Is digital B&W "good enough"?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by a_arun, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. Hi All,

    I am looking for some specific advice re: making B&W images using my DSLRs (specifically Nikon D70s and D50). I
    shoot mostly in color but want to do more B&W work as I have a strong appreciation for the B&W medium.


    -I have shot 35mm B&W film (mainly BW400CN (C-41), Neopan 100SS, APX 100) for many years on Nikon film
    equipment. I have started developing the film on my own and scan the negatives using a Plustek film scanner. I get
    prints on Kodak color (matte) paper.

    -I have also been shooting digital B&W (on DSLR) for the last three years or so. I convert to grayscale and post-
    process in Lightroom.


    -To me, *my* digitally captured B&W images consistently look better than those made using film. I know this is
    heavily dependent on my scanning technique and I may be missing the subtle differences. I am not generalizing to
    anyone's experiences, just an observation on my own (and limited) experience.


    -I may be w_a_y off here and I understand that I probably do not yet understand what "truly good B&W" means. So I
    ask: should I focus my emergies on building my B&W darkroom skills (i.e. printing on my own) or just move on and
    shoot digital for B&W too? In other words "is digital B&W using the DSLR bodies that I have going to be good

    (No intent at starting a flame war or a shouting match. I have nothing against film or digital and am not abandoning
    either. I am genuinely at a crossroads and need advice deciding which path to take).

  2. I shoot both digital and film. But all of my B&W work is done with film and printed in my darkroom. I have seen some very nice digital B&W so, yes, it can be done. It does look different from a silver gelatin print, though, so it really comes down to personal preference. I know that I won't give up darkroom work simply because I enjoy it and because I like the results.
  3. I don't think that you can get a good sense of what B&W film is capable of image wise using C-41 B&W film and scanning. If there is somewhere near that has a darkroom (community college) I'd suggest trying shooting some B&W film, developing and printing in a wet darkroom. There is a unique sense of accomplishment from watching a quality B&W print slowly appear in the developer. That being said I haven't worked in a darkroom myself in three years and have been amazed at the ability of the Epson 3800 for B&W printing.
  4. Digital B&W is very good if done as post processing and not the in camera way. With processing, a decent quality printer and with the papers available today excellent prints can be made that rival just about any wet lab process you can think of and at least the longevity of a wet print. A lot of the LF good and great photographers today though shooting film have gone to scanning and post processing and printing their 30X40 and larger prints pigment on paper (inkjet).
    If you try the in camera B&W setting you'll find that the images are very flat. That is because this is basically a gray scale, like that old B&W TV standard.
    Your best will be to shoot the best color image you can and process that to the degree you want then convert to a B&W where you can work with the reflectance of the various colors to bring out the variations of tones that you wish.
    The papers and ink sets play a major part in the whole process. I'm partial to the Ilford/Harman line that to me not only do have that "silver" look (in most cases better) but even smell like the old papers.
    For myself I either shoot digitally and go from there or shoot LM, develop as I have from 1955 then a high quality scan and all PPing is done digitally ending up with a pigment on paper print.

    Take an look at guys who were traditional wet lab artists like Jay Dusard who has I believe gone over to the scan/pigment on paper route for the most part and you'll see no degradation at all in the final product. One can do the same with a digital camera.

    Just like in the wet lab, it's all in the processing.
  5. I am a black and white diehard fan. I attended a workshop with John Sexton when I was printing in the darkroom and learned what a black and white print can be. I also collect black and white prints from him and others.

    That said, it was only until I got an Epson 3800 and used Harman Gloss Baryta Al paper that I have achieved a black and white print that has reached my tough standards. It is the closest thing to a silver gelatin print I have ever seen,
  6. I'm lucky enough to have access to a darkroom, so I've used both methods. I think it comes down to which method you
    prefer. Black and white photography has always been considered a fine art medium, and so like fine art, it's subjective.
    It's supposed to invoke a feeling or emotion to the scene. If your images are doing that, than I would be way off base to
    tell you that either B&W medium is superior.

    I WILL say, however, that as a photographer, you'll appreciate your images much more by printing in the darkroom. In
    my opinion, the printing process is part of the craft, and I think there is no higher standard of our art form or medium than
    the print on a wall...kind of like giving birth to your image (editorial note: I haven't given birth, so it's just one man's
    shallow view). Think...nobody invests in digital files or negatives at art house auctions, they are buying the print.

    So, if your print satisfies you, that's the standard you've set. Embrace it! When I've seen B&W photography on the wall,
    I haven't thought about how it was created...I look and think about the image. I can't say the same thing about looking at
    an image on a web site. I WILL add this final thought, and it's my opinion only...I'm much more tolerant of lower
    technical standards at time of capture with B&W and less tolerant of sloppy printing. Much of the best B&W was shot
    from the hip, out of focus, super-grainy, underexposed, etc. and I know my brain has been trained to appreciate that
    aspect. Maybe this is why so much digital B&W lacks depth to's too perfect.

    Now...out the door with an F6 and Tri-X!
  7. To me, the answer is a resounding no. Whenever I need to shoot something that I want to be in black and white, my F5 or F3HP will come out. While some digital cameras can replicate the richness close to films like Velvia, black and white is a whole different story.

    But like others, I think it has in part our love with darkroom processing that makes film black and white that extra special.
  8. Very few of today's photographers can shoot black and white film and get better results that they can achieve with a good DSLR. Darkroom technique is developed through years of practice. I shot black and white and printed in a darkroom for 40 years. The results that can be obtained today with a digital camera and a good printer are as good as 95 percent of prints from black and white film, IMO.
  9. It's about whether you enjoy the process. It's not about which approach is superior.
  10. I've really enjoyed converting some of my digital images into black and white. I've not printed them out as of yet, but they look pretty nice on the screen.<P>

    <img src=""><P>
  11. Interesting responses! It seems to me that most of you conclude that digital B&W is indeed... good enough.

    I thought I had a sub-par film B&W workflow, but maybe even with a much better workflow I will not be able to *dramatically*
    improve my results?
  12. I think it`s way easier to get a good image with a digital camera than with a 35mm camera. Bigger formats have
    different issues. Tonal range with a D700 seems to me much better than with any of my usual films like TX or TMZ.
    Post processing digital archives is even more easy, it is far from the very difficult control you get with an enlarger. I
    think many top photographers jumped to digital, at least in the PP chapter, just because it`s far more easy and

    The issue is on the final printed product. Barita based papers are beautiful. Probably (I actually don`t know) with
    superexpensive printers and exotic dyes and papers (=$$$) you can get top level results. Color papers, resin based
    for wet processing are ugly in b&w. Intermediate solutions could be the way to go, at least for learning.

    Unless you are decided for whatever the reason on wet printing or film shooting, I`d forget it. If you shoot film you`ll
    need a very good scanner. Save your money for a better digital camera. My advice is to buy a reasonably priced b&w
    printer and paper, dedicated b&w PP software, and go with it.
  13. Lots of good advice above.

    On your point about understanding what "truly good B&W" means: If you haven't done this before, I would
    recommend (if you're courageous) going to a museum or gallery and looking at original prints by some of the
    masters - Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, etc. You have to see real prints - even very fine
    reproductions in a book aren't the same. While it's a joy to look at these works of art, it isn't necessarily encouraging
    for the aspirant. The harsh reality is that you probably can't do what those folks did. Almost nobody can. (I printed in
    a darkroom for decades but knew, after seeing some of those prints, that I was about as likely to make one that
    good as I was to dunk a basketball or play the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto or be selected to go on the first mission
    to Mars.) But if one can accept that, you can go along, do your best, and enjoy the process.
  14. What really stumps me is:

    i. I look at some of my digital B&W images and swear 'I could not have done that on film'

    ii. I look at some of my film B&W images and swear 'I could not have done that on digital'

    I hope this is my fertile imagination at work. Or maybe I don't know nearly enough about B&W in either medium.
  15. I thought I had a sub-par film B&W workflow, but maybe even with a much better workflow I will not be able to *dramatically* improve my results?"
    Don`t know how your results are but, as Wayne says, a good darkroom technique ask for years of learning... I think it is a highly difficult task. Surely most of us can have any wet print easily but only a very few ones a really good fine art darkroom print. I have been wet-printing for so many years (my father was a printer) and I can say that anyone using digital gear could get far better results after two weeks of practice.
    Anyway, if you like to learn "traditional photography", there is no reason to avoid it.
  16. As another poster noted, using C-41 film and a mediocre scanner, it is not surprising that DSLR black and white looks better. Were you to use 6x6 or 6x7 real (eg silver, such as TMax 100, or 400, and scan it with a real film scanner such as a Nikon 9000, you'd be w_a_y ahead of anything a decent DSLR can produce. I have used Lightroom and CS3 to process some images from my DSLR as black and white, and while they are pretty good, my 6x7 Mamiya 7II and 4x5 negatives have detail even a good DSLR cannot produce. I realize this is a quite different set up and workflow, but for "fine art," whatever that is, real film and an excellent scanner are still the king in black and white.

  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Unfortunately, this thread has evolved into the B&W version of the film vs. digital debate, which we have already had over and over, very much like Canon vs. Nikon.

    As usual, my suggestion is use whatever medium you prefer. If you are not sure, experiment with it yourself and then pick your preference. There is no point to keep debating here. There is no clear definition for "good enough." Something "good enough" for me is not necessarily good enough for you.
  18. I still somehow prefere my film based darkroom printed B&W albums but I can get pretty good from digital.
  19. FWIW, "Fine Art" refers to any kind of art that requires highly developed techniques and skills. Some definitions refer
    also to "art produced or intended primarily for beauty rather than utility". I like to think that both definitions are welded
    in the "Fine Art" concept. Just a thought.
  20. You revealed your problem early in your first post. You are having black and white images printed on color paper. Those results have always been well below par for me. If you are going to scan negs invest in a half decent printer. I've gotten not bad results on a $150 printer and epson paper. Better equipment and materials will help yield better results but you need to develop skills just as you would in a darkroom. Good papers, enlargers and lenses will also help get good results in a wet darkroom but you still need to work up your skills. There's no better or worse, just different toolboxes.

    Rick H.
  21. Interesting discussion. The real question is "good enough" for what purpose. If the purpose is for personal enjoyment,
    digital B&W is certainly 'good enough', it offers as much enjoyment and possibly gives less frustrations than darkroom
    printing. Ditto if the work is for commercial assignments, magazine or newspaper advertisements, et.

    However, if the work is for exhibition or selling as fine art, traditional darkroom prints have definite advantages that are
    often overlooked. A good traditional B&W prints is a one-of-a-kind work of art representing the artist's true ability. Unlike
    digital prints, which can be mass-produced by anybody using your file, a darkroom print cannot be exactly duplicated even
    by yourself, let alone by another person. A more accomplished printer may make a better print from your negative, but
    your darkroom prints are YOUR VERY OWN work.
  22. Realize that the dynamic range of negative BW film is dramatically wider than our digital sensors. You can capture both deep shadows and bright highlights in a way that you can't using current digital cameras. So in a technical sense a digital BW image can not be made equal to a BW negative.
  23. Go to the Yahoo group digitalblackandwhitetheprint and search the archives. It's the most knowledgable group of people I am aware of on this topic.

    Many of them use a hybrid workflow of film capture (often large format) and digital printing.
  24. I agree with Janne and Sun Dance. The camera sensors maybe for medium format digital can give you more dynamic range than the cameras mentioned in the question and that may be good enough. But only good input from the sensor can give you the range of gray that you need for wide latitude like B&W film. If they made a sensor tailored to B&W instead of color it could be just as good. If you are waiting to be able to get Ansel Adams results no its not going to be their yet.

    I wonder if there is the equivalent in digital photography of the Zone system which made for exceptional B&W results with the chemical darkroom and spotmetering.
  25. I won a photographic competition once with a color DSLR image that I desaturated to B&W and printed on my Canon
    inkjet - it took me about 2 minutes all up. I only found out about the competition literally at the last minute
    and had no time to properly prepare for it. I was told I won "hands down" - not because it was a hastily
    printed digital B&W, but because of its content and impact on the viewer.

    That said, I still shoot film - 35mm and 6X7, exclusively B&W and do my own developing and printing. The only
    thing digital in my darkroom is the timer. My RB67 has no electronics or batteries. Why do I bother? Because I
    enjoy the process. If I was doing B&W commercially I'd do it digitally. I recently took some photos of my niece
    and her new daughter. Most were digital but some were B&W film. She already has the digital files but is
    waiting with eager anticipation for the B&W prints. She said she loves B&W and for her to receive a genuine
    darkroom print is something special. Others probably wouldn't care.

    So in answer to your question, is digital B&W good enough? Probably "yes", but that won't stop me from shooting

    Cheers, Bob
  26. It seems the OP wants advice for better digital B+W. Sure film is fun, but not everyone has a spare room to work
    in. Film also has a much steeper learning curve, and will take some dedication.

    My advice is to shoot in the cameras RAW mode this will give you the widest exposure latitude (the distance from
    black to white) possible from your DSLR. You can leave the camera set to color and then process the image. It is
    best to desaturate the color image to create the B+W while still working from the raw file. This allows you to
    have the widest exposure latitude while seeing how it will look in B+W. After printing you can go back to the raw
    file to tweak the image to perfect it.

    I always shoot raw and have made some very nice B+W prints from some of my images. I learned "wet" printing over
    about 6 years through high school and college. I had the basics down after about the first year, but there was
    still a lot to learn. I would say that DSLRs are beginning to surpass all 35mm films in terms of general image
    quality. B+W film still has wider exposure latitude, but digital latitude seems to be expanding rather quickly.
    DSLRs resolution is on par with or surpasses most 35mm films.

    Film grain does create a certain look that is difficult to emulate, but it tends to show up more in grainy
    photos. It is technically a defect in the film, often caused by overdeveloping, but it makes it look more "fine
    art" to some people. If you really are looking for the ultimate in image quality you'll be looking to large
    format film soon. Digital is more convenient and gives more control, but there is definitely something magical
    about watching a print appear under those red darkroom lights.
  27. traditional b&w prints, in my opinion, continue to surpass digital prints but not by much and probably not for very
    much longer. my disclaimer - i'm fairly new to digital so i have lots to learn with digital printing. i've produced some
    very nice prints in my traditional dark room shooting medium format film. and, scanning these same negatives with a
    nikon coolscan 9000 gives me a terrific digital file to work with. i'm getting great results but i still like the silver
    gelatin prints better. they are smoother looking in appearance and there is greater depth in the prints. yet, i can
    bring out so many details in the digital dark room. something i really had to work on in the wet lab. ps4 and the raw
    converter with the b&w conversion feature, is something i am beginning to work with. i like this latest release of ps a
    lot. i continue to favor traditional b&w prints but the ability to manage digital projects on my schedule is something
    that is proving to be invaluable to me. hope this helps.
  28. I have worked extensively in black and white using both film and digital capture. I have worked extensively to create images in black and white in both a traditional wet darkroom and in Photoshop. All of my images originally captured on film are printed in a wet darkroom. All of my original digital images that are converted to black and white are post-processed in Photoshop and printed on an Epson inkjet. It took me at least five years of working with each technique until either became second nature. Now, my best traditional darkroom prints and my best inkjet prints look very similar in sharpness and tonality. It takes extensive experience in each process to judge them fairly one against the other. I have had extensive experience with both processes, and I prefer to work digitally. Not because its better, but because the digital black and white workflow can produce prints that are nearly indistinguishable from my film-based, chemically processed traditional prints.

    Michael J Hoffman
  29. Film B&W, especially 120, is in a different league to digital black and white. Please go and buy film, lots of film, so they don't stop making it.
  30. "I wonder if there is the equivalent in digital photography of the Zone system which made for exceptional B&W results with the chemical darkroom and spotmetering."
    Hystogram system.
  31. What's your personal feeling, go with that. My personal view is that any B/W photograph taken with a digital camera is just
    a copy of what is taken on film, the quality produced by using film by far out performs any digital b/w shot. (Don't take this
    as a digital v film comment, it is just my opinion)...
  32. Digital black-and-white wastes more than half of the light (red, green, and blue filters), and effectively more than half of the
    resolution (anti-aliasing filter), and you don't have to decide what filter to use when you take the picture. The last is an
    advantage, but too much freedom keeps you from learning how to use filters for black and white.

    I use both black-and-white film and digital black and white, by the way.
  33. Maybe off topic but as someone who shoots digital infrared and converts to B&W I would say digital is the way to go. Film IR was too much of a crapshoot and too costly, yet some of the images were worth it. Also, once you get a feel for BW in general, what you like out of it, how to compose for BW, it shouldn't really matter what medium you are using. You should be able to pull a great image out of either one. So yes, it is good enough. In fact, it can be great. Oh, shoot in RAW and don't just convert to gray scale, you should use the channel mixer in PS or similar in LR or if you are using Capture NX2 use their B&W conversion feature and tweak the filter color slider & brightness & contrast to your liking.
  34. Thanks to everyone who took the trouble to respond.

    What I have understood is "unless I am prepared to devote a huge amount of time/effort (and in fact possess the
    necassary magical skills) it is very probable that my B&W results from digital will be way better".

    Quite a blunt message but makes sense I guess.

    Thanks all. I guess I will continue my film+scanning (its fun to use my manual bodies and to develop the film) but will do my
    major B&W work in digital. Thanks for helping me come to a conclusion (quickly too)- each reply was insightful for me and
    helped a lot.

    Have a nice day
  35. me again.

    You're right - unless you need extreme shutter speed, low light capability, large depth of field, or resolution. In any of these
    cases, film will slaughter digital. but if you're just after beautiful landscapes taken on good days, digital is certainly easier.

    I like XP2 by the way. Give it a try.

    And if you want to take pictures at night, try delta 3200, a magic product.
  36. The influences on quality of tools and techniques are minor compared to the abilities or weaknesses of the tool/technique user. A person skilled in the darkroom with little or no PS experience is going to be lousy at BW digital, just as PS guru with little experience in the darkroom isn't going to have immediate success using traditional processing and printing methods.

    It took a few years, but once I managed to translate my traditional darkroom skills into PS techniques, the quality difference was obvious to me, and I shut down my wet darkroom. BW film is great stuff, but with almost any task, particularly involving the visual arts, I've found I do a better, more precise and accurate job processing by inspection rather than processing in the dark. The ability to reprocess when skills improve or ideas change is also wonderful.
  37. Of course digital B&W is good enough. The younger generation have never even seen colour film, let alone real black and white, so digital B&W is all they know. So if they don't know any better, how can they expect more from black and white?
  38. Stuart,

    Very nice photo. But to me, it exhibits exactly what I don't like about digital B&W.....blown highlights in the hair as opposed to a gentle rolloff. These digital "hot spots" always scream out at me in B&W. I never get that with FP4, HP5, or Fortepan 400.
  39. Peter Kraft said: "My personal view is that any B/W photograph taken with a digital camera is just a copy of what is taken on film, the quality produced by using film by far out performs any digital b/w shot. (Don't take this as a digital v film comment, it is just my opinion)..."

    Been there, said that--but that was before I got a good DSLR. There was a time when what you said was true. It's no longer the case.

    To those who say a darkroom print is your VERY OWN work: An image out of a digital camera is no different that one from a film camera. Both can be improved with post processing. I dodged and burned in my darkroom days, and I do the same thing today using Photoshop. The difference is my hands don't smell like Dektol when I finished.
  40. I use NIK Silver Efex Pro software to convert color digital to B&W and find the results to be excellent. Attached is an image shot with a M8 and 90mm M-Hexanon lens. I think there is a 30 day free trial, so give it a try [​IMG]
  41. I do both, and still maintain a real darkroom. In my mind, there is no reason to take sides, or become hostile about it. For now I'm still glad I have a choice. Nothing like printing a 4x5 negative, I like the process, the relaxation, I've been doing it since 1983, no reason to quit. Plus my enlarger doesn't require firmware upgrades, re-booting, I don't have to pay $199 for upgrades every 18 months. That's why I don't get too excited about "dust on the dslr sensor" issue, 'cause you ain't seen dust problems until you've printed wet prints. ;=) As I get older, I seem to enjoy the simpler things more, hand tools, single shot rifles, making stuff instead of buying it, like to work on bicycles and engines. Hell, I've even switched from starbuck back to maxwell house. I guess I'm borderline luddite, but I do enjoy my 5D. My grade school age kids have seen prints come up in a tray of liquid, as well as off of a printer, not many kids will get that experience.
  42. I get excellent results scanning film. But there are a couple of points worth considering here.

    Black and white photographs converted from DSLR images DO look different than scanned negatives or optical prints. The question becomes whether or not you like that look.

    There's a secondary issue that I think is very interesting. General social perception of photographs changes as technology changes. Silver Gelatin prints don't tend to have the uber-deep blacks that black and white prints from digital cameras have. Many people who never worked in a darkroom want to see those deep, deep blacks.

    Almost all the BW images on my blog, for anyone who wants to look, were shot with film and scanned and meddled with in Photoshop.
  43. I think it is all down to personal choice - but I do remember a word of advise from a competition judge at my camera club
    over thirty years ago and I think it still applies to either film or digital. "A good black and white print MUST have a full range of tones from
    deepest black to whitest white."
  44. Here's one from the old D1h, B&W mode. Straight from the cam with a touch of USM after resizing for web.
  45. Yes I agree with you dave. The highlights don't blow out gracefully with digital. I also oversharpened that portrait a little too much. I like to shoot B&W film and do the whole wet darkroom thing.
  46. Here are 3 radically different results from digital. I amsure in the hands of Photoshop experts, way better results would be possible.
    Digital B&W can be good - but it is a lot of work in terms of post-processing. There are some software solutions out there, and it would take more than intermediary Photoshop skills to rival those results from b&w conversion software.
    I have been shooting Digital for over 3 years now (before that TMX and TMY were amongst my favorite films), and slowly getting better (as defined by me, thank you).
  47. Not the best shot
  48. I like my results from scanning film better than converting digital. Digital look OK but I like the grain in there. In 35mm, I also enjoy saving time and steps by using color film - mostly cheap Fujicolor Superia 400 - so I can have a color image and a black and white image. People keep telling me it doesn't convert to a convincing B&W rendering and I keep saying that they aren't converting it properly. Any way It's fast (I use Walgreens to process ONLY), done in about 15 minutes, scan at home and print away. Almost as fast as digital. Like you, I still enjoy shooting with a good classic, manual camera. Here is an example of the scanned Superia 400 converted. Best of luck.................Lou
  49. Heres one more. Both shot with a vintage Konica Auto S2.
  50. I continue to shoot film (and a little digital when I really want color; just so I can say that I do shoot
    digital on some level), with film I shoot exclusively B&W. I have a scanner and also an enlarger/darkroom setup,
    so I can choose how I want to process. Digital post-processing and printing is somewhat easier, whether it's a
    scanned negative or a DNG from the camera, but there is definitely a learning curve there too, if you want to get
    really good at it.

    More and more, I have been wet printing instead of scanning, postpssg and inkjetting, because I enjoy the process
    of wet printing in the darkroom. I feel like I get a nicer, higher quality print when there is no digital
    anything in the workflow, but as someone said earlier, it is probably not because the process is so much better
    (or even that I'm better at it) it's because it's something I made myself, in the traditional way with simple
    materials and processes.

    And one more plus, I paid about $175 total for everything I needed to set up the darkroom including the enlarger
    on "C's" list - definitely one of the perks of everyone going digital -and when I really do manage to get a good
    optical B&W print, I bet I'd have to have 10x that amount of money invested in inkjet hardware and other digital
    necessities to get a digital/inkjet print that could rival the quality of my optical print.

    Oh, and I also love using classic mechanical, nothing battery operated but the meter cameras too.
  51. Getting good results in B&W (film) requires a series of steps, and if any of them are suspect you won't get good results. I think your scanner is good enough. Next is a good B&W film, and Tri-X is the classic film for B&W. At least I like it. Then you need good, no, great lenses. I like Nikons for their high contrast, but my Leicas are the better choice in every way for B&W. Then you need a proper way to print your images, and this is the really crucial part. If you are sending out to a lab you may want to try the glossy paper instead of the matte. It has more punch. Or, what I do is print on an old Epson 1280 printer using the black ink cartridge only filled w/ MIS Eboni Black Ink on Epson Velvet Fine Art paper or something similar. This is what separates the men from the boys (or the girls from the women). Printing B&W. If you have the temperament for it it's the only way to go. Otherwise send it out, but you lose control that way too. It's a hard road getting excellent B&W. Harder than most people think and certainly harder than color. But it's worth it.
  52. The question of good enough can only be answered by you. If you are happy it is good enough. I shoot lots of film which I process wet and with a Nikon scanner. I also shoot some digital and have a 5D MarkII on order. To be honest I prefer the results of a film / wet process to a film / scan or an all digital. The wet process gives a different result which I prefer although it is not really much cheaper as you can use a few sheets of paper to get the print you really want. The advantage of all wet (especially with a good enlarger) is the ability to fine tune the results. I know that I will draw fire for this comment but somehow the wet process allows me to get a more natural result than I can manage in Photoshop. Somehow my B&W always looks slightly processed if I try and fine tune. Others do not spot it but I know about it!. Scanning B&W film even with a Nikon film scanner never gives me the results of the wet process. It produces fine photographs but they are not the same - I think it is the contrast and dynamic range that causes the differences. Similarly all digital does not work like all film / wet. Of course I am not necessarily comparing like with like as much of my wet work is shot with a Fuji GX680 Mark III which is a gem of a camera and produces 6x8 negatives and has full LF type movements and very high quality lenses. Somehow my Canon Film and Digital SLRs - even with an extensive array of L series glass cannot compare. I guess one advantage of the wet process is that you can have a pretty big "sensor" My Omega enlarger does up to 4x5 but even with the Fuji my negative is over 5x the size of 35mm / Full frame and almost 13x the size of canon APS-C.

    The simple answer is do what makes you happy - all digital is fast and convenient and allows for lots of post processing to "imporve" the original photo, film scanning works well but probably is a bit of the worst of both worlds as you still need to do wet work as most labs leave tiny scratches on a negative that show up on the scan. Since digital ICE does not work with real B&W film you have to fix them manually or process the film yourself. All wet allows the use of LF and MF cameras and produces a smug sense of satisfaction (and sometimes a lot of frustration). It takes years to get good in the darkroom but in my view is worth the effort.
  53. Folks, those of you who know I'm also the moderator of the b&w forums on know I have no biases or agendas regarding the film and digital tools. I use both and enjoy both.

    Having followed literally hundreds of similar discussions over the years, my instincts tell me this particular thread has gone about as far as it can go constructively. Once seemingly innocuous digression occurs (such as uploading photos taken with non-Nikon equipment on a Nikon Forum), some folks with axes to grind and skewed agendas will take it as an invitation to hijack the conversation and turn it away from the original objective.

    I understand that moderator decisions to close threads seem a bit heavy handed at times. And it's always potentially risky decision to take. But take a look at this thread in another forum to see an example of what usually happens when an otherwise constructive thread is permitted to ramble long past its peak:

    Thanks to everyone here for keeping this thread on the Nikon Forum constructive. As far as I know we haven't had to edit or delete a single post. But it does seem like a good time to go out on top before it becomes yet another has-been champion who doesn't know when to retire.

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