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Monday, 29 September 2014


A monochrome based on the NX300 would be interesting and would probably sell for thousands less than a Leica. OTOH, the Samsung lens choices are few and very s-l-o-w.

The new NX1 is very intriguing but as above on their lenses and it has an AA filter.

Not only compare it with your conventional equipment Mike, but post a few pictures from it now and then ;-)

Sorry to be the wet blanket, but any black and white only camera, be it from Samsung or Leica, with or without an anti-aliasing filter suffers from the same fundamental problem. To change color relationships, one must use filters on the lens. There's nothing wrong with this, I did it extensively in my 4x5 days, but RGB files give one the opportunity for essentially infinite adjustment of those same color relationships. The sharpness and resolution available from today's RGB sensors is pretty amazing. It's intellectually interesting but probably practically irrelevant that the sensor will detect only black and white. In short, a gimmick, a neat gimmick but just that. No doubt it will appeal, especially if it's reasonably priced, unlike the lovely Leica Monochrom.

You shouldn't blog while driving!
Samsung may have been running their photography operation very quietly, and are arguably the lesser known of the main camera manufacturers, but there's no doubt they're serious about what they do. (At least if you can forget about their "cameraphones.") This rumoured black and white-only camera shows they know how to strike committed photographers' main nerve.
If only the same could be said about Canon...

I saw this rumor lately and I am slo intrigued, even more so once I saw that the NX line includes a 16mm pancake and a 30mm pancake. That sounds like a sweet lineup, of course I know nothing about samsung cameras either. I guess I'll wait for your review, which as you say is all but a foregone conclusion.

But, of course!

Yes you must buy it.

The latest issue I received of Rangefinder Magazine (not Oct.) was totally a special issue about Samsung cameras sort of a total advertorial special issue, and It convinced me Samsung is going after the professional. B&W would support that feeling.

Ooh, Samsung is what I use. Think you'd like their 30mm f2 and 45mm f1.8 lenses. They're a bit of a sleeper company when it comes to cameras but I think they have some of the best (affordable) lenses and menus out there.

Somebody's gotta do it, why not you?

"I'm pretty much obligated to compare it to my conventional equipment, don't you think?"

Yes. Yes, you are. Other people will handle the technical comparisons just fine, I'm sure; I'm curious to see if it unlocks your "black and white vision" the way you expect it to.


Will the camera be able to simulate the effect of filters, as we used on our film cameras?
Or will the camera actually require screwing these filters onto the lens?

Orange, yellow, and green are needed. Some might even want a blue.

They also build some very impressive ships:


My experience with the enthusiast compact Samsung EX1F was: excellent hardware with poor software.

It seemed like they had a bunch of engineers who knew what they were doing (lens design, mechanical design, OLED display design, etc) but they didn't have any photographers in the program management or marketing team.

So the EX1F UI was clunky (and buggy ... lots of "disabled" features because of a particular mode like "no face recognition AF because you're shooting in RAW"). The camera really didn't do what a "experienced" photographer would want to do. No custom buttons. No "quick menu". They didn't even copy the "obvious" stuff from other manufacturers similar cameras. They RAW files weren't compressed so it was twice a big as it needed to be and saved at half the speed it could have. On import I'd convert them to half the size DNG file with Adobe DNG Convertor.

I suspect they moved on a bit from there but from other reports they're still not a camera company.

The real question with the B&W version is will it be based on the NX300 or will they make a version from the rumored next version, the NX400. The NX400 is supposed to come in two versions: with and without an EVF. The NX300 doesn't have an EVF or a port to add one.

Wasn't Kirk Tuck raving about the NX300. Despite it "being DOA" for not having an EVF but he did use a loupe with it )


I'd ask Samsung for a review copy, Mike. If it ever ships.

The NX300 Samsung sensor is better than the Nikon D90/Fuji X100 sensor (Sony IMX038) and about the same as the Sony IMX071 sensor in the D7000, Ricoh GR, Pentax K5, the Fuji X cameras and similar 16MPx APS-C cameras) but a half step behind the newer Sony sensor in the A6000 (especially at high ISO).


It should be "good enough" for most people!

I wonder if the NX400 will use the BSI APS-C sensor they revealed in the NX1 or will that be too expensive for a mid-range camera?

It would be a simple conversion from regular B&W to Infrared B&W. It is nice that a company would be willing to provide a less expensive option over the Leica. Restoring scans of B&W prints has been teaching my eyes how to see without color.

HI Mike, I've been using the NX300 on and off for about a year and there's a lot I like about the camera. The sensor is nice and has a different color palette than its competitors. The files are not very noise and the impression of sharpness is high. The focus on the camera with most lenses is very quick. Quicker than I had experienced with other similar cameras like the Sony Nex 6. And in the latest firmware iteration there are no real software bugs or glitches I can think of. But the place where Samsung seems to shine is hardware and, specifically, lenses. I've just done a job shooting available light corporate portraits and I used two different camera systems interchangeably (yes, eccentric photographer...) the Nikon D7100 with the new 85mm 1.8G lens and the Samsung NX 30 with the 85mm 1.4 Samsung lens. While the D7100 body is a more mature product my strong preference was for the imaging performance from the Samsung lens. More and better detail and a better expression of well differentiated tones. Raw file to raw file the Samsung glass was the clear winner.

On the NX300 one other lens I can highly recommend is the 30mm pancake. Nice.

On the other hand I think it should be illegal to make any camera without a usable, eye level viewfinder....

Sorry to say, but yes, you must buy it and use it for a year. At least until somebody else does the same. Apart from Leica M and it's $$$ too many.
And so do ! by the way.
I don't mind Samsung but I really don't want to start another system with 2-3 lenses.

Well I would buy it in a second. I mean, I doubt it will be that much inferior to the venerable "M", plus costing so much less. Also output from the "M", in the right hands, is remarkable, and many would say beats output from color conversion. I think it's a no-brainer for all B/W aficionados out there...

The rumors seem to be that it will be an NX300 with a BW sensor. The NX300 doesn't have a viewfinder. Bringing out a dedicated BW digital camera without a viewfinder would be like bringing out a true sports car without the option of a manual gearbox. A total misreading of the intended market. I would have no interest in such a camera and hope the rumors are proven wrong.

Eric is missing something in his analysis of color adjustment. It's possible to do much more subtle light modifications with filters than with the RGB provided by the sensor. That's because once the color is digitized into RGB, there are exactly three channels. But color in the wild has an infinite number of channels. After digitizing to RGB (or CMY layers in color film, for that matter) you can't tell the difference between two separate colors that just happen to hit the R and G values evenly, or a single color that hit right at the point where they overlap. You've lost that information when you narrowed the incoming light down to just three channels. But an appropriately designed filter can separate those two colors before they get digitized. It may not be something you need to do frequently, but it's something that's impossible to do with an unfiltered RGB sensor.

Oh yea, every time I get excited about a Samsung camera (like the NX1) I think about the raw files. Having to deal with those is an absolute pain. Not a big one, but more like a continuous string of pains over time .

I'd rather go with something like this
(probably the only important announcement at Photokina)
- 1 inch sensor
- 28mm equiv. F2.8 Leica-branded lens
- not a Leica-priced smart-phone
No need for a compact camera any longer ..

"It convinced me Samsung is going after the professional. B&W would support that feeling."

Because everybody knows that true pros shoots only b/w...

Jokes besides,IMHO E-M1 in monochrome mode with yellow fiter makes a good approximation of my beloved Fuji b/w film...

Their 30mm f2.0 lens really is excellent and the 16, 20 pancakes are great too considering the size and price but two things ultimately made me recently jump ship from Samsung to Canon (EOS M).
The 45mm equivalency of the 30mm pancake is frustratingly narrow when what one really hankers after is 35-40mm eqiv.
The other reason (which has no relevance here) is the disappointing Samsung colour - especially after the miraculous revelation of moving to Canon colour!
Samsung APSC cameras are nice to use, definitely worth giving it a try if this rumoured B&W machine actually gets released.
Here's a taster of serious Samsung quality (from the old NX10 with 20-50mm kit lens).

@Eric Brody: Mike has, on more than one occasion, pointed out that he can think better in black and white when he's shooting in black and white, and whether you find the same is true of yourself or not really isn't germane.

It may be related to what Barry Schwartz calls "the paradox of choice": not being forced to commit to one interpretation at capture time means that you're essentially forced to commit to a superposition of all interpretations at capture time. It really is Schrödinger's Picture until someone else observes it.

Personally, I find that I am more or less able to cope with the almost quantum-mechanical world of shooting in colour and in RAW, but I am also aware that there may be an element of self-delusion in that. In the film days, whether colour or B&W, negative or transparency, I was aware that I was committing to something simply by choosing an emulsion, and that commitment as often guided as was guided by the picture I was about to make. The commitment with RAW is demi-buttocked at best, and the mere thought that I might change my mind induces a sort of timidity. And I will admit to seeing "meh" through the viewfinder when I contemplate the flat RAW file in instances where something with a characteristic "pop" might have had me seeing something much bolder through the very same finder. I tend not to shoot "meh", hoping that I can massage it into a picture later. And if I'm having trouble pressing the button, going to JPEG and picking a "film" from the menu for a while can clear the cobwebs.

Yes, there are some technical advantages and disadvantages to a monochromatic/achromatic camera. No Bayer (or other colour) array means a significant increase in resolution (and greater sensitivity, which may or may not be a good thing). It also means capture-time filtration, which does mean committing to something. But that commitment might not be such a bad thing.

Another monochrome camera? My mouth is watering. I am unable to understand why Canikon cannot make just one teeny weeny monochrome SLR out of the entire fold.

Up above, Bill said "It's possible to do much more subtle light modifications with filters than with the RGB provided by the sensor ..." and of course that's true, but I wonder to what extent it is practicable or actually done? With digital, in the studio, yes. In the field, I doubt it. Back in the film days, in the studio, maybe, but not easy or quick. In practice, the use of coloured filters for black and white photography, I believe, has been rather unsubtle, for the most part - rather aimed at obtaining a significant difference between colours of a print dress, for example, or increasing the contrast between clouds and sky, and so on.
Although only three colours are available in post-processing an RGB file, I would have thought that in practical terms greater subtlety might be possible. I am hedging my phrasing here because quite frankly I have no experience of using a monochrome digital camera and it is years since I shot any B&W film. Also, I don't often make B&W conversions of my colour images, so I really have no authority for what I have said - it just seems more likely to me in practice. If I am wrong, though, I'd like to know why.

I only hope their cameras are more reliable than their washers, dryers, and TVs - all of which I own and all of which broke down within a year.
I will say, once repaired they've been fine since. But still...

Bill Tyler is missing something in his analysis of color adjustment.

We know, for example, that mixing green color — e.g. emitted by the "green" phosphor of a color television's cathode-ray tube, or a laser with a 540nm wavelength — and red color — e.g. coming from a CRT's "red" phosphor, or from a laser with a 650nm wavelength, — gives yellow.

This yellow color can, of course, also be created by a single yellow light source — e.g. sunlight filtered through a ultra-narrowband 580nm filter.

So, on one side we have light composed of 540nm and 650nm wavelengths, and on the other side we have light at about 580nm. The human visual system won't be able to tell the difference — they'll both appear yellow. Two "colors" that appear identical to us — despite having different spectral contents — are called metamers.

The spectral characteristics of the organic RGB filters used on color cameras are carefully designed to mimic the color response of the human visual system, including its response to metamers.

This RGB filtering doesn't destroy information; rather, it tends to preserve some of it. An achromatic sensor like the Leica Monochrom's, on the other hand, might record two different hues having a similar luminance — e.g. a red blouse and a blue jeans — as similar shades of grey, thus destroying the spectral information that might have been used to differentiate the garments' colors in a BW picture.

As for metamers, mounting on a photographic lens a super-narrowband filter, centered e.g. on 580nm, might indeed help establish that the spectral content of (540nm+650nm) light is different from 580nm light.

Even if they are, by design, unable to distinguish metamers, RGB sensors obviously have a much higher ability to distinguish hues (and therefore, BW tonalities) than achromatic sensors.

Regardless of the spectral characteristics (narrowband, bandpass etc.) of the optical filter put in front of the photographic lens, an achromatic sensor behind that filter + lens combination will always destroy the spectral information, and will thus necessarily deliver less hue (or tonality) discrimination capability than an RGB sensor deployed behind that same filter + lens combination.

The discriminated hues acquired with a RGB sensor can then be processed through the color filters — whose spectral characteristics can typically be arbitrarily shaped with cursors — that are available in modern software like Adobe Lightroom.
Such arbitrary, digitally-synthesized color filters are probably much more versatile in their hue discrimination ability than any realistic optical filter combination that a normal BW photographer would have at his disposal in the real world.

I found, back in the film days, that if I had black and white film loaded, I saw in black and white. I "knew" that there was no other possible outcome. The same was true if I had color film loaded. Even if it was negative film, I knew that i couldn't make a good print in black and white from it. Others could, but my prints from Kodacolor negs. we're awful. So I could make the shift in my head and it worked. All this looking through an OVF that was full color.

With digital I cannot do this. A little voice tells me that I will have the choice of which to print right up until the printer. Some times too much choice and lack of boundaries serves me ill. If this Samsung, or anyone else's monochrome camera appears ( are you listening Panasonic?) I will be sore tempted to get it.

Nikon already makes a full-frame, 16mp, monochrome sensor that's optimized for low-light work.



I'll be all over the NX400 if EVF is of high caliber. Regarding the NX ACHROMATIC .... please up the 'ante' and make it 1:1 square format ratio. Ricoh you should have been the first but alas no.

If anyone *should* be making a BW-only camera, it's Fuji. A monochrome version of the X100t, or any of the X-mount bodies, would be deadly and would not be at odds with their gestalt. FujiFilm are still making B&W negative film, after all.

Sony, on the other hand, could never conceive of anyone wanting a camera that didn't shoot colour...

I think my previous comment made it sufficiently obvious, but I'm of the "RGB cameras are the best BW cameras" school of thought :-)

I very seldom do grab shots; my photographic style tends to be slow, focused and deliberate.
I've also spent countless hours holed up in a darkroom, tinkering with papers and chemicals and printing in BW and color. Today, I'm fully digital.

One thing that hasn't changed since my analog days, when I juggled e.g. with papers of various response curves, as well as with masking / dodging implements made of cardboard, is that I like to precisely control the tonal values of the various elements composing a BW picture.

A RGB sensor allows me much more latitude to do this, e.g. by creating custom, synthetic color filters in Adobe Lightroom to create the tonal differentiation I want in my finished BW picture.

Ansel Adams carefully tuned his negatives' exposure and development processes to map his BW negatives' tonalities into the luminance zones he targeted for a particular picture. To me, shaping a computational color filter's transmission characteristics, to create from a RGB file the BW-converted tonal differentiations which would then be fed into the final BW contrast curve adjustment, doesn't seem conceptually that dissimilar (^^;

Dear Bruno,



Really, no.

Not even anything like that.

pax / Ctein

Bruno Masset posted a great example of why tho interesting to me: true b/w sensors 'see' things differently from my eye. That's neat. Heck, I shoot IR for that reason - often as a snapshot camera. Okay, so my kids looks like zombie half the time but I get some really neat stuff, because it's so different my brain thinks differently. I'd rather have a dedicated Fuji X100 in B/w, or a M4/3'rds so i could have an IR and B/W with the same lens mount, but Samsung and a pancake or two would be worth it to look at the world through a new palette.

Samsung's 30mm f2 lens is really all your going to need - fantastic lens - and the only reason i bought the NX10 in the first place.

If Nikon makes monochrome sensors for microscope work, it is not the same as making a consumer camera. What I want is a useable SLR or whatever that takes everyday pictures. I still cannot understand why the likes of Canikon cannot make a pure monochrome camera, an ordinary camera that I can fit a nice taking lens onto it.

Dear Bruno,

OK, asynchronous posting, likely confusion. My "Ummm... no" was directed at your analysis of how filtration worked. Not at your personal working style.

pax / Ctein

Mike, I recall that a while back you bought a Sigma DP2M to assess its capabilities in capturing images for conversion to mono. That experiment appears to have been one of the things that lost out due to your recent house purchase. Are you still planning such a test, or have you moved on, as it were?

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