Test Monochrome-converted Sony A7R II

Amin Sabet

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I've been doing almost all my photography with a phone camera for quite a while now. Kind of lost the inspiration to use a dedicated camera. Recently I decided to try a dedicated monochrome camera for a change of pace and picked up a monochrome-converted A7R II. I just it yesterday, and I can already tell that I'm really going to enjoy using it!

My A7R II was converted by Daniel at https://www.monochromeimaging.com/ using the process described here: https://www.monochromeimaging.com/technical/process/

Here is a pic I posted in another thread of my daughter doing kindergarten on Zoom due to the pandemic:

Not demosaiced.jpg
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The process to convert the raw data from a camera with a color filter array to a usable image requires demosaicing, which introduces a slight loss of resolution. With a monochrome-converted camera, demosaicing is not required, so there is a tiny bit of extra detail. To illustrate this, here are two 100% crops taken from the above image:

crops.jpg
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Left: processed without demosaicing; right: processed with demoisaicing

For the left crop, the Sony raw file was converted from ARW to DNG using Monochrom2DNG, which makes demosaicing unnecessary, and then processed in Lightroom CC using default sharpening and noise reduction settings. For the right crop, the same Sony raw ARW file was imported directly into Lightroom CC and processed using the same sharpening and noise reduction settings. As you can see, there is a bit more fine detail in the left crop. The crop on the right can be brought nearly to par using more sharpening, but it doesn't get all the way there, and the extra sharpening accentuates the noise. As an aside, I think the difference in tonality between crops is a function of how Lightroom treated these files and not sensor performance per se.

Here are the raw files in case you'd like to have a play:
DNG file: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1QROp7OKBRNZAu5Xy-KkGBpaf5dIQgHi-
ARW file: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1YPwyEXz91nj0leBhN3prrpw31p_ohuLN

Overall, I honestly don't think that the resolution gain or light gain (removing the color filter array allows more light to hit the sensor) are going to make any practical impact on my photography. And having a pure monochrome image eliminates the opportunity to convert to black and white while selectively controlling the conversion on a per-color basis. Also, the conversion process eliminates PDAF. Only CDAF remains, which significantly handicaps autofocus. So for all practical purposes, I would say that this is technically an inferior image making machine for someone like me, a person who shoots mostly pics of his family. For someone who wants that last bit of detail, tonality, and light, such as a black and white landscape photographer who is willing to use color filters on their lenses as needed, I think it's a different story and that a converted camera can deliver the goods.

That all may sound like I regret the purchase, but I absolutely do not. Somehow knowing that my camera can only do monochrome and that color is not even an option is inspiring to me. It pushes me to see things differently, work at things differently, and to shoot more. So hopefully I'll be more active around these parts.
 
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I already noticed this camera in the EXIF below some of your photos, but didn't ask: it's not for me, however much I like B&W. My main objection is that I know I'm not going to carry more than one camera on an outing and I don't want to be stuck with the B&W only option; same reason for not getting an infrared-sensitive camera. Having to use IR-cut, orange and yellow filters again would be another disadvantage to me.

But it surely is a great option.
 
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WoodWorks

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Anything that gets me out with a camera Is a good thing. And being limited to B&W would be an interesting challenge, if only occasionally. So, like Ad, I can’t see me converting a camera to monochrome only. Though I’m old enough to remember when B&W was the only option. :rolleyes-20:

These days, about the only time I think of going to B&W is when I get home and don’t like the results I’m getting from an image in Lightroom and decide to see what it might look like if I process it as a B&W image. And I’ve had some pleasant surprises when I do that.
 

Richard Crowe

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I suspect that I would prefer having the color image and converting it to B&W using my NIK software,

OTOH: I purchased an older Sony NEX-7 APSC camera which I had converted to full-time monochrome IR. I like the high-contrast rendition of the converted NEX-7...

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And since I can use whatever lenses that I am carrying for my other Sony bodies; the extra weight of the NEX-7 doesn't impact me greatly
 

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