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Author Topic: Black and White  (Read 3492 times)

Jonathan Cross

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Black and White
« on: February 01, 2017, 04:06:59 AM »

There is a thread on the Leica Monochrom, but not all of us can afford or justify such a camera body and lenses.  We may therefore use, for instance, the black and white conversion in Lightroom.  This makes an attempt at moving the colour sliders, presumably according to an algorithm.  What interests me is how this compares to taking the same image with a Monochrom, which will just use the pixels’ output depending on the light falling on them irrespective of colour.   The colour matrix on sensors is normally in the Bayer pattern, or in a different pattern on a Fuji X camera, to render a colour image by default.

Does the Lightroom conversion take account of these patterns and eyes’ ‘ideal’ reaction to different colours to mimic the way a sensor and our eyes would react if there was no colour matrix?  In other words, is there any difference between a black and white image from a Monochrom and a conversion taken under the same conditions?  The same question would apply to Capture One or any other similar package, but I only use Lightroom with RAW files, both Bayer and Fuji.  I do appreciate that this is not taking any account of subjectivity and personal preference!

Jonathan

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donbga

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2017, 10:08:23 AM »



Does the Lightroom conversion take account of these patterns and eyes’ ‘ideal’ reaction to different colours to mimic the way a sensor and our eyes would react if there was no colour matrix? 

Jonathan

This is not a smart ass answer but who cares.

One needs to interpret the image conversion and control the rendering themselves.

Don Bryant
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rdonson

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2017, 10:23:09 AM »

IMHO in the most recent releases of Lr CC Adobe do a pretty good job of emulating the in-camera Fuji color and B&W film emulations including the color filters for the B&W.  in Lr go to Camera Calibration, Profile to get access to the Adobe versions of Fuji's in camera emulations. Give them a try rather that the default Lr B&W.

If you desire more control or more options there are lots of B&W plugins available such as the free Nik Silver Efex Pro
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Jonathan Cross

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2017, 03:20:06 PM »

I am aware of the Fuji emulations in Lightroom and use them.  I also have Silver Efex.  In reply to Don, given that there are 33 pages of images from the Leica Monochrom in the Cameras, Lenses and Shooting gear section of the Lula Forum, it does have its fans, despite the cost.  Is it 'better' or can I get close with black and white conversions of colour images?  If I was considering a monochrome it would matter to me about how it performed relative to the conversion process.  This is why I am intrigued about how the conversion process works and the results.

Jonathan
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donbga

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2017, 03:52:19 PM »

I am aware of the Fuji emulations in Lightroom and use them.  I also have Silver Efex.  In reply to Don, given that there are 33 pages of images from the Leica Monochrom in the Cameras, Lenses and Shooting gear section of the Lula Forum, it does have its fans, despite the cost.  Is it 'better' or can I get close with black and white conversions of colour images?  If I was considering a monochrome it would matter to me about how it performed relative to the conversion process.  This is why I am intrigued about how the conversion process works and the results.

Jonathan

LR gives you the flexibility to render the B&W as you wish. Buy or rent a Leica Monochrom and decide for yourself if that's what you need to do to arrive at a conclusion.
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john beardsworth

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2017, 03:53:43 PM »

Why would you want to bake in the mapping of colours to greyscale tones into the raw file? Cannot you produce a better interpretation (which is how I define better) of that scene if you choose that mapping later, at your leisure?

For such reasons I've never been keen on the idea of a pure B&W camera. Sure, I could put a yellow or green or red lens filter over the lens and ensure that the scene's blue skies turn out near-black, the foliage a lighter shade, and the red car might then be a brighter tone that stands out against the trees. But will I have time to do that? Carry those filters around? What if the top of the scene demands a red filter and the lower part really needs a yellow? Have I got a red-yellow grad? Or could I do such conversions in Lr / Ps / SFX, and still have a colour photo too, if I want?

kikashi

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2017, 04:18:33 AM »

Why would you want to bake in the mapping of colours to greyscale tones into the raw file?

My thoughts exactly. Why lose flexibility?

Jeremy
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2017, 09:30:05 AM »

Why would you want to bake in the mapping of colours to greyscale tones into the raw file? Cannot you produce a better interpretation (which is how I define better) of that scene if you choose that mapping later, at your leisure?
That's exactly the way I see it, too.

I do have a friend who does beautiful black and white work, mostly with 4x5" film in view cameras. He recently indulged in a Leica Monochrom, and he has some lovely prints from it as well. He is willing to accept the limitations of particular B&W films and of that monochrome camera.

I, for one, am not. I always play with the sliders in LR to get the effects that I want, and I can't imagine working without that flexibility.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2017, 01:18:10 PM »

... Why lose flexibility?

Because the abundance of choice can be quite burdensome at times, and the loss of flexibility quite liberating.

EDIT to add some academic underpinning: http://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Choice-Driven-Life-of/64587/
« Last Edit: February 03, 2017, 01:34:53 PM by Slobodan Blagojevic »
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2017, 04:15:24 PM »

Because the abundance of choice can be quite burdensome at times, and the loss of flexibility quite liberating.
I've never thought of a straitjacket as liberating!   ;D
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drmike

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2017, 03:19:03 AM »

Because the abundance of choice can be quite burdensome at times, and the loss of flexibility quite liberating.

+1.

Limited choices and hence decisions seems to lead to clarity of thought when approaching a subject. Works for me although I can't afford a dedicated B&W camera in any case :)
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drmike

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2017, 03:22:16 AM »

I've never thought of a straitjacket as liberating!   ;D
Not really a fair comparison. The straitjacket isn't a tool for a job.
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razrblck

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2017, 03:05:05 PM »

I still shoot and print black and white film, so I understand people wanting a monochromatic camera. It's the same reason why some people like the character of an "imperfect" lens rather than a modern, technically superb one. Photography is still an art, it can be very personal.
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kikashi

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2017, 07:15:57 PM »

Not really a fair comparison. The straitjacket isn't a tool for a job.

It was, in a way. It aimed to prevent the patient from hurting either himself or someone else. it was crude, but it worked.

Jeremy
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Hoggy

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2017, 08:12:31 PM »

Not really a fair comparison. The straitjacket isn't a tool for a job.

Like Kikashi, I beg to differ on that point too.
Everyone on both floors in this entire half of my apartment building would love nothing more than to use this tool on a very unstable paranoid schizophrenic, of whom I have the super-duper good fortune of living right next to.  ::)    The job: stopping his disruptive and frightening tantrums.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2017, 08:22:22 PM by Hoggy »
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2017, 11:43:19 AM »

^^^ See how his loss of flexibility would be totally liberating for the entire half of your apartment building? :)

Jonathan Cross

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2017, 03:55:31 PM »

The comments and observations in this thread are fascinating.  It seems to me that there is a similarity with the use of a prime lens and a zoom that straddles the focal length of the prime.  The zoom has undoubted flexibility, but the prime may give a technically better image.  A colour image is more flexible, giving the choice of staying that or being converted to black and white.  Is the image from a monochrome sensor with the same bit depth, however, technically superior to a converted colour image because the sensor and its electronics are less complex (i.e. does not have to separate the colour channels)?

Jonathan



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razrblck

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2017, 02:28:23 AM »

I don't think the comparison with lenses is right, as there are outstandingly good (and bad) lenses both in fixed focal and zoom forms. Lenses may also have very different characters (color rendition, bokeh, micro-contrast, aberrations, sharpness at various apertures, vignetting, color cast, etc) so the choice is not always between better quality and flexibility.

Monochrome sensors used to have a sharpness advantage (no low pass filter), better contrast and low light performance for the lack of a color filter array (sometimes even lack IR filters). Today the differences are probably minor, as sensors get better and the software is more efficient at interpolating color data.

You may find meaningful differences for scientific applications, but for photography they are pretty much the same thing. Though if you only shoot in black and white, the monochrome sensor saves you the conversion step of the RAW file.
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john beardsworth

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2017, 03:23:40 AM »

Though if you only shoot in black and white, the monochrome sensor saves you the conversion step of the RAW file.

Or put it another way, you have to get the B&W conversion right in the camera.

Paulo Bizarro

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Re: Black and White
« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2017, 09:06:56 AM »

A B&W only sensor will record more luminance data, compared to a colour sensor. That is the difference.

Whatever LR does with the conversion from colour to B&W (or any other app, for that matter), will be better clarified with the app maker.

Whether it matters, it is a personal decision. In the wisdom words of M.J.:

"I'm aware that most people don't want it, so please, no comments about that. Heard it all before, many times. My opinion, however, and it might be a minority opinion, is that photography isn't about how cameras see, and it isn't about how people see. It's about how people see with cameras. And I'm firmly of the opinion that a crucial step in learning to see with a camera is learning to see "luminances only"—lights and darks and the contrast between the two. And by far the easiest way to do this is to shoot "concertedly"—i.e., a lot, for some extended period of the calendar—with a camera that only records black and white. "

Full article here:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2013/10/the-leica-m-monochrom.html
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