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A color image meant for human consumption can be appropriately displayed only if at least three distinct color channels are present. Typical digital cameras acquire three-color images with only one sensor. A color filter array (CFA) is placed on the sensor such that only one color is sampled at a particular spatial location. This sparsely sampled signal is then reconstructed to form a color image with information about all three colors at each location. In this paper, we show that the wavelength sensitivity functions of the CFA color filters affect both the color reproduction ability and the spatial reconstruction quality of recovered images. We present a method to select perceptually optimal color filter sensitivity functions based upon a unified spatial-chromatic sampling framework. A cost function independent of particular scenes is defined that expresses the error between a scene viewed by the human visual system and the reconstructed image that represents the scene. A constrained minimization of the cost function is used to obtain optimal values of color-filter sensitivity functions for several periodic CFAs. The sensitivity functions are shown to perform better than typical RGB and CMY color filters in terms of both the s-CIELAB ΔE error metric and a qualitative assessment.