Raw Masterclass

mono conversion

Achieve the best possible black-and-white conversions with a huge amount of control.

Black-and-white is the instant classic that has never gone out of fashion, and has remained one of the most popular image treatments, even in the digital age. There are two schools of thought when it comes to mono conversions of raw files: some people say you should process raw files in colour, then convert to black-and-white in Photoshop. Others say that doing it all in ACR is better – and we agree.

The great thing about converting to black and white in raw is that once you've made the image greyscale, you can take advantage of eight colour groups. Using the sliders, you can control exactly how individual colours convert. It's a powerful and creative control that will change the way you convert to mono.

mono conversion

Why convert in raw?

You may be thinking, "Why convert to mono in ACR when Photoshop has the Black & White Adjustment Layer, which has essentially the same controls?" It all comes back to working with the additional data in raw files. When you convert in Camera Raw, you will typically experience less noise when you push the ways colour groups convert to mono. Even in ACR, watch out for noise appearing when darkening Blues: Blue is the noisiest colour channel in RGB images.

James Abbott

James Abbott is a professional photographer and freelance photography journalist. He contributes articles about photography, cameras and drones to a wide range of magazines and websites where he applies a wealth of experience to testing the latest photographic tech. James is also the author of ‘The Digital Darkroom: The Definitive Guide to Photo Editing’.