ColorChecker Passport – Hands on.
by eduardoangel – October 19th, 2009
by Joe Brady
I have been using the new ColorChecker Passport from X-Rite for about a month and now I can’t imagine ever working without one. The hours it has saved me fine-tuning the color in my images is remarkable! I used to think that by having a custom white balance or a neutral reference was enough to get correct color, yet I still spent hours trying to get color just the way I wanted it. By using the ColorChecker Passport to create a DNG Profile of my camera under the lighting conditions in my shoot, with one click I am able to restore all of the color that was missing. Here’s the process I try to follow whenever possible:
1. The first thing I do is to use a handheld meter to get a perfect exposure reading for the scene. Handheld meters aren’t influenced by the color of the subject you are photographing because they measure the light falling on an object, not reflected off of it. Exposure does have an effect on color rendering, so getting a great exposure is very important.
2. The next step is to use the White Balance Card to create a custom white balance in my camera. Even though I am always shooting RAW, having the custom white balance done saves me time later when processing because the correct white balance has already been assigned. During times when that isn’t practical (say during the rush of a wedding day) I’ll take a quick shot of the white balance card I can use it as a large reference to White Balance later in software.
3. Lastly, I take a shot of the Classic ColorChecker Target and the enhancement target together. From this one image I can quickly create a DNG profile for my camera and also have the enhancement target available for warming and cooling images later on in both Lightroom and Photoshop.
4. After I create the DNG Profile in Lightroom, it is available for all of the images taken with that particular camera. Here’s a quick sample of the same flower shot before and after the profile has been applied. Notice all of the color that had been lost in the magenta of the flowers that was instantly restored! You may also notice the intensity of the green leaves in the right side after image as well. Just one click and I’m done – hours of time saved and all the beautiful color is back in my image.
By simply going into the Develop Module of Lightroom and choosing my camera profile under the Camera Calibration tab, I’ve restored the color of the original scene with one click. In future posts I’ll explore the profile creation process (it’s very easy!) in both Lightroom and Photoshop’s Adobe Camera RAW and the benefits it brings under different lighting conditions. As always – more to follow!