Many years ago I had a glass filter I could look through to get an idea of what a scene might look like on black and white film. I think it was blue coloured, long gone I'm afraid.

Does anyone have suggestions for something similar I could get for my current cameras (Nikon D90, P7100) to get the same effect when looking through the optical viewfinder? Something I can hold up to my eye would be a second best.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't help so much through the viewfinder, but I find squinting at a scene helps me picture it in B&W, as you can no longer concentrate on objects or colours, and can only really pay attention the contrast and patterns. You might get funny looks though \$\endgroup\$
    – Dreamager
    May 14, 2012 at 20:52

2 Answers 2


The filter you're thinking of is a Wratten #90. They used to come as gels, so you'd have to get a gel holder or just hold it and operate the camera one-handed. (Or just hold it in front of your face and don't bother with the camera.)

Both of your cameras have a mode that desaturates the image before storage, which would let you chimp it on the LCD after shooting it.

If you're trying to develop an eye for it, keep shooting in color and spend time later doing side-by-side comparisons between color and black-and-white. It's much better to have an image with more information in it that you can strip out than it is to be stuck with less than you wanted.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that was it. I wasn't planning to ditch the colour information but it would be nice to have the option to see in B&W through the optical viewfinder as well as on the rear screen (when shooting in raw+jpeg). \$\endgroup\$
    – epo
    May 14, 2012 at 15:50

Higher tech solutions :-):

It requires extra equipment and cost, but any camera that provides live view (or even post-view) video output can be used to drive an external monitor of your choice.
You could use this facility to either drive a monochrome display or a colour display that is able to desaturate the image.

I have not (yet) done this with a DSLR but 9 years ago (!) I had a Minolta 7Hi & A200 (not the DSLR of the same model name) bridge cameras with video output, which I used to drive a small LCD TV to provide "remote viewfinder" capability. This was immensely useful in it=s own right. Being able to optionally view it in monochrome would be a bonus. There are now numerous small LCD modules and screens available which would make this option easy to implement. An LCD on a flying lead is more flexible than even the most capable articulating on-camera displays.

Re separate equipment for "visualising" - a small point and shoot with LCD display, and monochrome display capability as an option would provide this facility. As a bonus, a camera with eg video capabilities assists documentation of your shooting and may even get used to take video of subjects :-). Some (maybe all) of the Sanyo Xacti Video + still cameras have a monochrome mode and record in MPEG video 640 x 480 30 fps or better (later ones are HD), making them a useful companion. Second hand ones here (NZ) cost from about $25 (I bought a C1 this week for $25).


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