Looking to Upgrade Your Cameras from an iPhone to Stream?

A lower resolution three-chip camera can actually render more accurate images to that of a higher resolution single-chip camera when you compare on a pixel-by-pixel resolution.

Looking to Upgrade Your Cameras from an iPhone to Stream?
As shown in the first of three images with this article, is the representation of color filters for a single-chip camera. Each glass represents a pixel and the gel is the color filter that makes each pixel only respond to the particular bandwidth of light.
Credit: Courtesy of YouTube
Looking to Upgrade Your Cameras from an iPhone to Stream?
As shown in the first of three images with this article, is the representation of color filters for a single-chip camera. Each glass represents a pixel and the gel is the color filter that makes each pixel only respond to the particular bandwidth of light.
Credit: Courtesy of YouTube

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Looking to Upgrade Your Cameras from an iPhone to Stream?

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The Colors of Red, Green, Blue

Most all of the single-chip cameras use a Bayer pattern on the pixels to get the Red/Green/Blue color variation. For a 1 million pixel image sensor, 500,000 pixels are green and 250,000 each of red and blue. Why double the green pixels compared to the other two colors, you ask? That’s because the human eye is most sensitive to green light. From there, the imaging processor must fill in the void areas with the information to make a complete image.

So why does this matter?

Well, for one, the Bayer pattern leaves “holes” in of each of the colors that the image processor has to interpolate and fill in the details of the blank areas. In the three-chip setup, there is pixel for pixel accuracy for each color. What this equates to in the real world is much higher color sensitivity and also accuracy. The color accuracy has two notable factors –pixel fill factor and the tightness of the color filters used. The prism of the three-chip camera has high quality dichroic filters with a steeper cutoff where the single chip camera uses a less precise filter. That makes for more overlap where the camera’s image processor must guess as to which color it is.

What to Look for in a 4K Camera Versus a 1080 Camera?

One such question I regularly see in my Facebook feed, is “Which one is more future proof for my church?”

People see 4K and immediately think it will offer a better image than a 1080 camera. But let’s go back and compare if we have a single-chip 4K camera versus a three-chip 1080 camera. The 1080 camera will offer better color depth and image sharpness with a 1080 image. If you were to sensor crop the 4K to get a 1080 image, the three-chip camera would eat it for lunch in low light performance, and also color accuracy.

Several questions also come up regarding the short depth of field with a large image sensor. If you have a large 4K sensor that you are using for a 1080 image, though, that crop would be a much smaller area on the sensor. This also leads to the discussion of the Bayer pattern – and that is in an optical sense the traditional Bayer pattern, which is more along the lines of a 4:2:0, where the rows of pixels alternate red-green and then the next row alternates blue-green. This is true of your smartphone camera, up to the most expensive 4K or larger single-chip cameras.


More About Stefan Svard
Stefan Svard has been involved with the A/V world for virtually all of his life. His first experience dates back to when he was 13 years old, and fast forward to the present. He now has the opportunity to serve a much larger base of people through his company, Audio Video Electronics, a Minneapolis-based AVL systems integrator, which specializes in sound systems, acoustic design, sound transmission isolation, video systems and lighting systems.
Get in Touch: ssvard@audiovideoelectronics.com    More by Stefan Svard

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Comments

By Bill Koonce on February 26, 2018

This has got to be one of the best, most succinct arguments for why 3-sensor cameras are worth the investment. A great executive summary to use for citation when writing up a purchase request. This is especially important when making a case to non-technical management, or to people who don’t know what separates the amateur from the professional. Us old-timers know in great detail why we choose professional gear, but it’s hard to distill it into an answer to “Why not use a SLR camera?” and similar questions.

Frankly the “Bayer vs. 3-chip” issue is probably for a more sophisticated end user than the church currently using an iPhone for streaming and nothing else. Those who are upgrading from a phone or other simple, fixed focal length camera to one with, say a zoom lens for example, may need to understand the optics first, essentially why to zoom. That will likely lead to look into multi-camera production and other things like IMAG. Now it’s a lot more than just a camera. I’d hate to see any church pony up $10,000 for a camera, only to discover that it’s the beginning, not the end of their upgrade path.


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