Updated: Nov 10
RX100 VI vs a7 III vs a6700
So it's no secret Sony's color science kept evolving pretty fast throughout the last couple years. Starting from yucky green skin tones in the early mirrorless models, evolving to overly magenta casted skies, and now to a greatly improved and balanced color science.
But these color differences throughout camera models results in inconsistent results in color when using sony film simulations, and we want to get the same kind of colors even if we switch from our little RX100 to our newer sony a6700 or a7s III.
In this article I will show you how.
There are details where sony still needs great improvements, and I would say camera design is a great example. Some low tier cameras like the a6700 have degraded in terms of design and build quality, but in the color category I feel they did a great job in fixing the main issues with the color shifting and skin tones. It's at a point where it can compete without any struggle with Canon, Fuji & Nikon, Blackmagic, Panasonic and so on.
Recently just tested and adjusted all film simulations on the new sony a6700 for better accuracy on newer sensors. I've also made and article showcasing all 51 Sony film recipes in a real life situation for a better understanding on each simulation characteristics.
You will be able to check out the article right here when it's done.
As sony keeps improving their color with each newer model, it's seems fair to calibrate these recipes with the newest sensors available, since they are most probably not going backwards.
But many of us have a combination of older and newer cameras, so what do we do with the color differences? After all there are some iconic cameras like the the a7S III which will continue to be the standard for the next couple of years, being one of the best in terms of versatility, lowlight, color and features.
The sensor on the a7S III is still rather new, but the color science differs from the fx30 or a6700, being more on the magenta side, while the a6700 sensor feels warmer, more on the yellow side and less saturated, which brings up problems in usability and compatibility when using various sony models.
How can we calibrate all of them to closely match together?
Let's take a look at different cameras
Sony RX100 VI vs Sony a7 III vs Sony a6700
All shot with Kodachrome 64 V1 loaded at 3400K A7-M0.75
Exposure settings variable to match the Brightness on all 3 cameras.
Lenses: RX100 has it's own Zeiss lens, while the a7 III and the a6700 have been shot on the same lens, which is the Tamron 28-75mmm f2.8 and with a black mist filter.
The differences are clear to the eye. Totally different at first sight, but easily matched with some minor adjustments.
From my experience, I would generally say the RX100 is colder and more on the cyan-teal side with a punchy saturation, while the a7III is heavily magenta and less saturated, and the a6700 is warmer, less saturated than both and with a predominance on the green yellow side.
It's really important to know what color tendencies your own sony cameras have in order to understand the weaknesses and how to fix it straight out of camera.
To fix and match them, I first need to decide which camera I like the most to use it as a reference, and my choice falls between the RX100 and the a6700.
I love the colors on the RX100 because they are really easy to work with, but the a6700 has a newer sensor with improved color, so that will be my reference choice.
As I mentioned, with the a6700 sony has done more than improving their color science, they also changed how the sensor reacts to light and shift colors in accordance to exposure. Especially the yellows and the blues will look a lot better, which was the main weakness of Sony color if you ask me.
With most sony cameras I've notices that when overexposed, yellow shift towards green, and when underexposed, they shift towards magenta,
This can also be noticed with the blues. When underexposed, blues shift towards magenta, while overexposed they start shifting towards teal.
Understanding this behavior actually helps us understand the way sony sensors interpret color and the shifting tendencies according to exposure.
I might create a separate article documenting and explaining this idea.
I will leave a link here when it's done.
Back to the subject because I don't want to bore you.
I will choose the a6700 as my main reference point, and I will try to bring the other two cameras as closely as possible.
The Sony RX100 VI is much colder, so to match it with the a6700 I raised the temperature at 3700 Kelvin and shifted the color phase down to -4. These adjustments added more warmth to the image and shifted the blues towards magenta and skin tones towards amber, coming closer to the a6700.
The Sony a7III is cold and on the magenta side, so to fix this issue, first I will shift the color phase at 0 to correct the magenta hue, raise the temperature to 3500 Kelvin and set color filter from A7-M0.75 to A7 straight.
And the colors are already coming much closer than before.
It's not perfect, but it was a quick test done in a couple minutes before sunset, with more time on hand we can probably come even closer, and this further proves it doesn't take a lot of time to color match or get great color out of sony cameras if you know what you're doing.
Next in this article I will present a precise comparison in a controlled environment.
Sony Rx100 VI vs Sony A7 III vs Sony a6700
Overall the results are not bad at all for a quick 5 minute test. The a7 III is still too magenta, so we need to test it out in a controlled environment to precisely match it with the a6700 and the RX100 VI, which are similar, both being a little bit more on the cyan-green side.
As a general guide, if you camera is cold and purple, you need to raise the kelvin, shift the color filter towards Green by 0.25 or 0.5 stops, and lift the color phase by a couple steps on top of the original film recipe.
For example +200 Kelvin
Color Filter +G0.25
Color Phase +2 steps
If you camera is more on the green side, Lower the Kelvin, push the color filter towards Magenta by 0.25 or 0.5 stops, and maybe slightly increase or decrease the color phase to shift all the color to your liking. Check skin tones first. If skin is too pink, decrease color phase by -1 or -2 steps, if it's too orange yellow green, start raising it by +1-2 steps.
Example: -300 Kelvin
Color Filter +A1+M1
Color phase between +2 and -2 depending on how skin tones present themselves.
Let's take a look at a test in a controlled environment to see if we can get them even closer.
Kodachrome 64 V1 - Before Adjustments
Sony RX100 VI vs Sony a7 III vs Sony a6700
The a6700 handles the yellows and the reds a lot better than the RX100 VI and the a7 III.
Again, the same adjustments from above will apply, but with further refinement to precisely color match them.
Sony RX100 VI : +200 Kelvin, -1 Color Phase, Black point by +4 levels, Saturation Down by -2 levels according to the original recipe, and Color Filter pushed 0.25 stops towards Magenta.
Sony a7 III : +100 Kelvin, +3 levels of Color Phase, Color Filter slightly shifted towards Green.
Sony a6700 : No adjustments.
Kodachrome 64 V1 - After Adjustments
Sony RX100 VI vs Sony a7 III vs Sony a6700
Still not perfect, and that is understood since they have different color science, it's going to be hard or impossible to fully match, but I feel these are great results taking into consideration there is 5 years apart between these cameras. The RX100 VI comes much closer in terms of color to the a6700, which is a pleasant surprise. This only makes me recommend it even with more confidence, even it's a 5 year old camera, the color science is solid. For the price given, (450 euros second hand) it's an absolute steal!
Customizing Sony Picture Profiles it's definitely a steep learning curve, and it's not easy, but once you get it, you'll see color in a whole different way :D
And you don't have to start from scratch like I did.
Took me years to understand and create these Film Simulations and I am still exploring, observing and learning new things everyday.
One easy trick is identifying what is the predominance with your camera.
Are the colors cold or warm? If cold, what hue of cold, is it teal, blue, velvet magenta, or pink?
If it's warm, what hue of warm? Green, yellow, orange or red?
Then further define the hue, let's say it's predominantly green. Is it pure green, teal green, or olive green?
By precisely identifying colors, you get an understanding of the main color issues and only afterwards you can start counter balancing the hues with the kelvin and the color filter, pushing and adding color into the image to balance out nasty hues of yellow and magenta.
It's not an easy job to create your own custom picture profiles, but at the end you don't even have to start from scratch.
You can experiment with already created Sony film simulations to have an easier learning curve. I've already spent all the hours testing, so you can focus more on going out, shooting and having fun.
You can explore All Sony Film Simulation Here