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Sunday, 29 May 2011


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Funny you should say that you'd be forced to buy a GXR for a about a B&W module because Ricoh has been showing a module at trade shows that I would also be forced to buy if it were released--a fiberscope! Unfortunately when I contacted them to ask about its availability they said that it wasn't going to go into production.

I hope even in this late stage the camera makers would realize what the average camera buff (read most of the photographers) needs as the every day equipment. what they think is right is not what every one hopes to get. we the camera users need old style cameras that work with new technology and not just fancy rubbish.

As someone whose only BW "sensor" are the tools Apple give you in Aperture, but who has heard that there are many post-capture BW conversion tools in software (eg Nik Silver Efex among no doubt dozens), is there any reasonable reading on the 'net or opinions as to whether you can achieve a "better" effect from an optimised BW sensor, or doing the conversion in post?

Purely academic interest on my part - I have no angle, nor spare money to invest in either a BW sensor of additional software.

You shall be well fed in any event. May your waistline not increase any more.
As to a B&W module, wonders shall never cease.

BTW How's Lulu?

B&W module...that would certainly be a way to market test that concept that is thrown around this site occasionally...I was inspired to take some shots at the monochrome setting on my Nikon D700 and at about ISO 1600 they really resemble grainy Tri-X 400....kind of fun actually, especially as you get grain, not noise, and when you "Chimp" the shot of course it's B & W.... I can't figure out how to prevent the film from automatically advancing to the next frame though.....

Which leads me to the eternal question. Do manufacturers really think that cameras that incorporate a RAW option are going to be bought by those who do not post process on computers?
I've seen a considerable increase in RAW-available cameras with all sorts of picture modes and other styles which I thought would be a waste of time considering one can do much better personally afterwards anyway.

Honest question from real ignorance: If they designed a sensor without color capability, would that allow better performance in black and white? In what way?

The problem with a B&W sensor only is, you have no control over the color densities in post processing. Back to using filters, red to darken sky etc.
A more useful one would be an Infrared sensor only, B&W of course. or one where you could change out the IR filter and make it normal or IR. sensitive.
Even then it's probably cheaper to convert a used camera for $400 to IR only.

If they make it a square b&w sensor with a 35mm eq. lens I'm game!

Himalayan food? I just gotta know more about that.

I'm so jealous of big college towns..where else can you go to a SF convention AND get Himalayan food? On the down side, there's all those college kids to deal with ;-)

A b&w module assumes that somehow they could deliver a module that would be open to any kind of manipulation. That is you wouldn't be locked into some kind of b&w interpretation.

Ctein would do a better job at the maths than me but I would assume that if you based the B&W sensor on the Sony 16MP APS sensor and removed the AA and Bayer colour filters you would achieve resolution at least as good as the SD1 (around 30MP compared to Bayer colour) and gain about 2 stops more sensitivity at base settings.

With that sensor's excellent read noise performance, high ISO noise/DR would be incredible, even by FF and MF standards.

Go one step further and include built in selection of ND and IR filters and even if there were only a small selection of high quality primes I would be forced to buy one too - the car would simply have to go.....


I have got to get to Everest on Grand. I wonder if they're still open...

Possibly the other advantage of the GXR system is that you can tell your Significant Other that you're only buying *one* camera and a few accessories... makes it easier to justify than telling them that you need to buy another camera just for B&W, when you already have a DSLR system and a super-zoom compact in the dry cabinet.

I’ve been puzzled why a there is no digital B&W camera (or rather sensor). I remember a long time ago reading about a prototype model that the author liked and used until it broke. I think there is a market for true digital B&W camera (albeit small).

"We had Himalayan food last year"

Grilled yak. Yum :)

Go here for an article on the now forgotten DCS760.



Don't tell Ctein to live long and prosper and/or do the fingers thing - it upsets sci-fi buffs

I've been wanting a camera with a B&W sensor for a long time. The reason I want one has nothing to do with any image quality improvements which might or might not exist (I'm pretty happy with the image quality I have now).

I want a B&W sensor sensor because it limits my choices. I don't want to second guess the B&W/color choice later when editing the raw file. I don't want to have infinite ways of doing a B&W conversion. I want to forget all that and just concentrate on making good B&W images like I used to do when I loaded B&W film.

I will buy the first reasonably priced camera with a B&W only sensor that anyone introduces (the existing B&W sensor medium format backs don't apply). I'd prefer a DSLR, but would buy a GXR with a B&W module (if attached to a lens I would use) if that is the first option.

Two years ago, the ability to purchase a camera dedicated to B&W would have caused me to whip a credit card out of my wallet so quickly that I'm certain the plastic would have melted. But now, I'm not so sure.

One of the (many) things I have come to like about photographing in color then converting to B&W during post-processing is the endless number of custom filters I can create using Photoshop's Channel Mixer tool.

Want a filter that's 90% red, 7% yellow, and 3% green? No problem. Mostly green with a touch of yellow and magenta? Again, no problem. Or maybe I want to selectively apply a red filter to the sky and then use a yellow filter for the rest of the scene? This is easy-peasy to do in Photoshop, but next to impossible to do with a filter on the lens!

Yes, there are resolution gains to be had by eliminating the color gels for the Bayer matrix and eliminating the subsequent need to run the pixels through demosaicing software, but in practice, these appear to be fairly small.

Of course, if you mean a camera that's dedicated to B&W IR photography, all bets are off and the structural integrity of my credit cards are once again at risk!

Dear Mike,

It's not entirely impossible to see Laurie's work. Most of her site:


is devoted to her B&W portraits and nudes but under the first (leftmost) tab, "works" at the top of the page, there's a drop-down link for "jewelery."

The photos are bad (Laurie's own characterization of them), but even a bad photo of something may be more informative than no photo at all.

'Sfunny. I'm sure I've mentioned in passing here that Laurie's a jeweler, it's just not what gets talked about here. When the reality is that she's been in jewelery for a good half century (and it is still the majority of her art and business) and in photography for "only" a quarter.

pax / Ctein

Dear Kevin,

The Twin Cities has at least 5 (6? 7?) SF conventions a year and at least two Himalayan/Nepalese restaurants. Neither of which is in the University district.

I've not eaten at either of the restaurants, yet, but have it on good authority from someone I trust that they are tasty.

I drove past Everest on Grand less than a month ago and they appeared to be open.

And, as topic drift accelerates, I would mention that I ate at a great molecular gastronomy (don't ask; google it) restaurant, Travail, in Robbinsdale (slightly NW of Minneapolis). We ordered the tasters' menu-- 10 courses plus 3 or so amuse bouches. The vast majority of the courses were winners and it was $30 a person (that's incredibly cheap for m.g. places). VERY highly recommended, if you're omnivorous (the courses are gonna be all over the map... and the biosphere).

Think tapas as done by mad scientists.

Although the restaurant is bustling and busy and loud, and the best place to sit is the bar in front of the kitchen (no reservations, so arrive early or be prepared to wait), it's actually a great date/romantic/Valentine's Day restaurant. 'Cause you're getting these little plates with only a few bites of food that you share and divvy up between you and there's lots of engagement and stuff to talk about with each other ("Is that the X??? What did you think of it? You want the rest of that?"). You're spending a lot of time leaning up close to each other, looking directly at each other, etc.

pax / Ctein

Ctein would do a better job at the maths than me but I would assume that if you based the B&W sensor on the Sony 16MP APS sensor and removed the AA and Bayer colour filters you would achieve resolution at least as good as the SD1 (around 30MP compared to Bayer colour) and gain about 2 stops more sensitivity at base settings.

There is a test of the Phase One P45+ B&W sensor over at Luminous Lanscape. Personally, I can't see a huge difference in resolution. Yes, it's a bit better, but will it make a difference in even 20x25 inch prints? I don't think so. What is the point, then?

As for low light sensitivity, this is a medium format back not designed for low light, so we still don't have an answer to that question. Would we gain 1 stop of improved ISO performance? Will it be a relevant stop? Improving from ISO 1600 to 3200 is relevant; improving from ISO 12,800 to 25,600, not so much.

Three years ago I wanted a B&W sensor; given today's sensor technology, and more importantly, tomorrow's technology, I no longer think it makes any technical or commercial sense.

Re Ilkka's featured comment, I'm puzzled as to why integrated IR / UV / red filters etc make any more sense than filters you screw on to the front of the lens, old-style? They sound more expensive, less easy to fix or swap out and so on.

MJFerron thought of grilled yak, and I was thinking of yeti burgers ;-)

I was wondering if the sensors in the modules were further away from hot electrics and therefore better for astronomical photography long exposures?

"the now forgotten DCS760m"

I ain't forgot.


Yes, but can we see some photographs you've taken with the Mamiya 7?

Dear Jim,

We don't say "sci-fi;" that's pure Hollywood schlock.

Anyway, I was a Trekkie before I discovered fandom so I am OK with that...

'cept I can't make my fingers do that.

(Piece'o'extreme trivia -- Ted Sturgeon originally wrote "Prosper and live long." The script editors turned it around, because they felt that sounded more euphonious. Ted thought that made no sense-- logically you'd want to prosper and THEN live long, not the other way around. He had a point.)

pax / Ctein

When are you going to download the pictures you taken during your lunch from your Mamiya II ? I can't wait to see you both having pasta...


I use a Mamiya 6 all the time, with the same darkslide feature. I, too have only one lens, but I've always reflexively closed it whenever I change the film. I mean, this does protect the rear element of the lens, right? And I, too, have more than once found myself wondering why my camera didn't work.

As soon as I take a good one, you'll be the first to see it.


@David Zivic - multiple exposure D700
shooting menu (camera symbol)> multiple exposure.

and no i don't know either why you would want that in a DSLR. it works with .nef too.


I always reassured myself that I wasn't/couldn't be a Trekkie. Then I thought of a future populated by women in micro-dresses (or negligibles, if we're getting technical) with beehive hairdos, and thought 'hang on ....'.

Still, it'll be a hard tomorrow, knowing that James T. Kirk has got first dibs on all the hottest aliens.

Phile wrote:
MJFerron thought of grilled yak, and I was thinking of yeti burgers ;-)

That would be too close to cannibalism for me :-(

I've used multiple exposure mode when I don't have a dense enough ND filter to get the longer shutter speed I'm looking for.

But so far it hasn't been very satisfactory for that. Not sure if it's just a bad idea, or if I'm doing something wrong.

I could stack my polarizer for another stop and a bit I guess, or just buy yet another really expensive 77mm filter (currently my big ND is 6 stops, I guess I'd go to 10 next maybe).

Most other cases of multiple exposure, I'd do in post-processing from separate frames these days, so it wasn't until I realized this use was possible that I had any interest in the feature at all.

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