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Saturday, 13 August 2022


I’m in a similar dilemma with IR conversion. I could buy an Fuji X-E4 and then convert my old X-E3, but I like the -3 better than the -4. On the other hand buying a -4 with the intention of converting that seems a bit odd.

OK,so despite being able to switch your Fuji to display in monochrome you have identified some advantages and want to go ahead. If black and white is your interest then why not.

If I were you I would choose the A6600. You clearly like that camera much better and if you choose the older model you will regret it. The older camera then becomes your colour camera for the few times you need it. The A6600's value will drop to near zero over the years just like the NEX-6 anyway. Only Leicas keep their value, and even then, not so much for the digital models.

IMO, 16mp should be more than enough (unless, of course, you're printing LARGE!), and as you say, converting the NEX-6 would leave the A6600's value intact.

Another way of looking at it:- since the 16mp sensor has 4912px on its longest dimension, while the 24mp sensor has 6000px, the lower resolution isn't really THAT much lower (4912/6000 = 81.9%).

Best of luck!

I hope you can pull this off. I'm looking forward to your review so I can finally get off the fence about this conversion. (I'm a major overthinker). As far as which camera to convert, have you considered the life span of the camera? The NEX-6 is already pretty old. Will you still be able to get it repaired in a few years? Is there any chance MIS could lend you one, similar to what B&H does for some reviewers? Anyway, good luck on this!

The GX8 you sold me displays B/W when using the B/W. Shoot jpg only. I assume other cameras have that capability. That Lumix allows some profiles to be set, although not sure if works for B/W. Four monochrome filters though. Has to be mirrorless of course. Even when set to Raw+jpg, review shows B/Wl.

BTW, still love the camera.

Seems like a slam dunk to me that you do it with the newer A6600 - longer post-conversion life and ability to get things like batteries, cards, etc. That's relevant *only* if you are going to keep it and use it for a few years.

If you are going to become bored and uninterested in this in 6 months, then I would strongly recommend you do the conversion to neither one.

Finally, you should be able to calculate for yourself the true depreciation to expect from this conversion by shopping for an already converted camera of either model. You may or may not be surprised by what you learn (assuming you haven't done that already).

I definitely feel your pain. When I finally got a second used DSLR about 12 years ago I spent many, many days and weeks mulling over an IR conversion of my previous camera and weighing the pros and cons against my thin wallet. By the time I finally convinced myself to do it my original 6MP Nikon D70s was pretty old and starting to hiccup regularly. Despite feeling bad about rarely using the D70s and seeing value in resurrecting it as an IR camera, I was worried about putting money into a camera that might die at any moment (it still hasn't...). I still think about getting an IR-converted camera every once in awhile (and am intrigued by the B&W conversion option), but I haven't done it yet.

If I were in your situation, I would consider:
1) B&W is your jam, which suggests that you should convert your newer/better camera. You also have several good Fuji cameras in your arsenal for color work.
2) Conversely, it doesn't seem like you use your Fuji cameras much, or at least you don't mentioned it on the blog. If you are enamored with your new Sony camera, perhaps you could sell your Fuji gear to fund a second (used) A6600 (or similar model) for conversion.

Why get a second A6600? I currently use a Nikon D700 (FX for landscape) and D300 (DX for birds/wildlife). They are old and low on mega-pickles, but good enough for me. An important consideration is that their controls and UI are nearly identical, so there's no fumbling or confusion as I move from one to the other. That is critical for me and one reason I haven't bothered upgrading.

I have been some combination of poor and cheap my entire life, but as I get older I'm starting to realize that there is value in buying the thing I want/need the first time, even if it is costly, vs taking the wandering path of multiple cheaper options. The ultimate example is my D700. I thought it was the camera for me when it was announced (in 2008?), but it was so expensive that I couldn't do it. In 2010 I compromised by buying a used D300, which was a big step up from my D70s and far cheaper than even a well-used D700 at that time. Finally in 2018 I bought a low mileage used D700 for $500 (with a lens that I sold a year later for $250). So, I got my D700 for roughly 1/10th of the original price, but I also missed out on a decade of having the camera I wanted to use to take pictures of people and places I may never see again.

If convert the older camera, you'll endlessly torment yourself with questions about whether converting the newer model would have been better. How much is that torment worth to you?

The dollar difference between the two is only about $1000. If you convert the old model, will you get $1000 worth of benefit out of the newer model in its unconverted state?

How long will you keep them, another 5 years? That's $200 per year. You probably spend more than that on coffee.

Convert the newer model and donate the older one to a local high school's photo department.

im not saying spend like crazy but the old saying penny wise pound (dollar) foolish could apply. there is probable more useful life in the newer camera.

otoh the newer camera does have some cash value.

Not my decision, but if it was I'd convert the A6600.

Good luck!

Thank you for your always very informative articles.
A few questions:
1. Have you considered other companies that make the conversion, it appears it can be done for a lot less money.
2. I understand the improvement in resolution, not sure about color.
Having the 3 color channels information doesn't give more options of how to make the conversion to B&W.
In any case I vote for you to go ahead with this project.

My thoughts, if you REALLY want a mono-only camera to fulfill some desire for something missing from your ability to do the photography that you wish to do, then cost should not be a primary factor.

You are going to convert a camera for a cost, OK. But if that camera doesn't have the intuitive operation and user-friendly ergonomics that would be ideal, and since you are willing to sacrifice a model that you apparently are not using, it probably falls into that category, then will you really be satisfied?

Yesterday I read the old thread someone linked to the "pick a camera for me" post about the 25 steps to arrive at the thing that you should have done first. It always seems too expensive to get what you really want, but over time, it's cheaper to just bite the bullet once.

If you want a mono camera, buy it. Use the $1200 as a down payment on a real camera that you're going to embrace and use.

My alternative to a monochrome digital camera was a black and white film camera.
I developed the film in home mixed D-23, and then scanned the negatives.

Why not just set the camera to black and white? I've not used either of the two you mentioned, but the mirrorless cameras I own all will display the black and white image while composing in the EVF. I know it won't be quite the same as the full conversion, but it's a much cheaper way to get a very similar result it seems to me. You could try it for a few months and see if that's really what you want in a camera. If you're shooting raw you can also set some automatic imports in many programs so that the images start off displaying in B&W so that you never have to se the color version.

Perhaps on your next trip to Dr. Hindman you could have her remove all the colour receptors in your eyes. Instantly any camera will be B&W.

Sorry. I slept in and my brain is still in sarcastic mode.

Seriously. The A6600 is the one. With your luck the NEX-6 sensor will reach it's end of life shortly after it's modified.

Run a print sale! And then get the newer Sony converted. Couldn’t you sell it at a bit of a premium in the future? There aren’t a lot of monochrome cameras out there…

I've set my viewfinder to display in B&W, OMD MK II, however I shoot raw so I get colour files if I want that. Because the camera "sees" in monochrome, I can compose with that. Seems the best of both worlds. Also considering converting an older camera to infrared.

Mike, reading your lines - and between them too - there appear to be several alligators lurking just beneath the surface of your spiritual pond.

You speak of the desire to have yourself a black/white-limited camera, yet in the next breath you worry about resale value. Don’t you see the conflict you construct for yourself? Should you create that singular body, why on Earth would you want to trade it away? Once converted it’s only ever going to be a niche product: surely, your decision has to be based on more certainty than you evince right now, as on something you definitely want to own for the long term? I’d suggest that either you forget all about it, or go ahead and convert the highest pixel-loaded body you can afford, if only to save yourself from later Leica-GAS attacks, the rationale for which is forever shrouded in a blend of myth and marketing expertise. (As for Leica’s nonsense about that camera offering the equivalent of more than one lens because it lets you see some silly frame lines - gimme a break! That’s basically an insult to anybody who knows anything about photography at all. Cropping is far from the same thing, on many levels, as using a different focal length!)

I would like to link a video by Samuel L. Streetlife (as is his moniker of choice), where he tells anyone who cares to watch, the several reasons why he soon sold his dream camera (Q2 - can’t remember offhand if a Mono, and that doesn’t matter) and those reasons make pretty sound sense, as they do impact upon subject visibility and operational speed.


For me, working much of my days on beaches etc. where scattered light got everywhere, even into your underpants, the greatest worthwhile extra any manufacturer could offer was a truly efficient rubber eyecup to keep light out, and the screen brilliantly visible. What does Leica offer to protect that huge sheet of Q/Q2 viewfinder glass from ambient light? You know, that thing through which you are supposed to make your critical aesthetic decisions?

The other thing is this: you’ve frequently told us that actual photography is not really all that high on your daily list of things you have to do; if this is truly reflective of your reality, not just a temporary way of excusing yourself from actually getting your fingers dirty, perhaps, as I think someone else mentioned, you’d do yourself a favour attending more to your writing. It’s fairly obvious to anyone who reads English that you have a fine turn for the pleasing phrase... Writing might help resolve your fiscal dilemmas far better than photography, today, ever will. Not only that, but bring you a lot of pleasure in the doing. Your foot's already in a high-grade door; ride the wave!

Photography was my craving since I was little, or certainly from the moment I realised I did not have - and probably never would have - the ability to make it as a painter or graphic illustrator with a pencil! Photography gave me a route to life and creativity in the advertising/fashion world, and that was as good as it ever gets, or at least, as it ever got back in the day when it was a realistic career. Today, as an old retired guy, a zillion miles away from model agencies and city life, my favoured kind of photography is hardly even a dream, and I long ago learned not to waste my time trying to bring back past glories by photographing any of the available “girls next door” that my life today offers. Masochism ain’t my thing; not anymore, it ain’t!

The point, and perhaps it’s what’s affecting you, too, is that without a recognisable driving force towards some goal, and the dedication that provides, photography for the sake of just using a camera is pretty thin gruel. That’s why my website has stood still for quite some time.

Either way, I wish you luck and a freeing of your artistic soul from the many distractions and dead-end routes that always confront one in life, especially when essentially living in isolation: I know far too much about the latter. Desert islands, even metaphorical ones, are for folks with a landing strip, or at the very least, a helipad of their own. The mythical Kokomo comes to mind, if not Mr Branson’s real Necker Island - should he still own it. As do I, I think you really need a city in order to flourish.

The A6600 has IBIS. You love IBIS. Convert the camera that gives you one of the features you've loved most about digital cameras for the last 17 years.


Sounds like a fun project! And I think you'll enjoy it.

This statement/rationalization however (I see in some form by others, too) drives me crazy:

"I had a lot of experience shooting B&W, and I have no trouble seeing in B&W if that's how the camera sees. But what I've always found is that if the camera sees colors, then I'll see in color."

Question: When did you EVER view/visualize an image in a viewfinder (optical or digital), or on a groundglass, and see the preview in anything BUT color? If you mean you can more easily visualize B&W when you know the end-product has to be B&W (e.g., Tri-X), why isn't setting the colorspace to monochrome in your shooting menu=viewfinder as good or better?

FWIW - I'd probably convert the NEX-6. Having read your blog for many years, I think you tend to like the "idea" of a thing (e.g., shooting monochrome, than the long-term experience of it. I suspect that if you convert the A6600 you'll end up wishing you could still shoot in color with it.

Like I say - it does sound like a fun project - do it because it is fun, no need to rationalize it :-)

-- john merlin ...

Losing momentum is my favorite way of dealing with GAS! My own half-baked ideas usually fizzle out within a few weeks if I don't act on them.

Admittedly, I've grown bored with my current cameras and lenses, but they're still useful to me. Maybe "useful" is as good as it gets.

I don't get it. If your object is just to see what it's like to have fun (or even Make Art) shooting digital monochrome, then why not just accept JPEG for the moment and shoot some mono that way? I'm surely not the only one to go out with my Fuji set to Acros and make believe that it's the old days and I'm young again and loaded with Tri-X. (Well, Acros reminds me more of Verichrome Pan, but that's another story.) Then, having experienced the experience, you can better decide where to go from there. I for one would relish hearing the tale of the day you took out a camera set for mono to shoot street in midtown Penn Yan. And lake scenics. And dogs and neighbors. And the agony of self-discipline in resisting a color reset for just that one shot. And who better than you to describe that?

I understand well that sometimes itches must be scratched rather than ignored. And I also understand that you admire some others’ works produced with monochrome cameras. So just sell a kidney and get the Leica Q2M. Converting an old camera not designed for mono seems a foolhardy path. (What about just RENTING a Leica Q2-M from Lensrentals before plunging?)

My own experience with a Leica M10-Monochrome I owned for a couple of years was disappointing. Admittedly, I am a 99.9% color photographer. But I did want to see what the hubub was. In brief, I found a mono sensor extremely limiting. It is but no means a film-like experience. It’s a crippled digital experience. My ability to control tonality in-camera was narrow and became purely a game of grays in post. I hated it and celebrated the day I sold that damn camera (for a $200 profit!).

Here’s hoping (but not really expecting) your experience is better.

If you like the 6600 better, then get that one converted. Otherwise you will be forever second guessing yourself every time you get out the NEX. And if you like the converted camera in use, then you are much more likely to keep using it for a long time. But you do you.

Don't pinch! You like IBIS too much, and we don't want to hear about how you tried to like the new camera but missed IBIS. :)

But I'm looking forward to the conversion experience, either way. I'm sure you can dig in the couch cushions or even just start a "let Mike shoot monochrome" gofundme to get $1200.

"But what I've always found is that if the camera sees colors, then I'll see in color. Can't seem to help it. However the camera sees, that's how I'll look at the world."

Have you tried the free sample? Menu, Camera 1, page 11/14, Creative Style, Black and White

No, you don't get the greater sensitivity, or improved resolution. Possibly less subtlety of tonal graduation. But zero dollars, and you could wander about, for a short or long while, seeing how it feels to shot B&W on an A6600.

You could even put a B&W set-up on one of the memories. A click of the Mode dial, and it's B&W.

". . . I have a good feeling about this."

Petty sure I've heard this before, likely more than once, about an enthusiasm that has fallen by the wayside. (I have those, too.) All the more reason to do the free test drive?


As to which camera to modify, I would suggest neither. Given the choice between a 24-MP sensor and a 16-MP sensor, the 24 is a no-brainer. And rather than sacrificing that sweet a6600, perhaps an a6300 body ($629 excellent+ @ KEH). It would be another 6 bills that you don't have, but then you would have a formidable pair of nearly identical bodies, one B+W and one color, to use as is your wont.

Perhaps some of your readers would like to contribute to the tips jar; we all understand what it is to be in the jaws of GAS. I'd be in for twenty.

An ideal solution (just speculating now, as I don't have either one of these) would be for one of the less expense-sensitive of your readers to offer you the loan for six months of a Leica M10-M or a Q2-M. Both have been successful products and product refreshes are rumored to be in the works, probably next year. And it wouldn't be your camera, but a research project, collaborative with the donor. No guilt that way (and no cost, for that matter.) Asking this idealized Santa for an M11-M with the new 35 APO-Summicron would be the absolute optimum, but M11-Ms aren't yet in the stores, and even Santa would want to get to know it for a bit before passing it along to researchers.

MIS not the only game in town. Take a look at MAXMAX.

But why not take a baby step? I've mentioned before the Huawei P20 Pro. Three cameras, one of which is a 20mp monochrome. Leica optics. Around $200 on auction site.

I lusted after the Monochrom when Leica announced it. But the price! Then I researched conversions. Cost + sacrificial camera = also not cheap. Then I learned about the Huawei product; and waited for the price on eBay to come down.

Know what? It scratched that itch.

Now I had my F100 converted to B&W thanks to a product called HP5+. Seriously though I seldom shoot digital instead preferring the craft of B&W film and darkroom printing. I’m no kiddie but want to get good at this.

Hey, Mike--you still have some Fuji gear, no? Why not set your Fuji body to one of the monochrome film simulations? When I get the itch to shoot in black and white and don't want to pull the old Minolta warhorse out of the closet, I just set my Fuji to Acros or Monochrome+Ye and enjoy.


Tried my advice. The view on the LCD and in the EVF is all monochrome, including review. The experience of photography is all mono.

But when the Raw file is imported into LR or into PS via ACR, it comes out color, so a B&W preset needs to be used.

The JPEG if shooting Raw + JPEG is in B&W.

You should definitely go with the A6600.
You’ve talked (or rather, posted) a lot about how you like that camera. If you are shooting black and white only, do it with a camera you bond with.

Quoting Van Halen, if you are really gonna do this, you might as well jump.

I'd base the decision on which handles the way you prefer, which presumably is the 6600.


I should add that simply removing the Bayer CFA probably doesn't affect the de-mosaicing routines in the camera, which I would think would have an effect on true resolution as compared to a camera that is monochrome-only from the factory.

I'm sure that you have seen the output of the converted cameras and are pleased with the output, but I'd posit that you still aren't getting the full benefit.

Being the frugal sort you are, I think you'd find getting good 3rd party monochrome conversion software a better use of your budget. What that software is, I can't tell you.


I am a pinch penny too.
The worst kind, retired and old! Your young, you may not think so, but I know you’ve got a lot of time left to things you want to do. So why not rent a Leica monochrome, play with it for a couple of weeks, and see if you really need to shoot black and white.
I like b&w too, but the reality of my finances pretty much tells me what I can and can’t do. So I’ve converted what I think will make a good monochrome pictures, and I’m happy with the results. I’ll probably never make, prints unless I win the lottery.
You on the other hand, might find yourself yourself writing for another magazine, and maybe you’ll be able to afford the Leica I just told you to rent! 👍😁

If converted cameras are so reduced in resale value, maybe you can be on the receiving end instead, and purchase a camera that has already been converted for cheap.

Mike, two alternatives to save some money:

1. Rent a Leica Monochrom for awhile to see if you click with digital mono.

2. Use black and white film in one of your older cameras. Why not the Rollei 6008? Why do you resist film so much?

Convert the A6600 and tell us all about it please!

Ansel used the term visualize, not pre-visualize, which he thought redundant. Minor White was the one who distinguished between pre- and post-visualization.

The reason my Leica Monochrom cameras (M9 Monochrom and M10 Monochrom) help with my black and white mindset is that I’m not distracted by looking for color pics, as I know the monochrome cameras can’t capture color (except by multiple shots using RGB colored filters…another discussion). I’ve found that it’s a different mindset than when I shoot with my color-based digital cameras, even when my intent is to take b&w pics. I didn’t think this would be the case before I actually bought a Monochrom, but I should have learned otherwise from my decades shooting b&w film.

With all due respect, the entire conversion idea seems silly to me. It's a side argument to simply making the best file you can and then processing it until it says what you felt or what you want it to. There are so many ways to get respectable b&w from any digital camera that I simple do not understand the desire to have a monochrome only digital camera.

Like so many of us, I started in "serious" photography with 35mm black and white film and stayed with black and white film through 35mm, 6x6, and finally 4x5. I read Ansel's books; I somehow managed to "previsualize" the colors I saw in the finder to the eventual black and white image. I spent endless time learning how to use filters to change the tonal relationships in my negatives and did endless zone system testing as well.

When digital arrived it was a revelation. To be able to change the black and white tonal relationships with simple sliders with essentially infinite precision seemed miraculous and I've never looked back. To each his or her own but I'll never work in the chemical darkroom again and in the day I loved it so much I built 4x5 darkrooms in every house I've lived in until my present one.

I consider the print to be the only acceptable end result of my photographic efforts. "It's not a photograph unless you can hold it in your hand," said a well known website owner. Yes, I enjoy the process, the placement of the camera on the tripod, measuring the light, choosing the lens, releasing the shutter. But then the real work begins. Anyone who thinks "OOC" is acceptable is either uneducated in post processing or lazy. Essentially all the greatest photos have been manipulated in one way or another and the choice to process in monochrome is a fundamental one.

These days I do both black and white and color work. I'm not and never will be a great photographer but I enjoy what I do. Everyone should have the opportunity to do the same... even if they want to convert a perfectly good camera to monochrome only.

Mike, my question to you is why spend $1,200 on the camera conversion it makes no sense to me. Please do not take this the wrong way I’m just trying to make my argument. Do you have a website where you routinely sell B&W images, do you have one person gallery exhibitions, do you on a routine basis print, frame, sell or give away B&W images ? Save your money the desire will fade quickly, just shoot your images in color and convert to B&W with any one of many conversion programs. No one will notice any difference when and if they see any of your images, the image will be the impact not if it was shot on a converted sensor. I also looked into the company you are speaking about several years ago the pricing was fair and as I recall it was in the 6 to 7 hundred dollar range, but now at 1,200 it is a deal breaker. Please think it over carefully it may not be the silver bullet you are seeking.

I do not understand why you like to waste money on equipment that you will, in all probability, get bored with after using it a few times. My advice would be to buy a beater film camera, something like a Nikon F100 and a lens of your choice, or equivalent, which can be had for peanuts nowadays, to figure out whether you are actually into B&W for the long haul, or whether it is just GAS raising its wasteful head.

What about the microlenses? As I understand it, taking off the Bayer layer also removes the microlenses. This is a problem on mirrorless cameras because the shortflange distance to the sensor means the edges are bent at acute angles and the microlenses are there to correct this. If this is correct, I'd imagine it is only an issue when you want to use wider angle lenses.

Rent/Borrow a monochrome camera first. You have been searching for a digital B&W solution for a long time, have a unique sensibility and a mono sensor might work for you OR not.

OK I'll admit upfront that I've never used a digital camera with monochrome sensor, but your post got me wondering... In your reply to the first featured comment you wrote that you generally don't like B&W mode on digital cameras. I don't either; I once wrote a long article about B&W conversions (which you kindly featured!) But what I'm wondering is, do you know for sure that you'll like the way the B&W-converted sensor renders colours? Because as you know, sensors have a spectral sensitivity curve, just like film. With a product like Tri-X, decades of research have gone into producing a curve which "translates" colours to B&W in a pleasing way, both natively and with the typical filters. A dip in the green, a steep falloff in the red, and so on. A converted monochrome sensor, on the other hand, is essentially a sensor designed for colour, but with the Bayer CFA removed. As such, I wonder if its translation, even with filters, will be as pleasing as, say, Tri-X or for that matter, a digital colour image converted to B&W in software with full control over channel mixing.

I understand your “what the camera sees point” because it applies to me for cameras with an EVF. For me, at least, it’s all about the viewfinder. If the camera has an OVF, or I can use a clip on (e.g. for Sony RX-1) and I set out to shoot B&W by using only the OVF, whatever part of my brain that needs triggering will trigger and I can pre-visualise in B&W. Not true for EVF, and I somehow can’t cope with the EVF set to B&W - hence no Q2 monochrom for me.

Update II

I downloaded the sample file from Monochrome Imaging as DNG and thr original Sony ARW file. Took both into PS, via ACR with defalts, but for selecting the B&W box, top right.

Both ended up with blown highlights.



Reconverting with reduced highlights:

DNG Highlights -50 :

ARW Highlights -75 :

It's very hard to see any difference in resolution/sharpness/detail. I prefer the overall tonal balance of the ARW conversion.

The extra step of doing a special Raw conversion seems unnecessary.

What's really needed is comparison shots with otherwise identical B&W converted and unconverted camera bodies.

Hi Mike,
From a fellow penny-pincher who overthinks gear purchases, my overvalued $0.02 worth. I’m with Bruce - I don’t think it’s a financial decision. Go with the camera you like to use the most, and has the most suitable features.
If you don’t like shooting with the Nex, then converting it will result in you using it a few times and then abandoning it because it is a pain in the butt to use. Don’t give yourself easy excuses to back out after the fact. If you do commit - you can then prove to all the doubters about how the camera “sees” in B&W and how your visualisation works.
If B&W will be the norm, and colour the exception, go with the A6600 and to hell with resale. Just make sure you wear it out with use.
Wow, that was so much easier when it’s not my money or gear :~)

Why do you think the B&W from a converted camera will be the “good” B&W you desire?

I used to believe your argument about “seeing” the final B&W image only if the camera was B&W only but I’m not so sure now. I suspect that if you did set up your work flow so that you never saw the colour image either in camera or on computer and did enough of that and weren’t doing colour on some other cameras (you can set the iPhone to B&W too) then eventually your brain would switch to “seeing” only the final B&W image just as it did with film.

I find it unfortunate that so many commenters want to persuade you against converting a camera to monochrome, or even the use of them existing at all, when you have clearly stated this desire many times over the last decade! I say spend your money however you think it will give you most enjoyment, and potentially most artistic benefit! The world will not miss another A6600 if it gets converted.

As another option, have you considered stumping up for a used Leica monochrom, say the M9 version? As I think you mentioned yourself in the OCOLOY posts, a Leica can be basically rented free for a few years, as a used one won't depreciate much, or may even appreciate, and you can recover the money again after. Of course you still need the up front cost, but it may be more sound to sell off some lightly used gear e.g. the Sony you may have converted while it retains most value... And by putting out a call here, surely some reader will have a surplus of monochroms and let one go affordably...

Reading through the comments, I see a lot of suggestions to just set the camera to monochrome jpeg output. The point is made that one could still use the camera for color work and that the B&W conversion in post processing offers greater control.

I see the flexibility of this approach is rather as a drawback.

If I was into B&W, the appeal of a monochrome camera is that it can only shoot B&W, without control over tonality in post processing. No more pondering whether the picture is better in color, or whether to pull that green slider more to the right. I don't care about high ISO or resolution, but the constraint imposed by such a camera makes would make it for me.

Creativity thrives on constraints, choice only distracts.

If the resale value of a converted camera is almost nothing, just get a used one already converted! Or two...

Ok. I'm very late to this party. But - Mike. Buddy. You're no spring chicken. I think you should jump on this idea, asap.

But - given that's it's such a kludge (compromised with workarounds), why not go the full banana and trade in all the gear you have and just plain hardly use - and use the recovered capital to get a Monochrome Leica and one very nice lens.

I get that they're overpriced. But life is short. Shouldn't you simply get the thing that was designed to do the very thing that will bring you joy?

Don't settle. I double-dog dare you to get the real thing.

Kind Regards,

I’m likely missing something. I have my Panasonic lx100 MKII set to shoot mono - raw files. In the modern versions of Lightroom the files are imported as a camera-specific mono profile - no color at all unless I change the profile. I rarely do that as the images I shoot with it are generally intended to be black and white.

Why not do a test of a couple weeks with each of your “candidate” cameras? Set them to a mono profile. Decide which you’ll actually use in that mode. Spending the $$ to convert an old camera that you don’t like to use is a waste. However, if shooting black and white is a breeze with it, you’ll know.

Is there enough of interest your way to merit a mono? I drove past Keuka yesterday - and finally visited the Glass Museum, years after you recommended it! - and, while a beautiful region, I wonder if you'd find enough to shoot. I borrowed a Leica Mono once to shoot England's Peak District, place of my birth, and quickly wished I was back in NYC with the camera.

An idea that potentially can save you money and disappointment: can you rent a monochromatic digital camera? (either native or converted)

This because I'm very afraid you will be disappointed by a digital BW sensor as I've read many do. There's still lots of work and post-production proficiency involved on getting a good BW from a digital file, some say even more than with a normal color sensor.

I share what many commenters wrote about not buying your rationalisation of "I see what the camera sees", it's just a plot with many holes :)

I've wrote this on the previous post about camera recommendation, but I'll write again:
try to use a Fujifilm camera set to JPG and a good enough (preferably lower contrast) BW simulation. Try this with your current BW favourite X-T1, there's lots of customisability in-camera regarding tonality and other aspects, just play around with it and search online for some "Fujifilm recipes".

Setting the camera like this will permit your brain to abstain from the "the camera sees in color" thing. A BW JPG with lower contrast will still give you lots of headroom for refinements in post (much more forgiving than color). You will be able to use the lens color filters like you used to (or use the digital ones). Will aso resolve any dissatisfaction with ACR + X-trans regarding fine details (even if this is currently no more a problem with the "enhance details" feature on Adobe software, at a cost of bit more time processing the RAW file).

Re your inability to "see" B&W unless there is B&W film [sensor] in the camera:

I feel sure there's some Freudian explanation. Think back...

Some people think a stick shift is somehow more "engaging" than a good twin-clutch click-shift auto. It's not.

In fact, a single gear ratio (as in an EV) is far more engaging due to the instantaneous and precise response/feedback that allows you to better control the four contact patches. Now, that's engaging and downright FUN.

I completely understand the "seeing in BW" thing, and especially with a yellow filter. Also how a real-time BW conversion in a viewfinder not only isn't the same, it actually interferes with the instinct.

My advice?

1. Before you go any further, beg, borrow or steal some raw files from a converted camera (preferably your two candidate models) and dial in your post processing, and make sure you can get the results you want. Then if you still want to do it, come back to this dilemma.

2. You'll always have "what ifs". What if I'd done the other camera? What if I'd bought an old A7 (what I think you should do) or old Oly EM1 and had that converted? etc. etc. etc. So consider ALL your options. Then just do it, and screw the regrets.

3. Just to throw out another option: What if you sell the A6600 and use the money to convert the new used A7 or the NEX? The 6600 will be worth that much for only a few more minutes, and you'll be too busy shooting BW to use it much. If you totally change your mind, you can buy a used 6600 in two years for half that amount.

I can sympathize about using the camera in the way it sees for another image parameter -- aspect ratio. It doesn't matter if I previsualize a photo with a specific crop in mind or even if I use tools like a mask on the viewfinder/ground glass. I simply shoot to whatever the camera sees. If I'm out with the Rolleiflex, I'm thinking and seeing square. With the 4x5 and the 8x10, I compose for the stubby rectangle. With my Z7, it's 2:3. I can even set the Z7 to shoot with a 4:5 aspect ratio, where I don't even see the un-used pixels in the viewfinder and I still find myself thinking and shooting to a 2:3 ratio with it.

This has always proved to be a challenge with vertical shots on my digital gear. 2:3 doesn't frame as nicely in portrait orientation most of the time. Somewhere along the line, though, I learned that trying to force myself to shoot to a 4:5 aspect ratio on a digital body would yield worse results than non-traditional print sizes.

To that end, I would suggest that you get the conversion and do it on the A6600. There's nothing worse than fighting with your gear and making yourself serve it rather than vice versa.

To me money is a tool for solving problems or achieving objectives. Its use doesn't have to make "financial sense." The money required does of course have to be available and not assigned to some other use, but if that is the case then the merits of the outcome should stand on their own independent of financial considerations.

So in this case I think you just need to weigh the benefits to you, practical or emotional or otherwise, against other uses of the money involved, not whether the expenditure would be a good investment.

I just bought a new motorcycle, hardly wise from a financial point of view. But that wasn't the point. It's a very good bike I've wanted for some time now, the time left for this hobby is rapidly diminishing as I age and motorcycling brings me great pleasure, my Zen so to speak. So despite it being a poor investment I bought it. And it's fantastic.

I would suggest to convert the older one and then compare how well it does b/w against the newer unconverted one. In my experience Sonys last very well. My KM7D just died after 17 years (not a Sony but a close relative) and my a900 still works well with no problems since it was bought new just when it came to market. Even the original battery still works, though I have couple of newer ones as well.

Good choice!

I made my suggestion for a used Monochrome based on your history with and love for B&W. The Leica suggestion was because you have always expressed admiration for the cameras--and it was probably a projection of my own lust for a Monochrome. Having no experience whatsoever with Sony (except for a couple of TVs and CD players), I defer to your preferences in this area.

The main thing is to satisfy your desire to shoot B&W with a dedicated B&W camera. Damn the monetary value of the thing in years to come. That's just a cost factor. You know the old sayin' about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing....

Let not the naysayers naysay. Be true to you and your monochrome heart.

For $1200, you can easily buy a cheap film SLR and a lens and have plenty of money for B&W film and its development.

The solution to your problem (I kept seeing in color because the camera sees in color) would be that you work a bit on yourself. Yes, it is difficult to teach old dogs new tricks, but as my daughter's french teacher used to say: "applique-toi!". (No $$$ involved)

This strikes me as a conversation about decision making, rather than specifically one about photography.

I’d suggest reading Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert, which goes a long way in explaining why we are so bad at making rational decisions.

In this instance when faced with two choices, each with pros and cons, I’d flip a coin. Why? Well first it’s a quick way of getting a decision so you can move on. The anxiety of making a call is a form of paralysis. Second, if you don’t like the outcome, then you’ll know you actually wanted the other one.

You might also consider it an investment. Whichever way it plays out you are effectively investing in an experience which will provide you source material for multiple blog entries. Of course, only you know whether or not that is worthwhile.

You've actually explained some of the stuff I was wondering about (same stuff Gordon Lewis was wondering about) so that it makes more sense than it ever has before reading your posts about it all these years. So that's something.

So...I think the difference may not be what you think it is. If you are committed to taking B&W photos you ought to be able to learn to see in the conversion to B&W that you decide to use (with some practice), just as you learned to see in the B&W that a particular film and processing combination would produce in the old days. I think you simply haven't done enough digital photos intended for B&W to have an actual conversion embedded in your head (yet).

I should have thought of this when I made an earlier comment. I have a B&W only camera app on my iPhone. I do understand what you're saying about looking for color pix when you know the camera is recording color. I use the app when I'm shooting strictly for B&W, so I understand your mindset. Still, 1200 bucks?!?

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