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04-30-2009, 10:05 PM   #1
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B&W Film vs Color Neg to B&W Conversion??

after reading javier's Ektar comparison and saw some B&W conversions, i thought they looked fairly decent. so i started playing around in lightroom with some of my old 400H photos and thinking, the greyscale conversion is pretty decent ... i'm not conoisseurish enough to see the exact differences. in fact it is more flexible because of the channel mixer.

and if so and it's easy to use and i don't develop my own film, why should i shoot B&W film? someone help me fill in the gap

04-30-2009, 11:48 PM   #2
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If it looks good, why not? I find it interesting that B&W film is more expensive to develop than color and the rolls are pricer too.

1, 2, 5, and 9 are color film converted in SilkyPix to B&W.
Portraits Photo Gallery by ajuett at pbase.com

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04-30-2009, 11:53 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
after reading javier's Ektar comparison and saw some B&W conversions, i thought they looked fairly decent. so i started playing around in lightroom with some of my old 400H photos and thinking, the greyscale conversion is pretty decent ... i'm not conoisseurish enough to see the exact differences. in fact it is more flexible because of the channel mixer.

and if so and it's easy to use and i don't develop my own film, why should i shoot B&W film? someone help me fill in the gap
Just depends on what you want.
I don't shoot B&W film for its lack of color, I use B&W film for the tones, textures, and grain. Also its super easy to develop on your own.
Shooting color and converting it to B&W digitally is just fine especially if you aren't going to be printing the film in a darkroom.
Actually I sometimes shoot 35mm color negatives and print them with my enlarger on B&W paper, comes out with some really interesting tones.
05-01-2009, 04:19 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by zplus Quote
Just depends on what you want.
I don't shoot B&W film for its lack of color, I use B&W film for the tones, textures, and grain. Also its super easy to develop on your own.
Seconded! Mind you, the difference will only really be noticeable if you crop tightly or enlarge to a great size. Then you will miss the beautiful grain and texture of black and white images comprised of crystalline silver salts.

05-01-2009, 09:27 AM   #5
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I don't know why, I just don't like converting colour to B&W. When shooting, I know whther I want to shoot it colour or B&W, and so I use the appropriate film, depending on the light, the settings I want to use, the contrast levels, colour, tonal range,etc.

Plus if I'm gonna make prints in the darkroom, colour negs just don't print well.
05-01-2009, 03:39 PM   #6
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The only reason to shoot BW film vs. shooting with color and converting later is if you are going to develop and print it yourself. I don't see the point in shooting BW film if you are just going to have a lab do all the darkroom work.
05-02-2009, 07:44 AM   #7
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I am playing with black and white - just to try something different.

At my daughter's wedding, everyone else was shooting color digital - so I did the opposite just to get some different effects. It turned out to be a good decision, as I ended up switching to Kodak P3200 to deal with the low light levels. Not too many color films for ISO 3200 out there.
05-02-2009, 08:09 AM   #8
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thanks for the replies, gonna have to experiment more ...

05-02-2009, 04:39 PM   #9
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Sorry I am late to this party. I am just now seeing this thread. A few months ago, I was thinking the very same thing. Why shoot black and white film when color film ''seems'' to yield the same results and in some cases better. I have been spending allot of time contemplating this and trying things. these are my conclusions that are subject to change...

Kodak BW400CN is a complete waste of money. It is desaturated color film after all that still needs to be converted to Gray scale to make it black and white, otherwise you end up with a purple finish to it.

Tri-x 400 is a beautiful film all its own. It's soft grays and beautiful grain...My favorite...

Up until I started playing with the Ektar, I thought black and white film still had an edge, but this to ''me'' is no longer true. With those crazy colors that come out of the Ektar there is allot of flexibility to play with the various channels. The fine grain of the ektar is also very pleasing to my eyes. I have also found that expired color film makes for good black and white as it then becomes a soft grainy film with much contrast.

So for me, other than Tri-x I am done with other black and white films.
05-02-2009, 06:36 PM   #10
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Silver-based (conventional) black and white film has been demonstrably superior in image longevity.

All color film with the possible exception of Kodachrome will fade and suffer color shifts within a few years.
A properly processed black and white negative will reproduce accurate prints several times longer.

Chris
05-02-2009, 07:46 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
Silver-based (conventional) black and white film has been demonstrably superior in image longevity.

All color film with the possible exception of Kodachrome will fade and suffer color shifts within a few years.
A properly processed black and white negative will reproduce accurate prints several times longer.

Chris
Oh, I did not know this. more to learn.
05-02-2009, 10:21 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
Silver-based (conventional) black and white film has been demonstrably superior in image longevity.

All color film with the possible exception of Kodachrome will fade and suffer color shifts within a few years.
A properly processed black and white negative will reproduce accurate prints several times longer.
no doubt about the archival capabilities, but how about the look?
05-02-2009, 11:54 PM   #13
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If you’re not happy with your B&W shots and you mainly shoot outdoors in the sun, then try the following.

1) Use a slower film with a finer grain, like Ilford PANF Plus (50 ISO), Ilford FP4 Plus (125 ISO) or Fomapan Reversal (100 ISO). 400 ISO film is way too fast for daylight outdoor use.

2) Try using filters. The minimum would be a UV and Polarizer. B&W film is very sensitive to UV light from haze, so you should have a UV filter on at all times. Use the Polarizer like you would with colour film, to darken blue skies and reduce reflections. Also try the yellow, orange & red filters to remove even more haze and dramatically darken blue skies & emphasize white clouds.


Experiment by taking the same picture using different filters. Find a scene with water, blue skies and some white clouds. Try no filter, then a UV, Polarizer, yellow, orange, red and lastly red & a Polarizer. You’ll find a huge difference with the results from the different filters. The least appealing shot will be the one with no filter.

Yes these filters cost money but they are worth it and you will be happy with the results.
If you are lucky to have one of the old K or A series Pentax ultra wide angle lenses, some of them have built-in filters. (UV, yellow and orange)

PS these filters have no effect indoors or if it’s overcast or foggy.
05-03-2009, 06:08 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
no doubt about the archival capabilities, but how about the look?
I suppose with enough Photoshop tweaks you can get just about any look you want. If you enjoy that sort of thing...

Chris
05-06-2009, 08:52 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
I suppose with enough Photoshop tweaks you can get just about any look you want. If you enjoy that sort of thing...

Chris
Even with the Photoshop tweaks it still misses the mark when compared to a properly developed analog black and white print. And scanning loses the edge. You just can't compare a scanned image to the real thing. IMO
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