaner and with that digital slick tonality that's not so nice as film, or at least different. The Justin Timberlake video is amazingly well shot and the editing is phenomenal.

    From what I understand most films finished in black and white and shot on 35mm are shot in shot in color and desaturated digitally to emulate the use of color filters.
     
  21. nateo200 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #21
    Yeah the noise in the blue channel at 3200K is probably what I was seeing....its kind of strange because I know obviously other sensors struggle as well but its just a strange blotch of noise, luckily with all that resolution you have allot to work with.

    I like both but the Justin Timberlake one was well...EPIC....lol. I loved the way it was cut, it was simply fantastic and the lighting and the monochrome is what made that music video. For some reason I also loved towards the end (among everything else) the water scenes (screenshot below), it was the perfect way to show case it not "Oh my Gosh we can shoot 5K at 120fps lets show off some super slow mo" but just enough motion blur to look natural and just slow enough to keep my attention and smile. I'd be curious to know how he shot the whole thing but I'm guessing thats a closely guarded secret ;):cool:
     

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