Hi Rick,

> if I shot in B&W (via digital camera), wouldn't that give me a better image,
> to work with in Gimp,  instead of converting it to Grey Scale?

For all consumer digital cameras I'm aware of, you'll be caputring in
color; the camera will be running an algorithm to convert to
grayscale.  If it has the option to do both, its pretty much certain
that its capturing in color internally.

Depending on the sensor and the camera, there may be some theoretical
advantages to doing conversion in-camera.  If it internally uses
12-bits per channel of resolution (or higher, or algorithms utilizing
the RAW characteristics), you may get smoother and more accurate
grayscale out the camera than would be possible to accurately get with
GIMP (which is only going to work with 8-bits per channel and has no
knowledge of your sensor's layout).  Of course, the camera could be
taking a cheap way out too, and using a lousy algorithm for conversion
figuring correctly that 99% of the users would never care.

However, you have more control over the subtle differences when using
GIMP to do your conversion.  For an excellent intro to different
techniques to get different results, see
http://www.gimpguru.org/Tutorials/Color2BW/ .  This also goes into how
the smoothness of this histogram (which is important for grayscale)
can be adversely affected by colorspace conversions in GIMP, which is
a big reason why some people really want a higher-bit-depth GIMP. 
These techniques also take a lot more time, and are pretty useless
unless you have a monitor that is capable of really showing grayscale
differences with some accuracy.

So at least until Gimp3, it comes down to an argument of (possible)
accuracy and speed from the camera, vs artistry and care with the
Gimp.  They've both got their points going for them.  What makes a
"better" image is not so easily answered, and may not even be an issue
for you depending on your desires.

Happy GIMPing,

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