I would like some help on achieving this image on my D7000:

enter image description here

the only lenses I have with me are: 50mm f/1.2, 80-200 AF f/2.8 and the 18-105 kit lens

I tried B&W with the built-in B&W conversion in the D7000 but I can't get such sharpness.

So how can I achieve this level of sharpness with my D7000 and the given lenses?

  • 1
    This is done partly with way too much "sharpness" filtering in post-processing. All those white dots are just ghastly. That aside, the image does have good contrast and good detail, so it's well worth analyzing. – Pete Becker Aug 5 at 16:21
  • That's a very dark image. I wouldn't actually call it high-contrast. The histogram would have almost nothing in the brightest range. – user8356 Aug 9 at 13:15

The look you are after is dependant on lighting and post processing rather than lenses.

You want to shoot with soft but directional lighting so create strong textures within your image, directly sunlight through hazy cloud is good for this. As is the "magic hour".

In post you need to blend the colour channels looking for the most contrasty mix. Then its a case of boosting local contrast, e.g. with a wide radius unsharp mask, then apply sharpening to taste.

  • 5
    ...And since there's going to be post, shoot in color and do the conversion there. The camera gives you exactly one choice about how the conversion is done, and if you don't like it, you're stuck with trying to adjust it. Shooting raw wouldn't hurt, either. – Blrfl Aug 27 '12 at 13:51

Most important, shoot RAW because black and white conversion is a complicated process. Different colors have to be converted at a different level. In times of analog photography this was done by using colored filters.

A big part of the crispyness in this picture is the use of a green filter. This can easily be done by your RAW processing software. It makes a huge difference when it comes to portraits.

Also black and white can handle a lot of contrast and micro- or localcontrast (called "clarity" in lightroom and photoshop). Play with this!

I agree with Sridhar Iyer that the 50mm f/1.2 is an amazing piece of glass.

Always consider the degree of diffusion, sunny, cloudy, partly sunny, partly cloudy as this will effect your range of contrast along with the direction of your light. Cloudy is non directional and the sunny side emphasizes texture.

This combined with the proper software, as others have mentioned, Lightroom, Silver Efex Pro 2, On One Photo Suite etc. All have free trial downloads, at least 15 days and On One is 30 days and the tutorials are excellent.

Be sure to shoot in RAW and try to get the best possible result directly in camera, for that helps the editing process to proceed quicker instead of having to clean up one's mistakes in post.

Simple backgrounds, with a shallow depth of field, usually work best: actually the example you provided is tight, no distractions, all attention on the subject and soft, if any, background.

I'd start by working with post-processing software rather than the simple built-in BW conversion filter.

Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop, NIK Silver Efex Pro, etc

Built in B&W will probably never give you a good result. The sharpness of the photo is independent of the conversion. The picture you have attached here has been clearly sharpened and postprocessed. 50mm f/1.2 is an amazing lens and you should be able to get tack sharp pics with it. After that you need a good B&W workflow in Photoshop/LR/Gimp. E.g. http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2010/12/tips-on-black-white/

For portrait images, the SLR Lounge Lightroom 4 Preset System has the perfect preset called the Standard B&W (MY MIXOLOGY > 13 Standard B&W (Soft | Portrait)). The settings from this preset will be the starting point for both our high-contrast black and white portrait and our filmic black and white portrait.

Other answers have discussed how to get that image. I would like to add that a possibility would be to shoot medium format, which could directly give you more detailed results. I can imagine that this answer is a bit different from what you were expecting but it is a possibility to consider.

  • 2
    Investing a five figure sum in a camera system to get slightly closer to the results you can achieve by running an unsharp mask filter over any competently focussed image is an option, but it's not a very good one... – Matt Grum Sep 6 '12 at 13:32

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