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The IQ3 100MP Trichromatic

The science of color


Phase One's color vision

Phase One has intimate knowledge of our own digital sensors in addition to the 400+ different sensors from the range of cameras that we support in the Capture One software. We see in these different sensors, quirks and compromises, different strengths and weaknesses in color capability. We have been inspired by our insight to invest in what we consider one of the cornerstones of image quality - color - having seen the sacrifices of image quality in favor of other features made in most available sensors. With the Trichromatic sensor, we have put decades of knowledge into action and, together with SONY, physically customized the sensor to get pure color without compromise, all straight from the sensor.

In the average sensor, the degree of color separation between the wavelengths of blue, green and red light is where the color compromise begins. The color filter array of the Trichromatic sensor, however, is designed to pick up exactly the right wavelength of light that allows us to get the most color nuances in the most natural way possible. This means that we achieve fully saturated colors, and that we can get every shade of blue, green, and red exactly as the scene reveals itself. The uncompromised nature of the color rendering from the sensor in the Trichromatic means that straight out of the camera, the possibilities in the RAW capture and color are wide open.
Resolution 101 Megapixels
Long Exposure 60 minutes
Dynamic Range 15 f-stops
Sensitivity (ISO) 35 - 12800
Lens Factor 1
Active Pixels 11608 x 8708
Pixel Size (micron) 4.6 x 4.6
Output image dim. (300 DPI) 98.3 x 73.2 cm
Mount XF
CMOS Sensor
16 bit Opticolor+
Electronic Shutter
Wifi 802.11 n
XF Powershare
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Trichromatic Theory of human color vision

The human eye is like a camera. It has a lens in front, and the retina in the back is akin to the sensor in a digital camera. The retina contains light-sensitive cells called cones and rods. These allow us to sense three different types of color light: blue, green and red. Using this sensory information, the brain can reconstruct the colors of a scene. The sensor in a digital camera works in essentially the same way. A pixel is sensitive to all colors of light, defining the detail of the image projected upon it. To capture color, a color filter array of blue, green or red filters is placed over the pixels. These filters remove some of the wavelengths of light, only “seeing” either blue, green or red light in the corresponding pixel. The sensor data shows a blue, green or red signal for each pixel, and then using our unique color engine and de- mosaic algorithm, we recombine these data into correct and beautiful colors with sharp and rich detail.

What is the effect of the Trichromatic?

Not only does the Trichromatic render colors with more depth and more nuances, there are also other advantages. The Trichromatic gives a better performance at lower ISO with cleaner signals, without sacrificing anything at the higher ISO.

Purer color

With standard pixel color filtration (pictured), one is able to quickly fill the pixel well. However, that value is much less accurate as it contains unwanted and impure color information.

With a better color filter array, shown in the example, the Trichromatic is able to use the full potential of the pixel well to capture only the pure and wanted color data. This provides for maximum color saturation values to be captured at a sensor level while still maintaining complete luminance detail.

Base ISO 35

The Trichromatic color filter array is a more efficient utilization of the electron wells in each individual pixel. As the pixel no longer has to compromise by capturing impure color information, we are able to further tune the sensor to its maximum efficiency and achieve a lower base ISO setting (ISO 35).

Compare the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic with the IQ3 100MP at base ISO in the slider. Image pushed 8 f-stops, no color noise reduction applied. 

High ISO performance

Traditional sensor manufacturers might view having less color filtration as a way to improve sensor sensitivity and thus achieve higher ISO performance. However, this is somewhat of a paradox as most of the extra sensitivity gained ends up being reduced again in color processing, leaving only the drawbacks of that compromise.

Compare the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic with the IQ3 100MP at high ISO in the slider. Image enhanced to show noise, no color noise suppression applied.

Purple fringing

Purple fringing is described as an out-of-focus magenta “ghost” that can appear as a coloring and lightening of dark edges next to areas of bright illumination, resulting in a purple anomaly and a loss of edge contrast. This is caused by a combination of many factors in digital photography, both from the optics and sensor. Precision optics, optical UV coatings, and software algorithms can mitigate purple fringing, but its effects in compromised edge contrast will always be a factor unless addressed at a sensor level. The Trichromatic has a significantly higher resistance to purple fringing owing to cleaner color separation. 

Compare purple fringing on the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic and the IQ3 100MP in the slider. No purple fringing correction applied.