My new little compact camera has a "Dynamic" B&W setting. Essentially it just adjusts the gamma curve to give you a bit more punch when view on the screen. Works really well. Here are some shots I took, with the exposure set to auto, and straight from the camera. No after editing at all, save resizing.
Sure there is some tonal clipping, but given the scene luminance rage, pretty damn good for auto. I would never get these tonal values when I shot transparency. And its a compact!