black & white photography question

Quick question - is there a difference between taking a regular, colour digital photo and then using my photo editing software to make it black & white, and setting my camera to take a picture in black & white?

(Wasn’t sure in which forum this question belonged).

Well. I have never tried both. Just on general principle I would say this- it’s far wise to shoot in color, then alter the image in post. You can always make it B&W later on.

It’s exceedingly difficult to start with a B&W image and make it totally accurate color later on.

When I shoot B&W, it’s on 35mm film anyway so I am dedicated to that scheme. In digital, I’d suggest what I just mentioned above.


I would love to take some beautiful black and white photos of my baby.

I just found out that our camera has a black & white setting.

Because I hate monkeying around with camera settings (I’m afraid of mucking something up plus I’m a total technophobe), I’m wondering if I can get just as beautiful results with colour pictures that I adjust later.

I have a digital photography reference book at home (can’t recall the title), which strongly recommended that you shoot the digital photo in color, and then convert to B&W afterwards (e.g. Photoshop). I can’t recall the exact reasoning given, but it allows you more control over the shading/greys (get a better range of tones?)

I think it depends on how much you want to muck around in Photoshop (since you say you’re a technophobe).

The reason would be that the camera uses one specific method to make it black and white, while doing it in post you have about 18 bazillion ways you can do it, ranging from very easy (like just a few clicks) to very time consuming depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. The other advantage being that you’ll also have a color copy should you ever want it that way.

[brag]Like This [/brag]
(This picture looks drastically different on different monitors, and if you have an LCD monitor it’ll look differnent from different angles, (up and down)).
BTW this picture was originally in color and I changed it to black and white using a method called highkey, something that you couldn’t do straight out of camera. But since I still have the color, I could do other methods to make it black and white and have it look compleatly different.

Hmmm … so why is there a b&w setting on the camera at all? :slight_smile:

Yeah, Photoshop scares me, but I am trying to figure it out. We also have ACDPhotoEnhance which allows me, with a couple of mouse clicks to change it to “256 grays”.

So if there is no difference really, I will stick with my software rather than messing around with the camera.


I have a couple of smallish points to add:

First, if you’re going to shoot in color and then transform it to b/w on your computer, using the “desaturate” function will give better results than switching the photo to “grayscale.” You’ll preserve a lot more of the shades and subtleties.

Second, here’s at least one argument for shooting the original in black and white, instead of changing it later: the preview is more accurate. If you shoot in color, you may get a shot of, for example, a person in a red shirt standing in front of a green wall. No problem. But then sometimes the “color temperature” (I may be using that term wrong) can turn out to be approximately the same for both the red and the green, so that when you get home and convert to b/w, the person’s torso becomes near-invisible against the background. You’ll see this before you take the shot if you frame the photo in a black and white screen.

Just a thought; I just finished making a black and white digital movie, and I made sure to use the camera’s b/w mode when shooting to keep this from happening.

Good points jackelope … do most software programs have a “desaturate” option?

Yes, I thought of the advantages of an accurate “preview” too. Glad to know I wasn’t on the wrong track …

If I get any cool shots I’ll bore you all by posting one someday.