Monday, October 5, 2009

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Color Calibration System


I just received the new X-Rite ColorChecker Passport color calibration and white balance system after growing weary of eyeballing my photos' white balance for some time now.

I recently calibrated my monitor with the Pantone huey MEU101 monitor calibrator, but still spent too much time trying to find the white balance and tint to give accurate and pleasing skin tones.

So, I broke down and ordered the ColorChecker Passport. It's $100, which is a lot, and since I've only spent a couple of hours with it, I'm not yet aware of all of the ways I can use it. But, in this two hours, I was able to find out some amazing stuff... Like... My color thus far... is awful.

The first thing I did with the ColorChecker was to take it outside and shoot it at arms' length:
Straight out of camera
This is the shot exactly as it came out of my 5d Mark II and 35mm f/1.4L, with no modifications.

I then adjusted the white balance by keying off of the neutral landscape grey square, which gave me this:
White balanced with Adobe standard color
This is as far as I thought I'd have to go to get true colors. I figured, get the white balance, and use the rest of the color squares to help eyeball up my greens, blues, etc. Well, this is just the beginning. This is where I realized how little I knew about color management.

Apparently every copy of a camera and lens - and thus, combination - have different color signatures. The software can analyze a test shot containing the ColorChecker Passport, locate it within the frame, then determine the camera's response to the known colors within that environment. Doing this couldn't be easier. From Adobe Lightroom, you just export your test image through their exporter, then give the profile a name such as "Outdoors, 35mm f/1.4L before sunset". After the export is complete, you restart Lightroom, and the color profile is available for you to use for the rest of that photo shoot. The color profiles are available for use in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.

The results were less than subtle:
White balanced and color calibrated

Open the three test images in separate browser tabs and flip through them. You'll notice a purplish hue in my original photo, corrected in the white balanced one. The difference between the second and third shots is mainly in the blues, purples, and greens - color responses you can't correct for with standard white balance cards.


**
If you found this review helpful, please support this blog by using any of the links to purchase your gear.
**

3 comments:

Calibration said...

Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back againCalibration

Calibration said...

My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!
Calibration

Calibration said...

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.Calibration