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Greyscale digital camera

Greyscale pictures, faster and better than colour (not the same idea as "B&W Camera")
  [vote for,

Colour digital cameras have a sensor chip which records the image. Individual pixels on the chip record only one colour each - this is done by putting a grid of red, green and blue filters in front of the chip. So, if a given pixel records blue light, the intensity of this light is then stored in the camera's memory. There's no direct method of finding out how much red or green light should be recorded for that pixel, so to get a value, the camera interpolates the values recorded at neighbouring 'red' and 'green' pixels. This interpolation takes time and causes image errors (particularly on high-contrast edges and highlights on shiny objects).
My idea is this: It should be possible to have a camera on which you can slide the grid of filters off the sensor chip and have every pixel record the 'white' light intensity. This will lead to greyscale images, but with a much higher frame rate and (because no interpolation will be needed) the image will be recorded at the camera's true resolution. Sometimes it's acceptable to trade off colour for speed and resolution.

[Note: This is a halfbaked rather than a good idea because within a couple of years you'll have digital cameras which record red, green and blue for every pixel. This can be done by stacking the sensors on top of each other with 'red' at the bottom and 'blue' at the top. Red light will penetrate to the bottom sensor because it has a longer wavelength. Clever, eh?]
hippo, Apr 26 2002

shocker! no wonder no one can afford them! http://www.jessops....search.cfm?node=481
you can buy cars for this amount of money! [sappho, Apr 26 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

New Leica http://www.petapixe...arrive-on-may-10th/
Now Leica are going to make this - only 10 years after I wrote the idea. [hippo, Apr 23 2012]

Leica M Monochrom http://www.petapixe...igital-rangefinder/
Pretty much as I suggested, and only $7,950 (and expect to pay about the same for a lens for this camera) [hippo, May 11 2012]


       Croissant. I much prefer greyscale pictures, because the eye is not distracted by the spectral information. In general I wish that digital cameras could be developed to allow a little more user intervention in many ways, otherwise they seem no better than snapshot cameras (I don't have one so please correct me). lens filters, choosing shutter speeds and apertures for restricted focal ranges - they're all the fun of SLR photography, why are there no such games for digital cameras?
sappho, Apr 26 2002

       sappho: modern digital SLR cameras can do everything you say: manual exposure, focus, aperture control; exchangeable lenses, filters, etc. In addition some also offer in-camera image processing.   

       Rods: I don't see how measuring the hue would give any necessary benefit, since measuring RGB gives results equivalent to any other three-valued colourspace, owing to the principle that any colour can be represented as the sum of any 3 suitably diverse components.
pottedstu, Apr 26 2002

       oh, good. Thanks, [pottedstu], I may stop sniffing at them so disdainfully now! But having just got a load of developing/enlarging kit for my trad SLR, I'll stick with it.
sappho, Apr 26 2002

       [Rods] - yup, that's kind of what the end note bit means - each pixel will record intensity and hue. A pixel will be a sandwich of three detectors and the 'deepest' detector in the pixel which is reached by the incoming light is the one which defines the colour of the incoming light. So long wavelengths will reach the deepest detector and the camera will therefore call that red light
[sappho] - unfortunately, no one can afford a digital SLR...
hippo, Apr 26 2002

       You can get digital backs for certain 'analog' 35mm SLRs.
angel, Apr 26 2002

       Leaf makes digital backs for medium format cameras as well, most notably the Hasselblads. Often used for catalog product shots and tabletop, these backs expose each color channel individually, in sequence, and are tied, by cable, to a computer as they have no storage of their own. The results are very beautiful but use is limited to static objects due the time-exposure nature of the image acquisition.   

       And, wow, are they pricey.
bristolz, Apr 26 2002

       But not in the least bit unusual.
DrCurry, Aug 15 2002

       Was there an implication that they were unusual?
bristolz, Aug 21 2002

       Hmm. We should have known we would find Prior Art on the HB.   

       BorgCo are considering the design of a "pure" black and white digital SLR.   

       This is NOT a colour CCD and a "B&W" option in the software; it is a true monochrome ultra-high-resolution CCD. If a current RGB CCD element of 10 megapixel capability is readily available, then a similar device of 30 megapixel monochrome resolution should be equally attainable.   

       The lens stack, coatings, etc. would be designed to mimic as exactly as possible the characteristics of Panchromatic film.   

       There would be little or no facility to manipulate the image within the camera; postprocessing would be done offline.   

       Suitable for serious "art" photographers, rather than the seething proletarian hordes.
8th of 7, Jul 12 2011

       My brother once put this shortcoming down to supply and demand; it should be as easy to make a superb greyscale digital camera as a good RGB one, but those hordes will seethe...
spidermother, Jul 12 2011

       Grayscale digital cameras are common in industrial applications. Conversions are not, admittedly.
MechE, Jul 12 2011

       //BorgCo are//   

       Shouldn't that be //BorgCo is// ? I assumed that the Borg were measured and enumerated as a continuum like, say, sand or urine?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 12 2011

       Not so much like sand, I think.
pocmloc, Jul 12 2011

       Avoid the issue by rewriting to use the subjunctive.   

       "If BorgCo were to produce a camera at present, it would be a pure black and white digital SLR."   

       Much cleaner.
ytk, May 11 2012

       "Were BorgCo to produce...". No need for "if".
nineteenthly, May 11 2012

       //It should be possible to have a camera on which you can slide the grid of filters off the sensor chip..//   

       When they're in place, the filters have to be precisely aligned with the pixels below them. How practical is it to make a physical sliding mechanism that accurate?   

       Presumably similar accuracies are achieved when positioning the masks in chip fabs, but they're hardly mass-produced consumer kit.
Wrongfellow, May 11 2012


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