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Author Topic: Does anybody still use B&W filters?  (Read 2804 times)

texshooter

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Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« on: June 23, 2014, 04:37:21 pm »

Does anybody here still use B&W lens filters, such as these

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/811187-REG/Hitech_HT100BWKIT_100_x_100mm_Black.html

And no, not because you are nostalgic for the film days, but because you honestly get better results using filters in combination with Photoshop B&W conversion techniques?  Everyone I talk to says B&W contrast filters are useless with DSLRs, but I'm still not convinced they have no benefit when it comes to color channel noise reduction and highlight clipping control. I'm tempted to buy a set for what the hell, but thought I'd ask first.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 04:39:02 pm by texshooter »
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Telecaster

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 05:13:55 pm »

I've used a deep red filter (Wratten 29) on my Leica M8s with interesting monochrome results. (The camera has a weak IR blocking filter.) I suppose if you have a camera with, say, noisy shorter frequency (blue) response in shadow areas you might be able to clean it up a bit with a mild blue filter on the lens.

-Dave-
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2014, 03:38:13 am »

Does anybody here still use B&W lens filters, such as these

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/811187-REG/Hitech_HT100BWKIT_100_x_100mm_Black.html

And no, not because you are nostalgic for the film days, but because you honestly get better results using filters in combination with Photoshop B&W conversion techniques?  Everyone I talk to says B&W contrast filters are useless with DSLRs, but I'm still not convinced they have no benefit when it comes to color channel noise reduction and highlight clipping control. I'm tempted to buy a set for what the hell, but thought I'd ask first.

Hi,

Depending on the Bayer CFAs on your camera, there may be a slight noise benefit because you can expose Red or Blue Channels a bit longer. That works if you strictly adhere to the Expose to the Right (ETTR) doctrine.

Whether that applies to your camera is easy to determine by shooting a spectrally neutral grey or white surface without filter under the type of lighting you intend to use for the actual exposure. You then need to use a utility that allows to view the Raw data histogram, e.g. RawDigger, that shows the relative exposure level of the R/G/B channels. In many cameras that will reveal that the Red and Blue channels are relatively somewhat less exposed. In that case, using i.e. Orange or Red filter will reduce Green and Blue exposure relative to Red, and the underexposed Red channel can be boosted more without risk of clipping the other channels.

This of course does assume you have already determined that the specific filter is optimal for the scene. It often is not! You get much more flexibility in optimizing tones in a Black and White conversion when all channels are available and equally well exposed (which might call for a Magenta filter). Also do not forget that the three noise patterns of the R/G/B channels will be combined in a weighted average, and when combining 3 independent noise patterns, total noise is reduced due to the weighted averaging.

So total noise may only be improved marginally by using a filter, but flexibility will suffer. If I were you, I'd not use more than say a deep Yellow or Orange filter to reduce sky blue, or freckles on a face, but you may need to take a close look at the noise contribution of the other even more underexposed channel(s).

Cheers,
Bart
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stamper

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2014, 07:07:17 am »

At the list price.....no. Silver Efex Pro 2 means you can replicate the effect in post processing.

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2014, 10:55:28 am »

If I owned one of those expensive Leica Monochromes I would probably use BW filters, but I don't, so I won't.
I do have a friend with one of the Leicas, and it does beautiful work. He very seldom uses filters.
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-Eric Myrvaagnes (visit my website: http://myrvaagnes.com)

uaiomex

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2014, 08:03:45 pm »

I haven't but I've thought about it many times. I usually find that with Channel Mixer, more than a few percentage points of modification creates very funny things (16bit). Is it noise?
It looks a lot worse than noise. It looks like pure desintegration.
Comments?
Thanks to the OP for starting this thread.
Eduardo
« Last Edit: June 25, 2014, 08:05:39 pm by uaiomex »
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JohnBrew

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2014, 07:29:51 am »

Yes, on a Leica M8.2.

texshooter

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2014, 11:10:39 pm »

I think Im going to get a Sony A7R and convert it to a dedicated 590nm ("super color") infrared camera. The A7R accepts my canon lenses (including 24mm TS-E), has 36 megapixels, 14 EV of dynamic range, and manual focus peaking. And because its mirrorless, I dont have to worry about wavelength misfocusing regardless of focal length or focus distance.   Im hoping the 590nm infrared will give me enough creative control in PS to render more than just the infrared "look", but the highest detail and most tonally dynamic B&W landscape imagery. With 14 EV dynamic range, I should be able to stress test the color channel mixer without causing pixel disintegration, all without  B&W contrast filters.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2014, 11:12:48 pm by texshooter »
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pluton

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2014, 01:56:47 am »

I tried it on a Nikon D3 a couple times with an orange filter.  The blue sky darkening was weaker than what is routinely achievable in ACR, and had the added non-benefit of not being adjustable any further do to the monochromatization of the raw image.
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stamper

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2014, 03:17:16 am »

Would the filters affect the white balance in camera?

Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2014, 03:37:07 am »

Would the filters affect the white balance in camera?

Hi,

I'm not exactly sure what you are asking. White Balance in Black and White? The filters would adjust the total apparent spectral sensitivity of the sensor, as intended, and thus there is not really any White Balance left to speak of. One could attempt 'White Balancing' the resulting image but there are more creative ways to mix the color channels than that.

Cheers,
Bart
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texshooter

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2014, 12:20:15 pm »

This gets me thinking (or perhaps misthinking): Is there a camera that can adjust the ISO of the red channel independently of the blue or green channel? When using a 590nm external IR filter on a camera that had its hot mirror removed, the red channel will be overexposed by two stops. It would be nice if the camera could reduce the ISO of the red channel exclusively so to prevent loss of red information.  
This article advises doing an IN-CAMERA white balance and then dropping the exposure compensation down to move the red histogram to the left.  But that method could cause the green and blue channels to fall off the left side of the histogram.  Hence, the need for three separate color channel ISO controllers in-camera.

http://infraredatelier.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/understanding-590nm-goldie-issues/

« Last Edit: June 27, 2014, 12:23:27 pm by texshooter »
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Telecaster

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2014, 04:50:34 pm »

This gets me thinking (or perhaps misthinking): Is there a camera that can adjust the ISO of the red channel independently of the blue or green channel?

It oughta be possible to do this at the photosite level by tweaking the color filter array to reduce red response relative to blue & green. Another method might be to shoot at a higher ISO and have the camera gain up the red photosites less than the others. Seems an unlikely solution, though, in either case.

-Dave-
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John MacLean

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Re: Does anybody still use B&W filters?
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2014, 02:55:00 am »

Does anybody here still use B&W lens filters, such as these

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/811187-REG/Hitech_HT100BWKIT_100_x_100mm_Black.html

And no, not because you are nostalgic for the film days, but because you honestly get better results using filters in combination with Photoshop B&W conversion techniques?  Everyone I talk to says B&W contrast filters are useless with DSLRs, but I'm still not convinced they have no benefit when it comes to color channel noise reduction and highlight clipping control. I'm tempted to buy a set for what the hell, but thought I'd ask first.


I have a stack of 77mm's I'm happy to sell you!
http://www.johnmaclean.com/equipment_sale/content/B_W77mm_TiffenGrad_filters_large.html
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