Will the Color War Ever Be the Next Big Thing in Photography?

Model: Bec Fordyce

Model: Bec Fordyce

It’s really easy for photographers and enthusiasts to sit here and geek out all day and night about dynamic range and high ISO results. Manufacturers started the war after all when the megapixel race happened. The High ISO wars have been happening for a while now and in some ways we see dynamic range wars to a lesser extent.

But why don’t we see the war that really, genuinely could matter even more to photographers in terms of what they can do when it comes to creative freedom? Why is there no color war?

Details recovered

Details recovered

I simply refuse to acknowledge the statement that it’s not possible. Years ago they said that a full frame 35mm sized sensor couldn’t be put into a mirrorless camera; and that happened. They also said that it wasn’t physically possible to put more megapixels on an imaging sensor and we all know that that’s hogwash. It also seemed impossible for high ISO results to become better, but it happened. Not only did it happen, but they’re fantastic.

But colors for the most part haven’t enjoyed anywhere as much of the conversation despite the fact that they’re so incredibly important to photography. Sure, lots of photographers say that they love Fujifilm’s colors and testers all acknowledge how good the colors can be from Sigma camera sensors, but why is no manufacturer trying to push this even further?

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Great State Classic Skinny strap review images (1 of 8)ISO 1001-100 sec at f - 2.0

If the white balance of an image can go from one end of the spectrum all the way to the other end of the spectrum, why can’t this be done at the pixel level? We already know that colors can be highly modified, and that knowledge of color theory and gradients can help fix issues with mixed lighting, but in that case individual pixels can have much more potential. A red pixel could have the ability to move all the way across the ROYGBIV scale to become violet without any sort of evidence that the image quality overall is breaking apart.

Now just think about how this technology could help photographers. It would position dedicated cameras way ahead of what a phone is capable of doing and would help photographers to re-establish themselves as being able to do more with a dedicated camera than they could with a phone. Images, either way, are all about the content. And being able to get that much incredible versatility from an image would truly allow a photographer much more potential if they learned how to harness it.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lomography LCA 120 color photos (6 of 24)

A feature like this would really appeal to concert photographers. There are times where a photographer is shooting a concert and doesn’t necessarily want to embrace the super red lighting that the venue shines on the artist. Instead, they want to interpret the scene in their own specific creative vision. With lots of work (see the RAW file versatility section), it’s possible from blending, but it could be much simpler by using a brush of some sort.

Adobe Lightroom has started to embrace this in a way with the white balance brush; but I’m talking about going further. Complete and total creative freedom of how a photographer could interpret and stylize the colors in a scene could be huge for not only creatives, but also for professionals who face color issues at times.

Just think about what could be possible.

  • Michael Clark
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    It already exists, but not between cameras. It is between raw processing applications. Some applications offer ease of use without really needing to understand the color theory and physics that go into them. You can spend small fortunes buying *filters* or *actions* for such applications. Others give more control to the user but, like any sophisticated tool, require a more capable user to harness the full potential. Here too you can spend a boatload of money on *actions* or *presets* that may or may not give your images the look you want from the conditions you shot under. You can also learn to expertly use the application yourself! At least one manufacturer even lets the user design a custom color profile and then load it into the camera for use in generating in-camera jpegs, and they’ve been doing so for over a decade!

  • john trif
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    I remember the Great ISO War, they were hard times but we persevered and prevailed just like we did with the Dynamic Range War. But this Colour war you speak of scares me and i fear for those that will not make it. I don’t think I’m ready for this….. smh!

  • neuroman
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    Give me a DSLR or mirrorless that can give me the look of Kodachrome 64 and I will die a happy man or would that be “dye” a happy man?

    • Toni Benamar
      Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

      Have you tried Fujifilm X100T? It has the classic chrome setting that is available to raw images in Adobe Lightroom, so not just for jpegs. I have not been able to compare it to real Kodachrome, but it looks good.

      • neuroman
        Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

        Thanks wasn’t aware of that, I’ll take a look.

  • markthetog
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    You can do most of this in LR and PS already. As for a brush, just set up layer masks with he appropriate adjustments and paint away.In the end it is pixel range selection that you are describing. In a camera, that pixel is very hard to select. In post, that is another thing.

    The other thing to think about is that the color is an expression of artistic intent. Thus the notion of a war cannot really erupt beyond the sort of trolling that already exists about actions/filters/HDR etc.

  • Bruce Harding
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    Totally agree.
    Though I assume that unlike noise or resolution colour perception can be highly subjective. So it would be really hard even to come to agreement of what good colour is and what is the issue with digital colours.

    Personally I would like to have the same colour response in my camera as Kodachrome has.

  • Jose Chavarria
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    Couldn’t agree more.