RAW, then open in Camera Raw, convert to grayscale and adjust the luminance levels, then open in Photoshop CS6 and dodge, burn & curves the hell out of it until I love it. I prefer having 100% control on how every detail looks.
I would say shoot in color and convert in post in almost all cases as it gives you greater creative freedom. As Fallis has said, DSLRs are designed to give very low contrast images right out of the camera. This is to maximize your options in post. The one exception would be if you have a deep budget and a very strong love of b/w and so choose to invest in an expensive black and white only camera such as the Leica AG ([link]). B/W only sensors give up the ability to ever capture color in favor of a sharper and higher quality image because each pixel of the sensor is able to record true luminance values rather than having to capture an RGB color.
I don't think there is any solid rationale for shooting in B&W rather than removing color in post-processing. It's like buying a loaf of toasted bread. Toast can be quite tasty, but if you want soft bread, you can't untoast it.
And then there's the clowns who use "colorize" in Photoshop to add color to B&W. That's like microwaving a piece of toast wrapped in a wet paper towel. Now it's even WORSE.
Actually, hand coloring film photos dates back at least to the American Civil War, and coloring b&w photos can be quite effective. The thing is, they have to be shot in a certain way in order to get a good result. If you don't plan for it and set the exposure a little under, before you trip the shutter, you are not going to have a good base for coloring. Coloring a normally exposed b&w photo will usually result in something that looks like crap. The problem is that adding pigment to something that is dark already doesn't just color it, it makes it darker. You won't be able to use any subtle coloration, because the base will be too dark. You would have to slather on the color in order for it to show and it will not look natural.
Correct me if I'm wrong but I remember reading somewhere that even if you're shooting in B&W mode on your SLR, as long as you're shooting RAW the RAW saves the colour anyhow so it's a good way to preview in the field and get an idea for what you're shooting, AND keep all the info you need for a solid conversion in post.
In any case, I shoot RAW and then do it in post myself. I should actually test the above theory one of these days.
Many DSLR's are capable of doing exactly what you describe and it can be quite useful if you are specifically shooting for black and white. The only disadvantage is that the image on the LCD is simply desaturated which may not look as good as what you can get in post. Some cameras do have built in digital black and white color contrast filters which can show you more conversion possibilities.
And you are correct in thinking that shooting RAW saves all the color information for use in post-processing.
Well, what you have to remember is that digital cameras are set purposely at the factory to shoot photos that are desaturated, low in contrast, and usually that are too bright (because of that "shoot for the highlights and develop for the shadows" thing you are supposed to do with a positive image capture device, like a digital camera or slide film). It is going to do the same thing with b&w images that it does with color, and you are still going to have to fix that in post processing.
That is very much true of RAW files and 99% of the time I am using RAW files. Those are characteristics of files designed to maximize the retention of information from the sensor rather than image quality. The LCD preview, however, is a jpeg preview whaich can be set up in a lot of ways to check the image. For instance you can set the preview to maximum sharpness (much more than you would ever want in the final image) and maximally magnify the focal point to check focus precision. It has no effect on the RAW file, but it gives you much more information and immediate feedback about focus precision than the ordinary LCD preview does. It's a good instant check to see if you need to redo the shot
"Those are characteristics of files designed to maximize the retention of information from the sensor rather than image quality."
I've been preaching that to anyone who would listen for years now. There used to be a bunch of people here who looked down their noses at anyone who did any post editing at all.
"It's a good instant check to see if you need to redo the shot."
I just take it for granted I will need to shoot each pose four times, rechecking every setting every time. People blink and yawn and I'm not perfect (almost, but I'm not quite there yet). I once got halfway through a two-hour shoot with ISO 100 film before I realized my camera was set for ISO 400. The model was happy to get another $50 and didn't mind posing another hour, but I was not particularly thrilled (aside from the fee, it also cost me five extra rolls of pro grade film, which is not cheap). The only good point about that shoot was that it taught me to be REALLY careful and never to assume I had done everything right even then. Since then I always shoot an extra "just in case" photo plus one with one stop more exposure and one with a half stop less.
Good points. I frequently lose my first few shots because I forgot about some odd camera setting I was using last time and forgot to check. I've also learned the hard way that it is good to get more shots including different angles and different exposures. I can always decide later which one seems to work the best.
Well, losing the first roll of film is par for the course for me. I work with amateur nude models fairly often and it sometimes takes them that long to stop gritting their teeth and relax. When they realize that it isn't nearly as bad as they thought it would be and that they are actually having fun, then I can get some good photos. I've learned to shoot torsos and details on the first roll though and I shoot for special effects prints. That way I don't waste as much film. After the first roll, then I can usually start shooting photos with faces in them. Ten or twenty rolls later I've got a few really good photos.
Usually they are moot, especially if you are using a non-camera specific RAW converter like Adobe ACR or Lightroom. Sometimes camera specific software can preserve special settings, but even then, not usually. For instance some special settings on Nikon cameras (like active D-Lighting) are preserved in RAW if you use Capture NX2 as your RAW converter. Since I use both Nikon and Pentax I prefer to use a more versatile RAW converter (ACR 7 or Lightroom 4).
One thing I can do on Pentax cameras is to apply special in camera filters or treatments to RAW files and have them saved out as jpeg's (the original RAW remains untouched). Still I prefer to do most of my post-processing on the computer.
Ah. So since I take my Raw's into photoshop's Raw converter and do everything there, it's kinda pointless to worry about shooting portrait or neutral toning (in Manual mode of course). Hmm... this changes how I look at in camera settings now.
I prefer to do my black and white processing after I've passed the RAW stage. Once I've got the image in PS, thats when I prefer to do it, because I have the most control over the image then. My technique requires extensive masking.
georgewjohnsonFeatured By OwnerDec 28, 2012Hobbyist Photographer
Do it in camera and you throw away all that useful colour information so if you change your mind later on it's too late. All the colour information is incredibly useful and gives you some really great choices when it comes to BW "conversion".
One of the reasons I still can't quite understand the need for a BW only digital camera. A film camera shoots in colour all the time, you just change the capture media to suit needs but you never lose the ability to shoot colour with the actual camera.
I think it depends on your feelings towards colour in photography, and how comfortable you are with gels and filters vs. post-conversion. I know at least one landscape photographer who would never dream of shooting in colour.
georgewjohnsonFeatured By OwnerJan 3, 2013Hobbyist Photographer
If you have a niche and you're absolutely 100% certain that's the medium you're happy to work, then good luck to you. You look at a scene and you more or less know if it's going to work as a colour or BW before you shoot it, all the same it's handy to have all that data just in case you change your mind when you're messing about in post or even in a couple months time you may want to practice some new techniques on some old files.
There's obviously money in mono-digital else companies like Leica wouldn't invest all that R&D money in that market if there was no chance of a good return.
I remember reading this when it came to video cameras, but I think somewhere it was writ that a camera that does pure black and white has a sensor that's specially designed to pick up the tones in the black and white range or something, allowing for higher resolution or dynamic range; I can't remember which. Does it make much sense, I'm not sure. I kinda thought it analogous to how when you use B&W film, it's specially designed to pick up tones in greyscale, so a B&W image will come out richer than if you shot with color film and then desaturated in the darkroom.
Granted now a days cameras in the DSLR range are already so versatile I don't even remember, outside the digital film category, ever seeing a pure B&W high end camera.
Phase One makes a pure B&W digital back (scroll down to the Achromatic+). I have a feeling they don’t sell too many of these, but they probably have a niche following among dedicated B&W shooters who prefer to do their “conversion” via coloured filters and/or studio lighting setups.
a pure black and white camera will have more resolution for b&w images since it will not have a bayer grid like a color camera. remember all color cameras only record monochromatic images. they become color through the demosacing process which reduces their resolutin significantly since you have to do quite a bit of interpolation to derive the color image from the inherently monochromatic sensor. a photosite on a normal seneor only captures brightnesss levels, this is turned into a color image by placing a filter over each photosite that only lets that specific wavelength of light through, that analog voltage is then converted to digital through a high resolution AD stage. The raw converter takes this data and interpolates (demoasic) this information into a full color information. sigma's foveon camera is the only camera i know of that records a true color image.
i use silver efex for all my b&w work. i shoot raw so doing it in camera makes no sense and i was never really fully satisfied with using photoshop for black and white. i generally do toning in either lightroom or ps, not a fan of silver efex for toning
Sort of. If one's dealing with film, then doing it with film is probably best.
However, one should always compose the image with color or B&W in mind. The reason to do it post is that you have much more control over how the conversion is done. For instance using the channel mixer you can put the emphasis on different things depending upon which channels you mix together. I think most utilities have that as an option now.
Previously, you could something sort of similar by using color filters to darken the opposing color. Not quite the same, but a similar sort of an idea.
Yes, occasionally, something will look good with color or without, but I've found that to be so unusual that I don't even bother to try in most cases. The way you expose and compose the image is just so different depending upon whether or not you're using color.
Well, I kind of like the threaded system - at least with forums where a lot of people comment.
You could have easily directed your comment to TS by saying that you don't agree with those who think it's best in post. I mean, it doesn't matter to me, mostly because I don't do much b&w anymore and the person interested to know is TS
What I meant is that you don't have to quote, direct it directly to TS. It's TS who asked something, to tell me something is completely useless since I wasn't the one who asked about b&w. I also had the same thought about doing it on post as the ones before me, therefore it makes more sense to state your point of view to TS directly. Get what I mean?
7 years ago there wasn't 18 million accounts on dA
Best to do it in post. Having the colour information gives you more options for B&W conversion. If you’re using Photoshop, there’s a plug-in called Silver Efex from Nik Software that gives you even more flexibility.
Many of us shoot in RAW formats so everything with respect to color is done in post. The big advantage of using color files is that you can use color information as part of the black and white conversion (like film does). Black and white film actually has differential reaction to colors amd a luminosity curve built in, so a simple conversion to grey scale is not analogous to tradtional black and white photography. Many cameras will allow you to view your images in black and white on the LCD so you have a feel for how an image works as a black and white image
I'll take a look at that myself. I personally have and like The Art of Black and White Photography, 2nd Edition, but it's not as focused on the conversion process. It's focused more on working with the medium.