June 24, 2015 at 12:37PM


Black and White: in camera or in post?

Are there technical benefits for shooting black & white in camera rather than desaturating in post?


I personally feel it's better to do a lot of tests with Conversion so you can see what emulated film stock you will end up using in post. Then you can set up your camera or LUT appropriately so you have a color copy, just in case. Also, I haven't been impressed at ALL with any video camera shooting in B&W except for the Blackmagic line.

June 24, 2015 at 8:02PM

Edmund Lloyd

If you want more control in post but if you want some more natural and faster, in camera :D

June 25, 2015 at 8:14AM

Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director

If you shoot in colour, it's very handy to have a b&w monitor. It's too easy to overlook the fact that your actor in the red shirt disappears against the blue background, because they're both dark grey.

June 25, 2015 at 10:20AM

Minor Mogul

I think shooting in color with a monitor that is set to black and white is the best middle ground. For one thing, color filmstocks typically don't respond to colors in the same even levels that a color digital sensor does. If you want to use something like Filmconvert to more realistically emulate black and white filmstock, for instance, it's advantageous to have the color. This also gives you freedom to tweak the brightness values of isolated colors (for instance, if your actor's red shirt DOES disappear against a blue background, you can darken the blue background a bit without affecting the red, and once it's in black and white the manipulation may become seamless)

But as Minor Mogul mentions, there are risks to shooting in color without being able to see (approximately) what it'll look like in B&W.

Of course, there are some cinema cameras with special black and white sensors, allowing for the maximum amount of image fidelity, such as the Epic-M Monochrome, or the D16M (Digital Bolex Monochrome), and I think the footage I've seen from those cameras looks fantastic.

June 26, 2015 at 1:21AM, Edited June 26, 1:21AM

Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer

Here's the thing, there's a HUGE difference between shooting B&W and shooting desaturated. An image with no saturation just takes a direct luminance only image and typically looks terrible. B&W film and also B&W converters/film emulators have different sensitivity to different colors when they convert to black and white. If you convert in post, you can pop the orange-ish channels a little to make the skin tones stand out while maybe darkening the green-ish channels to deepen the foliage in the scene, etc. Some cameras have decent B&W built in (that take the colors into account for how the conversion takes place) but most of the time, the flexibility and control in post will help a ton. That being said, a Black and White monitor will help immensely for lighting.

June 26, 2015 at 2:20PM

Jeremiah Kuehne

Well if you do it in camera, practice a bunch. In camera the only control is how you use the controls in your camera. So, if you have practiced and are comfortable, I see no problem with in camera black and white. However if you do it in post and have plug ins for your NLE you have lots of different looks for black and white. I use Sony Vegas Pro with Magic Bullet Looks and new blue effects, so for versatility there is nothing like doing it in post and if you don't like it you can always change at a later date.

June 27, 2015 at 9:58PM


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