If you see me on a shoot these days, you will notice I have a little black piece of plastic hanging from a lanyard around my neck. This recent release on the market place is one which I would now never be without, the X-Rite Colour Checker Passport, which opens up to reveal a series of colour charts and white balance tools.
These charts are used by the devices software (Mac or PC) to create a colour profile specific to your very own camera. If you use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw for Photoshop when converting your Raw files, you have the choice of using either the standard Adobe Standard colour profile, or a generic profile they have created for your make and model of camera. But every camera is different, and the colour profiles they give you are not exactly accurate.
The Colour Checker Passport is quick to use, you can create a generic profile to use in any shot, or create a specific profile for a specific shoot, optimised for the given lighting conditions.
Simply take a photo containing the colour chart, then load it into the software (or use the export plugin for Lightroom) and the software will look at the photo, automatically locate the chart, and crunch the numbers to create a colour profile ensuring the colour values of each chip on the chart are correct. Then you apply that colour profile to the rest of the photos from that shoot. Too easy!
Here is the chart, with the Adobe Standard profile applied.
Now lets have a look at the profile for the Canon 5D MkII as supplied by Adobe. This is the “Camera Standard” profile.
And here we go with the custom profile.
As you can see, there are a few differences in the colours. The actual chart it uses for the profile is in the bottom half of the card. The top gives a grey scale, the basic colours that you can adjust in ACR or Lightroom and the middle two rows are for sampling for white balance, giving neutral white balancing, as well as options to warm or cool the image.
So how does it work in the real world?
Check out these pics, the first of each pair is with Adobe Camera Standard profile, and the second is with the custom colour profile created specifically for the job. I am sure you will agree the work in making the colour profile is well worth it.
The difference is subtle, but still makes a big difference. Of course, the photos will look best if you are viewing them on a properly calibrated monitor. Colours look more natural and consistent, and provide a better base from which to do more creative stuff with the photos like film effects and the like when required.
All client shoots with Nigel Honey Photos are now properly colour profiled with the X-Rite Colour Checker Passport at no extra charge.Continue reading