The Black and White JPEGs From Modern Cameras Are More Than Good Enough For Most People. There; I Said It.

For most photographers out there, we can’t just sit back and accept that we got a JPEG from a camera that can easily and obviously be improved with some editing in RAW. One of the pillars of photography since the earliest days is that you can go into the darkroom and get more from an image than what you shot. JPEG rendering overall has become better and better, and nowhere is that any more true than with black and white photographs.

But then there’s another big factor at play.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss ExoLenses review samples (34 of 34)ISO 251-125 sec at f - 2.2

I haven’t been totally truthful to you here. The opening image from this story was done with actual 35mm film from a Hexar AF. But the rest in this story? Honestly, some of them were done with an iPhone, Zeiss ExoLenses, and RNI Films. Black and white has just become so good these days that most people won’t be able to tell the difference between one image and the next. On top of that, our standards in photography have overall just become lower.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss ExoLenses review samples (8 of 34)ISO 1251-30 sec at f - 2.2

Everyday we take images and upload them to platforms like Instagram and simply to the web. No one pixel peeps them. Instead, we just sit there and take in the genuinely beautiful moment. It makes a lot of sense to us; after this we just move on to the next photo. If someone doesn’t respond to our comment, we eventually just move on with life and understand it to be a part of social media. You, hopefully, won’t sit there and lose all logic over the images.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss ExoLenses review samples (26 of 34)ISO 251-1000 sec at f - 2.2

Now, not everyone likes black and white. Some still cling to the idea that it is a crutch, but I think we’ve come further as a society overall as photographers to realize that it isn’t really one. Instead, it just helps to emphasize something that you’re trying to bring attention to in an image. Lots of photographers shoot in black and white to then develop a giant following and fame. It just works for them.

Black and White JPEGs even have cool options that let you make them more contrasty, less contrasty, have grain, etc. You can genuinely create really nice images from right within the camera. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t shoot the RAWs for archival purposes and even more editing possibilities, but instead it’s all about making people realize something that’s an inherent truth about our society: it’s so simple for you to create a beautiful image by using the black and white image profiles built into your camera or that you can create on your own.

Olympus Pen F and Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95

Olympus Pen F and Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95

With this, you don’t need to go shoot, edit on your computer, and instead just shoot and share if your camera has Wifi built in already. The culling process can be done with a simple import to your phone. And considering that most people are going to look at the image, give it a thumbs up and move on due to the nature of social media, who cares? You should ideally find a way to do things quicker to cater to a shortening attention span.

If you’re editing an image for your website or for someone to seriously check out your best work, then take your time working and massaging the file. But otherwise, who cares? Your followers are going to forget the image as quickly as people may sadly forget this post.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.