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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Re: Digital Color

Imy in the kitchen: The print is lovely.

For the past five or six years everybody's been talking about film vs. digital, but I'm having more of an issue with color vs. B&W than I am with film vs. digital. There's not much doubt in my mind that digital is better for color than film ever was, at roughly comparable levels of comparison. That is, if you compare 35mm SLR color to 6-mp DSLRs, large-format film to medium-format digital backs, and film point-and-shoots to digital ones, digital color's better. But B&W in digital is not satisfactorily resolved yet. Film still has more than just an edge, albeit at a heavy cost in hassle.

But digital's combination of good high-ISO quality with anti-shake technology is allowing me to take better pictures, period. Well, not period, because you do have to take into account the kind of pictures I take! This one, for instance, was taken in fading dusk light from a window at a kitchen sink. I don't think I would even have tried it on film. Plus, I took it on Tuesday and delivered prints on Thursday, with minimal time and effort spent on it in between. And with something like this printed large, I get more comments/compliments from non-photographers than I ever got with film—including comments specifically about technical quality.

Still, I miss B&W.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Have you tried ConvertToB&W Pro 3.0? I did a search for B&W conversion software and found this to be very good indeed.

For Dodge & Burn you can use a 50% Gray layer, set to Overlay, and then use the Dodge & Burn tool on that layer. It'll be reversible (as it's a layer) so you can repeat your D&B endlessly until your happy with the results.

Getting a print is not easy however but I hear good things about the Epson for B&W prints.

9:47 AM  
Blogger scotth said...

Is there something specific about B&W with digital that you don't like. Is it making prints, less resolution, the fact that you are taking a colour photo and converting it...

I've been playing around with some B&W using a point & shoot; making jpegs in camera B&W and RAW. I can see B&W when I shoot and make adjustments to the RAW file to get the best I can out of it. It's been fun for me, but I really don't have much experience with it, so I am curious.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Will said...

Silver gelatin and silver chloride papers have a quality that are definitely special. At least with color you can print on chromira digitally and get something fairly similar to an r-print, but even then I've heard that 8x10 lf color prints still blow away those.

Rather than wishing for good b&w digital, I think it is better to realize that digital photography is really something different than film photography. Why not do both? Photography pundits routinely recommend using the right camera/lens for the right situation, yet no one ever seems to say "use digital for taking color snaps of your family on vacation, but use b&w lf film for landscapes" or something similar. Digital photography does have its place. Producing b&w prints with the quality of those that we have had for the last 100 years or so doesn't seem to be one of them.

9:24 AM  

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