Learn More – Digital Camera Color Accuracy – Gamut

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The Purple Iris the way I saw it and my Minolta Dimage captured it.

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The Purple Iris as captured by my Canon G2.

Although this story was originally posted in 2002 it still applies today. Not all colors can be captured by a digital camera sensor.

Most of us have taken hundreds of pictures with our digital cameras without giving a thought to the crisp brilliant color images that we’ve captured. With few exceptions digital cameras produce very accurate renditions of what we see. There are times when digital cameras may cause some problems with color. This is especially important for people photographing flowers, artwork and dyed fabrics. Read on to find out more.

Have you ever taken a picture with your digital camera and the color looks nothing like what you saw? Digital cameras use a light sensitive chip to capture color & light. The sensitivity of these chips varies from camera to camera but as a general rule they have difficulty dealing with rich saturated tones.

Why does this happen? First, most of us work with RGB images, which means our images are made up of Red, Green and Blue components. Your camera is sensitive to a range of colors called the gamut. Let’s say your digital camera can capture the colors inside the triangle below. If the object your taking a picture of has a color that lies outside the GAMUT of your camera, your camera automatically chooses a color that is close which lies inside the triangle. In the case of our deep purple Iris flowers the closest color happens to be a shade of blue.

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The diagram on the bottom shows the deep purple Iris flower we saw and how the camera chose the closest available color which is actually more of a blue color.

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