Panasonic has introduced a high-dynamic ‘monochrome’ profile with true film-like grain for its LUMIX G range. It was launched in the LUMIX GX9, but now the LUMIX GH5, LUMIX GH5s and LUMIX G9 have also been upgraded with the black-and-white Photo Style called L. Monochrome D. This new feature is particularly interesting due to its high dynamic range, its retention of truly deep blacks and the sophisticated film grain emulation that can be added in the Monochrome Photo Styles, which makes the results even more filmic. There are three types of monochrome film grain. The ‘low grain’ reminds me of 100 ASA analogue black-and-white film while the ‘medium grain’ is closer to 400 ISO film grain. The ‘high grain’ becomes interesting when shooting in low light and emulates the film grain known from high-ISO black-and-white films. These film grains together with the Monochrome Photo Styles can be employed to create a unique and authentic black-and-white analogue filmic look, especially when printed on photographic paper.
Documentary photographer Daimon Xanthopoulos has been testing the new monochrome profile and shares his initial thoughts: ‘For many photographers, film grain is an important part of the culture of photograph, especially in black-and-white photography. Traditional analogue black-and-white films have a visual character with distinctive grains. These beloved filmic looks are now available for LUMIX G users to explore. In my opinion, the L. Monochrome D profile has the perfect combination of deep blacks and fine details in the brightest highlights with a wide tonality of greys in between. When the grain effect is added to one of the Monochrome Photo Styles (I mostly use the “low” setting), the powerful in-camera processor adds a realistic organic filmic look to your JPEG images, without any visual distortion.’
‘It’s a dream profile for black-and-white lovers who miss that analogue look,’ says Daimon, who used the new Photo Style to capture everyday life on the streets of Amsterdam. ‘When I started as a photographer I fell in love with the magic of black-and-white photography. I’ve ended up mainly focusing on colour photography for my work but I still enjoy going out and capturing city life in monochrome. My documentary photography can be very focused and constructed, as my intention is to guide the viewer through a story with a clear objective. When making street photography I don’t need to prepare, I just walk around and capture what I like with my camera while the city carries on with its own business. I photograph the movement of people and play with compositions, reflections and shadows. It’s nice to bring them together in a moment that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. The monochrome look and film grain enhance the freedom to play with tonalities and abstract forms in urban areas.
When I started working with the new L. Monochrome D Photo Style in my LUMIX G9 it reminded me of the traditional black-and-white analogue films I used in the past. I wanted to go out every day to explore the world around me with my camera. The analogue film grain was intrinsic to that exciting experience. I still love an analogue look in images, but the analogue process itself is not always practical and can be too time consuming. So having this look without having to develop the film and then make prints in a darkroom is great for photographers and other creatives. I mostly use the LUMIX GX9 and LUMIX G9 and now both can create these filmic monochrome images in-camera, without complex RAW editing on a computer. I’ve always been a firm believer in RAW files and you can still save them in addition to your JPEG files, but to be honest these Monochrome JPEG files look so good you probably won’t even consider additional processing.
It’s wonderful that we can now have black-and-white images with such great character. Just activate the L. Monochrome D Photo Style and it will feel as if you’re shooting with an entirely different camera. These technologies also demonstrate the bright future of digital photography and the possibilities of in-camera digital signal processing. The L. Monochrome D profile inspires me to shoot images on the streets of any city I visit and reawakens the joy of playful street photography. I encourage you to try it out and discover this little gem in one of your premium LUMIX G cameras.’