The most important factor when it comes to choosing the best lens for black and white (B&W) photography is micro-contrast. Whoever tells you that you can add micro-contrast in photoshop or lightroom is wrong. Micro-contrast is the actual information we acquire when taking a picture and therefore cannot be added in postprocessing. It is the intertonal detail in the picture that adds the depth of the black & white image.
Micro-contrast is going to be the same regardless of the aperture you shoot at. It is the actual electrical nature of the lens how it transmits and processes the intertonal detail to hit the sensor. The more intertonal detail we get, the more micro-contrast detail we will have in the picture and this will give the image a deeper 3D look and feel.
Also, an interesting fact to know is, that the more glass elements a lens has more micro-contrast will be lost. So ideally we want a high-quality lens that is capable of transmitting high-quality information to the sensor, with as few glass elements as possible.
The skill of the photographer has very little to do when we are shooting black & white photography. It all comes down to the equipment we are using. An appropriate camera and lens are crucial for getting the best results in B&W photography. In this article, we will look at what are the best lenses for black and white (B&W) photography. If you would like to know what is the best camera for black and white (B&W) photography you are welcome to read my previous article here.
What are the Best Lenses for Black and White Photography?
Since this is a general article and I do not know what camera you use, I have decided to list the best lenses for B&W grouped by manufacturers. For all brands, I will list lenses across the most important focal length range. Choose the focal length that is the most suitable for the type of photography you shoot – <50mm for landscape or street photography, 50 – 80mm for classic photography, portraits or video, >80mm for telephoto macro photography.
Best Fujifilm Lenses for Black and White Photography?
Here are 5 Fujifilm lenses that have the best image fidelity a.k.a. micro-contrast and therefore produce the best B&W photos.
Best Nikon Nikkor Lenses for Black and White Photography?
This is our selection of Nikon lenses that have proven to have the highest micro-contrast saturation and therefore are best suited for B&W photography.
Nikon NIKKOR 35mm f/2 with Auto Focus is the best 35mm lens for black and white photography. From all our lenses, it stands out most due to its highest micro-contrast. B&W images really pop and get that 3D dimensional look.
Best Canon Lenses for Black and White Photography?
This is our selection for the best B&W lenses.
The Best Voigtlander lens for Black and White – 3rt party lens
Voigtlander 58mm F1.4 is the best value lens that is out there on the market. It is made like a tank and it’s micro-contrast is just off the charts. In my opinion, this is the best 3rt party lens for B&W photography. One thing to note about this lens is that it is a manual focus lens so you can’t use it in any program priority.
- Beautiful Bokeh, Outstanding Performance Metering for film or digital Nikons.
- Manual Focus Ai-s mount (CPU integrated) for ALL film or digital Nikon SLRs
- On APS-C cameras equivalent to 85mm f/1.4 portrait lens
- Nostalgic Lens Barrel Design similar to the 58mm f/1.4 Nikkor of 1959
- Chipped metering for DSLRs, AIS or Non AI metering for film SLRs
High micro-contrast is the most essential trait a lens needs to have in order to produce the best black and white photos. Micro contrast is a simple word to describe image fidelity. All lenses listed above have been shown to have an above average micro-contrast passed to the sensor and are therefore great options for black and white photography. Remember to choose the lens based on the focal length you require for you photography type you shoot.
Hope this article was helpful and I wish you a lot of nice classic black & white shoots!