There's a setting on my new camera that I like to play with...

It's called: Rich Tone Monochrome.

It only works in the Jpeg file setting. It's basically noise reduction and HDR combined for black and white.  It can produce dramatic files with high sharpness and very little high ISO noise.  And since the frame rate of the camera, in normal daylight, is so fast, and the processor in the camera is so powerful, the mode can be used hand-held and the camera will "micro-align" multiple frames and stack them into one finished file.

I normally dislike the religion of HDR.  But I'm finding more and more uses for some of the in-camera options, as long as they are used intelligently. This is not intended to be a promotion for Sony or any particular model but an admission, based on long meditation during my break, that some stylized processing can be useful and fun.  Especially when it is controllable and customizable.

I was sitting at Medici Caffe, drinking a cappuccino, watching the beautiful people downtown, and reading the owner's manual for my Sony flash when I decided to explore the rich tone monochrome setting on my camera. I was reading the owner's manual for the flash in vain.  There is no control on the flash for setting exposure compensation.  That has to be done in the function menu, on the camera.

But I was amazed at the results of my test.  The coffee cup has an extremely wide range of tones and none of the highlights are even close to burning out.  Even with a .75 stop push to get the exposure I was looking for.  What a wonderful tool this might be for portrait work in the studio on a sturdy tripod, with a patient subject.  I say "patient" because the downside of most of the in-camera modes is that the file is processed right after you take the picture and can take up to ten seconds to render.....

While I still find "over the top" HDR offensive,  I am giving up my one person crusade to persuade people to have good taste.  If you want to try an effect then who am I to say you are wrong?  If you want to wear mutton chop sideburns then I think you should  go for it.  If you think pink is a good color for your car then more power to you. Go Pink. In fact, with the adoption of the Sonys I'm joining the parade and using the little settings with so little discretion it amazes me.  Digital is different.  The technique is everything.  I'm trying to bend the device to my will.  Then it will be photography.

I call this one, "Street lamp bending in the hurricane winds."  And any pixelazation you see is intended.  Rock on a77.


  1. Nice use of the effect. Makes me want to explore these "gimmicks" as well. And welcome back!

  2. I thought that that was my personal little secret, Kirk.

    I use the Sony NEX-5N and NEX-7 and frequently use the in-camera "cheat" of the "Rich BW" picture effect. In good light and/or with a static subject it can produce some glorious results, bringing out those intermediate grey shades. For an instructive experiment try using it on a 1-point lit ball or cylinder. It can give you a good gauge of how much impact the "Rich BW" setting can make.

    Nuts, now everybody knows about it. Blabber fingers!


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