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UPDATE: Learn more about Black and White Photography with our new Essential Guide to Black and White Photography.
Digital Camera manufacturers are increasingly adding ‘in camera editing’ features and modes to the cameras that they release that allow digital photographers to do all kinds of tasks that they would previously have done from their computer. These include in camera cropping, the addition of frames to shots and being able to shoot in different types of colors/filters including black and white and sepia.
The question that I’ve been asked a few times this week is:
‘should I shoot in black and white mode or convert my colored shots later into black and white on my computer?’
My approach to this has always been to shoot in full color and to edit later if necessary.
The problem with shooting in these modes is that you are making all of your creative decisions about your shot at the time of shooting and that in most instances shooting in these modes means you cannot recover full colored shots.
Set your digital camera to black and white or sepia and the natural colors in the shot are lost. On the other hand if you shoot in color you can always convert to black and white later and keep your full colored version also.
You do not lose any quality in your image in doing this and keep your options open.
Of course some will argue that this approach means that you will need to spend a lot of time later on editing your shots to make the black and white. There is some truth in this and if you’re not used to using photo editing software it can be a put off.
However most photo editing packages have a very quick and simple way to convert your shots to black and white – often with just one click.
Plus – whether you shoot in black and white or color you’ll find that most pictures can do with a little editing, sharpening and cleaning up – so the conversion to black and white isn’t too much of a drama.