I got into monochrome photography recently, and i played around with around 30 different cameras trying to see which is the best. It’s tough to pick, especially when you have the versatility of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV compared to the portability of Ricoh GR III.
There is something pretty interesting to black and white photography, something unique that touches the soul. I have shot mostly colored normal photographs, but then again I have had plenty of fun when I have tried black and white photography. The experience is pretty nostalgic and it has a nice simple aesthetic to it. To get the best black and white photographs you need to have a bit of experience especially at manipulating light, but everyone can have plenty of fun with the right camera.
For that reason today we will check out some of the best options when it comes to monochromatic photography. Now without further ado, let’s check them out.
Best For Professionals
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Best For Low-Light
|Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body|
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Best For Video
|Canon EOS R|
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|Sony a7 III|
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Best Compact Camera
|Ricoh GR III|
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The 5 Best Cameras For Black & White Photography
5. Ricoh GR III
We are going to start this list with a compact point-and-shoot camera that has delivered some delicious results, the Ricoh GR III. If you have tried the GR line of the company before you know that you are in for a treat, as this camera works fast and delivers some excellent detail in the images despite being a compact point-and-shoot model. While it has its disadvantages, for black and white photography it is better than most, let’s take a closer look.
First off I should mention that the Ricoh GR III has a magnesium alloy body that is extremely durable and looks better than most cameras in the market. I should state that it is pretty lightweight and compact, the best in this list in that aspect. Also, it is pretty comfortable to photograph with, as it has a great handgrip that is covered with tactile rubber and has thumb rests on the back.
The controls are pretty interesting though. The shutter button is large and pill-shaped, moving on the mode dial is pretty easy to operate and you will get a great number of controls, especially for a point-and-shoot model. The display on the back is touch-sensitive and it delivers a great experience which I didn’t expect allowing you to operate the settings in a fast manner.
Despite being a point and shoot model the Ricoh GR III is packed with an APS-C sized 24.2MP sensor that delivers some delicious photographs. For detail retention, it has removed the anti-aliasing filter and the new lens works rather good for this camera. It is a lens with an 18.5mm focal length one with f/2.8 aperture that has a new design that works better than ever.
The autofocus system of this camera is better than its predecessors by a mile. Since now it employs a hybrid autofocus system which is pretty fast and responsive even in low light scenarios. With all of its extra features that will be perfect for some crowds, the Ricoh GR III is one of the most attractive cameras in the point-and-shoot market.
4. Sony Alpha a7 III
Moving on with our list we have an interesting mirrorless interchangeable lens camera from Sony, the Alpha a7 III. This camera is pretty interesting as it is the successor of the already excellent Alpha A7 II, but it delivers some excellent updates and qualities that make it a pretty smart upgrade. Of course, this camera is pretty expensive but it isn’t as expensive as it was when first released so it delivers great value for its asking price, especially for monochromatic shots.
I should start this by saying that the Sony Alpha a7 III has the same body design as the flagship A7R III, which is one of the most refined cameras in the market, both in terms of controls and ergonomics. This camera has a great build quality that works wonders in terms of durability, and it is also dust and weather-sealed. The camera has some nice weight distribution which works in its advantage when combined with heavier and bigger lenses making the process rather smooth.
The controls of this camera though are pretty interesting as they deliver extensive creative control with its multiple dials and buttons. However, I should mention that they aren’t pretty friendly for beginners. Moving on I should mention that the display is pretty good and responsive to the touch. I should also mention the detailed viewfinder while I am at it since it is a strong point of this camera.
This camera is packed with a pretty strong 24Mp full-frame BSI-CMOS image sensor that delivers some perfect detail retention. It has a back-illuminated design with the 5-axis image stabilization system it works perfectly at delivering beautiful images. Moving on it has also the Bionz X image processor, and has the Sony FE lens mount that has a pretty rich selection.
The autofocus performance of this beast comes from the flagship AF system that has 693 phase-detect points and 425 contrast-detect points that cover 93 percent of the frame. It is also extremely sensitive down to -3EV. The burst shooting speed is also at 10 frames per second which is double its predecessor, thanks to the Front End LSI pre-processor.
3. Canon EOS R
For those photographers that want to give a try to the mirrorless craze, but still want the familiar feeling of the Canon EOS range, I have the perfect option here, the Canon EOS R. This camera will be a perfect addition for those that want to photograph in black and white, since it has the perfect set of features, including an exceptional autofocus performance, great touch screen display, interesting sensor, and great ergonomics. However, it is a little expensive for what it offers.
The Canon EOS R comes with a body that feels pretty similar to other EOS model but then again it isn’t as it is lighter and smaller. However, it has all the premium qualities such as the magnesium alloy body that is extremely durable and has a nice feeling to it. On top of that this camera is also weather resistant. The handgrip of this camera is DSLR sized, meaning that you will get a perfect grip even when combined with larger lenses that are heavier.
Moving on to the controls, long time users of EOS DSLRs will feel right at home. They are extremely good at delivering creative control and the ease of use that many Canon photographers love. The LCD screen on the top plate is pretty good as well and the display works perfectly since it is a very-angle one and touch responsive. The viewfinder was also pretty surprising and there is no negative here.
The Canon EOS R has a pretty good 30MP full-frame CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel Autofocus features that we will talk about later. The sensor is pretty popular in Canon’s lineup and we will see it again in this list. It is packed with the DIGIC 8 image-processing engine as well and it has a great ISO range that spans from 100 to 40,000 natively and it can be extended up to 102,400. It has a new RF lens mount that works great and will accept the EF range lenses with an adapter.
The autofocus system in this camera takes it away for me. It is a pretty sophisticated one, that works with the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system that has impressed us in the past. It has a phase-detect system with 5,655 doubts that cover a great range and deliver a sensitivity that goes down to -6EV.
2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
The runner up on this list is the exceptional Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. You may have seen this camera nearly on every list and buying guide, and for all the good reasons. This camera from the EOS range delivers all the qualities and features that make this one such a versatile and multi-purpose tool that can be used for every kind of photography, and black and white photographs are no exception for this one. So let’s take a deeper look.
If you have followed the 5D series of the company you will instantly recognize the resemblance to the 5D Mark III. This is a good thing though, as the design of the camera was universally accepted as one of the best. I should state that this camera has a magnesium alloy and polycarbonate construction to keep the body extremely sturdy but also pretty lightweight as it weighs just 800 grams. I should state that it is dust and weather-sealed and has an improved handgrip that allows for better hold of the camera when you are taking photographs.
The control layout is pretty satisfying with a great resemblance to its predecessor, but with slight improvements and refinements to it. It feels like a proper EOS camera with extensive creative freedom and all the goodies that come with it. The touchscreen display of the camera is also updated here and delivers some excellent performance, in terms of live view and control the settings in the fly.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV has the same sensor with the Canon EOS R that we talked about above, the full-frame 30.4MP CMOS sensor that is pretty good here as well. It also has the Dual Pixel AF sensor and the ISO performance is pretty good spanning form 100 to 32,000. It has a built-in low pass filter that delivers some great results and if you have seen a photograph taken with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, you know that it is pretty special.
The autofocus performance of this camera comes from the Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor that works especially well in live view. The system consists of 61 focus points of which 41 are more accurate cross-type points. Taking into consideration its 252 zone RGB+IR mastering system and its 7 frames per second burst shooting mode this camera is a true beast.
1. Nikon Z7
On top of the list, we have one of the most advanced cameras in the market, the Nikon Z7, which is the newest model in the Z series. It might be extremely expensive but if you want the best black and white photographs this camera truly delivers all the needed performance. It has a perfect sensor, great autofocus performance, great dynamic range, efficient noise reduction in high ISO settings and so much more.
I have to mention that this camera is not a looker, and if you are looking for aesthetics in a camera you might want to look elsewhere. However, the body is optimized to work well. It has a boxy body to be honest which is packed with magnesium alloy all-around to deliver great durability and weatherproofing. I can comfortably say that this will last a long time. The camera feels pretty comfortable in hands as well and it has a handgrip that gives DSLR feels and security.
The camera has a pretty interesting layout of controls that feels a little strange at the start, but if you are a bit patient and curious you will fall in love with them. I can confirm that the controls are pretty good and they deliver a superb amount of creative freedom. The LCD is pretty slim and is extremely helpful for controlling the camera and for live view mode which is implemented to perfection.
The Nikon Z7 is equipped with a super-advanced full-frame 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor that is present in the pro-grade Nikon D850. This sensor is also back-illuminated and has no anti-aliasing filter for great detail retention. The Nikon Z7 is equipped with a nice in-body 5 axis image stabilization system and has the Expeed 6 image-processing engine that does its job without any problem.
The autofocus performance is great as well, better than great to be honest. As it utilizes a Hybrid AF system with 493 phase-detect points that are also active during video recording. The system also utilizes contrast-detect technology to deliver great performance in low light scenarios as well. If you are looking for the best camera for monochromatic photography this one will deliver you that and much more.
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There you have it, the definite best cameras for black and white photography. If you choose one of these models the results will be better than expected and you will excel in this kind of photography.
Black & White, or monochrome photography doesn’t require a high-end camera to be done properly. So, if you are on a budget, you can even get a point and shoot camera for around $300 and play with the settings to get the desired shots.
Now go take some beautiful monochromatic photographs.