IQ3 100 vs. IQ3 100 Trichromatic – What’s the Difference?

Editor’s note: You may be interested in the detailed followup article: Phase One IQ3 100mp Trichromatic, Art & Science in Detail.

After Wednesday’s exciting announcement of the Phase One IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Digital Back, the number one question on everyone’s mind is this – what  is the difference between the IQ3 100 Trichromatic and the standard color IQ3 100MP? Here at Digital Transitions, we were fortunate enough to receive an early demo unit, and the very next day we set out to answer that question for ourselves.

We took a field trip over to our good friends at the Morgan Library and Museum, where their photography experts graciously gave us an hour of uninterrupted testing time. We initially picked this location because we thought the mixed lighting and the abundant colors in the library itself would demonstrate the difference between the two digital backs, but in the end, we found something even more interesting.  


One of the biggest impacts of Phase One’s redesigned color filters was the quality of color reproduction in extreme shadows and extreme highlights. In particular, the IQ3 100 Trichromatic digital back was much more capable of rendering true blues, free of purple and UV cross-contamination.

  • Before-Purple Fringe/UV contamination
    After-Purple Fringe/UV contamination
    IQ3 100 Purple Fringe/UV contamination IQ3 100 Trichromatic

In the image slider, notice that the triangles towards the bottom part of the image, turn from a mottled purple in the standard color back to a deep blue with the Trichromatic version.  Below is a screenshot of a comparison at 400%:

IQ3 100 Trichromatic

As you can see again in these triangles, the IQ3 100 Trichromatic is able to handle this extreme situation very well where the standard IQ3 100MP shows color banding from blue on the edge into purple toward the center.  This exemplifies the changes to the new color filtration formula – the individual filter responses are designed to have much cleaner cutoffs, with less crossover between color channels.

For any concerned standard IQ3 100MP users, have no fear! Thanks to the incredible 16 bit color and powerful Color Editor in Capture One, we were able to correct the purple to a deep blue much closer to what was seen with the Trichromatic:

Even though the difference is subtle, it is important to notice. Keep in mind too that interiors are just one example of a wide variety of photography types that could benefit from this new technology, and we’ll be continuing testing in studio and landscape settings. 

If you have any questions, comments, or are interested seeing the Trichromatic in person, please fill out the form below and we will get right back to you!