Monochrome vs Black and White. Whats the Difference?

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Penny 2 Comments

‘Black and white’ and ‘monochrome’ are definitions that are frequently used to explain photographs that do not portray a variety of colours, and most of the time they are used in conjunction with each other.

But what is the actual difference between the two and when do you use one term over the other?

Black and white: An image can be defined as ‘black and white’ when it contains a pure black and a pure white point and no other colours.

Here is an example of a black and white image:

Monochrome: All black and white images are monochrome as they are a variation of one colour. But not all monochrome images are black and white. Monochrome also refers to images that have a single colour cast – like sepia, rose tint, and so on.

Here is the same image as above, except it is converted into monochrome rather than black and white:

Here you can see a singular colour (rose) on a white background.

Therefore, all black and white images are monochrome but not all monochrome images are black and white as like the above, the image contains no black pixels, but a variation of tones of the one colour (rose).

I hope the definitions and examples have helped clear the way! Remember that today is our Be Inspired By: Monochrome, so head over to our Facebook page and partake in the community of sharing!

Penny Robartes

* * *

Comments 2

  1. Black Pearl

    Hello Penny,

    Doubt the below quoted lines.
    “All black and white images are monochrome as they are a variation of one colour. But not all black and white images are monochrome.”

    Shouldn’t it be “All black and white images are monochrome as they are a variation of one colour. But not all monochrome images are black and white.”

    However, this one is a good article to get understand the difference. This mistake is often seen..

    Thanks !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *