The color shot below is from my Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim.
The b&w was made with my Mamiya C330.
I am prompted to write a little about the subject by the appearance today of an article by Joel Meyerowitz in the Lens section of the New York Times. Here is part of what Meyerowitz has to say on the matter:
What I saw was that the color image had more information in it — simple as that! There was much more to see and consider, whereas black-and-white reduced the world to shades of gray...[color] was much more elegant in the way it described things. The sharpness and cohesive quality of the image compelled me to “read” everything in the frame more carefully, as if that small “ping” of color in the distance actually added something to the meaning of the whole frame, and it did.The passages above and the whole article seem rather nonsensical to me. I'll grant that a color photograph contains "more information in it". Meyerowitz, however, fails to delineate the nature of the additional information in any meaningful way. He might have pointed out, for instance that two colors can appear identical in a black and white representation of a scene if the surface textures and reflectivity are the same. Instead, he talks about "sharpness and cohesive quality" and "that small ping".
Here's the thing, Joel: Information is made up of observable and measurable facts. There is an important difference between Information and Opinion and confounding the two can have unfortunate consequences as we saw in some recent election analysis. It is also important that in arriving at judgments we do not make unsupported assertions or conveniently ignore facts that don't support conclusions.
The assumption underlying Meyerowitz's argument is that more information makes a better photograph. In my opinion the examples with which he illustrates his article are not at all convincing in regard to his thesis. Some of the color pictures are very nearly monochrome, and I thought them all pretty forgetable regardless of chromatic considerations. In any case, the idea that packing more information into a picture increases its communicative or aesthetic value is simply not defensible. Meaning in art surely is mostly a product of being selective -- of leaving things out of the picture to emphasize what is important. That end can come about by a variety of means including framing, selective focus, use of color or not, contrast control, filtering and many other useful techniques.
It is probably true, as the editor's introduction to the Meyerowitz article asserts, that collectors and curators were unwilling for a long time to to admit that photographic art might be rendered in color. However, that is an argument long since buried. To attempt a resurrection of the idea turned head to tail is about as productive as a zombie hunt.