Black and White Conversion in Capture One Pro

Black and white images are probably most authentic and compelling when the original image was conceived with the idea of it being in mono. Typically that means it was originally composed without strong colour influences, but that’s not necessarily so. Take the image above as an example, it was one of series captured with the 50MP Fujifilm GFX-50R and the 45mm F2.8, equivalent to a FF 35mm, and it works well either in colour or B&W. So how do you go about creating a convincing conversion?

If you’re a Capture One Pro user you already own one of the most powerful apps for converting colour images to mono. And if you’re starting the conversion from RAW it’s even more powerful than Silver Efex Pro. That’s not to say you can’t get excellent mono images from Silver Efex Pro – as I’ve written before in many of the UK’s most respected photo magazines – because you absolutely can.

However, if you’re using Capture One Pro then there’s no need for Silver Efex Pro at all. Although mono conversion is easy in an editor like Capture One, if you want quality B&W photographs you need to more than simply desaturate colour and adjust the Color Sensitivity Sliders. When using C1 there are several different techniques for quality mono photographs. The following isn’t an in-depth guide but a primer to get you started.

1 Begin conversion

Converting to B&W is easy in Capture One. All you need do is check the Enable Black & White option in the Black & White tool in the Color Tool Tab, but a straight conversion or a simple desaturate doesn’t work all that well in practise. Therefore before conversion make the usual tonal adjustments to the image as you would normally for a colour image. Although the default workspace doesn’t show the B&W Tool Tab, if you’re starting out it’s a good idea to add it as it has the most relevant tools added to it. Hover the cursor over the Tool Tabs, then right-click/ctrl-click, select Add Tool Tab   > Black & White.

2 Adjust tone and contrast

After conversion, adjust the colour sensitivity sliders in Black & White tool. Each slider adjusts the brightness or density of a colour range. Select the region want to adjust in the image by colour such as green or blue hues and then adjust the appropriate slider from the Black and White tool. Dragging the slider to the left darkens the region, dragging to the right lightens it. Using each slider controls the entire image though it’s unlikely all the colour ranges would benefit from adjustment.

3 Finishing touches

When you’re satisfied with the result, you’ll need to back and make a few final tonal adjustments. Tweaking global contrast is usually required for best results. This can be by using the Contrast slider in the Exposure tool or preferably by using the Curves tool. If adopting the latter I recommend using the Luma adjustment curve to prevent any slight shift in colour saturation.

All images were made processed in Capture One Pro (20). Download a free trial of Capture One Pro.

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All images were made with the excellent Fujifilm GFX 50R and outstanding 45mm F2.8

B&H Photo (GFX50R kit and 45mm with $1000 instant savings)

WEX Photo (UK)

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