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Sunday, 06 December 2020


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Mike, I have a hunch fuji has a B&W version of their medium format camera coming.

[That would be very bad for me. More unobtanium to be tortured with is NOT what I want or need! And that would be a double whammy. --Mike]

Just as an aside on the monochrome viewfinder, there have been times when I spot a potential image, usually in a thicket, look with the viewfinder, and wonder, "Where did it go?"

I guess a case of where the color is the thing.

When color TVs became available, I never looked back and felt remorse. To me it was a huge improvement, a great leap forward. Same thing with photography.

[I understand. But I felt the opposite...bought two B&W TV's after they became rare and hard to find. One for the darkroom, which I watched with a sheet of rubylith over it! I had an argument with my mother when I was six...I believed I could tell the colors things were supposed to be on our B&W TV. I was quite fierce with her about it. --Mike]

Wonderful woodwork in that table.
I do feel sorry for the carpet it sits on. Likely ruined by the weight of the table.
The only saving grace is that it looks like a machine made Chinese-oid rug and not a handmade valuable.

"You've got to shoot for one or the other. Deciding in post is for chumps. It's a whole different mental process, a much different approach.
I have found this not to be true. The world is filled with pictures, some best done in mono and some best done in color. If your shooting is not an actual job that requires mono, why not have the freedom to choose, or, better formulated: The freedom to do both?
The ability to choose between mono or color in post is completely superior to having to, in the film days, contemplate switching films in the camera (pure torture in 35mm, as I remember) or now in the digital age, an equally bad logistical arrangement: Carrying 2 cameras!
FYI: There's a recent discussion on Rangefinder forum (https://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=172925) about the tonal advantages of mono cameras over color Bayer that's been switched over to mono..

We need some B&W sunsets for a change.

Today was the last day with my Fuji GFX 50R and 32-64mm lens. Superb combination: you really have to 'drive' the 50R to get the best out of it. But is worth it! I shall probably buy that combination, but include the 110mmF2.0 lens.

And it's weatherproof: typical North Yorkshire day of ice and rain, but with an hour of glorious sunshine whilst Shirley, I and Pepps, the dog, had a day out.

P.S. Dear Fuji, please make the ISO choice menu more easily accessible. (Maybe with more use I could assign a button for it.

Re conversion to B&W of an existing camera. There has been considerable discussion of this on Sony forums as Sony models are often used as a base. I am not sure about the following and noone seemed to be able to give a definitive answer. You might want to ask some further questions or seek answers on this blog. The DPR Sony discussion group believe that the Sony conversion is done by stripping off some layers from the sensor. If this is so, the layers probably include the microlenses that were added to Sony APSC mirrorless sensors to deal with edge problems caused by the short flange distances. This is more of a problem with wider angle lenses.
How much of a problem this is? Is it a problem for some lenses and if so, are they lenses that might be important to you?

The Fuji XT3 and X100V have a monochrome mode for which the eye view finder and display show in monochrome.


Based on the photo of the pool table, I'd bet it will be easy to sink a ball in the right-hand side pockets :)


Could you consider using either the Fuji X100 or an X-pro series? When used with the OVF and set to JPEG BW only (acros), then you don’t have the option to later go back to color with the Raw file. It also would have the advantage of not giving you a BW evf preview of all your images. You already have the XF lenses that you need. You already know that Fuji allows you to extensively adjust the JPEG “recipes” in camera, so you could likely dial in a film look that you like.

I had a Sony A7RII converted by Monochrome Imaging more than a year ago, primarily to use it for shooting IR, for which it has been fantastic.

As far as using it for regular B&W however, I did extensive tests comparing it with an unconverted A7R3 (same 42MB sensor) and was unable to see any difference in detail resolution between A7R3 color images converted to monochrome and the A7R2 images (other than colors being rendered with different gray levels due to the way the cameras convert color to B&W). By converting your sensor to monochrome, you are giving up the ability to adjust tonality based on color which is a huge loss of creative control.

Most cameras have a way to let you shoot B&W JPEGs and display B&W on the viewfinder while still recording a color raw file. I use this mode on my Olympus Pen-F regularly when I want to shoot normal B&W. Seeing the B&W image in the viewfinder helps visualize the image while the color raw file retains the ability to adjust the relative brightness of each color independently.

Unless you want to shoot IR, I recommend you save your money and stick with the cameras and lenses you already have.

Sorry to be ignorant ...but how do you go about changing to a black and white only sensor ..... I imagine as a friend of mine once said that it is “ reassuringly expensive “ ( sadly).

What do you think of the Sigma Merrill sensors? You can regard them as 3 different monochrome sensors on top of each other. This gives you the option to choose from 3 different B&W pictures.

[I think they make awesome B&W. I still have one. It's just that I'm too lazy to use it, it's so inconvenient. (Or rather, my old one is.) --Mike]

"You've got to shoot for one or the other. Deciding in post is for chumps."

Expanding on this statement would make an informative stand-alone article on TOP.

Regards, Jim

15. That's the number of angels I count dancing on the head of a pin. Your mileage may vary!

And I resent being called a "Chump".

I agree with everything you say about using a B&W only camera. I have been using a Monochrom 246 since it came out and love it. The vast proportion of the pictures in the gallery attached were taken with the 246 and a 35mm lens, but there is an occasional picture taken with an iPhone, or a colour camera converted in post when I didn't have the 246 with me, (and even one or two on 35mm film with a Leica MP). No one has ever told me they can tell a difference, and that is due I believe, to the fact that if I need to post process a colour file, I have the 246 (and film) to give me a target – it "anchors" me in B&W so to speak.


I can relate to the ability to only see B&W or Colour. For a long time I would only see black and white images in the world, and using any colour imaging device would interfere with that. And I still prefer to choose beforehand, like I prefer to choose a specific focal length or lens when going out for some photography. Limiting choices can help me focus (duh) on what I see.

It's definitely not flexible or true for others (apparently most readers here). But it's part of my process.

I never had the chance to have a home darkroom in the pre-digital days, I too started and stayed with Kodachrome just like my grandfather.
I did dip my toe in a couple of years ago with B&W negative film scanned. It was fun but the results were mostly not so good and oh how easily film scratches.
I'm on my 4th Sigma digital a Quattro,(from the brilliant DP3M as I really need anti-shake these days). I love the monochrome results from the Foveon sensor and SPP. Your experiments are eagerly awaited.

@ Michael Fewster: I am shooting RAW with my Sony A7r3 and converting the images to b/w using Capture One. Since I started using digital almost ten years ago I have seen quite an improvement in technical image quality. Certainly due to sensor and processing software improvement, but also due to better lenses.

An example of very good lenses would be the new Sony 20mm 1.8 lens. Now my question: Would this lens give as good results using a sensor without a Bayer filter layer as it does on my current sensor which has a Bayer filter and probably micro lenses to deal with the edge problems caused by the short flange distance?

Looks like you're buying your pool table from a failed cruise ship operator.

Hope you have lots of enjoyment from your new private pool hall, Mike. I'm a bit envious, actually. Since I was a young man there were two things I -really- wanted in my home )if I ever got wealthy enough to own a home); a wood-burning fireplace and a full-size pool table. I've never had either, although many years ago I almost bought the apartment next door largely to use the living room for a pool table. Oh well. I have an ethanol fireplace and can play vicariously through you. Close enough.

Your comment about manufacturers perhaps not being interested in spending any time or money on new products these days cuts the other way too. Maybe this is precisely the time to do something different. If they set their mind to it, there could be other features inserted into a B&W digital body that could turn it into a high-end premium product.

How come they haven't created B&W filter dials yet? Yellow 1, 2 or 3 or Red 1 and 2 or who knows what else?

Would it be possible to move more of the post work into the camera, thus minimizing boring computer desk time? Would that be more feasible in B&W? Just thinking out loud.

A easy solution to your monochrome camera hunt is the Olympus Pen F. In the monochrome mode the camera viewfinder display shows the image in monochrome. Beside that the camera itself is beautiful!

I go at it backwards I think, because I started in the late 70's shooting film (Nikon F and then FG) and it was always color.

Today, I use Nikon DSLR's. I shoot Raw + JPEG. The JPEG is color. I import the images to DxO Photolab3 and the RAW file is auto converted by a preset to an emulation of Kodak Tri-X 400. (You need to also purchase the DxO FilmPack to do this).

And I go from there....I typically like the color version better, and yeah, it's an OOC JPEG.

I may give up on B&W, I think that ship sailed for this old dawg, and I find color easier and more fun. But just enough photos seemingly by accident end up looking good in B&W to keep me trucking, lol.

All Fujifilm mirrorless cameras let you select a BW or Acros film simulation, which is then what you see in the EVF, even if you're shooting RAW. Super handy. And Capture One at least honors the embedded thumbnail image, so when you import even those raw files, you still see the BW preview (LR doesn't). And you can select a R,or Y,or G lens filter emulation on top of that. And that's the main reason not to use a BW only sensor: you can use the color info to create different grey scale responses. The Acros and BW film sims give you different results with colors.

to Mr. Trevor Johnson, the 50R has the ISO setting on the front ring surrounding the shutter button. That's pretty easy to use.

I will be looking forward to what you write about the B&W Sony.

You have already sent me down a rabbit-hole of research on the idea. My first idea was how nice it would be to convert my a7 and use it for my Leitz lenses, maybe it would work better than the unconverted camera. However the MonoChrome Imaging website had exactly the comparison I was looking for, the a7 and Monochrome Leica with a 35mm Asph Summicron. Though the Sony images looked very good, the corners were still a little off and the combination was harder to focus.

Oh, well. Still tempting, so I will be looking forward to your articles on the newly converted baby.

Hi Mike, hope all goes well with your digital monochrome experiment. Will you have time for it, on top of other experiments - film, MF, print crits, Baker’s Dozen etc?
Yes, there are ‘buts’ that go with converting digital digital bodies, but then as you well know, most things involving photography - and especially gear purchases - involve decisions with and about compromises.

I think the cheapest way to get a pure B&W camera is to use a camera with a Foveon sensor - just set it to Monochrome white balance.

I would suggest to get a Sigma DP2 Quattro - great lens, high resolution, and cheap.

While everyone is reminiscing about various films, I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned Panatomic X. Used at its rated speed, and slightly underdeveloped in D76 diluted 1:1, it produced negatives that yielded nearly grainless 8x10 prints. I was quite sad to see its demise.

An immediate thought - isn't one of the reasons Sony cameras are so popular their ability to use such a wide array of adapted lenses? Unless you are absolutely nailed to the idea of using AF now, you are almost definitely in a position to use lenses that you already own/love [the fabled Pentax 50mm f1.4 somes to mind, for a start!] for a fraction of the cost of almost any new lens. Time to have a look in the 'wish I could use that again' cupboard? There's nothing to stop you using them on the Fujis either. Come to think of it, I'm surprised that I can't remember you talking about this possibility - you seem to only ever mention new lenses, when adapted lens use is hugely popular now. Is it simply the previously hinted-at 'I have to use AF now' issue? Just a GAS desire to only use new? Or a possibility that just slipped through the mental cracks? It could be a revelatory answer. especially in light of this wee project.

This discussion of Black and White cameras is timely for me, as the enforced shielding that I have experienced since March this year has been compelling me to lust after the Leica M10Monochrom for a while now and the GAS for it has been getting worse. As I completely understand the desire to think in only B&W when shooting. For a long time now, I have thought that digital is perfect for colour, as you have all the tools to have control over how you want your images to look, whereas for years now I have thought if I ever go back to film it will be in Black &White only, as the darkroom gives you that control over tone and contrast (Like Mike says in bugging his local mini lad and finally finding nirvana with his own Darkroom).
I think the reason I want to do things differently is because of this pandemic has caused a break in my making images, this forced break has made me think differently, so I want to make different kinds of work.
So my solution I have decide to follow is for a month every time I get to go outside the house I will only have my camera set to Raw plus JPEG and have the JPEG’s in monochrome so that the review image I see is in Black & White, if I am still craving to make B&W images at the end of the month then I might just have to sell my current camera and get the Leica M10Monchrom.

I am lucky as my two main cameras are a Leica M10 and a Nikon D850 and that is Nikon is fantastic colour camera so it would not to such a bad option, I just do not want to miss the Leica M10 as I like the quality of the colour images that it produces and how I approach making images with it.

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