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01-26-2014, 09:20 PM   #1
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Best digital settings to emulate B&W film?

Has anyone experimented with K-30 "B&W" settings to find what more closely simulates B&W film, ie. Triax or Ilford 400? I love shooting B&W with my ME-Super, but due to processing costs, etc. I don't often seem to find the "right shot" for it and haven't thought at the times to take the same shot digitally and experiment with it.

01-26-2014, 09:29 PM   #2
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I have found it best to shoot in RAW and do the B&W film emulation in post-processing in Lightroom. I use a set of pre-sets called "Monochrome Toolkit" that allows emulation based on spectral sensitivity, B&W filters, paper grade and toning.

This works well for me, but is not emulation of a particular film type. That is a little more of a task and not as easy. The rub comes in a couple of flavors. The first is grain emulation...very difficult. The second is the nuance of dynamic transitions...also very difficult. The problem is that your camera's sensor and image processor is fairly static in terms of how it treats light.

That being said there are a number of commercial products that promise reasonable film emulation. Google "digital film emulation" as a start point and then take a look at the Digital Processing section of this site.

Here is an example of one that turned out well:

Color version:



Monochrome conversion:




Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 02-01-2014 at 01:58 PM.
01-27-2014, 12:00 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I think you will be happier with conversions outside the camera. The camera has a limited CPU.
01-29-2014, 10:39 AM   #4
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I use DxO Film pack and am generally happy with it.

02-01-2014, 01:29 PM   #5
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Doing it in post also gives you the option to use the color photo. Why limit yourself to what can be done in camera?
02-01-2014, 01:59 PM   #6
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Well, emulating film-effects in camera rather than post-process has some advantages:
  • you don't allow yourself to mend bad photos, especially when you shoot JPEGs, this is very similar to film because it makes you shoot more carefully
  • less worry about post, just shoot and enjoy the moment, just like film
  • concentrate on the subject, not how to make it looks better in post
  • faster workflow

So, because film has better highlight detail than shadow (opposite in digital), you want to switch on the highlight protection option, then turn off the shadow detail option, both in the menu (or info button quick menu).

Then, increase the contrast until it resembles Tri-X or Ilford HP400 (both have higher contrast). Then shoot at ISO800 (Pentax's ISO400 is still too good damn low noise) or higher, until you find the balance ISO.

You may want to tweek sharpness (film is generally less sharp than digital) but that is for later. Concentrate on contrast and grain (noise) emulation first.

You also want to save the settings to one of your USER dial mode, so it's easier to switch from normal digital profile to your personal film profile. Good luck!
02-01-2014, 07:30 PM   #7
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It's better if you PP it in LightRoom or Photoshop and give it the BnW effect. These software are better and only degrade a bit of the image quality if you shoot in raw. The in-camera processing may not be that good. Actually, why not get a Leica Monochrome?
02-01-2014, 08:57 PM   #8
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I would also recommend post. Here is a tutorial for GIMP, but would probably be similar in PS.

This is good because you can tinker with the settings until you get the look you want. Once you get it dialed in, you can probably save it as a macro or preset.

12-11-2015, 02:46 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I have found it best to shoot in RAW and do the B&W film emulation in post-processing in Lightroom. I use a set of pre-sets called "Monochrome Toolkit" that allows emulation based on spectral sensitivity, B&W filters, paper grade and toning.

This works well for me, but is not emulation of a particular film type. That is a little more of a task and not as easy. The rub comes in a couple of flavors. The first is grain emulation...very difficult. The second is the nuance of dynamic transitions...also very difficult. The problem is that your camera's sensor and image processor is fairly static in terms of how it treats light.

That being said there are a number of commercial products that promise reasonable film emulation. Google "digital film emulation" as a start point and then take a look at the Digital Processing section of this site.

Here is an example of one that turned out well:

Color version:



Monochrome conversion:




Steve
Due to a bit of juggling on Flickr, the original linked image to the B&W version was not longer visible. Since I was particularly impressed with how this conversion turned out, I decided it was good to provide it again.




Steve
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