Digital Photos in Black & White

A reader asks:

“I noticed my camera has a setting on it for shooting in B&W. If I want B&W photos, can’t I convert them in my imaging software? Is it better to use the camera instead?”

First off, B&W from the camera isn’t any better than B&W converted via your imaging program. I really think that sometimes manufacturers of cameras—or any electronic gadget—like to add as many “easy from them to do” features as they can. You know, just to say, “Hey, look at all these features!”

At first, a B&W mode for your camera seems to be one of those times, however, there is an advantage to shooting in B&W straight from your camera: Smaller image files.

Say for instance you just came across an incredible scene—maybe the Space Shuttle makes an emergency landing on your street or something. You only have your lowly 8 meg card that came with the camera, and you know you’ll fill it up after just a 10 photos. If you switch to B&W you’ll find you get at least 20 or 30 photos on that same card (possibly more).

That said, converting your color photos to B&W is really easy, so I recommend you shoot in color unless you look up and see the shuttle with its landing gear extended. Nothing worse than looking over an image you just took in B&W and wishing it was in color.

As for converting a color image to B&W (often referred to as “grayscale”), that’s about as easy as it gets. Most (think 99.9%) imaging programs have an automatic setting for this. You can either change the color mode to Grayscale or B&W or you may find a menu option that says “Convert To Black and White”. It’s usually only a mouse click or two.

Once you convert to B&W, you may want to touch up your contrast and brightness to give the image more (or less) snap.

Happy shooting!

~ Steve

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.