Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DP1 and Red

                                   D80 100mm

                                   D80 12 ~ 24mm

Quite a buzz in dpreview today about the Foveon chip and red.  It seems that there is a general wisdom that this chip has a problem with red.  On it's face this makes absolutely no sense to me.  33% of the sensors are for red on a Foveon chip and 25% of the B&W sensors of bayer type chips are masked to read red.  On it's face 33% is larger than 25% so the confusion starts.

There would be at least 3 avenues here, perhaps more.  The 3 I see are:
How well it reproduces color;
how well it focuses on red detail; and for me most importantly,
how it does in red light.

As I photograph a lot of musicians I often enter clubs with the stage lit by red spot lights.  I usually mention to the club management that the red light is quite unflattering to the musicians.  If this doesn't work I just grumble like other seasoned photographers.  I usually carry a small film camera just in case.
Let's be real blunt here.  With a Bayer chip you WILL NOT get a good photograph in red light.  Don't care if you desaturate to B&W, skin still looks horrid.  If a flash is used the power it takes to overcome the red light burns right through all of the other channels as well.

I have been using the DP1 in red light situations and although were not talking works of art here I do believe it does a better job than my Nikon.

I don't do much macro work or close-ups of flowers so I have little experience with true colors here or focusing abilities.  I did take the above shots today of my tail light. 

With the Nikon I used 2 lenses, a 100mm macro lens and a 12-24mm set to appx the same setting as the DP1.  I tried different f stops and a couple of different ISO's to ensure fast shutter speeds.  WB set to Daylight, DP1 images developed as X3 and saved as 16 bit tiffs, Nikon developed in Aperture 2.

Interesting to me is how orange the 100mm shot is, and how poorly it focused, perhaps due to short DOF.
The other shots are quite similar.  The DP1 color seems a bit pink but this is very easily adjusted in Aperture as well as other programs.  I also see the DP1 image much more is in focus (look at right side of the image) but perhaps this is due in part to the Sigma lens quality.

In any event.  If there's an inherent red problem with the Foveon chip I'm not seeing it.  As someone mentioned though this may be due to ultra violet influence of some sort in flower photography.

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