Wednesday, July 13, 2011

LX5 - a B&W Film Camera ?

In this second part of my writings about my LX5, i'll show you the alter ego of LX5 - it's abilities to raise the bar of B&W photography with digital.

Once again, i had fantastic results in B&W with its 2 other - big sisters -cameras : the Lumix LC1 & L1 - a pro master photographer commented on the L1 B&Ws that remind him much of a Tri-X 800 film .. 

Before i move into the images, i must put down few points which i find very important, and which apply to all 3 .. maybe to any digital used for B&W shooting :

  • All images you see are not individually processed / adjusted but batched using a single preset. Much in the old darkroom style, where film was developed used same settings (time, temperature, etc) for entire film, i refuse to "massage" every frame to death - having the flexibility of the individual "negative" with digital. If some frames turn out a throw away, so let it be .. Less is more ..
  • Film grain absent at high ISO as compared to film. With digital, and its inability to render noise-free images at high ISO, especially with P&S cameras - this is sort of good news .. Where i want it - demosaic for it / add it in PP though, is with certain high contrast shots for smoothing gradations and believe me, it does help with this ! Besides that, with certain cameras - the grain at high ISO does look very film-like, if you do no go grain-pip at 100% ..
  • Conversion from RAW, not the OOC Jpg. LX5 & LC1 (as opposed to L1!) produce best results when their raws are converted to B&W, and not shot in their scene / B&W filters. This is because detailed gets destroyed, by the internal processing and the fine film-like grain at high ISO - lost, and replaced by rice-like pixelization, or water-color like smudging with pixel artifacts sprinkled here and there. The L1 does wonderful things in-camera, shooting adjusted Dynamic B&W - i often feel like not touching them at all, yet a little and very selective tint, sharpening, grain - raise the bar even further
This is it .. On to the images .. 

Here are few from LC1 and L1 - achieved in a PP as above. Some of them do look like high contrast Tri-X im thinking now..

And now the LX5 B&Ws .. Again remember - not the dynamic OOC Jpgs, but batch conversions from raw - no CEP, no Photoshop / layers, straight raw RGB channels processing .. Most of these now recall scans from the current TMax 400 production - i saw somewhere recently - smoother, and less contrast

And finally, and for a reference to the color versions - few B&W from part I of this post - back to Tri-X somehow .. Probably because of the low light / large dark areas / negative EV :

When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls! 
- Ted Grant 


  1. Maybe stupid question but what is PP, OOC and CEP?

  2. Photography jargon .. PP - post processing, the things you do to an image after the camera. OOC - Out of Camera, here we usually talk about no further processing than the one done in camera, eg raw-jpg conversion. CEP - Color Efex Pro - a tool for changing the look of your image / creating (film) effects