Shooting in monochrome and filter question

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by alexsmith66, Jul 5, 2020.

  1. Is there any point in shooting in mono as opposed to editing in photoshop later? And do those filters that people used to use for 35mm black and white photography work with digital cameras when shooting in mono? (Namely they orange/red filters
  2. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Why not try it, find out and let us know, please ?
  3. SCL


    My digital experience suggests, at least with my digital bodies, that the film filters for B&W don't work particularly well. In most cases the built-in filters for digital mono shots work much better.
  4. Usually not, but it depends. If the photos you shoot are exclusively .jpeg then you lose the ability to change the 'camera default B/W conversion' in PP. How good a monochrome .jpeg will look depends a lot on the color palette (and color/tone contrasts) in the scene. You sometimes intuitively know that a scene with little color interest but with rich tonal contrast and/or 'texture interest' would look good in monochrome.

    If you shoot in jpeg + RAW then the the monochrome (jpeg) picture style should give you a B/W preview. If the monochrome .jpeg looks fine to you - in PP too - then you can just use the .jpeg. But then you still have the RAW file available in case you want to adjust the B/W conversion in PP.

    If you only shoot in RAW (as I do), the the monochrome picture style has no effect on the RAW file (other than being stored as meta-data). A color photo (.jpeg/RAW) has much more information available than a monochrome .jpeg. So you can experiment with different conversions in PP (and with different presets and conversation plugins like Nik Silver Efex Pro). So in general, my advice would be: when in doubt, shoot in color (or jpeg +RAW).

    Canon has a useful tutorial on the monochrome picture style here
  5. The digital filters (R/Y) can overdue it a bit with a dark blue sky. With the Fuji XE1, the top of the photo can appear nearly black while where it transitions to a lighter tone further down can look a little rough, uneven, banding sometimes. As Tony says, experiment.
  6. Unless you have a dedicated mono camera ($$$), using a B&W option in a digital camera is actually a rendered RGB image. With the former, you must use B&W filters to achieve the desired results. With the latter, you can achieve the same results when processing the image, assuming you keep the raw image. B&W in the camera is only rendered to JPEG copies.

    Could you still use B&W filters with rendered images? Probably, if you turn AWB off and use either the daylight or tungsten settings.
  7. Shooting in mono allows you to see what the picture looks like in BW before you shoot it. As already suggested, shoot JPEG + RAW so you you also get the color rendition in RAW that can be used later in color or converted to BW.
    Sanford likes this.
  8. Shooting in mono allows you to see what some software designer’s generic vision of a black and white photo is. Just remember, when you’re looking at this, there might be a million and one other black and white conversions that could look like a very different picture. There is no color or black and white version of a picture. There are lots of them.
    Ricochetrider, mikemorrell and Jochen like this.
  9. Unless they’re rented and the date of return has passed, digital filters can overdo it a bit! :)
    Sanford likes this.
  10. Sam, I blame the Mac spell checker for changing my "overdo" to "overdue".
  11. You're easier on yourself than I am on myself. I blame myself for not double-checking the spell checker!
  12. Too busy looking at my fingers.
    samstevens likes this.
  13. Me too. I make an effort to never post while my nail varnish is drying.
  14. Sam, Sorry if I wasn't clear. Of course, I'm not looking at the final BW print view. That depends on how you post process it. The point I was trying to make is that you're looking at a BW image rather than color before you shoot it. The aesthetics are different. It makes form and shape more apparent and provides for a different look than color which could be distracting.

    When I set up for shooting BW in my 4x5 film camera, I'll use a small digital camera set on monochrome to view the scene to see if I like it before setting up the film camera. Obviously, the P&S digital BW view will not match what I get with BW Tmax film. But the monochrome view before shooting will help in the process. USing the filter in the digital camera could help deciding whether to use a real filter on the film camera as well.
    Sanford likes this.
  15. Thanks for clarifying. Yours is not an unusual approach and I’ve heard others experience this similarly.

    Personally, color doesn’t seem distracting to me even when I’m planning a black and white shot. As a matter of fact, it feels like it adds a textural layer to my black and white thinking. I like the challenge of abstracting form and shape as part of the process of seeing an image both in my mind and in reality and, as I gain more experience of that, I don’t find I have a harder time doing that in color than in black and white, when it’s desired.

    Clearly, different methods and processes work well for each of us. I tend not to use my preview screen before I take a shot, though sometimes check it afterward for a variety of reasons.
  16. I tried using the yellow, red, orange filters to see if the would darken the sky and they did not work too well. The green filter did accentuate some leaves and the other colored filters did accentuate some other colors in Flora, but not dramatically like a real filter would.
  17. Yellow filters are used with B&W film because the film is overly sensitive to blue light, so skies would either get blown out or would lack contrast. Digital sensors don't behave that way, so just edit your images in post production (still best to shoot raw and convert later).
  18. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Consider buying a Black and White Viewing Filter - the Monocle Type: much quicker, much simpler. It views the scene wherever your eye is looking.

    Before I wrote this reply, I checked to see if the item is still made, this one at B&H Photo is very similar to the one I have had for ages - (assume from your Portfolio, you're in the USA) - LINK

    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
  19. Thanks. I actually have a 6x7 F64 brand viewing filter that I've had for decades for my RB67 medium format camera. The filter is the same format as the RB67: 6x7 also in the format of 6x7. But I found I didn't use it too much. What I like now about using a P&S camera besides its metering and seeing the scene in BW, the zoom allows me to frame the picture to let me know which lens I need before I set up the 4x5 camera and tripod. Once I have the shot lined up with the P&S, I place the tripod right there and install the lens that matches the zoom setting on the P&S. It saves a lot of walking around and changing positions for the camera and selecting the wrong lens.
    William Michael likes this.
  20. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Understood - thanks for explaining your procedure.

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