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So ... why does the fiteeen year old Epson RD1 capture colours so well?
Old 01-11-2019   #1
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So ... why does the fiteeen year old Epson RD1 capture colours so well?

Reds in particular seem to be a struggle for some sensors. My D700 had issues when it still worked, I have a D4 that isn't much better and my 240 isn't really happy with reds either in my opinion. This pic is virtually straight out of the camera and considering the age of the old Epson, to my eyes it does a far better job than the afore mentioned cameras.



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Old 01-11-2019   #2
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M9 certainly has issues with red, as does the M10, to a lesser extent. I have often wondered why as well, especially when futzing around with the red hue and saturation sliders. The tech end of sensors being well above my capacity to follow I will hope someone can answer at my fourth grade level.

That image has stunning color. Reminds me of a dye transfer print without the contrast being so high.
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Old 01-11-2019   #3
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Out to Lunch, on Flickr. I have often wondered why this is so, as well. Canada, June 2011. Epson R-D1 - Zeiss Biogon 2.8/28.
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Old 01-11-2019   #4
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I'll add that those pics were taken with a 35mm f2 Biogon ... which seems really happy on that camera.
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Old 01-11-2019   #5
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Taste is different. All I see is typical picture from very old camera. With very limited something. Tones gradations or else.
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Old 01-11-2019   #6
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Quote:
All I see is typical picture from very old camera. With very limited something
Surprising! This said, as Keith, I am eagerly awaiting a definitive tech answer.
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Old 01-11-2019   #7
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I don't have an answer, but when has that stopped me from chiming in? :hide:

Color is an intensely subjective and difficult subject. This is aggravated by digital images being viewed on millions of uncalibrated monitors on computers with different gamma settings, by millions of viewers, each with his own subjective sense of color, and bound by the confines of his or her own language to explain it. My own Roget's Thesauris lists over 100 synonyms for "red" alone. (my favorites from this morning's research: "carnelian" and "rubine")

I, for instance, on my uncalibrated HP laptop, don't see the remarkable red that you are talking about, Keith. But I assume that the camera has the qualities that you say it does, relative to your other gear. I also have a certain faith in this because, I know, from enjoying your posts on RFF over the years, that you are a talented "see-er" of the world, and a very able photographer, so I trust that you are accurately reporting what you see.

I know that lens choice can make a difference too. Zeiss lenses have a reputation for warmer tones than Leica's, for instance.

I am trying to think what data would demonstrate that there was a "there" there. Perhaps side-by-side pictures of the same scene, with different cameras but the same lens and all other settings identical, as far as you could make them? Tough, even then I think, as you still have the variability on my end with my crummy little laptop monitor.

Interesting question, though.
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Old 01-11-2019   #8
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Could it be a CCD vs. CMOS sensor issue? I know there are certain lighting situations I prefer my 10-year-old D80 with its CCD sensor over my newer DSLRs which have CMOS sensors. And vice-versa.
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Old 01-11-2019   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by css9450 View Post
Could it be a CCD vs. CMOS sensor issue? I know there are certain lighting situations I prefer my 10-year-old D80 with its CCD sensor over my newer DSLRs which have CMOS sensors. And vice-versa.
Was wondering the same thing. Not familiar with the RD1, but does it indeed have a CCD sensor? Like Keith, I got very different color results from my CMOS D700/D4 combo when compared to the CCD sensor in my late Leica M8.2.

On a side note, the sensor in my Canon 6D, which is also a CMOS sensor, really punches up the Reds, so maybe it has more to do with the sensor design parameters from the manufacturer, than CMOS vs CCD. Not sure.

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Old 01-11-2019   #10
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I gave my Epson to a friend 3 years ago when I got the Leica M-E, but I do miss the colors I got with it. Maybe it's something to do with the Epson's software, protecting the highlights.


Epson R-D1 with VC 35mm 1.7 Ultron.
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Old 01-11-2019   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sepiareverb View Post
M9 certainly has issues with red, as does the M10, to a lesser extent. I have often wondered why as well, especially when futzing around with the red hue and saturation sliders.
Quote:
Originally Posted by css9450 View Post
Could it be a CCD vs. CMOS sensor issue?
But the M9 does have a CCD sensor. So that by itself can't be it. The sensors in the Epson and the M9, although both CCD, are not the same sensors (and have different processing engines). I imagine that has something to do with it.
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Old 01-11-2019   #12
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Surely that CCD is in some other DSLR from the time period no?
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Old 01-11-2019   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post

Lovely Falcon, Unusually lovely reds as you noted.
Other than that, I’ve got nothing, but, even with my fondness for various CCD sensors, I don’t think that’s the answer in itself. Never had an RD-1 myself, so I can’t contribute, but will be curious as to what owners will say, as the topic is news to me.
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Old 01-11-2019   #14
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My D700 produced reds really well - as long as I didn't over-expose the red channel.
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Old 01-11-2019   #15
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The 6 MP Sony CCD sensor has long been a favorite of mine.
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Old 01-11-2019   #16
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While this may be an interesting issue from a sensor and technology perspective, any recent digital camera can produce images that end up having such reds with some PP. That red Falcon looks awesome, Keith.
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Old 01-11-2019   #17
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Quote:
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Surely that CCD is in some other DSLR from the time period no?
I believe that would be the Nikon D70/s
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Old 01-11-2019   #18
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My bet is that the secret sauce is the software. Epson sure nailed it on that camera. Foveon and R-D1 have my favorite colors in digital.
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Old 01-11-2019   #19
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This post illustrates the problem with digital stuff. What one person sees on their monitor is not what someone else sees, especially w/ colour On my monitor, that red car is an intense red. The rest of the shot behind the car has weak saturation, but that may be because of the lighting, or because it's not as sharply in focus as the Falcon. The convertible top is a very light subtle off white, cream colour that looks more like it came from a film camera than a digital.

The RD1 certainly is capable of making great images. If I shot digital, that would be my B&W camera.

Why does it make such good images? Maybe they had a batch of unusually good sensors for that production run, combined with the camera's software.

That's a Falcon Sprint w/ a 260 V8 (and hopefully 4 on the floor) by the way. My best friend in high school had one exactly like it, but his was blue w/ a white convertible top. I bought a beater 61 Falcon and swapped a Fairlane 289 into it, as well as the Fairlane's rear axle and differential to cover the extra HP. Had to shorten the drive shaft a bit and re weld it. These cars were fun, but w/ drum brakes on both ends stopping was a problem.
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Old 01-11-2019   #20
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The transition form CCD to CMOS technology is a convenient demarcation in the evolution of digital imaging. But this doesn't mean perceived rendering differences are directly related to technical differences between CCD and CMOS photo-diode arrays.

As Benjamin Marks mentioned color rendering is a very complicated issue. While perception preferences are authentic, it is difficult to make definitive conclusions about the basis for the differences.

There is no need to invoke CCD technology to account for personal preferences in color rendering. Color rendering differences between cameras can be caused by many factors. The CCD and CMOS design architectures and manufacturing processes are very different. But these differences have a negligible impact on color rendering compared to other sensor assembly hardware and demosaicking algorithm differences.

Both CCD and CMOS photo-diode arrays produce the exact same thing - photoelectrons. All photoelectrons are identical and they do not contain any inherent information about color.

The spectral response of CCD and CMOS photo-diode arrays are not identical. However the differences are small. It turns out typical CCD arrays are more sensitive to near IR and are slightly less sensitive to blue wavelengths. These differences are cause by physical fabrication differences before the light reaches the photo-diode.

However, the Nikon D100, D200, D40 and many other early digital cameras have CCD sensors. So superior perceived color rendering due to CMOS-CCD spectral response differences should be ubiquitous. This doesn't seem to be the case.

Other factors such as the transmission properties of the color-filter array assembly and the IR filter transmission properties can affect the relative number of photoelectrons generated R, G and B channels.

Here is the CFA spectral response for two Canon DSLR's. There is considerable overlap between the R, B and G filters. This produces contamination (cross-talk) between the three channels. When the CFA frequency response is narrower, less light reaches the photo diodes. But there is also less contamination. The opposite holds as well. Brands may have decided signal-to-noise was a more powerful marketing message than color rendition. So, older cameras (CCD) may have superior color rendering compared to newer cameras (CMOS) simply because the older CFA designs were optimized to maximize color rendering at the expense of SNR. Another important factor is smaller pixel pitches exacerbate the spectral cross-talk between photo sites. By coincidence CMOS cameras have smaller pixel pitches because resolution became a marketing priority as CMOS technologies matured.

The IR filter layer, the higher NIR spectral response of CCD photo diodes and the CFA red filter spectral response all impact the relative number of photoelectrons for the red channel. A strong IR filter could negate any increase in red signal levels due to CCD NIR response. If the spectral response of the red filters in the CFA was asymmetrical to include lower frequencies (NIR) the red channel signal levels could be relatively higher.

But wait, there's more.

During image rendering the camera color profile has a strong impact on perceived color rendering.

The Bayer demosaicking algorithm mathematical model assumes there is no color contamination between the R, G and B channels. Camera color profiles are used to model the unavoidable cross talk so the total demosaicking model matches the data. These correction models are proprietary. The practical aspects involved in optimizing a demosaicking algorithm mathematical model are complicated. Here is a nice review. As CFA cross-talk increases, the impact of the cross-talk correction models increases (link). The differences in perceived color rending between cameras will depend on color profile mathematical models.
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Old 01-11-2019   #21
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I dunno. I only look at raw files and never saw much different about the R-D1 raw files compared to other cameras of its resolution and time period. The little I looked at JPEG out of the camera didn't hold a candle to what comes out of my Olympus E-1.

I won't try to compare it with my Leica SL or CL, the differences there are so great it would be unkind to the Epson R-D1.

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Old 01-11-2019   #22
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I'd forgotten my old D70 struggled with reds. These look great. Obviously a well designed sensor and processing chip behind it.
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Old 01-11-2019   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
This post illustrates the problem with digital stuff. What one person sees on their monitor is not what someone else sees, especially w/ colour.
It should be the same, if the monitor is calibrated and the image is in published as sRGB. Without a calibrated monitor, how would you edit or PP any color images?
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Old 01-11-2019   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sepiareverb View Post
M9 certainly has issues with red, as does the M10, to a lesser extent. I have often wondered why as well, especially when futzing around with the red hue and saturation sliders.
In part it is due to weak IR filtration on the Leica sensors. Using a UV+IR cut filter helped tame the blown red channels on my M 262, although at the expense of increased flare when shooting in to the sun. Our Olympus cameras seem to do the same as well.
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Old 01-11-2019   #25
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I have been shocked by both the M9 and the Fuji scanner they use to scan my negatives. But the M9 dose sometimes produce beautiful reds. I even find it varies with lenses. The DR Summicron is my best lens for photographing red roses. The Elmar M 50 sometimes produces unrescuable pictures of red roses.

This Falcon has a lovely red I agree, but I also see something that Ko.Fe sees: a certain flatness overall which might be part of the post-processing.
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Old 01-11-2019   #26
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M9: not what I saw at all -

with Elmar M 50



This is (probably C Biogon 35) -




And this also the M9 and Elmar M 50 and this is exactly what I saw. Raw file, minimal pp -


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Old 01-11-2019   #27
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Well to my eyes on my HP monitor that red Falcon is drop dead gorgeous .
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Old 01-13-2019   #28
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Aside from the CCD vs CMOS differences, the R-D1 was meant to be a limited-production showpiece for Seiko-Epson technological prowess circa 2004.

Consequently, I would assume that the designers took very special care to distinguish the 'look' of the color output from that of contemporary offerings from Nikon, Canon et al.

The oft-stated perception that the colors still look very pleasing compared to modern cameras is a testament to the choices made by the Epson engineers more than 15 years ago.

The only fault I ever found with the R-D1 color was a slight purple tinge in some black fabrics which was completely cured by the addition of external IR/UV filters.
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Old 01-13-2019   #29
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Old 01-13-2019   #30
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That Falcon is definitely RED. I love it.

People often rave about the Fuji color palette but I really dislike Fuji's rendering of red. It's either orange or magenta but never a true red. I love my Fuji cameras but I'm mostly a B&W Raw shooter so the color palette doesn't really bother me. As others have stated, colors are subjective so maybe it's as much my color vision as the sensor/processor/optics/software mix that affects how I see various shades of colors.

But, yeah. I love that red car.
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Old 01-13-2019   #31
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Quote:
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That Falcon is definitely RED. I love it.

People often rave about the Fuji color palette but I really dislike Fuji's rendering of red. It's either orange or magenta but never a true red. I love my Fuji cameras but I'm mostly a B&W Raw shooter so the color palette doesn't really bother me. As others have stated, colors are subjective so maybe it's as much my color vision as the sensor/processor/optics/software mix that affects how I see various shades of colors.

But, yeah. I love that red car.
I fell in love with it the moment I laid eyes on it ... then remembered I had my camera with me.
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Old 01-13-2019   #32
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I think the Nikon D70 had the same sensor. But it did not draw the same way.
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Old 01-13-2019   #33
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For comparison, here's some Fuji X red:












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Old 01-13-2019   #34
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The R-D1 had the D100 sensor not the D70.
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Old 01-13-2019   #35
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I’ll take that Corvair. Lovely colour and wonderful car.
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Old 01-14-2019   #36
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I love the colors I get from these old 6 MPix CCDs. I think the Pentax *ist D has the same Sony sensor (these are straight out of camera JPEG experiments taken with an old Trioplan lens quite a while ago):










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Old 01-14-2019   #37
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Those are nice colors all right. And another old camera that has similar beautiful images is my old Panasonic Lumix L1. Mine is slowly dying (it often gives exposure errors when shot in program or aperture mode) but works still on full manual. But by gosh are its images nice!
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Old 01-14-2019   #38
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I agree with Abazz. I was very surprised by the unused *ist DS I picked up a couple of years ago for ~$50.

IMGP5511 by Ben Sandler, on Flickr
IMGP0689 by Ben Sandler, on Flickr

IMGP0465 by Ben Sandler, on Flickr
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Old 01-14-2019   #39
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Hi Willie 901, I don't have a tech background but appreciate your explanations as to why this sensor is giving this great color rendering. Many thanks, Peter
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Old 01-14-2019   #40
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I've nothing to add to the color thread, but that Falcon really brings back memories. That year model was my first car as a teen ager. It was in great condition, but the engine was well past its prime when I bought it. Had to get a running start to get up a steep hill! Same red color, though not a convertible. Thanks for the memory.
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