True to life color digital camera(default)

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True to life color digital camera(default)

Postby Logicnut » Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:42 pm


I'm looking for opinions on a mid-range DSLR or even a higher-end point and shoot camera that comes as close as possible to reproducing the color in a real life setting.

Researching "color accuracy" brought me to lengthy articles on color correcting, shooting in raw, and white balance. The authors seem to imply that accurate colors is a matter of opinion or a myth.

It seems to me that if you had ten people standing in front of a scene and asked them to compare two untouched images of that scene from two different cameras, you'd get maybe 8 of 10 to agree which camera produced more accurate color.

I recently bought a T2i and have tried to adjust everything I know how. But I believe my 4 year old $300 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W70 produces more accurate color.

An example of what I mean: If you look at these two pages and the first set of scenic images on each page, there is quite a difference to me in the blues and greens. ... _IXUS_130/

I want to capture the scene as accurately as possible with out post correction.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a quality camera in the $1,000 or lower range?


Postby Bob Andersson » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:12 pm

Hi Logicnut,

May I offer you a warm welcome to the CameraLabs forum.

I believe your thread was misplaced in the "Other camera manufacturers" section and as you haven't decided on a brand yet I have, as you can see, moved it to the "Buying a new camera but undecided on brand?" section where it will achieve much higher visibility. Good luck with your search.

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Postby Citruspers » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:30 pm

Shoot Raw, whitebalance with a grey card, and "develop" the pictures with a natural preset. The whole thing can be done in batches if you set it up right.
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Postby zackiedawg » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:35 pm

It's a tough debate, that goes beyond simply which camera has the 'most accurate' color. It's pretty much a debate between art and science, and the different approaches to photography. Do you shoot for technical perfection in every aspect, emotion and feeling and mood be damned? Or do you shoot to try to capture the vision of the scene as you saw it, with the emotion and feeling it transmitted to you at the time? There are many who pursue 'accurate' white balance, correcting away until white balance hits some measured number or a computer meter tells them it has achieved technical accuracy...and then there are those who want the white balance to look as it did, with whatever temperature and cast the lighting at the time presented to the human eye...that may be drastically off the technical accuracy meter - way too red, yellow or blue...but if that's how it looked, then that's what some folks want to show. Think sunset colors...a white object on the ground during a late sunset is going to look extremely yellow, or orange. 'Corrected' white balance would attempt to make the white object look white...altering all the colors in the scene to remove the yellow/orange color cast that the sun worked so hard to paint across the landscape!

The other factor, and the one you mention with your DSLR vs your P&S, is likely the subtle differences in the way cameras render certain colors by default. Sometimes, even making adjustments to the settings won't exactly balance two different manufacturers' cameras, as they both process colors off the sensor differently, different lenses alter the color, noise reduction algorithms alter the color, etc etc etc. There have long been fans of 'Canon color' or 'Sony color' or 'Olympus color'...folks who either have become familiar and comfortable with the rendered colors each of those manufacturers tend to use, or who just happen to prefer those colors. Fans of one typically dislike the others. Canon has long been slightly cooler, Nikons often less saturated by default, Sonys tend towards warmer colors, Olympus often more saturated and punchy. It could just be that you prefer the warmer rendering of your Sony camera...and adjusting the colors in your Canon don't quite hit the same warmth...though playing with white balance could get you there.

As mentioned, shooting in RAW gives you the greatest latitude to manipulate and alter color and temperature to get the result you like. But trying to achieve 'accurate' color is basically impossible all the time, because there is no singular universal definition of 'accurate'. I have always personally embraced the more artistic version of color and white balance - I want to show what I saw with my eye, color cast, warm or cold, heavy on the yellows or reds...whatever it looked like at the time. Just the way a painter painting a mediterranean sunset scene over the sea would have to use more yellows, reds, and golds in his color palette to portray 'sunset colors' on the white-washed building walls, so do I as a photographer want to capture that same cast.

I've personally always enjoyed the way Sony cameras render colors...though I do tend to tweak the settings a bit (I find some Sony cameras prone to blowing out the red channel in bright light). But I've also shot with Fuji, Canon, and Pentax, and was usually able to get the color and WB where I wanted it, and just a few extra tweaks in post processing if they were off a touch. If you really just find you are unhappy with the colors, or don't want to spend the time post processing or creating workflows to correct it, then it might be worth considering a new camera - notably before you go and invest too much in a lens collection. I'd encourage you after making an investment in a nice DSLR to give it a try, but in the end if you already have and are still unhappy, then it isn't doing you any good to stick with a camera you're not enjoying. If you found the Sony colors in a compact preferable, then it might be worthwhile to take a look at their DSLRs - the A500 and A550 are very nice mid-range DSLRs and pricing is strong right now...and the Sony NEX mirrorless APS-C sensor cameras might be interesting if you want something smaller. I've been quite pleased with my A550, and have no qualms recommending it. Certainly try to handle any cameras you look at and see if you're comfortable with them...there are plenty of solid advanced amateur DSLRs out there that are quite good, in the same class as the T2...just make sure they are comfortable, have the features you want, and check out sample images and user galleries to get some feel for the color.
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Thanks for the replies

Postby Logicnut » Sun Aug 08, 2010 9:14 pm

Hi Bob,
Thank you for the welcome and thanks for redirecting my post. Ya I wasn't sure exactly where to put it. Thanks

Thanks. Ya I have a lot of learning to do regarding finding the right white balance. Thanks for the grey card suggestion.

Hi Justin,

Thanks for the detailed response. You gave me a lot to think about. It interesting, the different brands' rendering profiles that you pointed out. Right, I like the Sony render from my P&S so I'll definitely have to check out their DSLR and see if I like those colors. That makes sense.
Hopefully, when I get a little more advanced I'll be able to get the white balance and adjustments more to my liking from any brand on a regular basis.
But for now I'll probably try to find the one that best suits my tastes.
I'll check out the A500 and A550.

Thanks again,

Postby Ruben123 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 8:00 am

The Panasonic FZ38 has RAW, and is a P&S.
I have to say that when there's enough light, you can serious make some very good pictures with it.
I see you talking about the Sony A550: That's a very good dSLR for the money, check it out!

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Postby Logicnut » Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:49 pm


Thanks Ruben. I'll definitely check out the Panasonic FZ38. And it's good to hear your opinion on the Sony A550 too. I'll try to get these in my hands so I can do some comparisons.

Thanks again,

Re: True to life color digital camera(default)

Postby keystrokesuk » Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:37 am

The other thing is most cameras will try to guess some settings for you based on their own metering algorithms. So you could take a picture of a Pantone colour swatch outdoors in sunlight and it will look different to taking the same shot indoors under artificial light. It also depends how much of the cameras auto functions you let take over compared to setting things manually.
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