I have tried on many occasions to “create” black & white from digital color images and they’re always less than satisfying. The photo above was shot with an Olympus XA2 on Kodak BW400CN. As I said in an earlier post I love the XA2 and I also like this film, mainly for its convenience. It uses C-41 processing – the same as color film so it can be developed at your local 1-hour processor, assuming you still have one nearby (I do). I also like this film for its full palette of gray tones.
My all time favorite black and white film is Tri-X for the opposite reason. It has rich blacks and brilliant whites and is generally considered to be a high contrast black and white film. Although, in the right hands and under the right exposure conditions, Tri-X can display rich gray tones as well. To me, that is the Holy Grail of black & white photography.
The point I want to get to however, is simply that black and white film does what it does and it does it link nothing else. I have indeed seen some nice black and white shots taken with digital cameras or maybe “created” in post processing but I always get the impression (and maybe it is just my prejudice showing through) that someone worked really hard at getting it to look like what black and white film just does automatically.
I to have tried to do it digitally without much success. Maybe I just am not willing to work that hard or just don’t know what I am doing in that regard. I actually tried to manipulate the image above in post processing to make it look more like a Tri-X shot but couldn’t pull it off so decided to just leave it alone.