Thursday, 10 March 2011

Checker Board

I treated myself to an X-Rite Color [sic] Checker Passport at Focus on Imaging on Tuesday.  It's a very clever piece of kit indeed, and a huge amount of thought has gone into its design.  The first test for it was to make a proper camera profile for my Panasonic LX3, as I've never been truly happy with the "Adobe Standard" version provided with ACR and Lightroom.  Skies always used to have a cyan cast, and some reds were pushed towards yellow/orange.

Based on an experiment which took all of 2 minutes in the car park at work, the results are very impressive.  All I did was to photograph the passport in daylight, then process the image in the Lightroom plugin which came with the product.  Out pops a colour profile which can then be applied to other images, and I've included a selection here.  In all cases, the original (Adobe) profile is on the left; the new (X-Rite) profile is on the right.

The ColorChecker Passport in action

It's possible to make "joint" profiles from pictures taken under two completely different lighting conditions (e.g. daylight and tungsten).  According to the documentation, this should improve the performance further in the sense that the profile generated should work for a greater variety of source images.  It's also possible to make custom profiles for specific situations simply by including the passport in one of the RAW pictures taken under the same lighting conditions as the rest of the set.  This should help enormously in colour-critical jobs, such as photographing paintings or quilting/textiles, or locations with mixed lighting such as church interiors.

I'll report further when I've had a chance to experiment with my other camera bodies...