Pixii Introduces a New Raw Monochrome Mode

Pixii introduced a new monochrome mode (Pixii RAW monochrome images) to their existing 26MP APS-C connected digital rangefinder camera with Leica M-mount that turns the camera into a monochrome camera. From their website: “Up until now, the only way to take true B&W images was either expensive or tedious. On one hand, dedicated cameras came at a significant cost and added complexity. On the other hand, post-processing conversion required real expertise and work to achieve similar results. The image sensors are monochrome in essence, except most of them are covered by a Bayer filter. The filter helps them see colors. We have filed a patent for a system that can cancel the effect of the Bayer filter. This technology is an integral part of Pixii cameras. While the filter cannot be physically removed, its influence on the photons received by the sensor largely can.”

Pixii is the first camera capable of shooting both in true RAW monochrome or color. The complete system is compatible with all Pixii camera models with a software update, so owners of the previous generation can still enjoy the same benefits.

The company says: “At the silicon level, sensor pixels count the intensity of light reaching them for a certain period of time. They see life in shades of gray. Color is just a software construct. Sensors see color through a mosaic of filters selecting different light frequencies. Software recombines pixels, in a process called demosaicing, to form a color image. Without it, we would see a B&W checkered frame. Since the influence of the Bayer filter is well defined, we can infer the quantity of light that hit a defined pixel. This allows us to recreate the response of the underlying monochrome sensor. The result is a true monochrome image with a single plane of raw values and up to 16 bits of resolution.”

“Once the preserve of specialized cameras, Pixii gives you access to a new creative space. Shooting monochrome is a real choice: the DNG does not contain any color information. It is both a challenge and an opportunity to see the world with a new eye.”

Technical details:

Digital Negative format.
Single monochrome pixel plane.
12, 14 or 16 bits per pixel.
Tonercurve-guided pixel response.
Flat storage, packed or lossless compression.

“Our unique – patent-pending – algorithm computes the raw monochrome sensor values. We measure the influence of the Bayer filter to find the actual quantity of light received by each pixel. This restitutes the whole gamut of intensities recorded into a single monochromatic plane. More than 65000 intensity levels. Up to 96dB dynamic range. Conventional B&W modes found in other cameras apply a film effect to an 8-bits JPEG file. The loss of dynamic range and details is important. Pixii preserves the whole post-processing latitude, with up to 16-bits of precision, inside a standard, open format, DNG file. To facilitate post-processing, we add a natural film-like tone curve embedded in the DNG container. This doesn’t alter the RAW values in any way and can be fully adjusted during the editing phase. Our image sensor delivers a remarkable image quality. Its pixel technology makes it a particularly good fit for our native monochrome mode. It delivers a smooth gradation of tones, preserves highlights and can resolve fine details in deep shadows.”

Here are some sample pictures taken by Laurent Bouchard:

More info on Pixii’s website.

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