How to Get Medium Format Colors With Your Full-Frame Camera

Medium-format cameras have long been known for their excellent image quality and incredible ability when it comes to rendering colors. Phase One's latest camera, the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic, takes this a step further and you can now get extremely accurate and effective colors, straight out of the camera. To learn more about the Trichromatic and how it compares to the "standard" 100MP back from Phase One, check out my previous article. The main issue with medium-format cameras such as these is that they cost significantly more than what most of us would like to pay. What if we could attain that level of quality without needing to spend anywhere as close?

In my latest video, I compare the Canon 5DS R and the Phase One Trichromatic to demonstrate how with just a few adjustments, you can take your images to the level of medium format and possibly even beyond that. To do this I use an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. Many of you have probably seen the results this device can help create, but, chances are you've probably never seen it compares to medium format let alone the trichromatic. In my view, it's nothing short of incredible how much of an impact this can have on your images. Colors are extremely important and I highly recommend this relatively cheap option. 

Check out the video for the full comparison, images are available for download using the link the video description.

Usman Dawood's picture

Usman Dawood is a professional architectural photographer based in the UK.

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Size should not matter and colors should be accurate wether it's a 1x1 Sensor or 6x6. But then some believe in the tooth fairy.😕

Do you mean sensor size? The colours from medium format are not due to sensor size but because the 100mp backs produce 16-bit raw files. The smaller medium format sensors still only produce 14-bit files so they won't have any real advantage in that area.

The Trichromatic, however, is different in that not only does it have 16 files but it's also been redeveloped to produce the best possible colours.

Its all about the bit size. Saying that a new processing technique would produce best colors, does that mean that all other medium format cameras are developed NOT to produce the best color?

I think Chuck is speaking about "color accuracy" rather then color range. Color accuracy is different per camera

No sensor can produce perfect colour but all sensors are developed with colours in mind some will obviously be better than others. Bit rate is important but how the pixels perceive colour and how the individual filters in the sensors are developed make a huge difference too. Consider Fovean sensors for example.

Technology moves ahead and newer sensors are going to be better developed (in general) for most aspects including colours.

"does that mean that all other medium format cameras are developed NOT to produce the best color" you're asking the wrong question here.

It would be similar for me to compare the iPhone 8 to the iPhone 3g and then ask was the iPhone 3g not developed to be the best phone?

dose dont the color depend on that profile program you use to do the profile to?

Yes it does, but you will still need the colour checker passport to create that profile.

i know i have a checker passport.. So that progam is the best to use do get de best colors?

For this comparison, I profiled the Canon image in Lightroom and then brought it back into capture one to compare it to the Phase One.

if you do a profile in lighroom and then one adobe dng editor you will se a big diffrens.. :)

Thank you for that suggestion Viktor, I'm going to give that a try.

Not worth the money for anybody, next.

I would fall into the "anybody" category and I strongly disagree. Did you watch the video?

Colours are extremely important in photography and also consider the price difference between medium format and the passport. I think it's worth every penny and possibly more.

Sure did and I laughed the whole way through.

Well, what matters to me is that you watched my video. Thank you anyway.

it is..

What is your workflow for getting the profile since Capture One does not have a ColorChecker plugin like lightroom?

I should have made it clear in the video I apologise. I profiled the Canon image in Lightroom then brought it back into Capture One. Normal Colour Checker Workflow.

I figured this was your workflow but I had recently read that you can use the i1 profiler which Viktor just posted.

So you are no longer raw processing in C1? I recently abandoned Lightroom in favour of C1 simply for performance reasons. Also, for files well exposed it seems to get to a nice result faster than LR. Anyway, wondering if you can process raws and apply a custom color profile just in C1.

I tried that Bob, but the problem is no one development default (and I have many) ever looks great in LR. In C1, it looks quite good. I don't want to leave LR and learn a new tool, and it's not the results as much as the speed. I can get similar results with both. LR is just an absolute pig. I have a very fast PC and some operations are just slow (brushes, cloning, even some of the sliders) that I just can't edit with LR. It is just a frustrating waste of time.

Thanks Viktor, I have read that PDF before. Like I said, I can get to similar results with both tools but find LR lacking in speed. The efficiency gain with C1 is worth the cost alone. This is also coming from someone much more familiar with LR than C1.

I do miss some of the tools in LR though :/

im going to try C1 trail and see if i like it.. :)

Thanks Viktor. Now I get to play around tonight to see the difference between what lightroom produces vs the i1 profiler? Curious if anyone else has already tried this and noticed a difference?

i know that when you do Dng profile for lightrom or ACR its a diffrent depend on that program you use to make the dng

I tried the i1 profiler and I just couldn’t get good results with it. I tried some software called Lumariver which produced incredibly accurate results to the point where I couldn’t tell the colour checker apart from the colours on my screen. Works really well I. Capture one too.

do the lumariver cost money?

Yes it does but I find it to be noticeably more accurate.

WHAT version of lumariver do you have? :D

100 Euro, ouch.

Value is relative so what is the alternative?

Free profile software from x-rite?

You mean the free software that comes with the passport? That's not an alternative that's part of the package.

Spyder have an alternative but it's more expensive and much bigger so trickier to carry around.

Right, can't you create a profile using the free tools that come with the Passport?

No I think you need the hardware for the software to work otherwise there's nothing available for the software to create a profile from.

It uses the colour patches on the passport to create the profile that can be applied to the camera/lens/light combination you used.

It could create the profile from the captured photo, just like the DNG profile.

You can but then it may not be specific to your lighting scenario, lens and camera choice. The lighting makes a huge difference so you still need to buy the hardware.

I use Xrite products. My Cinema Display monitor is calibrated and profiled with the iOne Pro Display. I use the Passport Color Checker, and do careful custom white balance with an ExpoDisk.
I still frequently have problems with excessive red/magenta in skin with my Canon 5DMKllI. Some call it "Canon color".
I've never been impressed with the custom profiles from the Passport. I keep hoping it will really improve my color and it rarely does.

Really? I’m quite surprised, I was able to get similar and even somewhat better colours than the Trichromatic using the standard plugin in Lightroom.

What kind of stuff do you normally shoot?

Hi Usman, my concern is with all the portraits I do. Studio lighting and available light. Lots of people pictures.

a Cinema Display is dont that god for calibration.. red/magenta like this?

Thank you very much, Viktor ! I will take time to study the helpful article you linked to. I really appreciate it !

The skin color I admire in published fashion and editorial work has more of a brown or beige color palette with none of the excessive red/magenta common with Canon files.

No problem.. ;) try it an se if it fix your promlem.. ;)

Thanks again, Viktor. You are great. A big help ( I hope, ha ! )

All of this discussion is well and good ... How are you going to profile the sensor without a lens? Are you betting your Lenses are all the same? Are they all from the same manufacturer, the same glass, the same barrels, the same baffling?

Sorry I don’t understand what you mean. Are you saying I need to create a profile for every lens and camera combination because I would agree to that.

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