When using film and then scanning the film to obtain a digital version, will I get better results from capturing photos with black and white film, or using color film and then using photo editing software to convert the image to black and white?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I guess better will be subjective here and depend on what result you want to achieve. \$\endgroup\$
    – dzieciou
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 7:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you planning to have the film developed at a lab, or do it yourself? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


The path to answering your question starts with another question "What is the difference between B&W film and Color film?". In the end isn't that B&W film is better at creating a B&W image than using color film and converting it to B&W in the ways you or I would think (dynamic range, sharpness, gamut etc), its that B&W film creates an image that has different visual "properties" to it because of the way B&W film is processed.

This answer sums it up well: https://photo.stackexchange.com/a/17805/1819


"Color film has light sensitve silver halides... During processing the silver halides are replaced with dyes, which carry the color information..."

"Black and White film's silver halides... are converted into silver metal during processing"

Which results in a different "look" in the grain, contrast, and tonality of the image.

So in the end, if you shoot in B&W and scan it to digital vs shoot in color and scan it to digital (and convert it) your original B&W images will "look" more like what you think of as that type of B&W film (t-max, tri-x, delta etc). Where the color image will look like whatever color film you used (portra, velvia etc) that has had all the color removed from it.

If you're trying to have an end result that has that "B&W Film Look", it'd just be easier to start with whatever B&W film it is you're trying to capture the look of (each B&W film has a different look).


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