Give me a full frame trichromatic sensor already!

Started 5 months ago | Discussions thread
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fPrime Senior Member • Posts: 2,335
Give me a full frame trichromatic sensor already!

Luminous Landscape recently visited Phase One to learn about their medium format trichromatic sensor. They produced two epic videos that are worth watching for anyone with an interest in getting better color from digital cameras.

In a fascinating video interview with Lau Norgaard, VP of R&D at Phase One, several contentious forum topics were simultaneously settled at the OEM level. I've marked these at their various time stamps:

  • 1:40 - Sensor CFA designs have color trade-offs that leave color quirks.
  • 6:30 - Manufacturer's have weakened CFA's in modern cameras to achieve higher ISO at the expense of color fidelity. Colors today are less pure.
  • 8:30 - Irregular CFA color channel crossover (for example, the red channel seeing deep into the blue channel) is difficult to mathematically model leading to magenta casts in skies and more pronounced purple fringing.
  • 11:30 - The more that the R, G, and B channels from a CFA are equally balanced, the less noisy the sensor becomes.
  • 16:00 - The denser the CFA is, the lower base ISO it can achieve (e.g. ISO 35)
  • 17:52 - The less aggressive the color transform is, the cleaner the files remain, and the more processing headroom is reserved for creative post processing.
  • 19:52 - The fallacy of using color checker profiles... they can't offset a strong CFA.
  • 22:50 - The fallacy of fixing colors in post processing... tweaking incorrect colors pulls neighboring hues out of shape.

I've debated all of these points on DPR over the last several years citing industry references, CFA spectrograms, and image examples. You will see many of these same points raised in my posts on the problem with weakened CFA's, CCD vs. CMOS, and the generally poorer color accuracy (SMI) of modern cameras. As such I personally found a lot of validation in Lau's comments. Had Luminous Landscape interviewed me on the topic my responses would have been the same.

All this being said, you will also see that Phase One has partnered with Sony to build a very strong, trichromatic sensor for their new medium format digital back. Their aim is to produce color fidelity the way our eyes see color. There is absolutely no reason why Nikon, Canon, or Sony themselves can't produce a full frame sensor with an equally strong CFA.

I believe there is still a market for great color fidelity at every sensor size. Certainly we need good color at every resolution. At this point it's more questionable whether we actually need more resolution, IMHO.


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