Medium-format cameras have long been known for being able to produce incredible and vibrant colors. This is one of the main reasons behind why many professionals upgrade and spend so much on these systems. The colors that you can achieve with the 16-bit sensors are very desirable and allow much more flexibility in post. Currently, the 100MP sensor is the only CMOS sensor that is 16-bit capable based on the hardware, and most people who shoot with these cameras are very happy with the results. Phase One, however, decided it wasn't good enough and released their new Trichromatic back.
The Trichromatic back is described as having colors as close to the human eye as possible, with incredible color accuracy and rendering capabilities. They also discuss how they've worked very closely with Sony to develop the hardware more effectively and get the most out of the sensor. This new sensor can now shoot at ISO 35 and in theory, should produce better quality images with less noise. From all the comparisons that I did, I couldn't see any difference in luminance noise, however, there was a distinct difference when it came to color noise. The Trichromatic was significantly better for color noise, which I find to be more of an issue and more difficult to remove in post.
Below you will see two test images, one taken with the standard 100MP back and the other from the Trichromatic back. White balance is exactly the same for both images and the lighting setup was exactly the same too. Both have been shot with the latest blue ring 150mm f/2.8 Schneider lens, which is an extraordinarily good lens. They were both shot wide open in this comparison to bring out some of the flaws in the lens and demonstrate the capabilities of the sensors.
Looking at the comparison above you may be able to tell that the Trichromatic is far more neutral and doesn't have a color cast. The green and purple tones are also far more accurate and overall the image is more vibrant. The standard image has a green cast which wasn't noticeable to me until I put it next to the Trichromatic image. If you take look at the bellows in the back you may be able to see more chromatic issues on the standard back. This was the reason I shot these images wide open, to test the chromatic aberrations. What's amazing to me is that the Trichromatic back is able to minimize chromatic aberrations by a significant degree.
The closeup above will demonstrate this point more effectively. Looking at the text on the ColorChecker Passport, you can see a noticeable amount of purple fringing for the standard back. The purple fringing is also affecting the borders on the ColorChecker Passport, diminishing the black tones. On the Trichromatic, however, there are absolutely no visible aberrations present. This is amazing because even with the same lens, the sensor is able to produce much better quality images; I had no idea that a sensor could impact how a lens performs when it comes to color fringing. Effectively, all of your lenses, even those that are not corrected properly, will actually perform much better on the Trichromatic back.
The second closeup above demonstrates the purple tones coming from both backs. The Trichromatic is significantly better for producing effective and vibrant purples. The color pops more and is much more accurate. The standard back is leaning more into the blue tones making it much less accurate. You may also notice the blue ball towards at the top of the frame is leaning more into cyan than the actual blue it's supposed to be. The Trichromatic is once again much better in that area too. There is also a very prominent green fringe coming from the standard back at the bottom of the Dairy Milk bar. Lastly, if you look at the white lettering "Dairy" on the standard back, the image is showing a blue border around the letters, however, the Trichromatic isn't producing these issues.
Overall, the Trichromatic is a noticeable and significant update for colors and does exactly what Phase One claims it's supposed to do: produce better, more accurate, and vibrant colors.
There are only three things that truly matter in an image, and they are composition, lighting, and colors. Most updates that cameras receive these days have very little to no impact on that and it's mostly a race towards the highest resolutions and highest ISO. This latest release from Phase One is a massive leap in the right direction. I have been very critical of medium-format cameras in the past because most of it, is just excuses or romanticized anecdotes. The Trichromatic, however, is a very real and very impressive update. The colors from this camera are beautiful and extremely accurate. Not only that but the fact that it can reduce fringing and aberrations from your lenses is incredible. This camera is definitely not for everyone and only for those that require the most effective and accurate colors straight out of the camera. The Trichromatic is quite possibly the best and most effective update for digital photography in a very long time.
It's a shame that Phase One won't demonstrate what the Trichromatic can do themselves. When discussing this point with them, the reply I received was that they wanted people to come and see it in person instead of viewing it online. Not the greatest excuse, but I think I understand why they can't or won't. My assumption is that they want to limit buyer's remorse from their existing customers and I find that to be very respectful.