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Creating DNG Profiles with the ColorChecker Passport.


by eduardoangel – October 27th, 2009

by Joe Brady

In my previous post, I discussed the process of putting the ColorChecker Passport to work during a photo session. Let’s take a look more closely at the DNG Profile creation in Lightroom® with the DNG Profile Export plug-in and for use by Photoshop® with the Desktop Camera Calibration application and Adobe® Camera RAW.

As a quick review, my process is as follows:

1. Meter the scene using a handheld meter for the most accurate exposure

2. Create a custom white balance using the white balance card

3. Take a shot showing both the ColorChecker Passport Classic Target and the new Enhancement Target

Let’s Go Into Lightroom

If you did not do a custom white balance in camera or suspect there might have been a problem when you created one, you can also apply a white balance in Lightroom after the fact. Since all the images we’re going to edit still need a correct white balance, I would use the white balance card photo for the session using Lightroom’s white balance selector – easily accessed in both the Library and Develop modules by typing the “W” key. While it is true that you can also use a white patch from the Classic Target, the larger area of the White Balance card gives you more leeway should there be shadows or sensor dust in the way on the smaller patches of the Classic Target.

Now we’re ready to create our DNG Profile

Select your image with the Classic Target in it and from either the Library or Develop Modules, select File-Export as Preset-ColorChecker Passport. The plug-in will automatically find the target and generate a DNG Profile from the image. When complete, the plug-in asks you to give the profile a name and reminds you that Lightroom will need to be restarted to see the newly created DNG Profile.

Export with preset - CCName ProfileProfile generated su#4034C0

The image below shows a detail of a scene with a flag before and after the application of the profile we created – notice the return of the intensity of the colors, thereby saving a lot of time trying to get back the colors lost through a generic profile.

LR Before-after prof#4163AB

DNG Profile Creation in Photoshop

The path to create a profile for Photoshop is a little different and takes a few more steps. The desktop camera calibration application takes care of this for us. To use this software we need to supply it with a DNG file that includes the Classic Target. This is easily accomplished in Adobe Camera RAW by choosing the image with the ColorChecker and then clicking on “Save image”.

S5 St. Augustine DNG save

“Save image” is a button at the bottom left in the window and its dialog box offers you save options. Choose .dng as your file type and save it in a location you can easily remember. I have a folder called “DNG Exports” that I keep all of my DNG files in. Now that we have a .dng file of our target, we can open the desktop application.

Here’s a shot of the desktop application waiting for an image. You can either drag a file onto the application or click File-Add Image. The software then locates the target in the image.

Desktop app screenadd DNG to Desktop app

If the target is too small and the software has trouble locating the ColorChecker target, you can click on the corner marks on the ColorChecker target and drag the green corner dots to insure that each square is being correctly selected. Then click Create Profile and the software does its magic.

image in desktop app

Desktop app profile #4034AE

Once restarted, your applications can then use the profile. Let’s go back to Adobe Camera RAW and see where to apply the profile.

Back in Photoshop, we open the RAW image or images we wish to apply our new DNG profile to. This is found under the Camera Calibration Tab in the in Adobe Camera RAW processor as shown in the image below.

Camera Calibration t#4034ACProfile apply in ACR

Click on the camera icon, select your profile name and open your image – it’s that easy. If you choose multiple images, click on Select All and Synchronize by selecting the Camera Calibration button. Your images now have the DNG profile applied and you have all the color back that had been missing! When you open the image in Photoshop, the profile is now embedded in the image.

Once again, having a DNG profile for your camera under a specific lighting condition (sunny, cloudy, tungsten, flash, shade, etc.) will correctly bring out the colors that were in your original capture and save you hours of color editing time on all of your RAW images.

Categories: Ambient, Cameras, ColorChecker, Displays, Education, How-To, ICC, Lighting, Perception, Profiles, RGB, Targets, White Balance | Tags: , , , , , , ,

12 responses to “Creating DNG Profiles with the ColorChecker Passport.”

  1. Denny says:

    In how many different lighting situations do you suggest us to make a camera profile? Is it really necessary to create a profile for every shoot you do or should you just have a basic list of different lighting conditions like you listed?

  2. glen says:

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  3. Ruslan says:

    Guys, I just tested your DNG Profile Manager and compared results with ones generated by Adobe profile. Unfortunately yours have very strong yellow cast.

    System I’m using is: Windows 7 x64, Photoshop CS5 x32, Nikon D700, X-Rite ColorChecker Mini.


    • Hi Ruslanv,
      Sometimes it’s unclear to folks that we recommend doing the white balance after the profile is applied. White balance and profile are separate functions. I suspect that the profile was generated and properly applied but the final step of white balancing on either one of the neutral patches OR one of the warming or cooling patches was omitted. Please let us know how it goes!
      Brenda K. Hipsher

      • Jonni S. says:

        Thank you Brenda! I have been trying to figure out for ages why mine was not working correctly and you just hit the nail on the head. I need to do my profile correction first and then use the WB tool. Thank you so much! 🙂

  4. crgsen says:

    When taking a first shot of the passport at a baseline 0 exposure. (with just the white or next to white patch clipping) Should you take a second shot, lowering the compensation to retain detail in the white patch?

    Or shoot the larger gray card included in the passport?

    (assuming user can invert the original pic and find the white point there)

    In landscape shots, is it possible to shoot the passport to get more accurate colors, or rely on the generated profiles for the specific camera and lenses? Doesn’t the passport and (distant) landscape need to be in focus to better match the color differences?

    Also the same with macro shots. Should the focus be on mainly the subject(s), and the passport. Or mainly the subject with a slight defocus on passport? (ideal is both in focus) Not every shot can include the card, so most will use the profiles.

    • Brenda K. Hipsher says:

      Great questions. Let’s see if we can deal with them one at a time. On a ColorChecker classic target, which is the target that the software uses to produce the profile, the patch closest to white is the patch that is recommended for use as a white balance patch. Ideally your proper exposure for the Passport shot would not clip that patch. If it is blown out then there might be a danger that the rest of the color chart would also be too overexposed to give you a good profile. You can use the larger white patch but it is included primarily for those who want to do in camera white balance or someone like yourself who would like to have a larger patch to use for neutral.

      Second question is about using Passport for landscape photography. Generally any profile made with ColorChecker Passport will give you a more accurate color rendering for the scene because the profiles made with Passport are specific to your particular color sensor in your camera. Each sensor is slightly different from another. And conditions in particular locations can vary. For instance dust particles or other environmental phenomenon could create a situation where a profile shot in full sun daylight in Manhattan might be considerably different than a full sun daylight in the middle of the Sahara. When shooting the Passport for landscape it does need to be in focus for the software to be able to discern the patches. The focus on the landscape in the shot used for the profile doesn’t matter. The software is only seeking out the ColorChecker Classic, aligning to its corners, and evaluating the patches themselves.

      The same formula applies for macro… the Passport should be in focus for the profiling shot. In both cases the Passport should be in the same lighting conditions as your subject.

      If you’re in rapidly changing lighting situations (for instance sun and shade) consider a dual illuminate profile to cover the range of color temperatures you’ll be dealing with for the shoot and shoot the passport for white balance only when the lighting changes.

      We hope this is helpful to you and thanks for the great questions.

  5. John Howard says:

    My new camera will produce a Raw and DNG together. My Photoshop is old: v7. Can I make and use these DNG camera profiles with the ColorChecker passport Desktop Camera Calibration application and my older version of Photoshop or must I buy Lightroom or a newer Photoshop?

    Thanks for any clues

    • Brenda K. Hipsher says:

      These are very good questions John. Let’s take them one at a time.
      First, I don’t know if the ColorCalibration Software will accept a DNG stright out of your camera. But it’s a very simple operation to find out. Just shoot the ColorChecker Passport on your camera. Open the ColorCalibration Software. Drag the DNG of the Passport from your camera into the software window. If it produces a profile… Voila! If not, then you’ll need to use a Raw file and process that one shot of the Passport to DNG before you drag that into the software.

      As for whether you need an upgrade to a newer Photoshop, that would depend on several things. Does your version of Camera Raw process files from your camera? If so, then the version you have does everything you need done to make a camera profile. Does your version of camera raw allow you to assign a camera profile? Does it recognize a profile that you create? (Remember if you create a profile with any Adobe application open you will need to close it and reopen it in order for the application to “see” the new profile.) Does your version of Photoshop allow you to batch process several files when assigning a camera profile and white point? If all of these things function well then nothing having to do with the ColorChecker Passport would force you to move to a newer version of Photoshop.

      Hope this addresses your questions.

  6. David Petrofsky says:

    Is there a way I can use this software and colorchecker to make profiles to simulate the color modes in the camera? For instance, I have an LX5 and shoot RAW, and I would like to make profiles to simulate the JPEG modes for things like sunset and landscape where they use different color interpretations to bring out different things. Camera Raw gives those kinds or profiles for the expensive cameras, but for LX5 all I get is “Adobe Standard.” Creating a neutral profile would be great and I’ll probably do that, but I’d like to also get the custom color mode profiles like the DSLR people get. I realize this is a challenge since the special modes cannot be done in RAW/DNG and so the camera has already interpreted the sensor data, but I was hoping there is a known way, other than doing individual HSL tweaks by eye for hours.

    • Brenda K. Hipsher says:

      Thanks for your question. If I’m understanding it right you want to apply a custom profile to the processing done inside the camera when shooting JPEG. There’s no option for doing that with Camera Calibration software. If you are shooting RAW and processing in Photoshop or Lightroom the possibilities are endless. But using that profile for the JPEG processing inside the camera is not available.
      Thanks so much for the question,
      Brenda K. Hipsher

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