Colour science is a term often thrown around these days, but what does it actually mean? Well, in this context, and one very simplified explanation, it’s how your camera “sees” and processes the colour hitting the sensor, ultimately turning it into the final image it saves out to your memory card.
But what does that mean to the end user? And does it really even matter? In his usual non-stop info-packed way, Gerald Undone deep dives into the topic of colour science in this 13-minute video.
- 0:56 – What Is Color Science?
- 1:50 – How Colors Are Captured by the Image Sensor
- 2:32 – The Bayer Filter Mosaic Explained
- 3:20 – How Cameras Use Color Filters to Create a Unique Look
- 3:48 – Unfortunately Pleasing Colors Aren’t Always Accurate
- 3:57 – Sony Is Very Accurate, but Canon Is More Pleasing
- 4:40 – How Raw Images Are Demosaiced or Debayered
- 5:19 – What Is a Color Matrix & How Do You Change It?
- 5:58 – How Raw Development Is Similar to Film Processing
- 6:28 – What Canon Does to Its Colors to Get the “Canon Look”
- 7:12 – But This Is All Subjective!
- 7:42 – Applying This to Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw
- 8:06 – Why Color Science Matters Less with Raw Files
- 8:17 – What “Adobe Standard” Does Differently
- 9:05 – When Everything Else is Equal, Color Science Doesn’t Matter
- 9:22 – Practical Applications & What about Raw Video?
- 10:21 – Does Camera Color Science Matter for Log Recordings?
- 11:01 – Make Your Choices Based on How Much Time You Have
- 11:17 – Situations When Color Science Isn’t As Important
- 11:36 – The Problem with Referring to the Look as “Color Science”
It’s a very interesting look at the subject, and some of Gerald’s statements will no doubt upset a few people. Especially the bit about accurate and pretty not being the same thing.
When most photographers talk about “colour science”, it’s a very subjective thing that seems to basically only be used to justify their purchasing decision. Because for photographers, it only really matters if you shoot jpg. If you shoot raw, you’re only seeing a very small part of an individual camera’s “colour science”, and then you can make it look however you want on the computer.
I shoot all kinds of different camera brands. It’s just a function of reviewing different kit. Flashes, lenses, etc. Every camera I use, I shoot raw and profile with a ColorChecker Passport. So, once they’re in Lightroom, they all come in with near enough the same starting point. Nikon. Canon, Sony, Hasselblad, they’re all pretty close.
Close enough that most people would have no idea which camera I used for what shot or what the “Colour science” was.
Do you agree with Gerald? Is it really all just subjective?