9.02.2016

A Simple Request to Sony for Current and Future Cameras.


My Sony cameras all seem pretty well set up to do most of what I want from them; what I expect from them. Whether I'm shooting serious commercial work with the A7Rii or making fun motion projects in 4K with the RX10iii all the cameras deliver what I consider to be a tremendous value for the purchase prices. There is just one area (besides the complexity and irrationality of the menus...) that comes to mind when I'm shooting personal work that I would appreciate Sony fixing.

Their internal controls for black and white or monochrome imaging, in camera, are severely limited. And it makes me a little testy. All I want is what I've had in many of the other cameras I've shot with in recent years. I want Sony to add a color filter simulation to their black and white sub-menu. That's it. That's all. I'd like to dial in a yellow filter in order to intensify the difference between blue sky and white clouds. I'd like to be able to dial in a red or orange filter to make skies go dramatically dark and have human skin go nearly white. But most of all I would welcome a green filter simulation to add a bit more contrast and structure to skin tones. Panasonic can do it. Olympus can do it. Even Nikon can do it. I have to pat Nikon on the back for not only including the filter simulations but also including a mid-range contrast control (clarity) to the menu as well. Fuji takes it up even one more notch with actual film simulations based on traditional film favorites.

There are times when I want to shoot black and white in the way we did with film. We added control at the shooting stage to the whole black and white image process by making good choices of filters. It's a way of controlling tonal differentiation and it's powerful.

Now, before you jump in to teach me all about cameras and stuff I do understand that I can shoot my images in RAW and have total control right there in my post production software. I can use the Nik filters, the hue sliders, the Silver FX tools and many other plug ins to get exactly what I want. I know that but I want to make judgements in the field and then carry back the info to the "darkroom."

If I have to shoot RAW wouldn't it be nice to have the subtle controls for the Jpeg files I can shoot alongside the RAW files? Then I could reference what I was trying to achieve in the field as I sat in my chair drinking Diet Coke and eating delivery pizza (shoot me now).  But, alas. Sony's implementation of their black and white color setting is nothing more than a 101 desaturation.

Still, in the big picture it is a small thing. Not a deal killer. Not a "meh." If we had to juggle features I'd rather live with the limited nature of the B&W setting than to lose something more vital, like a headphone jack, or zebras.

I'm pretty sure it doesn't have to be an "either/or" choice. I think Sony just overlooked this because maybe I'm the only person buying their cameras who would like to have this feature.

I like the look of images in good black and white. Not so enamored of images that have merely been desaturated. But t's not enough to make me switch systems again.

13 comments:

George Beinhorn said...

I think Sony might listen, as we're seeing b&w everywhere these days. It's just fun, and why shouldn't Sony get a shoe in and show what it can do?

BTW, I chanced upon the very long review of the RX10 III by Ken Rockwell (you know, the reviewer with an optical engineering degree and actual engineering work experience with Sony that all under-25 camera owners love to hate). If anything, he's more enthusiastic than Kirk, which is kind of hard to imagine. His sample images are very nice, though he does love Vivid.

Jim said...

On the subject of digital simulation of B&W filters, have you noticed that the pre-sets for that in Lightroom leave a lot to be desired? Especially the red and orange ones. I expect them to really darken blue skies and they don't. I shot more than enough B&W film through red, orange and yellow filters to know what it should look like and it doesn't with those pre-sets.

Art in LA said...

Agree. I'm just a JPEG guy (hobbyist family photojournalist here) and appreciate more in-camera automation. I miss the days when I could take my film in and get double prints. I sometimes enjoy post-processing, but prefer to get things right in-camera ... like slide shooting in the old days.

Here's a thought -- include something like Snapseed or Instagram editing tools (not just the main filters) right in camera.

Daniel Walker said...

I agree with your suggestion for more options on back & white filters. That would mean I would do more camera generated black&white images rather than relaying on post processing. I now do that on my Fuji and it really helps in shooting black & white. I am not sure I agree with George's slant on Ken Rockwell. I enjoy Ken's insight, especially his suggestions on camera set-ups.

scott said...

I like using those simulated filters on my Olympus because you can see the results real-time in the EVF while shooting. Very useful. I like the JPEG results as well. I agree that Sony should have it too.

Paul said...

Kirk I got to play with a Olympus pen-f a couple of days ago. The mono mode is very impressive, includes infrared emulation, the ability to apply colour filters, the ability to alter tone curve all in camera. I would buy one if it had the ability to save the info and allow post processing application to the raw file.

Urs said...

Kirk, what would happen if you would use a real orange filter? I mean real "wratten" stuff, in addition to the camera BW simulation?

scott said...

"Kirk, what would happen if you would use a real orange filter?"

Might the camera's auto white balance undo what the orange filter did before converting to monochrome?

Kepano said...

What's not to love about reading your latest system swap? Come on Kirk, the water is great over here in the Fujifilm pool! :-) Ok, we'll let 2016 be your Sony year. In 2017, we'll be singing the joys of Acros together!

TMJ said...

If the camera manufacturers facilitated the use of plugins, as in PS, LR, for example, then it could happen, without them having to reveal the source code.

Then an interesting and useful market might develop. Just a thought.

Rollin Banderob said...

Not as easy as the B&W filter settings of the other mfg, and I agree we should have these in all our Sony's, but utilizing the Picture Profiles (PP) might actually give us greater control, though not as user friendly. If Sony would just build the standard B&W filters into these, wow we could have a powerful tool. Some PP will limit how low ISO you can use. Will they affect the RAW's otherwise?

Here is an article I stumbled across awhile ago that will give you a running start at setting up a PP like a B&W filter:
http://magiclanternshooter.com/get-fuji-jpeg-look-sony-mirrorless/

Love to see some of your "recipes" if you get one you really like.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Rollin! I just sat down and entered the settings from the magiclanternshooter.com website you sent along the link for. It's beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing! That made any time I spent writing this particular post worth it a dozen times over. Wow. I didn't realize that Sony had already given us the tools to make our cameras (not just the a6300, but all the cameras that feature picture profiles) even more flexible than the Fujis. I am running the recipe described on an A7ii and it's just what the doctor ordered. Thanks again! Free rides for you on the company jet; just as soon as we get one....

Rollin Banderob said...

ROFL (that's Rollin on the floor laughing) - I havn't even tried these out!
Look forward to your blog post with Yellow, Red, etc. filter recipes and if it is affecting the RAW's. Also, love to know if you feel the A7S is a better B&W camera than say the a6300, A7R II, etc.

During many years of shooting at newspaper always had a yellow filter on. Glad it worked so well. Really, Sony just needs to do more teaching in this area, and share more of the best set ups.