Black & White Photography with CoolPix B500

Sef Avatar
Sef 4
21 Apr 2019 7:52PM
I bought a CoolPix B500 a few weeks ago, deciding that I wanted to get my feet wet with it before plunking down serious money on a DSLR camera. My father was a fairly accomplished black & white photographer in his day with his trusty old Minolta SLR, and I love that medium and wanted to explore it myself. I quickly discovered, however, that the CoolPix is maybe not the best camera choice for B&W photography.

I've been trying to find tips/tricks to getting richer blacks and more striking whites out of this camera, but I'm not having a whole lot of luck so far. I don't particularly like the Noir setting, and simply scaling back the color saturation seems to lose a lot of the finer detail. Any thoughts on this? I do wonder how much the .jpeg file type plays into picture quality.

Another challenge that I'm having so far is focus. This may well be a fault of mine and not the camera, but I can't seem to get the level of background blur that I'd like. Is there a pre-setting on the B500 that would improve this? For example, I took a photo of an old, interesting-looking tree while hiking last weekend, but I didn't want all of the surrounding foliage to be in-focus and it was. Any help there, too, would be greatly appreciated.
altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
22 Apr 2019 12:32AM
Looking quickly at a review of the Coolpix B500 it does not seem to have any manual control, no A (aperture) or Speed settings, nor ability to store raw data. The use of an aperture control to dial in your own choice of aperture (big hole to let light through, small number) is necessary to obtain background blur. You might be able to fool the automatic settings into doing it, but without a hands-on at the camera I don't know.

If you had raw you would be able to make better use of the camera to get very good black & white.

Are you using a basic photo editing programme in your computer? If you do not want to pay out for Photoshop's offerings there are several free programmes that you could employ to recover data from raw.

A basic DSLR would probably suit your needs better, it would have a viewfinder, choice of lenses, including cheap prime lenses that go down to f1.8 aperture to control blur and the ability to choose any suitable Aperture with whatever lens you fitted, raw capture and probably a bigger sensor. A Nikon D3500 at just over £300 new for example and it is reasonably small and light with the kit lens.
saltireblue Avatar
saltireblue Plus
13 14.5k 89 Norway
22 Apr 2019 8:08AM
Hi Sef, I can't help you with the Coolpix, but would just make a comment about forking out your hard-earned money on a DSLR.
Do have a look at the possibilities of mirrorless cameras at the same time, as they give you everything a DSLR does without the bulk and weight. There are some very good prime lenses down to f/1.2 available, depending on the brand you choose.
Don't be fooled into thinking only about Nikon/Canon. Fuji, Sony, and Panasonic, to name just three, make excellent mirrorless cameras, as do "the big two"
Tianshi_angie Avatar
22 Apr 2019 12:53PM
I would think that you will be more satisfied with a camera which takes Raw images. Jpeg images are created in camera from the Raw data and the information that it has decided is not useful is discarded. If you have all the Raw data you will get black and white images which satisfy you as YOU will choose what is kept. But first invest in processing software - there is free software available or if you Google 'Photo software' there are many packages which are reasonably priced. Masses of tutorials on YouTube will help you through the process. And practice a bit before you decide where you want to go in terms of a new purchase. It may be that you can tease some better B&W from the Coolpix, but if not I suggest that as Saltire has already said explore the possibilities first. Mirrorless are extremely versatile and take Raw, but so do the top end bridge cameras.
SteveAitch Avatar
SteveAitch 5 90 United Kingdom
23 Apr 2019 10:07AM
When it comes to processing packages, I use Elements 11, which has multiple convert-t- black-and-white options, which are slightly tuneable. I would guess other packages have something similar, which might be worth having a play with.

Of course, if you are happy with that approach, you may then end up embroiled in long discussions about conversion v total-desaturation as the best way of getting b&w images... Wink


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