Occasionally I will hear members of our local club discussing colour accuracy of different cameras. Trying to decide which is better and agree on which is better.
A couple of problems really exist in this whole endeavour though. Part of this is because it is subjective and in several real tests — most preferred enhanced colours over what was really there!! This brings us to another problem, which is to obtain that look you need to save in camera as JPEG image file. Is that bad you say? Well let me just say that any pro photographer I have ever known or worked with does not use JPEG files but saves and uses RAW data files. Why? Well with a RAW file you can do anything a JPEG can and much, much more.. yes more. The RAW file has a whole lot more information inside allowing much more flexibility in post processing. The JPEG has essentially been post processed by the camera computer. But it does not end there, JPEG is a file format that loosed detail and image quality with each save. When your camera saves it, information and detail is lost.. that is fine if you only ever view it.. but open it, edit it and resave it and more detail and data is again lost. Does it matter? To many no.. and if that is you then fine. But if what you are happy with is simply a snapshot JPEG from a camera, then maybe a phone camera will be a better fit as it generally has must better onboard processing than any mirrorless or DSLR. Does that mean I am saying a phone camera is better than a DSLR or mirrorless camera? No, not even close. The tiny sensor and tiny lens in a phone camera are the limiting factor, but the onboard computer and post processing algorithms make up for a lot of those shortcomings and if you are a point and shoot person then the phone camera may just be a good fit.
So what I am saying is the RAW file is one that maximizes retention of image quality and original sensor data. Every teacher at local colleges tell you that as well pretty much any camera store – at least those with more knowledgeable employees versus somebody who simply has a job there to make some money.
The problem I that the RAW image is not what most people want or like.. and many will say the RAW files are not as nice as the JPEG files! That may be true, and is because as mentioned earlier the JPEG has been post processed already. So with a RAW file you need to do that little tweaking yourself in post processing.
What does this mean? Well fundamentally it means that anybody who gathers JPEG files from cameras and uses to make an accurate color comparison is somewhat meaningless for a couple of reasons. First is that for other than compact cameras, phone cameras and point and shoot cameras, most are not using the out of camera JPEG files, and JPEG out of camera would be what is used as comparison testing. Secondly how does one really test out of camera JPEG files as there are multitude of settings one can apply which the in camera computer will use in the post processing with each altering the final image.
So realistically any information you see comparing colour accuracy is for the most part not terribly accurate as it is comparing something a computer generated in camera post processing versus what the sensor captured. Having said that and while it is totally adjustable in at least the upper tier cameras and even to a large degree in point and shoot/phone cameras, it is what many want and need. None of the are really able to accurately provide a real answer sadly as it depends on what reviewer had the camera settings and if you are able to replicate that to allow for identical camera processing.. and if you are do you like the same results as they provided.
Secondly and this is a big one, if you are in the least bit advanced in your photography endeavour then you very likely do not use out of camera JPEG images but instead use the RAW files and post process yourself. This then makes any internal processing by camera irrelevant as the colour balance, white balance, exposure levels, noise reduction, etc. are all now applied by you in software and tuned to your specific needs and liking.
In summary if you use out of camera images and simply post to social media pretty much any camera will do and most have enough settings to get what you need – you may just need to play a bit to get what you like best but there are a lot of settings from any DSLR, mirrorless or phone camera. And the resolution frankly does not really matter as you are not going to see anywhere near what even a phone camera can display when on social media!
Grab any camera you have – get out and have fun.