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Upsides and Downsides of Color Sensor Capture targeting Monochrome

In a reversal of the early days of photography (monochrome, then color): the easiest and most flexible way to make monochrome images is to start with a color image.

A color image offers far more potential and power over tonal scale and differentiation of tones than black and white ever could. Various pages in this guide show how true that is.

The ideal scenario for monochrome capture is a color camera having a true-color sensor. By capturing all the RGB information at each photosite, total control over conversion to monochrome is possible using all colors of the original scene. This is far more powerful than the crude “hammer” of a color filter over the lens. The Sigma dp Merrill (now discontinued but available used) and the Sigma dp Quattro are examples of such sensors/cameras. But as of 2022 it seems that Sigma will not be able to carry-forward this technology to a full-frame sensor. For now and barring a technological breakthrough (quantum dots or whatever), true-color sensors seem to be a dead-end.

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Diglloyd Infrared Photography covers cameras and lenses for infrared photography.

The coverage explains all the issues involved in shooting for monochrome and in infrared. It is not a review of any particular camera or lens, though many examples are included.

  • Monochrome vs color cameras.
  • Post processing for monochrome.
  • Guidance on workflow for infrared, including black and white and channel swapping for false-color images.
  • How infrared renders, and why certain spectral cutoffs matter: false color vs black and white.
  • Image quality issues to be on the lookout for in infrared.
  • Numerous lens evaluations in infrared.

View an overview of infrared as well as filter spectral transmission plus examples from an optimal lens.

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