Could a Downgrade be an Upgrade?

Started Aug 4, 2018 | Discussions thread
fPrime Veteran Member • Posts: 3,152
Here's the actual data you need

Ed Rizk wrote:

Here's a lunatic question.

I've read in many threads, but seen no real studies, that older Canons had stronger color filters that provided better color than newer sensors. Canon is said to have given up some color for better low light capability.

Half of my pictures are HDR brackets taken on a tripos at base ISO. (I know you hate HDR, but please bear with me) High ISO capability does nothing for me on such shots. I guess a camera with lower DR could require me to take a wider range of brackets closer together. So what?

Would I get more and better color from an old 5D classic or one of the 1D series cameras from that era than from a new camera, for that specific purpose?

Hi Ed,

If I read your question correctly, you aren't asking for opinion as much as you are for data. This CFA spectrogram should tell you what you need to know.

You can see the weaker CFA installed over the Canon 5D Mk II versus the Canon 5D Classic when Canon nearly doubled the resolution. As to the effects this had on color discrimination I would suggest this link:

Herein colorimetric expert The_Suede describes the effects of a weaker CFA:

The 5D2 is both more AND less like the human eye when you look at it from a more controlled, dispassionate PoV.

The difference between them is that in the generations starting with 50D Canon has changed the classic "R,G,B" type of Bayer colour filters into "orange, warm green, blue". This is, if you do it well, and control your filter parameters well a very good thing for most intents and purposes.

A few things makes the solution less-than-optimal though. When you design a colour filter set, you only have a fixed amount of materials to work with. The materials you use MUST be able to function in the process that physically makes the filters (we're talking about depositing +/-2% amount material onto a very well defined square about 5x5µm large here...) and it has to be non-fade, non-sensitive to certain material used in the sensor surface and so on.

So, to get as close to target as they can, Canon has used a mix of material that sometimes puts the camera into trouble. Especially the "double-hump" in the orange channel in contemporary models can wreak havoc with colour accuracy in the range red>green.

But one does have to separate "accurate colour" from "pleasing colour". Even though the 5D2 and the likes of it have some very real problems (very red orange, and purples are very hard to get right - even in perfect light) it also has some positive effects.

When the light goes crazy (very low K temperatures, fluorescent lights and so on) the 5D2 keeps on top of trying to get skin-tone "about the right mid-orange", and "about mid-high saturation". This is not in any way "accurate", but it's easy to work with.

In good, balanced light spectras (daylight, studio flash) the 5D classic is miles ahead in colour definition and hue accuracy though. You get a much higher "hue-resolution" than with a 5D2. In landscaping, this might be seen as a lot higher colour definition - two trees standing next to each other have a different green colour base. Parts of foliage are more saturated with either phycocyanin, carotene, or xanthophyll chlorofyll base mixes, making them all slightly DIFFERENT green compared to the foliage parts right next to it. Some cameras can differentiate between those (very similar) colours, some just can't.

So what the 5D2 gives you is "average skintone", almost no matter what the circumstances are. This might be seen as good or bad depending on what you prefer. It also introduces some other very serious problems - like the magenta/green chroma noise caused by the unusually large amount of saturation amplification needed to make the raw file red>green range look like real colours. This is a very real "Canon problem", and the colour filter choices they've made is what causes it.


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