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Converting a Z7 to monochrome?

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Anybody converted a Z7 (or 6 or any other FF mirrorless) to full on monochrome? Not full spectrum or IR -- I've been there and done that and have no interest in going that direction again. So any full monochrome conversions?
 

JoelM

Member
Not sure this is what you're looking for, but here's my 2 cents:

I had my Sony converted and I like it a lot, but all you really gain, that I can notice via pixel peeping, is light sensitivity. A lot like nearly 1.5 stops. This is due to the BFA being removed. I have taken identical pics, using a tripod mounted lens, and found that I could get to the same place, with a converted to B/W, from a color picture. However, what the monochrome camera does is force you to think in B/W. I look at it as having B/W film loaded in that camera.

That's it,

Joel
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Thank you Joel, that's great feedback. I have read that monochrome converted cameras deliver more detail due to removal of the Bayer filter and each pixel getting to count for itself. Did you find that true for yours? I understand the light sensitivity increase for sure.
 

JoelM

Member
Thank you Joel, that's great feedback. I have read that monochrome converted cameras deliver more detail due to removal of the Bayer filter and each pixel getting to count for itself. Did you find that true for yours? I understand the light sensitivity increase for sure.
Hi Jack,

I suppose that there is a tad more detail, but for sure you did not have to work as hard for it compared to a color removed BFA exposure. A bit of added sharpening would make up for it, at least in my experience. Again, the greatest advantages were the added light sensitivity and the limit that the camera imposes. It is cool that I have a separate kit with colored filters and all and I enjoy that for sure. I think the conversion cost $700ish and would recommend it if you like the advantages I stated. If not, it will be an easy camera to sell for sure. I know on other forums there are more opinions and a past member here has a ton more experience than I do.

At the time, I went with the A7r due to the A7rii being expensive at the time. Now, I would go with the A7rii since it can be had cheaply. But honestly, I find the 36mp, even though non BSI sensor, and lack of IBIS is a wonderful addition to my too many cameras. I think you would be happy with either a Z6 or Z7.

Again, hth,

Joel
 

Alan

Member
I've seen posts of pretty bad artifacts from UV/IR/FS converted Z cameras. Not sure if that would apply to a debayer conversion, but something to look into as well.
 

bensonga

Well-known member
Hi Jack. Re converting a FF mirrorless camera from Bayer to a monochrome sensor (ie just removing the CFA), I had a Sony A7 converted to monochrome by Daniel Morrison of Monochromeimaging.com in 2018. Daniel did a great job and communication with him before, during and after was excellent. I thought the conversion price was very reasonable too. Vivek has also had one or more of his Sony cameras converted by Daniel. I don't know if Daniel has converted any Nikon Z mirrorless cameras yet, but if you are interested, I think it would be worthwhile for you to get in touch with him.

Gary
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Great info, thanks Gary! I will definitely reach out to him before I do anything. A converted Z7 should theoretically take on the Leica M10 mono at a fraction of the price.
 

Oren Grad

Member
Jack, you might try contacting Dan Llewellyn at MaxMax to see whether he has any plans to convert the Z7. He did the monochrome D850 that Lloyd Chambers reported on recently:

https://diglloyd.com/autoTopic.html?dglyKW=Nikon+D850+monochrome#BlogPosts

I've seen the full-size versions of Lloyd's posted D850M files. At least to my eye, the difference compared to software conversion of Bayer-filtered color captures is obvious. As it happens, and very unfortunately since I prefer monochrome to color for my work, I'm not happy with the tonal rendering of any of the monochrome-only digital cameras, though that's certainly a matter of personal taste. The D850M seems to me to be just like the others in that respect. But the fidelity of detail recording in high-megapixel monochrome cameras like the D850M is breathtaking.
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
As it happens, and very unfortunately since I prefer monochrome to color for my work, I'm not happy with the tonal rendering of any of the monochrome-only digital cameras, though that's certainly a matter of personal taste.
Oren, I had this same reaction initially, and for me this search is all about the tonal scale and not so much the increased resolution. I got pretty close with a full-spectrum converted Sony using a cut filter and special output curve in post, but overall it was not a satisfying process, especially since the on-cam review was not really close to the final product I was seeking. I then set up one of my normal D810 bodies as dedicated monochrome though through the jpeg menu with some tweaks. End of day I was most pleased with this since the on-cam review was quite close and I could add filtration in post that actually rendered a very similar effect to what they would have on B&W film. But while the tonal curve was close, it was never quite right; whites still opened a bit too quickly and blacks weren't long enough. Which brings me back to why I'm asking about the newer cameras and the conversion to dedicated mono. Worst case, I will set an un-altered Z cam up similar to what I did with the D810 -- for now that seems to perhaps be the best digital mono solution for me...
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Thought I'd come back to this topic and share my findings. Firstly, after some basic research and all of the plaudits given to the various 3rd party monochrome conversions from a variety of reviewers and manufacturers and plowing over countless example images, what I've found is that *for me* the net benefits they offer is not enough for me to justify the expense or hassle. I don't need the extra sensitivity, and the added base detail seems to be fairly easily regained with careful sharpening. There are also some negatives, and especially for the Z7 it seems that the converted sensor will occasionally generate fairly ugly and noticeable artifacts in smooth tonal areas of the image -- a sort of jpeg cross-hatch moire looking thing for lack of a better description.

Moreover, I've found that shooting in color and then converting that:

1) careful use of the color channel sliders during conversion can generate most any desired color and filtration combined response; and
2) judicious use of the clarity slider can help generate a luminance response curve closer to that of B&W film; and
3) finally by carefully applying luminance sharpening with mild halo suppression, I can obtain a resulting level of detail that is on par with what I was obtaining with 4x5 film(!)

So speaking only for myself in summary: while the net result *may* take a bit more processing time, there is a satisfaction to getting the final image looking just the way I want; and then while the absolute detail may not be as good as the converted sensors, what I am able to pull out of the factory sensor it is more than adequate for my needs -- tt least for the time being ;)
 

250swb

Member
I've had both the Leica Monochrom M and M246 and while I enjoyed the MM for it's more film like rendering the M246 highlighted just how little control you ultimately have in placing tones. A monochrome sensor doesn't respond to filters to the same degree as using a filter with B&W film, and of course you lose the ability to adjust the colour channels completely in digital. So while it's a nice idea to try a monochrome sensor my next Leica was a bog standard M10 and back to converting colour files with Nik's Silver Efex. Pretty well all my work is B&W with film or digital, so I'd be one of the first to heap praises on a monochrome only sensor if they worked to the same extent of tonal control as you can get from an analogue camera and film, or a colour digital file converted.

The other consideration with Leica 'monochrom's' at least is while the detail in the image is all you could want the overall look is dreadfully flat and boring, and it's perhaps a criticism of any modern digital camera whether colour or B&W. The modern camera produces a very linear histogram that needs wrestling into something exciting, and not to perfectly represent each tonal step from deep shadow to extreme highlight in perfect increments. And it's a shame this because while I can understand, but not agree with, the idea that a B&W camera 'helps people to see in B&W', they are generally beginners in B&W and think the flat boring result from a (Leica) monochrome camera is what B&W photography is truly about. They wouldn't know what an 'S' curve is if they tripped over one. In that respect a lesser camera but with some B&W presets in the menu is the greater tool.
 

pegelli

Well-known member
I came to the same conclusion on a dedicated monochrome camera, I would love to experiment with it but it's basically too much money and/or too much hassle and a high risk (for me) that after the novelty wears off it won't get used much..

If I want to "see" in B&W when shooting digital I can change my EVF/LCD to B&W but still get the file in full colour which I then convert to B&W via several different software solutions and being able to use a color mixer such that the tones are to my liking.

If I really want to shoot B&W and not be able to revert back to colour I just load a B&W film in one of my old cameras, that's also a very rewarding but different process. No chimping and only seeing the results after the film is developed.

But I do applaud the people who stick to a monochrome (native or converted) camera, some of the results are indeed very nice
 

tcdeveau

Well-known member
Interesting to hear people’s perspectives. I’ve always wanted a dedicated monochrom camera and picked up a M10 Monochrom recently to give it a go, although had also considered converting the Fuji GFX50s/r or Z7.

All I can say about the M10M so far is I’m enjoying it and having a lot of fun with it. Time will tell if I think it was worth it or not, but it’s nice to have these options out there for those that want it.
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Yes, careful application of capture sharpening. I use C1 which operates a little differently than LR/ACR. It helps that the Z7 sensor has no AA filter and is now of back-lit design, so there's a little more data for the conversion software to work with. But at the same time this means Z7 sharpening requires different parameters than what I used for my previous Nikons, and it's taken me a little while to get it all sorted. For my eyes, I find higher amount, smaller radius and a light touch of C1's halo suppression to work very well.
 
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