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09-30-2014, 11:10 AM   #1
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Achromatic Sensor

On the page that has the article on the Sony/Zeiss Mamiya MF Rangefinder rumor that ogl's post links to, there is another story that caught my eye. Samsung is rumored to announce a new NX Achromatic (black and white) mirrorless camera | Photo Rumors.
Is there a practical reason for an achromatic sensor, or is this just a gimmick?

09-30-2014, 11:17 AM   #2
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B&W sensors don't have a bayer filter, so you can get a much sharper image with no artifacts. But there's a trade-off: since only luminance (light intensity) is captured, dynamic range takes a hit, especially when it comes to highlight recovery.

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09-30-2014, 11:26 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
B&W sensors don't have a bayer filter, so you can get a much sharper image with no artifacts. But there's a trade-off: since only luminance (light intensity) is captured, dynamic range takes a hit, especially when it comes to highlight recovery.
While highlight recovery may not be as easy, my understanding is that shadow noise is cleaner on monochrome sensors because you either capture black or white or off, vs RGB/off. So there is no chroma noise, and the luminance noise is cleaner as well. Therefore you can always expose to keep the highlights.
09-30-2014, 11:34 AM   #4
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I'm always surprised when I read about Samsung doing another move like that. They are like the poor man's Sony, throwing money at camera designs, sometimes surprising with something interesting, but more often than not - not worth the hassle of changing systems

09-30-2014, 11:38 AM   #5
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People who've done experiments with removing the filter show increased sensitivity -- what appears to be at least a couple stops. Which makes sense. A red filter is excluding *all* light except what's considered the red wave length -- which is a pretty big chunk of the spectrum. Same goes for blue and green filters. The photosites will be collecting a lot more light without the filter, no fancy sensor tech required.

If you shoot primarily in B&W, it wouldn't be a bad option.
09-30-2014, 11:39 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
Is there a practical reason for an achromatic sensor, or is this just a gimmick?
Because Leica has one? From what I understand, the Leica Monochrome has incredible tone rendering due to being able to use the full bit depth.


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09-30-2014, 11:42 AM   #7
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I want a GR Monochrome. It's the perfect camera from Ricoh/Pentax to make a Monochrome version of.

09-30-2014, 12:00 PM   #8
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You're not filtering out 2/3rds of the light. So it's great in that fashion.

Right now there's no way, outside of Foveon, to determine R/G/B. So if you like color you're out of luck.
09-30-2014, 06:22 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
Is there a practical reason for an achromatic sensor, or is this just a gimmick?
I have worked with the Phase one Achromatic+ and the Leica mononchrom for some time now. According to Phase one the sensors themselves have to be completely free of defects* and the tolerances for production are higher, but the image quality from these achromatic cameras is absolutely phenomenal. At High ISO theses cameras deliver finer noise pattern than cameras with bayer equipped sensors.



Leica Monochrom


Leica monochrom

Leica monochrom

Leica Monochrom


Leica monochrom.


*you can't bin bad pixels on a monochrome sensor.
09-30-2014, 06:45 PM   #10
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Those pictures certainly sell the idea. Quite impressive.
09-30-2014, 06:55 PM   #11
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The Base ISO on the Leica M9 is 160. Removal of the bayer colour filter raises the base ISO on the Monochrom to 320, which is too high for a majority of the Leica lenses I own* so using a deep red filter brings the exposure down and has the practical upshot of increasing contrast in the final images. Polarisers and ND filters are also very useful.

Also the monochrom is using a CCD sensor - an achromatic sensor based on sony tech would have stunning high ISO capabilities.

*most of them are f/1.4 and faster.
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