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Monday, 12 September 2022


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I think the trick with Lightroom and likely Bridge is to use Adobe Monochrome with an image, perhaps with no other adjustments, save a user preset (call it whatever you want). Then choose that preset when you open the photos, not Adobe color or whatever it is set to. From then on it will automatically turn the photos to black and white. You should still look out the window while importing, as it briefly flashes color before applying the preset, and I know that would bug you : ) .

Since the introduction of the Fuji X-Pro1 some of us have been bugging Fuji to make an X-Pro-M model for B&W shooters.
Leica has Monochrome bodies and the X-Pro Fuji bodies are pretty much aimed at the same market(though lower price points) and it seems a good way to go.

Still hope? We hope so

As usual, your interests have sparked my interests. Had a good conversation with the owner of Maxmax. He calls back, and is fun to talk with. I was asking if he could convert my Z6, and he said yes, for $2500, which made me gulp. Unfortunately, dealing with the IBIS mechanism and everything else takes a lot of time. You also lose pdaf, but with his testing of a converted Z7 he said Nikon has quite good cdaf. Still, if you want anything beyond S-AF, it's not recommended. Sounds like he has the most serious lab of all the conversion places, though.

How do the images look, printed? Both fpM and fp in- camera Mono?

I understand your fascination with the concept. Really, I do.
That said: With contemporary software like eg (but not limited to) Nik Silver Efex you have such a plethora of possibilities in Black and White (and I know all the counter-arguments, but I do not find them really convincing), that I find the concept misleading. If you want, you can restrict yourself with this kind of software. Just stick to one preset which you vary, filterwise or otherwise, from case to case.
My two cents ...

To use an analogy, you have decided to stray from the well-beaten path and venture where few have gone before. At this point we can do little else to but wish you safe travels and timely arrival at whatever your final destination may be. To use another analogy, I sincerely hope the juice is worth the squeeze and trust you to be the best judge of that.

Your logic regarding this B&W quest makes perfect sense to me. Tech Bros just don't have a Photo Dawg's mindset.

These problems could have been avoided if Kodak had not dropped the digital ball. Life would have been so simple. Want to shot B&W? Just remove the Porta sensor and slip in the Tri-X sensor. Feeling adventurous? Reach for the HP5, or the Velvia sensors.

for what its worth - Open colour image / Choose Lab / Select lightness / covert to grayscale / make further changes in PS

I wouldn't want to use the B&W mixer either. I don't like to use that stuff for color images, all the sliders and choices crack my brain in half. No thanks. Which is why I'm happy shooting JPEG's with Fuji and rolling with various film simulations as the mood strikes.

Under the category of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) you are on the right track in my opinion. Keep on keeping on.

As an aside, I feel your unhappiness. Which is why I've lately enjoyed my iPhone camera more than my "real" camera. The simplicity is liberating and intoxicating. Basically it's just fun. (But I'm an old dawg hobbyist, so that's just how I feel only.)

Thanks for keeping us posted,I'm enjoying following your journey on this.

Glad you're feeling better, Mike!

No excuses needed, whether monochrome photography is your art, hobby or even passing interest, it's yours! It's also your money, your time, your blog, your camera, etc. etc.

I believe that what you're after, at least in part, is something that should be familiar to most people who've worked seriously with any plastic medium. It's a kind of feedback, communion and collaboration with the materials and the whole process. Sliders in software is not a substitute, any more than a takeout meal is a substitute for preparing a meal from selected raw ingredients, or a drive is a substitute for a hike. It's something else entirely--not better or worse, but else. Some of us want that hike for what it is, not just as a means to get from point A to point B. Some of us need it.

A somewhat related aside: While you were away, you reposted an old piece about noise. The half-joking response I considered posting was that I miss noise, and I miss it because the era when we were all dealing with noise was the last time that the hobbyist digital photographer had a medium to deal with. And by that I mean a material that forces us to work with and around it, to overcome and/or exploit the quirks and limitations that consistently threaten to undermine our goals, and in the process keeps us honest about what we're trying to say and why we do what we do.

It also feels like the last time that we were united by a common adversary that was worthy of the role. It happened to be a time when many of us were printing, too, when many popular camera sites were almost as concerned with that craft as they were with cameras and lenses. For many of us noise and printing were part of the process, things that made the craft more complex and more limited than it has been since technology banished those issues to the margins, but in some ways they helped make it more liberating and rewarding, too.

Just my personal feelings, of course. I don't expect many to relate.

Anyway, Godspeed!

I went on the MIS site to see the price for my fp and saw only Sony cameras listed. How did you get yours done?

Covid seems to be the excuse for everything so go ahead. You’re at the age where you should do whatever makes you happy. Although I think it was wise for you to do what you did before converting the camera. You might have uncovered something you weren’t aware of.

Get well soon Mike and don't give up on your quest. The song by Peter Gabriel, sung in a duet with Kate Bush - 'Don't Give Up' is said to have been inspired by Dorothea Lange's photographs that Gabriel saw in a book called This Proud Land.

I'm finding this series quite interesting. I'm colour blind, so black and white only cameras are especially appealing to me.

My BW work goes straight from ACR to Exposure and gets a (pretty decent) Tri-X simulation applied. Yellow “filter”. Only decision is N-1, N, N+1 or N+2 “development”. Makes life simple.

If I shoot film (5x4) it’s always Tri-X.

Rare colour work always goes straight to a K64 profile.

No messing about. I’m lazier than you are. :)

I'm beginning to understand. I recently shot some B&W pics (m4/3s body) in monochrome mode that sort of looked ok. Trouble is since I have the RAWs I end up fiddling with those B&W conversion colour sliders and I end up not knowing what I really want. I've had to consciously limit myself. Moreover, I use Affinity Photo to do this editing and I've discovered that if I move these sliders a bit too much, it introduces "noise" and I have to use a "colour de-noise" slider to get back to what I want, something I rarely have to do otherwise except at the highest ISOs.

Last winter I digitized some old B&W negatives from the 1970s by photographing the negs with my camera. It was much easier working on them.

Where does that leave your M(9)Monochrom interview?

“a palette of endless possibilities” yes, this (for me) is exactly what I don’t want. B&W film developer choices are bad enough on their own. Conversion derived from a colour RAW file is even worse. Now that I have, anew, an X-Pro1 and have mated a Rokkor-M 28mm to it and am shooting ONLY in monochrome JPG, I’m thinking of sending it off to MIS - not only for the advantages of monochrome RAW files, but because the other day I say a photo that would only work in colour, and I switched the settings to colour.

The temptation to do that more and more is just not good for me.

Regarding the Book o' the Week, may I suggest a complimentary title (also on Amazon): MIGRANT MOTHER, MIGRANT GENDER by Sally Stein, published by Mack Books in 2020. For full disclosure, I've known Sally as a friend for some time. But reading this treatise I felt like reading a suspense novel. Or rather a well researched dive into the myths and easy assumptions that always accompany this iconic picture. Lots of twists and turns with much debunking of typical narratives. No surprise of course - Sally was a professor of photography (now Emerita) whose research centered on women photographers of Dorothea Lange's era. This is more like a "paper" than a book, worth reading alongside your recommendation.

"you need to use Sigma Photo Pro as a raw converter to process the files as B&W." I don't get it. Convert to b&w with Photo Pro and then import into Lightroom. How can it hurt to try for a week or so?

I quite like NIK Silver FX Pro. It's quite a neat plug-in for lightroom or photoshop. I normally don't like presets but NIK is quite convenient and I find I use it quite a bit when I want to B&W work. It's certainly a LOT cheaper than a dedicated RAW camera. Doesn't help with "seeing" the images of course ...

All of this B & W discussion reminds of a time in the early 1960's when I got caught up in B & W slides. I bought some positive B & W film from Freestyle Photography in Hollywood. After exposing in the camera, I had to develope in two developers, with a exposure to light between them. I was amazed by the results, the different shades of grey, the fine grain and the contrast. I might have stuck with it longer if there was an easier way of reviewing the results. I even went so far as to buy a 1/2 frame Pen F camera and a film strip projector. It brings back memories of some of the great B & W movies, such as "Paper Moon."

Well, wouldn’t it be nice if camera makers just decided to take any one of their current models and just put the B&W sensor in it. This could be done before the color layer was applied, and BAMM. All this post conversion to B&W would be gone, everyone has their favorite way of doing it, all sorts of programs, recipes, etc. still not as good as a native B&W sensor in my opinion. Camera sales are down, maybe it would be a spark that is needed to increase sales and get us who long for B&W photography back in the game. Just wait until the next iPhones have a B&W lens/sensor mode, it may be on the horizon.

I’m so happy with the number of people who ‘get it.’ I knew your sentiments immediately—same ones I went through that ultimately overcame my Leica price angst—where I finally just thought the hell with it and ordered the damn Q2M. Never had buyer’s remorse for a second. When you’re 65, you don’t have too many decades left for do-overs!


Is the Sigma Photo Pro software included with the camera? (You only mentioned it, but gave no other details.)

Maybe that program would have a simpler B&W adjustment menu. Here's a link to what looks like an older version of the program: https://www.digitalphotopro.com/technique/software-technique/bw-conversions/

The Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT) is hopefully still included with the Sigma Photo Pro software.

The most recent article (on the first page of search results) about B&W software was at Digital PhotoPro (linked above) and dated Nov. 14, 2019.

It doesn't really look like any of the programs have a simple "Light/Dark, Contrast, Burn/Dodge" interface.

This is one reason I kept my darkroom equipment for B&W work. (It's more enjoyable to work in a darkroom than behind a computer.)

I wish you luck in your quest for the ideal software program. I guess you would need to use presets to avoid some of the tedium. I think that a Zone program with choices for placing the dark and light areas of the photo into the appropriate zones would be close to what you're looking for. (Like this? https://www.digitalblackandwhite.co.uk/downloads/digital-zone-system-2-0/)

Nearly all of my photography is black and white, and I fully get the premise for a monochrome camera, though I'm not sure that I would actually buy one.
But here is a thought experiment: Suppose that we had a camera with a color sensor, and all that entails, but it had an option to only save monochrome files (jpeg or raw). The conversion to monochrome would be baked into the camera. Now, you might say, "I don't want to be tempted by the option of changing from monochrome to color." But, you had that option with film, it was just rather inconvenient to do it on the spur of the moment (unless you used sheet film or a camera with interchangeable backs). So, now suppose that the monochrome/color switch in a digital camera could only be made by some inconvenient means, like connecting the camera to a computer. Wouldn't this get us back to what we had with film?
I think that there have been previous discussions of being able to set camera parameters from a computer, and I still like that idea.
Would this satisfy the desire for a monochrome-only camera (discounting the possible advantage for image quality of not requiring demosaicing)?

If I were on the fence about a conversion, I'd spend more time shooting with the camera as is for at least awhile to thoroughly assess the situation.

Converting native RAW color to black and white is painless. And it sure beats packing filters and step-up rings. Whatever you may lose in fine detail can probably be brought back with judicious sharpening.

I've been battling with digital black and white for a while now and recognise much of what you say abut the temptations of colour. I've found if my workflow only presents me with b&w images by default I can resist the urge to look at the colour version. So what I do is: set my XPro-2 to one of Fuji's film emulations (say Acros). That gives me a b&w image in the viewfinder and embeds a b&w jpg in the raw file. Import the raw files into Lightroom having set the default import profile to match the camera. That gives me a screenful of imported images in b&w. Then use LR to process the raw files to taste. The BW sliders are disabled by the use of the Fuji Acros simulation built into LR so no temptation to correct things there. Export to jpg and there you go - capture to printout without seeing colour anywhere. OK, so the colour's still only a click away but because the viewfinder showed me no colour in the first place, I find the urge to go looking is much reduced. Clearly YMMV.

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