These Settings Are the Key to Better Black and White Photos In-Camera

Love black and white photos but hate post-processing? Give these settings a try next time and create them directly in-camera.

When you look at some of the most iconic photos throughout modern history, many of them will likely be in black and white. That’s not to say that color images are any less impactful. Quite the contrary, in fact. However, there’s a timeless quality to many black and white images. They can also distill a scene down to its very core. While you can certainly convert your images to black and white during post-processing, they are actually quite easy to create directly within your camera. Just about every modern digital camera can shoot in black and white. Why spend the extra time to covert your images in post when you can achieve the results you want in-camera? If you’re a fan of black and white photos, be sure to give these settings a try on your own camera.

Contrast and Clarity

Many photographers prefer black and white photos that are rather contrasty. Others, however, lean more towards a softer, lower contrast look. Most modern digital cameras give you the ability to adjust the contrast of your images, so be sure to change this setting according to your preference. Dialing in the intensity of the black levels can also contribute to how contrasty a black and white image will look. If your camera gives you the ability to adjust this, be sure to take advantage of the option. Some newer cameras will even let you adjust the clarity of your images in-camera as well. If you’re looking to add that extra oomph to your image, consider playing with the clarity settings as well.

Lens Corrections

Many modern lenses, especially first-party options, have lens profiles baked into the firmware. Aside from facilitating communications between the lenses and your camera bodies, most lens firmware also includes corrections for a variety of optical abnormalities. These include but are not limited to vignetting, chromatic aberrations, diffractions, and distortions. Although many photographers consider these to be negative qualities, they also give lenses distinctive character and can actually be used for creative effect. Rather than always striving to create the perfect, pristine image, it can be fun to embrace these unique characteristics. Consider disabling lens corrections in your camera’s menus and see what the un-corrected image looks like. You may end up liking the un-correct black and white photos more.

Sharpness

Many digital cameras also allow you to apply sharpness adjustments to your photos. Although there are fundamental differences between sharpness and clarity, adjusting your photo’s sharpness can also give your black and white photos that extra bit of pop. If your camera doesn’t allow for clarity adjustments, try playing with the sharpness setting as an alternative. While the final results won’t look exactly the same, you should still be able to achieve something similar.

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.