Mother Photography's first born were black and white, or perhaps brown is a better way to describe the colour of those pioneering early images made two thirds of the way through the 19th century. From then on, and especially from the 1960's, black and white has earned a certain reverence and has come to be seen as more 'arty'. I am often heard to say that 'the absence of colour distils the image to its essential qualities' which indeed it does.
I am often asked what potential image lends itself to black and white more than colour and what criteria do I use when making a decision as to which medium I should use.
I can't deny that I do favour a strong contrast scene when I work with black and white, yet one with some values in the highlight and shadows, so I would always encourage photographers to look at the depth of a shadow and the value of a highlight before making a decision.
This comment will be unpopular but I do suggest that the decision to make a black and white image should be a firm and intended one from the beginning of the photographic process and ideally not some post rationalising that 'if it did not work in colour then maybe it will in black and white'; I call this 'image salvaging' but this will engender some controversy I am sure.
I was brought up on the work of Ansel Adams, Bill Bandt and Ralph Gibson and although the latter photographer is known for very high contrast images, these are styles I like. I would urge those who intend making black and white images be it with digital capture or with film to think carefully about filtration. I have seen many a monochrome print where the sky made up of blue and white clouds has been overwhelmingly powerful and yet, there had been no filter in place to pronounce the clouds. Your digital sensor with its colour filter array effectively acts like three strips of B&W film, one with a red filter, one with a green and one with a blue. The only filtration that makes sense to use on digital are polarizers (effect can’t be replicated in post-processing), neutral grads (maximize dynamic range without multiple exposures and HDR tomfoolery) and neutral density filters (allowing greater exposure times). Hi, Mark… It is trend for digitaly today, make anything in PC, what is better make before take pictures.
Whilst I appreciate the sentiment about the purism of capturing the image as you want it the first time, the use of plain coloured filters in digital photography is an important exception to the rule. Adding additional filters to this setup will reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor - causing longer shutter times and increased noise - without actually changing the nature of the image.
You can exactly replicate the effect of plain colour filters simply by varying the mix of the R, G and B channels that make up your final monochrome image.
You accuse this of being a mathematical process rather than a physical one - but the filter is also a mathematical process in its effect. I believe one of the most important factors in creating good black and white images is to start with a subject that lends itself to monochrome in the first instance. Nice post and I really like that concept of taking black and white photos really totally fabulous and amazing idea for the photography. It’s too late this year, since most of the color is past prime or is gone completely.
Thinking more about carrying my heavier DSLR’s made me appreciate my little Sony NEX3 even more.
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. The most used lenses on Nikon D5500 is portrait prime lenses, these lenses are cheap but has good image quality.
If you don’t need too many lenses with your Nikon D5500, you can get a zoom lens instead of prime lenses, there are also a lot of good zoom lenses for Nikon D5500.
How to support us ?If you're getting any photo gear, books or anything, simply using any of links below when you order anything, is the biggest help to us to keep adding to this free website. There has been a lot of discussion going on about what are the impacts of using a crop sensor vs full frame when using a particular lens.
Of course, the answer to that question really depend what you are comparing and how you are doing your tests. When the differences between full-frame and crop-sensor cameras are discussed, there is an inevitable question about whether the crop sensor multiplies the focal length.
For the full report head over to Neil’s Tangets, along with high res photos for you pixel peepers. I dont see how cropped sensors affect the composition, unless you insist on standing in the same position, which is silly, The DOF information is correct but crop?
You can do a great work even with an smartphone if you do it with care, atention and study! The simplest but also clearest explanation I have seen in this, highly misunderstood, issue. You’re standing in the middle of the Sequoia National Forest and see only leaves and branches. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. Stefan Kohler is a conceptual photographer, specialized in mixing science, technology and photography. When he isn't waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses.
At the time of its release, the A7 was overshadowed somewhat by Sony’s flagship CSC, the A7R.
As is often the case however, a few underlying issues destined there would always be areas for improvement. A year on and Sony looks to improve where the A7 left off by launching the A7 II, which doesn’t directly replace the previous model in the lineup, but sits alongside it as an upgraded option. The headline feature of the A7 II is its new 5-axis in-body image stabilisation system, which takes on an entirely different approach to the type of IS system we’ve seen in Sony Alpha mount cameras before. The benefit of this advanced IS system means that as well as being able to compensate for the familiar pitch and yaw movements, whereby the lens rotates upwards and downwards, or from side-to-side, the A7’s 5-axis system adds in corrections for movements of the camera vertically and sideways, with the fifth axis corresponding the rotational correction around the lens axis, which is crucial for movie shooting or long exposures. Stabilisation aside, the 24.3-million-pixel CMOS sensor and Bionz X processor are carried across from the A7, meaning it has the same ISO range of 100-25,600, which can be expanded to as low as ISO 50 when required. It appears that the A7 II makes use of the AF technology from the A6000, with all the phase-detection areas continuously feeding back distance information to the processor to ensure it’s not affected by foreground objects that could come between the camera and the subject, ignoring them instead of attempting to refocus. The design of the original A7 wasn’t too dissimilar from the NEX-7, albeit with a centrally positioned EVF protruding on the top. The good news is Sony has listened to users of the A7 and as a result of redesigning the grip on the A7 II have not only transformed the way it feels, they’ve turned it into an entirely different camera to operate altogether for the better. Menu and magnification buttons take their respective positions either side of the EVF and those with an observant eye will spot the new matte-black speckled finish, which looks slightly smarter than the clean, smooth semi-gloss black finish of the A7.
My only criticisms regarding buttons is the rather awkward positioning of the movie-record button, which when pressed using the thumb has a tendency to jolt the camera slightly, and the rear control wheel being too small and fiddly to use in bitter winter conditions when gloves were worn. Existing users of the A7 who purchased the VG-C1EM battery grip that was also compatible with the A7R should take note that it’s not compatible with the A7 II due to its revised body shape.

I must admit I had the EVF braced up against my eye for additional support, but nevertheless the incredibly effective image stabilisation system enabled me to shoot some of the sharpest handheld shots using the slowest shutter speeds I ever have. For convenience I found myself customising SteadyShot to the C2 button on the top plate for quick access.
While the A7 II might not be built for outright speed, the camera’s processor and buffer is more than capable of keeping up with its continuous speed demands. Overall, the general performance of A7 II is good, though it’s certainly not a discreet shooter. On the subject of the viewfinder, the new softer eyecup the A7 II sports helps to cushion it against the eye with improved comfort as the result – particularly noticeable if you’re a wearer of glasses. When we reviewed the A7 it delivered a prompt autofocus acquirement and the same can be said for the A7 II.
The changes to the Lock-On AF function appear to have improved things slightly thanks to the updates to the motion detection algorithms, but it did show occasional signs of difficulty tracking a fast downhill cyclist and cars through the frame at high speed. By setting the button within the control wheel to Focus Area it allowed for instantaneous positioning of the AF point using the control dials with a double click.
Paired with one of the best Zeiss primes available for the E-mount system, the A7 II resolves a comparable level of detail to the original A7 – not surprising when you take into consideration that it shares the same 24-million-pixel full frame sensor. Unlike the A7R is Sony’s Alpha lineup, the A7 sticks with a more conversional sensor design that sees the inclusion of an optical low pass filter to reduce and control the effects of aliasing.
To be more precise, ISO 3200 and 6400 are both usable and despite luminance noise being evident at these settings it has a fine grain structure, with chroma noise being controlled very well indeed. Potential buyers of the A7 II fall into two camps – those who may already own an A7 and those who might be tempted by investing in a smaller and lighter system.
The new features work hard to justify the upgrade – the new handgrip revolutionises the feel and operation, while the 5-axis image stabilisation could be advantageous if you’re conscious of camera shake and more often than not shoot handheld. What it really does well at is producing superb image quality images, both in bright light and low light when the ISO has to be raised.
The Alpha 7 II is Sony’s update to its groundbreaking 24-million-pixel full frame compact system camera.
The A7 II, in contrast, gains a brand new grip, which will look instantly familiar to existing owners of the company’s SLRs and SLTs.
Having had the opportunity to hold the A7 II and play around with its controls for a while, I have to say that it feels like a huge step forward from the previous model. Like its predecessor, the A7 II has no fewer than four dials where most cameras make do with two. I can claim to have spent very many years in the darkroom and the zone system and the whole notion of tonal values have become second nature to me.
Good graphic shapes of course can make excellent subjects and a fine building white cumulous sky is hard to resist treating in black and white.
If the image is to be made in monochrome then that is to be established and comprehended from the start and then one can engage with the appropriate monochrome approach. It is worth remembering the trio of filters that are often used for black and white photography are yellow, orange and red. Do you mean really, that mathematical proces (any proces in editor with picture file) is same, like when you change with filters or lenses light condition, color spectre and time, what you give light to painting photographic picture?
In digital cameras, the colour information is recorded separately into R, G and B channels thanks to the colour filter array in front of the sensor. Many cameras meter their exposure and show you histogram information from the luminance channel only.
In post-processing, you can choose what filter to apply at your leisure, and you’re not limited to filters you own, or even filters that are available. How are crop factor sensors impacting depth of field and what are they doing to composition.
Photographer Neil van Niekerk did a thorough test accompanied with clear explanations on what actually makes a difference when using a crop sensor vs a full frame and  the answer is not that simple. In other words, whether your 50mm lens becomes “equivalent to” a 75mm or 80mm lens when used on a crop-sensor camera.
DoF is different but otherwise they behave the same when using a crop factor adjusted focal length.
This is not the same as what is being discussed here – depth of field and perspective. Not only was it seen as a game changer in the way it managed to shoehorn a full-frame sensor inside a such a compact body, the superb image quality it produced alongside its comprehensive specification made it stand out as an attractive proposition for those seeking a lighter and more compact substitute to a heavy and bulky DSLR. The limited number of full-frame E-mount lenses available at the time was the main drawback for those tempted by switching systems, not to mention its handling quirks and design, which failed to have the same aesthetic qualities that we’ve seen from the likes of Fujifilm and Olympus.
The question I’m out to answer is whether Sony have succeeded at making the Alpha 7 II a better full frame proposition for photographers looking to downsize and shed weight without having to make any sacrifices when it comes to image quality, performance and handling?
It shares similarities to Olympus’s in-camera stabilisation found in the OM-D E-M5 and E-M1, however Sony claims the A7 II’s system is an entirely new and unrelated, despite the fact the two companies entered a technology sharing partnership in 2012.
Though the hybrid AF system appears the same on paper with an array of 117 phase-detection and 25 contrast-detection focus points, the AF algorithms have been updated to make it 30% faster and ensure it’s more reliable when it comes to tracking moving subjects. In addition there’s a 3in, 1228k-dot tilt-angle screen at the rear (not the touchscreen type) an anti-dust mechanism to help vibrate dust particles adhering to the optical filter, not forgetting Wi-fi and NFC connectivity for hassle-free wireless image transfer to Android or iOS mobile devices using Sony’s Play Memories app.
There’s now support for the XACV S codec that allows a bit-rate of 50Mbps, the addition of S-Log 2 gamma to retain the maximum dynamic range for easier colour grading in post-production, as well as the option to record a shareable MP4 file at the same time as full resolution AVCHD or XACV S movies are recorded. Durability came from a body that was formed from magnesium alloy and as to be expected, it was dust and weather sealed too – characteristics the A7 II inherits and improves on with a magnesium alloy lens mount that’s said to increase strength and rigidity when large and heavy lenses are coupled.
The repositioned shutter button, the slimmer and more positive front and rear dials, the two customisable buttons on the top plate, these all combine to make it more initiative to use and more DSLR-like to operate.
If the latter were to be made larger and more pronounced, similar to the rear of Canon’s full-frame DSLRs, it could enhance the viewing experience in playback mode and the operation of ISO, White Balance, Creative Style or Picture Style to which it can be customised when shooting. Those set on the idea of holding two NP-FW50 batteries, baring in mind a single battery only holds enough charge for 270 shots using the EVF, will require the new VG-C2EM battery grip (?299).
When an E-mount lens with optical stabilisation is mounted, such as the 24-70mm, the in-body 5-axis system works in tandem with the lens’s OSS system, with the sensor correcting for rotational and translational movements, leaving angular movements to be compensated by the in-lens stabilisation. The effect of the image stabilisation is so powerful that it’s visible on the rear LCD or through the viewfinder when you’re shooting, meaning you’ll clearly know when it’s switched on or off.
What’s more, the IS system helps to transform handheld video footage; giving it the sense the camera was attached to a Steadicam stabiliser device to create the seamless and smooth slow panning footage it’s capable of. Loaded with a pro-spec Lexar Professional 2000x 64GB SDXC UHS-II card, the A7 II rattled out 25 frames at 5fps before slowing, taking 18secs to write the data to the card. It’s hard to tell just how effective the updates to the AF algorithms are when you first pick up the camera as it locks onto stationary subjects with barely any fuss, even when the light levels drop.

It’s fair to say the camera is at its happiest when it’s predicting slower subjects across the frame that aren’t erratic or fast in their behavior. As for AF point size and coverage, there are three AF point sizes to choose from, with coverage getting you within an AF point of the top and sides of the frame. Looking at both Raw and JPEG files, the A7 performs well compared alongside comparable files from other 24-million pixel full frame DSLRs such as the Nikon D750 and as to be expected from a full-frame chip noise is handled well by the sensor when more is asked of it at higher sensitivities. Our dynamic range results are up there as some of the best we’ve ever recorded by a full frame sensor, fractionally higher than the A7R and competing full frame DSLRs.
Inspecting our Raw files at 100% revealed it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between ISO 100 and ISO 1600, other than the latter resolves fractionally less detail. Based on the fact that users of a mint condition A7 will only get around ?570 cash if they trade in their existing camera, the A7 II is a very expensive upgrade that’ll set A7 owners back around ?920 compared to the online body only price of ?1499. It is worth pointing out however, when legacy manual focus only lenses are used, the focal length has to be manually inputted and only three-axis stabilisation is made available. The images it produces certainly won’t disappoint and what with seven full frame E-mount lenses currently available and a flurry of new ones appearing during the course of 2015, you’ll no longer be buying into a system in its infancy. The two biggest additions from a photographer’s point of view are a redesigned (and much more SLR-like) grip and control layout, and the incorporation of in-body 5-axis image stabilisation. However the tilting rear LCD now includes WhiteMagic technology, with a white dot at every pixel location alongside the usual red, green and blue, for improved visibility in bright light. Autofocus has been improved, with faster focus acquisition and improved tracking, and startup times are quicker. The original A7 design borrowed its grip and control dials from the NEX-7, but rearranged the positioning of the viewfinder, shutter button and dials relative to that model. It’s also likely to be more welcoming to users of other brands of SLR, which I suspect is no coincidence. The grip shape is just much more natural in your hand, and all of the control dials are within easy reach, as are the two top-plate function buttons.
This may sound excessive but ends up being very logical – alongside the dedicated exposure compensation dial, one controls shutter speed, the other aperture, and the vertical real dial can be set to change the ISO. However since the advent of colour photography, many of the black and white aficionados still claim (unjustifiably in my view) that monochrome is indeed more of a creative artistic endeavour. In latter years however, I have concentrated on my colour photography, yet would never claim that one is superior over the other, nor would I throw away those precious years in the darkroom where I learned the great fundamentals of photography. The orange and most especially the red wreak havoc with the green values, compressing them into a narrower band of values and in the case of the red plunging almost all greens into a dark featureless expanse.
The only difference between the filter and the post-processing is that the filter applies the correction in the analogue domain, and the computer does it in the digital domain. In fact if you went to any photography forum on the web, you are likely to get as many answers as forum members. All these features combined with focus peaking, audio monitoring and vast customisation control adds up to make it a highly tempting proposition for the enthusiast photographer it’s clearly well catered for. What the A7 lacked however was a handgrip that fully complimented the excellent fit and finish of the build quality, failing to offer the impression of its controls falling naturally to hand. Switching the format to Raw, 27 frames were rattled off at the same speed, which compares to 60 frames when the file format was set to Extra Fine JPEG and 210 frames set to Fine JPEG. With no dampening on silent shooting mode it’s less than ideal if you like to operate quietly. If you’re one for finding yourself shooting in complete darkness, there’s always the bright AF illuminator that can shed a beam of light on what’s in front of you. There’s Wide, Zone and Centre AF modes, however Flexible Spot was most commonly used AF mode for setting the AF target precisely over my subject.
Users can therefore expect to pull back a good amount of shadow and highlight detail from Raw files provided they shoot below ISO 3200, beyond which the impressive dynamic range figures begin to drop off. Shadow tones do become noisier at ISO 6400 and above, indicating that detail in dark areas of an image will be increasingly lost to noise.
Luminance noise only really starts to appear at ISO 3200, yet it’s so fine at this setting and ISO 6400 that it’s not of concern and can be easily addressed by applying noise reduction in post.
Overall, the A7 II is a highly recommended full frame CSC that improves where it was needed and offers huge imaging potential in a lightweight body. Just on their own, these are pretty compelling reasons to pay close attention to Sony’s latest offering. Videographers also get a host of the latest features, including the XAVC S codec and S-Log2 gamma. Not only is the shape re-sculpted to a more conventional form, the shutter button is repositioned, and the front dial now placed at the front of the grip. Crucially all of these dials are operable by your right hand, so there’s no need to change your grip while shooting. While I found it hard to fault the improved White Magic screen at the rear that delivers a highly impressive brightness and portrays excellent detail, I found the colours produced by the EVF rather muted and lacking in saturation compared to the scene as viewed by the eye and captured by the sensor. Chroma noise doesn’t become a factor until ISO 25,600 is reached, and even then it’s by no means severe or unsightly. It’s a camera that’ll seek attention from those after one of the smallest, yet most powerful full frame cameras on the market. Build quality has been upgraded, with the A7’s composite front and top plates replaced by magnesium alloy, which makes it feel that little bit more solid. It wasn’t exactly unpleasant to use, but neither did it offer the impression of its controls all falling naturally to hand, unlike other small compact system cameras such as the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Fujifilm X-T1. Two customisable buttons sit between the shutter button and the exposure compensation dials on the top-plate, and can be configured to operate a wide range of functions. I think quite a few photographers who weren’t quite sure about the A7 will be won over by this new model.
It goes without saying it’s a great EVF in the way it provides a fast refresh rate and a high 0.71x magnification and though I found increasing the viewfinder brightness helps slightly, the accuracy of its colour could be improved to make it slightly more faithful. Colours between ISO 100 and 12,800 remain vivid and punchy too, with the saturation only dropping ever so slightly when ISO 25,600 is dialed in. As for JPEGs, the in-camera noise reduction the A7 II applies at high ISO is effective up to ISO 3200 without destroying detail, but users should expect a faint warm tinge to their JPEGs above ISO 12,800.

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