Product: Photography
False Color Film   (+8)  [vote for, against]
Film optimized for resolution, for scanning only

Consider slide film. The colors of the scene are (in the ideal) exactly represented in the developed frame of film. As a result, it is necessary to get the exposure time bang on, or the colors will be screwy.

Now consider negative film. With negative film you have a wider latitude in exposure, because you can correct for over or under exposure when you make the optical print. But negative film still has to roughly satisfy the constraint that it must be a negative image of the scene, because it is made to be printed optically.

What if you removed that constraint? Why not let each color layer be "represented" by whatever color allows you to have the sharpest possible grains? The colors in the processed film would have no relation at all to the colors in the scene, other than that they would be distinguishable from each other, and they would each represent one of three points within the visible spectrum, which could also be chosen somewhat arbitrarily, to maximize gamut. You would not be able to print optically, or even really read the processed film with your eyes, but as long as the scanner can tell each color layer apart, then you are good to go. Each kind of false color film would have a scanner profile, and the software would convert it into the correct colors.

Why? Well, there are affordable film scanners that already exceed the resolution of available negative film by a factor of two. So by eliminating some of the constraints on film, maybe it is possible to utilize some of that wasted scanner resolution.
-- JakePatterson, Apr 21 2006

Nice. I'm not sure if there is much space for fine-tuning without locking yourself into a custom system. Films, negative and positive, as well as scanners, screens and printers have been optimised around the colour sensitivity of human eyes.

If you can gain some resolution or contrast by using a false colour film you then have to find a scanner that is able to distinguish those colours without losing the advantages that you have just gained in contrast. A solution would be to build a spectrometer scanner so that each pixel is scanned and stored not as an intensity of red, green and blue, but as an intensity of the gamut of wavelengths present. This would give you a 4 dimensional data file (x,y,wavelength, intensity) which you could then distill back to three primary colours or use as is.

A bitmap of this type (if used as is) could create a whole raft of intesting possibilities and associated problems. [+] Interesting idea.
-- st3f, Apr 21 2006

Unfortunately, you're still using film as an intermediary, and that technology is going the way of the Brownie box camera. So I'm afraid this is one of those day-late ideas.
-- DrCurry, Apr 21 2006

[DrCurry] Until we have a breakthrough in fabrication of large ICs, the quality of digital photography will remain only marginally as good as medium format, and nowhere near that of large format. This is because you can only make the pixels so small before the (limited by physics) ability of a lens to resolve detail is the limiting factor in your overall resolution.

The only way, ultimately, to improve the resolution of digital photography in a big way, is to make the sensor bigger. The problem is that the cost of an IC is proportional to the square of its size, so an 8 by 10 inch, or even a 4 by 5 inch CCD sensor is out of the question.

People look at the latest medium format DSLR's, which have sensors larger than 24 x 36 mm, but smaller than 45 x 60 mm, and see that they are very expensive. But people are conditioned to expect that computer related gadgets like that always start out "very expensive" but within a couple of years become affordable. The problem here is that we have no way of fabricating sensors that big in an affordable way, so unlike CD burners, which used to cost $10,000, but now cost $10.00, one should not expect a digital camera with a large sensor to be affordable any time soon.

The fundamental thing here is that digital photography has to have ICs that are constrained in size by the wavelengths of visible light, they cannot be miniaturized like every other IC, and it is that miniaturization that has driven the cost reductions of every other digital gadget out there. Indeed, the cost reductions for consumer orientated digital cameras has been driven by making smaller and smaller sensors, with smaller and smaller pixels, and tests have proven that a tiny 8 Mpixel sensor is nowhere near as good as a "full frame" 8 Mpixel sensor, due to the limits of the lens.
-- JakePatterson, Apr 21 2006

JP: but try telling all that to a venture capitalist.
-- DrCurry, Apr 21 2006

I see your point, DrC. Few backers would be behind older technology when the bulk of the market has gone to a new medium.

But that doesn't stop it being an interesting idea, even if its application would be to a niche market that couldn't fund its development.
-- st3f, Apr 21 2006

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