Science-Shmience: How Important is Color Science in Choosing a Camera?

by Hugh Brownstone1 Comment

You already know the answer is some variant of “it depends” or “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But I didn’t give color science much thought until this fall.

When someone starts talking about – or writing something like – “this camera manufacturer has better color science than that one,” I tend to lose interest and am likely to contemplate just about anything else, including my navel.

The idea that “Canon does better skin tones” just left me scratching my head – how would Canon know to capture a person’s skin color better than any other, and how the HECK could they do that when there are literally millions, maybe billions, of different skin tones?

It just sounded more like superstition or magic to me – or a justification for purchasing the gear they already had — than anything else, even when it came from people who really knew their stuff.

Besides – doesn’t color grading take care of all of that? And if it doesn’t, why are you shooting in log, learning DaVinci Resolve or applying LUTs?

It didn’t seem logical.

Well, at least it DIDN’T – until I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the Canon Rebel SL1 captured the fall foliage colors in my backyard more accurately than my favorite camera and the one that has supplanted both the SL1 and the Canon 5D Mark II, the Sony a6000. The colors – the reds and yellows – were richer through the SL1. Less…green.

Then again, I think my iPhone 6S Plus does a better job of any of them.

And, come to think of it, I thought my Leica M8 was the worst of the bunch.

But it wasn’t until I read Andrew Reid’s piece on color gamut that my curiosity was fully piqued, and I think he may be on to something.

Ignorance may be bliss, but when it’s my own it annoys the crap out of me.

Take a read of Andrew’s piece, and tell us what you think in the comments below.

Sony vs Canon colour science – does this explain the difference?


What separates the colour science of photography companies like Canon, Nikon and Fuji from the approach taken by electronic engineering firms Sony, Samsung and Panasonic?

EOSHD has a theory.

I think the secret of good colour is to understand the technical side of course but then temper this knowledge with the eye of an artist.

Take a look below –

By far the largest visible part of the visible colour gamut is green.

Sony vs Canon colour science colour gamut

An engineer’s approach would be to deliver the highest numbers – the largest colour gamut possible, but in doing so wouldn’t you end up with an imbalance of green vs red and blue? Incidentally the bayer CMOS sensors in almost all our cameras have more photosites for green than they do for red or blue.

You may remember my Samsung NX1 vs Canon 1D C review and how the NX1 seemed to capture a ton of green, but it couldn’t render a blue haze in the background of a predominantly green park. The NX1’s sensor is cutting edge technology and Samsung used new micro lenses to capture a wider colour gamut, but maybe Samsung widened their colour gamut more in the direction of green than towards the blue corner?

Why doesn’t it look as good as the Canon 1D C? Why do skintones look so much better on the Canon? Why does that camera render hazy blues in a predominantly lush green landscape with far more richness than the Samsung with it’s supposably wider colour gamut sensor?

EOSHD Shootout – Canon 1D C vs Samsung NX1 in glorious 4K-o-vision

I think it is due to Samsung’s engineers not quite applying their ‘artists’ eye as effectively as Canon, drawing on years of experience in the photography industry.

The same goes for the original Panasonic GH1 and GH2. These captured far more green data in the file than red or blue, resulting in a yellowish or greenish cast to skintones, requiring correction in post (which was a little tricky without LOG or raw – colour was very much baked in on those cameras compared to today).

Read full article at EOSHD “Sony vs Canon colour science – does this explain the difference?”

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from EOSHD)


  1. I disagree. I think it has something to do with reds. (the most present color in skin tones) My blackmagic has an absurd about of green but it’s more of a green tint which I simply offset with some magenta. idk.

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