Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The DV Info Network > Digital Video Industry News

Digital Video Industry News
Events, press releases, bulletins and dispatches from the DV world at large.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 15th, 2014, 11:05 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Blue Mountains, Australia
Posts: 170
Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

I've always loved back and white photos but like many, I've been disappointed by the results obtained from shooting RAW 5K or larger stills with modern digital CMOS cameras, then deleting the colour information in post. A couple of manufacturers now produce specific monochrome cameras, designed without the Bayer filter over the sensor so under ideal shooting conditions, the result obtained can be truly satisfying. However these specific cameras can be expensive.

Solution? $10 gets you a clever piece of software called 'Monocle' developed by the by ClipToolz guys that manages to reproduce only 'unfiltered' pixels from your CMOS sensor. That's right, half the pixels on the sensor are unmolested by the Bayer filter as they normally carry the Y or luminance signal with no colour information.
Craig Marshall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 16th, 2014, 12:07 AM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Canyon Country, CA
Posts: 430
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

That's very nice Craig, thanks. It takes me back; I'm going to try it.
Charles W. Hull is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 16th, 2014, 06:46 PM   #3
Space Hipster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 1,593
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

There's a rumor that Sony will soon release a monochromatic sensor RX1-type camera. I hope it's true.
Glen Vandermolen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 18th, 2014, 09:32 AM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 167
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

Very nice image. It doesn't even look like digital. It has all the tonal range and subtleties you would find in 35mm film.
Steve Struthers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 18th, 2014, 10:23 AM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Raleigh, NC, USA
Posts: 677
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Struthers View Post
It has all the tonal range and subtleties you would find in 35mm film.
No, it doesn't. Film isn't linear like that. And film has all kinds of weird artifacts like Mackie Lines around bright / dark boundaries that can boost acutance. Not to mention Callier Effect and it's non-linear compression of tonality in the highlights.

If you're really interested in what film can (and does) do, I suggest a trip to your closest university research library so you can have a look at Grant Haist's two volume tome Modern Photographic Processing. It's just about all there -- the sum total of Haist's knowledge on the subject after decades as a Kodak research chemist. If anyone could ever claim to be an expert on film, it's Haist.

Film isn't at all simple, and it's reaction to light is amazingly intricate. The "film look" is difficult to replicate for a book full of reasons. Simple image desaturation is only scratching the surface, and not very deeply at that.
Bruce Watson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 18th, 2014, 06:37 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

To me, a digital camera is awesome for showing on digital displays and for high volume or fast-turnaround work. For large, "spacial" prints, there's something magical about film and burning/dodging in the darkroom. Each print is a hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind creation, which lends more value to the work, IMO.

A couple years ago, I was given a Bronica S2A with a 75mm and a 135mm lens, a couple of backs and a few other goodies. For exposure, I use the two extremes: either I "eye it" with the Sunny 16 rule (and possibly bracket), or a take a digital photo and map the exposure to the film camera. In fact, I can take a whole set of digital images, find the look that I want, and then snap that one film shot. Both approaches can be effective. Hey, a Canon EOS-M isn't much bigger than a light meter anyway! It's a great way to go when conditions are changing and when you want an off-center light curve.

For processing, I keep a couple of 5 gallon tubs to collect the waste, as I'm on a well and septic system. I don't do much volume, so I have yet to have to (safely and ecologically) dump it. A $200 scanner (I have the Epson V600 with medium format holder) gives very good results when you want to preview and post images digitally. It's convenient to be able to process and view the results at home.

When you find that special image, it's time to go to the darkroom. In Portland, Newspace rents a fully equipped darkroom. I should build some screen holders that fit in the trunk so I can take the wet prints home right away - and keep them flat after they've dried. After that, it's an easy decision to add a matte and frame and mount it on the wall. I've got one 20x20" image that I shot at 3200 ISO pushed to 6400 ISO that looks great - grain and all. :)

Somehow with digital, I'm not as motivated to print and frame the result. Digital is just such a... reproducible commodity. A film negative and print gives a one-of-a-kind result.

I'm not even talking about visual quality here. Film has an aesthetic or even abstract quality. It's like an original 1950s Gibson Les Paul vs. a brand-new, mass-produced guitar. The new guitar might even play and sound better, but the older guitar has an intrinsic, human value that sets its price tag ten times higher.

Sometimes it's as much about the experience of creating the work as it is about the work itself.

Anyway, film shooting is still very much possible. And if you find somebody clearing out their closet, the equipment can be really cheap, if not free! It would be ridiculous to shoot selfies and snapchats with film, but for framed works of black-and-white photographic art, it's still a great option.
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 22nd, 2014, 02:12 PM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

FWIW, I went to the local "Cruisin the Gut" event in downtown Vancouver, WA last weekend and shot some medium format film with the Bronica. I processed and scanned them at home and here are a couple of results.

Of course, composition and lighting play a much bigger role than the camera and medium. In addition to these, I took some stinkers. Neither film nor digital would rescue those. However, Photoshop might. I skipped a number of photo opportunities as there were Honey Buckets directly behind some of the most beautiful cars. (Choose your parking spots well at car shows!)

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...1&d=1406055946

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...1&d=1406055946
Attached Thumbnails
Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?-gut_006.jpg   Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?-gut_009.jpg  

__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 22nd, 2014, 08:13 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

Back on the original topic - ClipToolz's Monocle - I wonder what they mean when they write that "It effectively uses all of the unfiltered pixels from your camera sensor"?

With a Bayer filter sensor, all of the samples are filtered. Half are green, a quarter are red, and the remaining quarter are blue. Where exactly are these "unfiltered pixels" of which they speak? I get the feeling that they are using the word "effectively" as a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Yeah, one could de-Bayer and get a YUV image and then throw away the color channels or one can process the RAW image with intent to go directly to monochrome. Doesn't Canon's Digital Photo Professional software - as well as the camera itself - do that with the monochrome picture profile? On the 5D2, I found that shooting monochrome video (and using physical color filters rather than the in-camera digital color filters) produced a superior image compared to shooting in color and going to monochrome in post.

I'm thinking that Monocle is just some standard Bayer to monochrome picture processing with some marketing words added to make a buck. I didn't see any side-by-side comparisons of their results with standard Canon DPP results. AFAIK, the software does produce a result, just not a better result than we get for free.

At a Canon event that I attended a few years ago, Canon were pretty confident that their de-Bayering was best as they fully understand the spectrum and response of their photo sites. One can use, say, Photoshop to go to a DNG, but this is based on reverse engineering. Canon recommended using DPP to go to 16-bit TIFF and to then take the result to Photoshop. Note that DPP ships free with all of their cameras, so it's not like they were protecting a cash stream with this assertion.

Anyway, I'm happy to be proven wrong. If Monocle does something truly unique and with higher quality, I'd love to know the details. And I'm happy to admit it if I'm wrong. That said, the non-specific text and weasel words on the site along with my signal processing knowledge bring out my inner skeptic.
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 23rd, 2014, 10:59 AM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 477
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

Craig -

Thanks for sharing your awesome photo and the tool tip!!!
Andrew Clark is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 23rd, 2014, 11:31 AM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 795
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
Yeah, one could de-Bayer and get a YUV image and then throw away the color channels
From the features page it sounds like instead of a typical debayering process they simply eliminate the red & blue samples altogether, and then create the image using only the green samples with no interpolation (so you get a half-res final image). They claim "Even sensors with color filter arrays still provide half of their total pixels unfiltered" - which I don't believe is correct, there have been some sensors that used unfiltered photosites but they are typically in addition to red/blue/green. It basically just skips the demosaicing/interpolation process, which may have a minor impact on detail and artifacts, but I can't see it being significantly better than simply discarding the color channels (rather than simply desaturating the image). Plus, with a full-color source image you can always do a channel blend in the process of converting to monochrome, which lets you create looks in post that would require lens filtration if you were shooting purely B&W.
__________________
My latest short documentary: "Four Pauls: Bring the Hat Back!"
Evan Donn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 23rd, 2014, 05:17 PM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

Yeah, I considered the approach of using only the green photo sites, but that's like putting a green filter in front of your lens with black and white film (or a color-filter-free sensor) - trees become light and faces become dark with unflattering, exaggerated complexions. Red or orange filters are typically more attractive. Red/Orange makes faces light (like adding a light on the face), the complexion becomes smoother, the sky gets a better contrast between blue sky and clouds (like a polarizer that is constant from corner to corner), and trees and grass become dark for better contrast with the foreground subject. However, by using red only without a de-Bayer approach means that our 20MP camera is only delivering 5MP images.

I'm still not convinced that Monocle offers a tangible improvement. Physics tells me that we really want a camera without the color filter (like the Red Epic Monochrome) or film for best results.

As an off-topic bonus, here's another medium format film shot. With the light at my back, when you look at the tire at the left of the photo, it looks as if this Ford is flying. :) Of course, we can get that effect with film or digital... http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...1&d=1406153530
Attached Thumbnails
Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?-gut_023.jpg  
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 30th, 2014, 12:54 AM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Re: Love B&W photography but can't afford a Leica?

Nice find, Craig!

So, sure enough, Monocle chooses one color. Red would be my general choice as it makes faces bright and reduces blemishes. It also darkens the sky and background foliage. It's quarter resolution, but that could be okay. Green is difficult for people, but like the article says, it's not super saturated so maybe it's not so bad.

And yes, this will avoid Bayer artifacts. So there may be value in this after all. :)

Monocle could be especially good when lighter greens and darker reds create a dynamic look. Then again, I have color filters for my B&W film camera, and I've only used the green filter for tests. I generally use orange, orange-red, and red - as well as a polarizer.

BTW, here's another advantage of using narrower filters (or Monocle): Many lenses have chromatic aberration. That means that different wavelengths are offset on the film/sensor. With color photographs, this causes green/magenta fringes on high contrast edges. On monochrome images, this causes smear. By using a color filter, we limit the CA effect and can get crisp edges from lower-performing lenses. :)
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The DV Info Network > Digital Video Industry News

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:27 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network