Color versus monochrome

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Color vs Monochrome

We sell color and monochrome cameras for the same price, so why would anyone want monochrome? It all comes down to how color is implemented and the tradeoffs involved.

The color camera has an RGB Bayer filter While the Bayer filter makes color imaging possible, it comes at the cost of reduced light sensitivity and optical resolution compared to our monochrome camera.

Without the Bayer filter, the monochrome camera is 4X more sensitive to light. At the short exposure times common to high speed video, the extra light sensitivity can be very useful. Further, the color camera has internal image processing algorithms that process the RGB Bayer filter pixels and unavoidably cause a slight loss in sharpness. The monochrome camera can skip this processing step and the loss it entails.

Color and monochrome cameras have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the right camera depends on how you will use it. If color is essential to your application, buy the color camera. On the other hand, if color isn't important, the monochrome will need less intense lighting and give you sharper videos. In fact, our industrial, scientific and defense customers purchase monochrome cameras ~2X over color,

Color advantages

People love color. If your high speed videos are intended to move the human heart, you want a color camera.

  • Artistic videos
  • Videos where color is analyzed
  • Videos where color is expected by the target audience.

Monochrome advantages

  • 2 f-stops (4x) higher light sensitivity. We've taken SC1 videos at 4658 fps, 10us exposure, full sun and could have used more light for better depth of focus. Monochrome lets you stop down 2 f-stops and get better depth of focus.
  • Better (sharper) image quality at a given pixel resolution. At high frame rates, you need to reduce the horizontal and vertical pixel resolution because of the sensor limitations. On an SC1, 1500 fps monochrome looks about as sharp as 500 fps color.
  • Can be purchased with the IR Blocking Filter Deleted for some specific scientific applications. Please see below for more information on this option.


  • If you're a dog and can't see color anyway, get the monochrome.
  • If you're an artist or DP you'll probably want color and you'll need to buy more lights.
  • In the scientific, industrial, and research markets, where color isn't essential, we sell about 90% monochrome, 10% color.

IR Blocking Filter

The human eye and film are sensitive to wavelengths in the visible 400-700nm range. Silicon sensors, like the one in the edgertronic, are sensitive to a wider range of 400-1100nm and this can lead to some complications.

The RGB Bayer filter in the color camera only works properly for visible wavelengths, and requires an IR blocking filter to cut the 700-1100nm near IR wavelengths. As a result, all edgertronic color cameras include an IR blocking filter.

The monochrome camera comes standard with the same IR blocking filter, and as an extra cost option, the IR filter can be deleted. Why not make the IR filter optional for all monochrome cameras? It turns out that the simultaneous combination of visible (400-700nm) and near IR (700-1100nm) causes a loss of sharpness due to chromatic aberration in lenses. Here's a good explanation:

The IR filter minimizes chromatic aberration with typical lighting and serves as a window to keep dust and dirt out of the camera. This is why it's standard on monochrome cameras. If you're like 90% of our monochrome customers, and don't explicitly need near IR sensitivity, buy our standard version with the IR blocking filter.

On the other hand, if you're like the other 10% and require near IR sensitivity, such as nocturnal animal research, the IR filter delete option is appropriate. Note that this option is a factory build option and can't be converted in the field.