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Author Topic: Digital camera color differences  (Read 572 times)


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Digital camera color differences
« on: April 06, 2017, 08:16:02 AM »

Recently  photographer told me that Canon digital SLRs have richest quality color when compared to similar Nikon and Sony cameras. I have also read this on line. My DXO program provides camera sensor choices as presets. The differences are noticeable.

This seems strange since a raw file is just an array of photon counts. Are Canon pixels able to collect more photons?

Or is this just mythology?


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Re: Digital camera color differences
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2017, 09:36:43 PM »

It could very well be jpegs the photographer was commenting on. Photons are, as you point out, photons. If Canon sensors somehow "collect more", it would simply be brighter, not richer.
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Re: Digital camera color differences
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2017, 04:19:34 PM »

Different manufacturers "interpret" colors differently when the file is processed.  You will see this in the JPG files.  Even the standard Adobe Color profile will be a little different from camera to camera.  Which one is better is not a question with an answer.  It is subjective.  Depends on you subjects, the light, your tastes, etc...  Lenses can also adjust this a bit so it's not concrete. 

However, if you use a color chart and make a profile from the raw files, this can be neutralized.  You can get pretty much exactly the same color across different cameras this way.  I would do this when shooting two different brands on a shoot.  Xrite colorchecker profiles would align colors. 

If you shoot JPG though, then each camera has it's own "profiles." 
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Re: Digital camera color differences
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2017, 09:14:35 PM »

I guess it is not the number of photons but what you do with them.
All cameras produce different colours. I don't mean just between Canon and Nikon, I mean same brand and same model will be different, sometimes vastly. The same applies to printers. That is why you produce custom camera and printer profiles if you really want accurate colour.

In the 35mm DSLR world they are generally mass produced, so the tolerances are greater. The more you pay the more accurate you get out of the box. Medium format is generally more accurate consistently for that reason.
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Re: Digital camera color differences
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2017, 07:57:32 PM »

This seems strange since a raw file is just an array of photon counts.

There is a bit more to it than that. The light hitting the sensor pixels is filtered by red green and blue filters in the Bayer mosaic filter. The characteristics (ie the spectral shape) of these filters has a bearing on the way photons are collected in the R G and B pixels. If the filter characteristics vary from one manufacturer to another, it means that the digital processing and the camera profiling in particular has a different starting point. I'm afraid I don't know how relevant this  might be though in any comparison. The actual processing would still be the main factor i think.



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Re: Digital camera color differences
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2017, 10:32:43 AM »

To answer your question: yes, it's just a myth. I've often heard people say that Canon has better color, but that is a very subjective, often uninformed and misleading statement.

Up until recently Canon sensors were more limited in dynamic range and high ISO performance compared to the competition (which uses mostly Sony sensors now). They have caught up quite a lot, although they are still behind if you measure them.

Numbers aside, when it comes to color things get very subjective. With the right tools you could theoretically profile two cameras to look almost the same, even when they have very different sensors. What you see in jpegs or imported RAW files in your editor of choice is just one possible representation. Even without custom profiles you can still change a lot both in applications and in camera (by tweaking the jpeg profiles or applying filters and other edits).

Don't worry too much about default profiles. If you shoot jpeg you can adjust them inside your camera or create new ones. If you shoot RAW those are just starting points and you can switch to any profile you want at any time.
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