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BW Film vs Photoshop



If I scan color negatives into Photoshop, where I can change color to greyscale, is there any reason ever to use B/W film anymore? It seems I can get both a color version AND a B/W version of every image.

I guess what I'm asking is... what are the tradeoffs?


New Member
You can convert a color image to grayscale, but it rarely gives the same quality as if you had shot with B/W film to start with. If you simply desaturate the image, the result is usually flat and lifeless looking. If you're willing to put more work (or money for a plug-in) into the job, you can do a lot better, but 1) it's still extra work and/or money, and 2) the results are still only rarely what you hope for.

In the end, I don't think you gain a lot by having both color and B/W versions of the same image anyway -- I've seen few shots that really "worked" both ways.


You can try this, this is my method for working with DIGITAL Black and White. I have never tried it with scanned colour, so your mileage will definitely vary.

Instead fo converting to Greyscale, which I find lifeless, go to the layers palette and open up the channels palette. Kill all the channels so your image disappears and then look at the red, Green and Blue channels one by one. You will get different Black and White views based on the amount of that colour in the image. This is a much more lively way of converting to B&W.

Your real problem will be printing, I use Quadtone inks. A colour printer with ordinary ink is particularly bad at printing black and white.



Jerry, Dave,

Thanks for the quick replies. I wasn't sure what to expect, since this doesn't seem to be a particularly "active" forum.

Anyway, your comments are more or less what I had expected to hear. Oh, well. Hadda ask.

Dave, you brought up an interesting point -- printing. I've always stuck with the manufacturer's inks (Epson, in this case). I'm not familiar with Quadtone. Are they somehow different from "ordinary ink?"

Also, any recommendations re papers? Again, I've been using Epson's, but thinking about trying Ilford.


Hi Bob,

Can I point you at this site,
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!

This is where i get all my B&W supplies from. I use quadtone inks with the Lyson Fine Art paper and the supplied colour Profile for my Epson Printer. It's expensive, but well worth it. I forget the actual numbers, but you have to bear in mind that when a colour printer prints black and white, it uses all the colours in its tanks, not just black. That means it is approximating a B&W image and it works out as something of the order of less than a thousand shades of gray. You will either always get a colour cast, or spend a heck of a lot ink and paper getting the tonal range right. In this case, What you see is most decidedly not what you get. By using the Quadtones, the available shades of gray leaps to around 7 million (I think, I may have too many zeros, but it is a lot. In any case, more than you or I can distinguish) Now what you see IS what you get.

If you cannot use the Lyson paper, or something similar, there are a couple of suppliers out there if you Google, I would recommend sticking with the printer maker's own paper for important stuff. I cannot comment on Ilford, I never tried it out of the darkroom!

Remember to use the custom profiles for your paper, the ink choice and the printer.

And to think I used to think the darkroom was a lot of fuss...



I only know this one, Sean. I guess it will be as good as we make it. If you find another, please post it here somewhere, but at the same time, please don;t give up here. I do not own this forum, so I have no vested interest, other than this has potential if enough people post...




I just visited the Lyson website. Wow! Whoda thunk -- B/W inks to replace the CYM inks. Pretty clever.


> Happy playing!


Maybe it would help, if every registered user here would check their profile in this forum. Look in the navigation bar of the forum at the top.

As some of you might know, you can get all postings of this forum also by e-mail. I mean the whole content of the posting, not just an alert that somebody posted (!). This works similar to a mailing list.

If the checkboxes in your profile are not activated for each section, you will not know that somebody posted in one of the sections and can not react. I find it always very time consuming to go online to a forum and browse whether there are any new interesting comments.

In your outlook inbox at home, you can then set up a rule that all mails coming from this forum get forwarded automatically in a subfolder within outlook, i.e. a "" folder.

This way your inbox always stays clean and when you have time you simply click on the folder and can read very convenient every posting offline and answer to it - or go directly to the specific posting within the forum, whatever you prefer.

Make sure that your virus or spam blocker accepts the forum e-mails. Otherwise they can not go through and you wonder why

Maybe I should send this to all members directly next week so that they really know about it...



"... In your outlook inbox at home, you can then set up a rule that all mails coming from this forum get forwarded automatically in a subfolder within outlook, i.e. a '' folder..."
I use Netscape, not Outlook, but that's EXACTLY what I did when I joined.