Monochrome M - Silly Idea?

Started May 1, 2012 | Discussions thread
xtoph Veteran Member • Posts: 9,871
more like a silly question

Peter Sills wrote:

I mean there is already no AA filter in the M9, so there will be no increase in sharpness from a color filter being added.

this is wrong (and i don't mean your slip of 'added' for 'removed'). resolution differences for non-bayer sensors are nowhere in the order of aa filter + or -. without a bayer color filter array, you gain serious spatial resolution--in practical terms, less then the x3 which foveon aficionados claim, but easily on the order of what you expect to see from a sensor with 1.25~1.5 times the megapixel count. you don't seem to grasp the effects that bayer interpolation has. granted, demosaicing algorithms have gotten phenomenally good at presenting an appearance of fine detail (it is really only an appearance ; the finest details are interpolated, that is, made up, which is why for some technical and scientific purposes bayer sensor cameras can't be used), but doing away with the filter array does away with all the attendant problems (moire, etc), while delivering actually higher resolution. (fwiw, no, you cannot get the same results as an unfiltered sensor by just 'throwing away the bayer data' and looking at the luminance values.)

on top of this, existing bw-only sensors confirm expectations that designing the sensor without a color filter array 1) increases sensitivity 2) increases dynamic range 3) improves tonal gradation. go read about the kodak 760m, for example:

"the images are truly outstanding to view directly. The image quality certainly beats the pants off of anything I have seen on film in medium format and often what I have seen in large format in terms of resolution, gradation and dynamic range." --pete myers, re: a camera that was sold a full decade ago . cf phase one achromatic, quite a clever beast in its own right.

The problem is that without the color channels you can really not work with the file, even if your final result is going to be B&W. Programs like Silver FX Pro need the color information in order to create the stunning B&W conversions it does.

obviously, a bw sensor camera wouldn't need programs like silver fx to deliver excellent results in bw. that's kind of the point.

I am unconvinced that this is a good idea.

and i expect (if it turns out to be true that leica has a bw only camera up their sleeves) that the vast majority of people will agree with you, even if not for the (mistaken) reasons you suppose. probably the ability to play around with the conversions post capture would be a big factor.


leica seems to be touting the concept of a 'back to basics' camera, which obviously fits their overall aesthetic anyway. not everyone actually likes the "fx" which post-capture bw conversion seems to encourage. me, i sometimes exploit the opportunity to emphasize some or other detail through manipulating the conversion of its color, but mostly i prefer to stick with subtler techniques, and with basic dodging and burning. i doubt i would buy a bw leica, but there are definitely times i would want one. at the end of the day, though, my own work is almost all in color, even in film. that doesn't mean i don't appreciate the work other people do in bw.

if leica did a bw digital camera right--by which i mean don't screw up royally, to start with, and preferably also do some thoughtful optimizations of the capture system, possibly even including a checkerboard nd-filter array over the sense-cells, they might come up with an absolutely unmatched tool for a very specific, but nonetheless very useful, purpose. i hope they do it, personally, though not at the expense of developing the m10, which i would care more about. it would suit both the leica legacy, and a small but significant number of photographers who would do amazing work with it. i'd call that a win, and i look forward to seeing some of the pictures it makes.

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