View Full Version : best BW tonal range, BW or Colour film?

08-04-2007, 15:11
i posted this last night but it appears to have disappeared. i am wondering if anyone has tested the tonal range/dynamic range of colour film vs BW film when used to print from PS? i often will print BW from a colour digital shot and now that i am scanning old and new negatives, BW and Colour, i am wondering what i might use for general work, Colour or BW film. will Colour film when scanned and converted to BW in PS give me the same tonal range as the general ISO equivalent of BW film?

i use Reala and FP4. or should i buy another RF and have both in the bag...?!

cheers, dj

Gabriel M.A.
08-04-2007, 15:22
It's a little bit of both: Ilford XP2 (a "chromogenic" aka C-41 B&W film), the best dynamic range I've experienced with any film.

08-04-2007, 17:55
I posted an answer to you on your previous post and I guess it was lost. I said in my post: 1. FP4 (and other other B&W films) are the best for tonal and dynamic range (even scanned and processed on a computer), 2. color film processed on a computer is second, 3. digital images are third, processed on the box, 4. B&W straight from the camera is last. You have to be an expert to do anything in B&W on the computer. BUT as values are lowered the digital B&W will eventually gain acceptance.

08-04-2007, 18:08
B&W films, especially the ISO400 ones, have wonderful dynamic range. Colour print films may have the edge on tonal range though, because in products like Photoshop and Lightroom you can make a flexible number of tonal adjustments in mixing the colours to a greyscale.


08-04-2007, 18:48
thanks. i know that over the years the composition of colour films has changed and one thing my father (a portrait photographer) talked about a lot back in the 50s/60s was Filters Filters Filters. he said once that he liked printing BW (in a darkroom, of course) from colour negs because the gels in the colour emulsion acted like(defacto) filters and he would often light a subject according to how he wanted the film to react to being later printed as BW.

and you're right, tonal adjustments in CS3, in particular, for BW images are much wider than the adjustments for BW to BW in the same application. seems there should be a complimentary tool in PS for treating BW as legitimately as colour. PS-CS4?