My ColorChecker Classic XL Workflow – Ratko Asanovic
by Dave Mobbs – July 12th, 2019
Every camera captures color differently. There are many reasons why; it could be its sensor or perhaps how the camera handles white balance, or it might even be a cameras image processor. Every lens will react differently. Whatever the reason for why we are seeing inconsistent results, the need for color management imposes itself as the solution. Color managing your photographic workflow involves many steps, but for today’s article, I will specifically tackle one of X-Rite’s key tools: ColorChecker targets.
ABOUT THE COLORCHECKER
First off: there are many options depending on your production needs. Just to name a few: the ColorChecker Passport Photo 2, ColorChecker Passport Video, ColorChecker Digital SG, ColorChecker 18% Gray Balance and the good old trustworthy ColorChecker Classic and all of them serve their own purpose. But did I say ColorChecker Classic?! The “original” 24 patch is the colour industry standard for white balance correction and custom DNG and ICC profiling. So, no matter which camera you own, or whether you might use multiple camera bodies, you will rest assured that you can achieve color uniformity and color precision.
So, you might be asking yourself what is new and what could be better? Well, I was lucky enough to test the new ColorChecker Classic XL in Beta phase, so let me present my findings.
So, if you take a look at the previous photo, you can see all of these different ColorChecker targets laying over the pouch of this new ColorChecker Classic XL. Yes, it is that big! In fact, the precise dimension of the target is 53.34 x 37.45 cm! And as I have been informed by the good people from X-Rite, we also have the ColorChecker Nano. The Nano measures in at 25 x 40 mm for macro photography; the ColorChecker Classic Mega at 102 x 152 cm for extreme distance photography and drones; and the ColorChecker Video Mega for extreme distance filmmaking and drones. All of them fill an important purpose in the lineup.
WORKING WITH THE XL
ColorChecker Classic XL can include an optional high quality and well-padded pouch or case, which will help protect your chart on location or in storage. You may be wondering why you would need such a large chart if you have one of the existing ColorChecker targets. Well to put it simply, the ColorChecker Classic XL will be used for distance photography and drones; and trust me, since I have been testing this card, size really does matter. I’ll compare later with the ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 and ColorChecker Classic XL.
The software is still the ColorChecker Camera Calibration software, and consistent with all ColorChecker targets (mini, classic and passport), which makes a camera profile for the conditions at the moment of capture. Generated profiles can be used in Capture One, Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW.
ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 vs ColorChecker Classic XL
So, let’s look at the size comparison first. In the images below you can see the size of the ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 vs ColorChecker Classic XL.
With the images below, you can see the practical comparison in real-world situations. So, on the left, you can see the ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 and on the right, you can see the ColorChecker Classic XL. Now, why is this very important? I have mentioned before size does matter and it really does in this case. If you use one of the smaller targets for a distance shot like this when needing to capture most of the scene with the target visible for a better profile, you wouldn’t be able to create the profile since the target wouldn’t be visible and the software won’t be able to recognize the color chips from that distance.
With the image on the right, I was able to white balance the shot and produce the custom profile with the ColorChecker Camera Calibration Software since it was able to recognise the color chips due to their larger size. I later used that profile for all the other remaining shots, so that I could achieve an accurate color rendition that was true to life at the moment when the photos were taken.
Don’t touch the color chips on your ColorChecker target with fingers. Oil from the skin will affect color chip appearance and accuracy when making custom camera profiles. Also, depending on the usage of your ColorChecker targets, you should consider changing them every 2 years for optimal accuracy.
Since the main intention of this ColorChecker Classic XL is for distance photography and drones, I can use it for landscape, architecture, fashion, urban photography, interiors projects, etc. Personally, I do landscape photography, and based on my time spent with this chart, I find it very useful. Usually, before it, I would take the shot with a ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 to fill most of the frame, but it would lack the surrounding scenery. With the larger target, you can have a good chunk of the scenery visible within the shot, which will create a more accurate camera profile for that situation. So yes, the target is the same, but the application is better for those doing distance work, as it’s now even more versatile! I see it as a great addition to the photographer’s toolkit. And yes, you can use it still for the portraits!
Digital Imaging Expert and Nature, Landscape and Portrait Photographer, SRB
Ratko Asanović is multimedia designer, color management expert, teacher and passionate photographer.
“I have been in love with drawing since I was a child. Although I’m not a painter I see myself as an artist. My works are in the field of print and web design, photography and color management. I am professionally occupied with graphics and everything of that kind. Also I was a silver medalist for a project on state contest in architecture and civil engineering. Being deeply interested and truly qualified in what I do, the Techical College in Čačak, Serbia hires me so I teach students in the things I proved to be expert in.
Although I am employed and freelance artist too, I have worked with many renowned clients and companies and I have gained some great experience, especially in Italy where I have spent some time expanding my knowledge in things like digital printing on silk with printers that are using paste precoating, dye sublimation inks and accurate color reproduction on silky fabrics.
I’m passionate individual of strategic thinking, a creative mind and technical wizard. Very often I can be seen teaching at universities, seminars and workshops. And when i do not teach i’m providing consultancy services and working on personal projects.”