Best Lenses for Black and White Photography – Expert Guide

best lens for black and white photography
Black & White Landscape photography

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.

Fujifilm XF16mmF1.4 R WR
Fujinon XF50mmF2 R WR Lens - Black
Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 R
Fujinon XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens
Fujifilm XF90mmF2 R LM WR
Fujifilm XF16mmF1.4 R WR
Fujinon XF50mmF2 R WR Lens - Black
Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 R
Fujinon XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens
Fujifilm XF90mmF2 R LM WR
-
-
366 Reviews
203 Reviews
313 Reviews
64 Reviews
103 Reviews
$999.00
$399.98
$999.00
$1,199.00
$949.99
Fujifilm XF16mmF1.4 R WR
Fujifilm XF16mmF1.4 R WR
366 Reviews
$999.00
Fujinon XF50mmF2 R WR Lens - Black
Fujinon XF50mmF2 R WR Lens - Black
-
203 Reviews
$399.98
Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 R
Fujinon XF56mmF1.2 R
313 Reviews
$999.00
Fujinon XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens
Fujinon XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens
-
64 Reviews
$1,199.00
Fujifilm XF90mmF2 R LM WR
Fujifilm XF90mmF2 R LM WR
103 Reviews
$949.99

Last update on 2021-08-22

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 FOR B&W
Nikon AF NIKKOR 1923 35mm f/2D Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras,Black
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens
Rokinon 135mm F2.0 ED UMC Telephoto Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 180mm f/2.8D IF-ED prime telephoto Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
Nikon AF NIKKOR 1923 35mm f/2D Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras,Black
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens
Rokinon 135mm F2.0 ED UMC Telephoto Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 180mm f/2.8D IF-ED prime telephoto Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
-
-
237 Reviews
4,146 Reviews
1,311 Reviews
133 Reviews
46 Reviews
$386.95
$196.95
$896.95
$499.00
$748.00
BEST FOR B&W
Nikon AF NIKKOR 1923 35mm f/2D Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras,Black
Nikon AF NIKKOR 1923 35mm f/2D Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras,Black
237 Reviews
$386.95
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
-
4,146 Reviews
$196.95
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens
1,311 Reviews
$896.95
Rokinon 135mm F2.0 ED UMC Telephoto Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Rokinon 135mm F2.0 ED UMC Telephoto Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
133 Reviews
$499.00
Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 180mm f/2.8D IF-ED prime telephoto Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 180mm f/2.8D IF-ED prime telephoto Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
-
46 Reviews
$748.00

Last update on 2021-08-22

Best Canon Lenses for Black and White Photography?

This is our selection for the best B&W lenses.

Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras, Fixed
Sigma 30mm F1.4 Art DC HSM Lens for Canon
Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II VC HLD Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon APS-C Digital SLR Cameras
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras, Fixed
Sigma 30mm F1.4 Art DC HSM Lens for Canon
Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II VC HLD Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon APS-C Digital SLR Cameras
-
-
3,989 Reviews
11,572 Reviews
4,389 Reviews
709 Reviews
76 Reviews
$149.00
$125.00
$399.00
$467.49
$499.00
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens
3,989 Reviews
$149.00
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
11,572 Reviews
$125.00
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras, Fixed
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras, Fixed
-
4,389 Reviews
$399.00
Sigma 30mm F1.4 Art DC HSM Lens for Canon
Sigma 30mm F1.4 Art DC HSM Lens for Canon
-
709 Reviews
$467.49
Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II VC HLD Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon APS-C Digital SLR Cameras
Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II VC HLD Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon APS-C Digital SLR Cameras
76 Reviews
$499.00

Last update on 2021-09-08

The Best Voigtlander lens fro 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.

Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II S Ai-S Lens, Silver
19 Reviews
Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II S Ai-S Lens, Silver
  • Probably the best NEW Nikon Normal you can buy. Beautiful Bokeh, Outstanding Performance
  • 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

Last update on 2021-08-22

Conclusion

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!

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