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Author Topic: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?  (Read 6556 times)

bokehcambodia

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Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« on: September 20, 2015, 03:56:45 am »

One wonders why there has not been any effort so far by one of the mayor players to release a B&W digital camera that would offer better dynamic range, noise performance and overall image quality compared to converting current color images to B&W? Yes, there are two options, either a Phase One back or Leica M (Monochrome), both of with are out of reach for the vast majority of photographers.

Will Sony release an A7M (Monochrome) ILC being the leader in sensor manufacturing? Sony surely could pull this one off and provide a dedicated B&W camera in the range of $1500-$2500.

But till then what to buy to convert color to BW images? I assume great dynamic range and the ability to pull shadow detail are worth having when converting?
What to buy in the range up to $1000 and what up to $2000? Personally i see the Sony RX100 IV a viable option (great to pull shadow detail) in the lower price tier.
Looking forward to reading your comments.  (I cross-posted it in the B&W section but i assume more 'gear heads' here)
« Last Edit: September 20, 2015, 03:58:46 am by bokehcambodia »
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Rob C

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2015, 04:30:34 am »

Why should manufacturers produce this specialist tool?

Leica already owns the dedicated b/w shooter of means; I don't for a moment imagine there's a crowd, several million deep, of anxious b/w shooters anywhere just praying for a plethora of dedicated b/w cameras. For pretty much everyone, conventional conversion gives all that is sanely required. Manufacturing is about making money. Period.

If you can't live without the true b/white experience, just start buying film again. If you never did, then you have no idea of what the b/w experience really is, and the argument becomes absurd, as does all this crap about DR etc. et bloody cetera. Look at much of good back/white photography and you will discover that it has always led the way in creativity, which means that it constantly breaks the rules because it's only by doing so that something different happens. Because of that, you'll discover that many of the b/w greats never deployed a perfect range of tones from max black to whitest white: they played around with deep shadow, blown highlights and so on.

If you want to invoke St Ansel here, do so at your peril: a superlative craftsman, I would hesitate to think of him as ever being visually exciting.

Rob C

brandon

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2015, 05:39:55 am »

Why should manufacturers produce this specialist tool?

Leica already owns the dedicated b/w shooter of means; I don't for a moment imagine there's a crowd, several million deep, of anxious b/w shooters anywhere just praying for a plethora of dedicated b/w cameras. For pretty much everyone, conventional conversion gives all that is sanely required. Manufacturing is about making money. Period.

If you can't live without the true b/white experience, just start buying film again. If you never did, then you have no idea of what the b/w experience really is, and the argument becomes absurd, as does all this crap about DR etc. et bloody cetera. Look at much of good back/white photography and you will discover that it has always led the way in creativity, which means that it constantly breaks the rules because it's only by doing so that something different happens. Because of that, you'll discover that many of the b/w greats never deployed a perfect range of tones from max black to whitest white: they played around with deep shadow, blown highlights and so on.

If you want to invoke St Ansel here, do so at your peril: a superlative craftsman, I would hesitate to think of him as ever being visually exciting.

Rob C
Wow..it was only a question!
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bokehcambodia

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2015, 05:43:01 am »

Hello Rob,
first thanks for replying to my post although i feel you are overly critical to my post. There are many 'gear heads' out there and i am seemingly also one of these.

Obviously i understand the limited market appeal, but in 2015 digital cameras are more and more focusing on niches and not the camera that does it all.
Sony had the guts to produce the RX1 why not a RX1 M? Sigma produces the Quattro line and i am sure they are not the hottest camera around.

I personally did shoot and develop BW a while back, so i know what it's about (at least a bit imho) and i personally know a Magnum BW shooter that does convert from color to BW (though he surely would replace his current camera with one that had a BW sensor. He did not buy the Leica M after having many issues with Leica digital before and the M is priced very steeply even for pros).

It's about the craft, the image, not DR, but gear that helps with creating what you envision is surely of help. Some mind about technical excellence, some not. It's art, you're free to do what you want.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2015, 05:45:22 am by bokehcambodia »
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bokehcambodia

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2015, 05:48:22 am »

I was looking for practical advise/reports from BW digital shooters that do NOT use the Leica M.

Rob C

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2015, 05:56:16 am »

Wow..it was only a question!

It was only a reply.

Rob C

Rob C

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2015, 06:04:45 am »

I was looking for practical advise/reports from BW digital shooters that do NOT use the Leica M.

Exactly, and in another of your posts above you acknowledge the issues.

Having done that, don't you think you've also answered your own basic question? If my response sounded critical of you on a personal lever it wasn't meant to be: I don't  feel I know enough about you to form any sort of opinion. My response was aimed at what I see as the commercial viability of producing a camera with very limited appeal. However, I'm very often mistaken, and a new something may well be announced and reviewed here quite soon!

Rob C

bokehcambodia

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2015, 06:06:05 am »

Rob,
as i said i appreciate your answers and your point of view. Friendly discussion only.
And yes 'current' market offerings means conversion from color to BW if you don't have the means for a M.

Exactly, and in another of your posts above you acknowledge the issues.

Having done that, don't you think you've also answered your own basic question? If my response sounded critical of you on a personal lever it wasn't meant to be: I don't  feel I know enough about you to form any sort of opinion. My response was aimed at what I see as the commercial viability of producing a camera with very limited appeal. However, I'm very often mistaken, and a new something may well be announced and reviewed here quite soon!

Rob C

Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2015, 07:23:21 am »

Rob,
as i said i appreciate your answers and your point of view. Friendly discussion only.
And yes 'current' market offerings means conversion from color to BW if you don't have the means for a M.

Hi,

IMHO, a monochrome sensor doesn't add to the technical quality of a B&W output, it only limits the possibilities. And by limiting the technical quality, it also somewhat limits the 'creative quality'.

Shooting for B&W output also means that one is required to filter the incoming light to improve tonal separation based on color differences. That is extremely hard to achieve when shooting, so one has to rely on gut feeling and experience. On the other hand, shooting in Color and then in postprocessing having the possibility to tweak the color sensitivity with luminance enhancements is vastly superior.

It also add a new level of creativity during post-processing, as one can actually see the gradually image gaining in strength where needed, locally. The sensation is a bit like traditional darkroom processing with local acceleration of the development process by raising the temperature of some spots with your fingers in the developer bath.

I like the level of control that Topaz B/W effects gives, but I've heard that Google Silver Efex Pro 2 also is very good.

The only benefit of a monochrome sensor is a marginally (approx. 6% at most) higher resolution (with apochromatic lenses(!)), but that is dwarfed by the negative aspects (price, and especially loss of control).

Cheers,
Bart
« Last Edit: September 20, 2015, 07:25:22 am by BartvanderWolf »
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bokehcambodia

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2015, 07:54:39 am »

Cheers Bart,
that's very helpful insights!

Using the B&W Mix sliders in LR (what i currently use and as you said provides a nice see-what-you-get approach) the freedom to achieve a look/tonal separation is simple, instead the use of color filers on BW cameras a steep learning curve.

I was not aware that only apochromatic lenses would help for IQ improvements.

With this approach (color to BW) i see a polariser very helpful most of the time.

Rob C

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2015, 10:01:15 am »

As, in the end, we all seem to agree, here's something for those who enjoy trains:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAnKqdlPWDo

;-)

Rob C

eronald

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2015, 12:06:35 pm »

I have some nice Ilford and Trix X profiles, but I expect a donation. People who are interested can PM me.
The advantage of the profiles is they are one-click in Photoshop (or Preview, I guess).

Edmund
« Last Edit: September 20, 2015, 12:08:40 pm by eronald »
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armand

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2015, 12:21:27 pm »

Despite its issues with color work X-Trans does quite well for b&w, no real complaints. You can find various combinations for those price limits.
Camera wise quality it's a wash and it's mostly a handling/extras difference. Lenses vary from good to great.

Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2015, 01:23:38 pm »

I was not aware that only apochromatic lenses would help for IQ improvements.

With monochromatic sensors, the Chromatic Aberrations (both longitudinal and lateral) are baked into the Luminance signal. With a color recording, one can (partially) restore the original signal by realigning or defringing the signal.

Cheers,
Bart
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jrp

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2015, 01:58:13 pm »

Just get an A7r II and convert the images to b&w and get results at least as good as the M246, according to Diglloyd.
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MarkL

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2015, 03:32:06 pm »

I can't imagine the market for a b&w only camera is big enough for canon/sony/nikon to bother with given it would need an entirely new sensor unlike say, the 'A' version of the D810. Even a lot of die hard b&w photographers would prefer the flexibility of having colour information to tweak the b&w tones and I wonder if they are also more malleable in post due to the information captured over than a file from a monochome sensor taken with an orange or red filter.
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2015, 03:33:13 pm »

You can always go back to film, develop and scan the negatives.  I find no real issues with the various digital conversion tools and I still do a lot of B/W work.
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Telecaster

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2015, 03:48:33 pm »

I've shot b&w film for decades and enjoy the whole process, including using filters. But I doubt there are enough me-type people  ;)  out there to justify niche products from mass market electronic camera makers. A pity because taking pics with b&w as the only possible outcome (not counting split-toning & such) makes you see different.

-Dave-
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capital

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2015, 05:37:01 pm »

It seems you already aware of Sigma cameras. Their Merrill series  use three layers each capturing certain color data, all at the same pixel level. You can think of these cameras as monochrome cameras, even working on exporting one layer for a true monochrome capture. All the Merrill DP series cameras are well under your budget, and would I think be cameras to consider for your particular application.
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Rand47

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Re: Which camera to choose for B&W digital?
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2015, 07:27:06 pm »

It seems you already aware of Sigma cameras. Their Merrill series  use three layers each capturing certain color data, all at the same pixel level. You can think of these cameras as monochrome cameras, even working on exporting one layer for a true monochrome capture. All the Merrill DP series cameras are well under your budget, and would I think be cameras to consider for your particular application.

I was just going to chime in that the Sigma DP Merrill cameras are VERY good monochrome machines - assuming of course that you can put up with their glacial operational pace. 

Rand
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