For the past year, I have been shooting quite a bit of black and white film and have really enjoyed the experience. I wanted to carry that over into my digital photography, so I set up my Nikon Z6 to shoot and display images in black and white mode. I have done this before with my DSLR Nikon’s such as the D800 and Df, but since the viewfinder is still optical, I still see the scene in color.
The electronic viewfinder of the Z6 mirrorless camera means that what I see in the viewfinder is coming directly from the image sensor. I can easily set the display in the viewfinder to black and white mode so that I what I see in the viewfinder is exactly what is going to show up on the preview screen and on my computer.
JPEGS as black and white, NEF as color
When my Z6 is set to black and white mode and I have my camera set to save both JPEG and NEF RAW files, the JPEG’s are stored as black and white, while the RAW file is just that – a RAW file with all the color data from the sensor. The small TIFF preview that is stored inside the RAW file is in black and white, but all of the color data captured by the sensor is stored in the RAW file. When I import the image into Adobe Lightroom, a black and white preview is first shown, and eventually, once the import is completed, the color image is easily viewable. I can then choose any of Lightroom’s black and white conversions to further refine my image into black and white, or do my own conversion.
Why black and white in viewfinder?
The benefit of setting my viewfinder and rear display to black and white mode is that I can focus my brain on “seeing” in black and white. This has helped me not only in my digital photography but also in my black and white film photography. I now have a much better idea how my B&W film images are going to turn out because of my experience in seeing images in my Z6 viewfinder before I take the picture.