in-Camera Monochrome Capture
These days most digital cameras offer a monochrome capture mode and while you can always make adjustments after the fact using Photoshop or your favorite digital imaging software, I’d like to give you a few reasons why direct capture may be better for some shooters
Aesthetics: Sometimes too much color confuses viewer and takes the focus away from the real subject of the photograph. Shooting directly in black and white also impacts how you see while making images and getting the instant feedback possible with digital cameras helps focus that vision and lets you show your model what you’re trying to do. You don’t have to explain to your subject that you will convert the shot into black and white later; it’s already there on he LCD screen in black and white!
Workflow: There are many ways to use software to produce great looking black and white images from color files but if you want to make prints fast on-site using a PictBridge-based printer or drop your memory cards off at a local Target, capturing the file in black and white saves time.
Quality: Sometimes (depending on model) the quality of the camera’s black and white conversion exceeds what’s built into Photoshop, including using Channel Mixer or Black & White (Image > Adjustments > Black & White) function. Interestingly, when you capture using a camera’s monochrome mode the file may look like “real” black and white even though it remains as an RGB file.
That’s not to say that the best way to capture monochrome images is only in camera. It’s just another tool for creating monochrome images and as such you need to select the one that works best for any given shoot, so ultimately it’s your call. OK, I know what you’re thinking… what if you shoot in black and white and later change your mind wishing you made that image in color? These days almost all digital SLRs offers simultaneous color/monochrome capture using the RAW+JPEG option. Some cameras even have two memory card slots and allowing you to capture RAW image onto one memory card and JPEGs on the other. That means you can capture color RAW files on one card, while recording monochrome JPEG files on the other card! It doesn’t get much better than that! Check and see if your twin-slot digital SLR camera lets you do that.
So is in-camera monochrome capture that perfect solution? Nope. In an upcoming post, I’ll give you a few reasons why color capture and conversion later in the digital darkroom may be be the best option, especially for portrait photographer. In the meantime, you’ve got a few things to think about.