Should I Shoot In B&W Mode - Photography Tips
Image © Randy McKown

Pretty much any digital camera you buy these days will give you the option to shoot in color or b&w mode.

I started out shooting in the 80’s. Photography was much more expensive back then and black & white development was much more affordable. Because of this I spent my first decade shooting exclusively in black and white.

Needless to say, black and white photography holds a very special place for me. So, should I shoot in black and white mode or convert my color images to b&w later in Lightroom or Photoshop?

Shooting B&W Mode

This is a novelty feature and a ridiculous one at that – nothing more. A photographer never wants to limit what they can do with their photography? Some images look better in color and some in black and white. Always shooting in color gives you the option to create a more professional black and white image later in Photoshop. If I let the camera do this for me, I’m forever limited to a colorless image and my creativity is restricted.

Some will argue that shooting in black and white mode saves them time. Your cameras black and white mode is the equivalent of clicking your mouse once in Lightroom. This is even something that Lightroom can completely automate. You are going to spend a lot more time navigating the LCD menu on the back of your camera to get in and out of b&w mode. So, the concept of saving time can’t actually be justified.

However, the primary consideration with shooting in b&w vs color mode is the quality of your photography. How well does your digital camera shoot in black and white mode? Not very good in my opinion. Trust me there’s nothing magical going on in there. Even with a pro level Nikon or Canon, you will still need to go into Lightroom or Photoshop and adjust how the colors are converted into black and white.

So, should you shoot in B&W mode? I say avoid it like the plague. Instead take some time to study different black and white conversion methods in Photoshop and Lightroom. There are many ways to do this. Both applications give you the option of simply clicking once to convert to a black and white but there are far better ways to do this and achieve more professional results. Take the time to play around, find your own style and never sacrifice your creative freedom.