Dioptichrome by Dufay

Dioptichrome was an early colour process invented by Louis Dufay in 1907. It was announced in 1908 as Diopticolore, but after an improvement it was renamed a year later to Dioptichrome[1].

Dioptichrome by Dufay
13 x 18 cm glass plate Dioptichrome

Like the autochrome process, it was based on the same principles of additive colour and the screen process but it had more similarities with Jougla Omnicolore. Like Omnicolore it was based on a pattern of ink lines and square dots to form a colour filter screen instead of autochrome’s random array of coloured starch grains. The advantage was that shorter exposure times were possible compared to autochrome. Dufay’s process produced appealing colours but the resolution was inferior to autochrome[1].

Dioptichrome by Dufay
High resolution scan reveals the mosaic of lines and dots

Producing the Dioptichrome glass plates proved to be complex[2] and the manufacturing process had its difficulties. The plates were often defective[1]. 40,000 plates were sold in 1911[2] but the production was stopped after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The market for colour photography was simply too small because of the high costs compared to black and white plates and the war caused uncertain times. Autochrome had the momentum and remained the leading colour process into the 1930s.

After the war, Dufay used the basics of his process to produce a colour film with the name Dufaycolor. It was more successful and the film remained popular into the 1950s[3].


  1. ‘Dots and lines’ (1978) in Coe, B., Colour photography: the first hundred years 1840-1940. London: Ash & Grant, pp. 57–60.   
  2. ‘Screen-plate and lenticular processes – The Dufaycolor Story’ (1993) in Coote, J. H., The illustrated history of colour photography. Surbiton: Fountain Press, pp. 47–48.  
  3. ‘Dufaycolor’ (2022) Wikipedia. Available at: en.wikipedia.org (Accessed: 15 December 2022). 
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