View Full Version : Thoughts on B&W film modes at 1600 ISO with GH1

01-21-2010, 09:39 PM
I did a little comparison test today of the different B&W film modes at the highest ISO setting on the GH1. I noticed that the GH1 video posted in this forum, Streets of S.F., was shot at 1600 ISO. I was surprised at how little noise there was in that video. There was also a discussion in the GH1 forum which film modes in B&W would give the best grain-like film look. I had always used B&W modes when I really wanted to capture video but the lighting was really low. The idea was that B&W would mask the noise and it is more acceptable to see grain in B&W. After the test I was still surprised at how low the noise really is. I can't say which mode is the best because I really think it depends on the mood of the scene. Smooth has much less noise but the skin tones seem a little off to me. So far it is a toss up between Standard and Smooth for that all around film look in my eyes.


720p 60p @ 1/125 shutter conformed to 23.98fps
1600 ISO @ f5.3 Stock Lens set to 35mm (70mm equivalent)
Light source one medium window about 8 feet away indirect.
Black & White Film Modes
Standard: Contrast +2; Sharpness -2; Noise Reduction -2
Dynamic: Contrast +2; Sharpness -2; Noise Reduction -2
Smooth: Contrast 0; Sharpness -2; Noise Reduction -2

01-22-2010, 02:23 PM
Test 2 with Color

This is where the difference is very noticeable between color and B&W. Running through all of the film modes didn't help too much. Almost looks as if Dynamic was best in the background but Smooth was better in the skin tones, least in my eyes. Today there was much less light coming through the window because of an overcast so I put up a light in front of the window and tried to get the same intensity. There isn't any light bouncing off the walls or ceiling so it is quite different but it was just to get some noise anyway. B&W looks much more appealing to my eye at this high ISO setting than color. I wouldn't come close to this ISO with color but you get much more range with the B&W. You will have to see the video in 720p to see the noise clearer.


So what is the point? Well it was to see just how far you could push the B&W modes and to me they look pretty good. I think you could be safe going 1600 ISO for web stuff. So if you are out with your GH1 and absolutely must capture something in low light but want the best image I think you can go B&W and it still look pretty good. Milage may vary of course.