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Author Topic: How good is camera profiling really?  (Read 17562 times)

SZRitter

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How good is camera profiling really?
« on: January 10, 2013, 01:27:55 PM »

Hello all!

I have about $100 in giftcards to Amazon from the holidays, so I am considering getting a ColorChecker Passport. My question is, how well does profiling your camera really work. Getting accurate color (on profiled monitors) hasn't exactly been my strong suit. And I would like to be able to get there for some studio, portrait and even landscape shots. I know accurate isn't always pleasing, but I feel it would give you a good start to put a "look" on top of, ala the motion picture industry.

Also, if you do profile your camera, do you need to do it with each lens, or just once per camera?

I'm working with a Nikon D7000, Fuji X10, and Yashicamat EM (Trying Portra at the minute, but thinking I prefer slide films to negatives) in Adobe PS CS5. Even more cameras if I decide to profile the ones at work.

I'm also just starting Schewe's book on RAW processing. (Which made me wonder what motorcycle he rides...)
« Last Edit: January 10, 2013, 01:34:35 PM by SZRitter »
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AFairley

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 03:05:23 PM »

I find the Adobe profiles to be pretty darned good.  I can create a custom profile using the Color Checker and I can see a difference in some colors, but nothing that jumps out at me (calibrated ISP monitor).  I think the custom profiles are more useful/needed if you shoot under strange/mixed lighting.  Since I don't its not an issue for me.  OTOH, I am not a fanatic about color matching given the kind of work I do, all I want is color that looks pleasing in the final analysis.  I expect people who do color critical work (products, e,g.) would have a different take on it.
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SZRitter

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 03:23:32 PM »

I'm usually outside or under strobes, so mixed/strange lighting is not normally a problem. Occasionally there will be a location portrait, so daylight/strobe mix, but not usually an issue in balancing them.

One project I want to start is small tabletop setups of food, where I feel color accuracy would be critical. That, and more portraits. I really need to take more portraits and I have problems getting skin tones just right.
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Hening Bettermann

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 04:15:49 PM »

Hi
I find my own camera profile gives more accurate colors than Adobes canned profiles. I have not tested profiles for each lens.
Good light!

digitaldog

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2013, 04:16:08 PM »

The Passport (and custom DNG profiles) don't provide 'more accurate color' per se but they do produce a better color appearance in most cases. I've yet to see where a custom DNG profile didn't do a slightly better job in some colors compared to a canned one. You don't need more than two either, unless you are shooting under odd illuminants. I've done a number of workshops where the attendees build their own profile under daylight (takes no time at all) and the exercise has always seemed to show the custom profiles are preferred.

IF you already own a 24 patch Macbeth target, you can do all this for free. Just download the Passport software from X-rite or use the Adobe DNG profile editor.
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Andrew Rodney
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SZRitter

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 04:36:07 PM »

I guess 'more accurate' was a bad way to say it?

Something that gives me a good starting point no matter which camera I choose to work with.

I also don't own any 24 patch targets, just some Opteka white balance cards (only so-so on the results of them).

So far, it seems that it is a wise idea. Probably could shoot some film with them in daylight/strobe to also get a general idea for each film type (knowing there is probably variance for age/stock/etc).
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digitaldog

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2013, 04:42:24 PM »

If you don't own such a target, go for the Passport which is far more than just a 24 patch Macbeth (although that's in there too). The white balance variation target is really nice if you prefer to WB by seasoning by taste. It's the right size, protected.
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Andrew Rodney
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Hening Bettermann

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2013, 04:47:06 PM »

If you don't have the ColorChecker yet, you might as well consider a QP-card and software. Some people on this forum have reported good results with it.
www.qpcard.se/
With film you will need a profile for every combination of film stock and development.

SZRitter

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2013, 04:49:28 PM »

Couldn't find them on Amazon, and since this is giftcard money, kind of locked to Amazon.

On the other hand, the Passport looks to have dropped $10 in price...
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PeterAit

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2013, 05:19:15 PM »

Great photographers who did not profile their cameras, and would not have done so if they could: Weston, Adams, Strand, Atget, Cartier-Bresson, Caponigro, Friedlander, Arbus, etc etc etc.

Great photographers who did profile their cameras: ???
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Peter
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mac_paolo

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2013, 03:29:13 AM »

Great photographers who did not profile their cameras, and would not have done so if they could: Weston, Adams, Strand, Atget, Cartier-Bresson, Caponigro, Friedlander, Arbus, etc etc etc.

Great photographers who did profile their cameras: ???
You know that DNG profiles are aimed at color accuracy for digital shots, do you?  ::)
I don't read a lot of color digital photographers here. Caponigro: father or son?
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Fips

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2013, 05:02:28 AM »

I second what digitaldog is saying. Most of the times custom profiles only give minor improvements but in some situations they come extremely handy. With mixed light and highly saturated colors I often get much better results. Furthermore custom profiles allow more consistent results when shooting with different cameras. Very useful for photo books.
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SZRitter

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2013, 11:02:10 AM »

Great photographers who did not profile their cameras, and would not have done so if they could: Weston, Adams, Strand, Atget, Cartier-Bresson, Caponigro, Friedlander, Arbus, etc etc etc.

Great photographers who did profile their cameras: ???

That's a pretty unfair comparison. While I'll give you Arbus (not always the most technical of photographers), I would say at least Weston, Adams and Stieglitz would have. They approached film and processing with an edge of science and would no doubt have gladly profiled a sensor. In fact, I would think that profiling a sensor would be in the same vain (not exactly the same thing) as testing different films/emulsions and developers.


Everyone else, thank you. I am going to order the Passport tomorrow. Given the sheer amount of cameras, it's probably a good idea.
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stamper

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2013, 11:36:15 AM »

Look at this article on the site from a couple of years ago and scroll down to the line that says ......The bottom Line. The conclusion surprised me.

Quote

How good are these profiles created by Colorchecker Passport? Are they as good as the standard Dual Illuminant ones that Adobe creates and includes with camera Raw and Lightroom?

Likely not, since Adobe uses calibrated light sources and a much larger set of colour patches to make their profiles.

Unquote

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/accessories/colorchecker-psssport.shtml

Fips

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2013, 12:04:32 PM »

Quote
......The bottom Line. The conclusion surprised me.

But let's quote the actual "bottom line" too:

"In summary, I now regard the xrite Colorchecker Passport as a must-have – a standard part of my field kit. It's a simple as that." 

I agree that perfect a perfect profile cannot be expected from a mere 24 color patches and no calibrated light source. But the point IMHO is that with the Passport, or any other such device for that matter, you don't have to rely one this one very specific profile. Just make a profile anytime accurate color reproduction is required and then take the one which gives the best results.
Personally, I found that profiles under four different lighting conditions are sufficient for 99.5% of my images: dawn, dusk, sunny, and overcast. I don't do profiles for individual lenses by the way.
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SZRitter

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2013, 12:12:01 PM »

Same article:

Quote
In summary, I now regard the xrite Colorchecker Passport as a must-have – a standard part of my field kit. It's a simple as that.

Seems he/she is in favor of it.
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PeterAit

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2013, 04:16:48 PM »

You know that DNG profiles are aimed at color accuracy for digital shots, do you?  ::)
I don't read a lot of color digital photographers here. Caponigro: father or son?

Yes, I know. And it is most certainly the father. Do you really think the son, as nice as his photos are, would be in that list?
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Peter
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stamper

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2013, 04:36:09 AM »

Quote Fips

But let's quote the actual "bottom line" too:

"In summary, I now regard the xrite Colorchecker Passport as a must-have – a standard part of my field kit. It's a simple as that." 

Unquote

He reckons it is inferior to the Adobe product but a must have? I see a contradiction that put any thoughts of spending £70 out of my mind. I don't really see the point of setting accurate colour and then possibly changing the hue, saturation or contrast of a particular colour in LR/ACR . If you are saving for web then it is a pointless exercise?

mac_paolo

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Re: How good is camera profiling really?
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2013, 05:48:42 AM »

Yes, I know. And it is most certainly the father. Do you really think the son, as nice as his photos are, would be in that list?
To me? Yes.
Anyway, I just asked that because I found silly questionable to ask about DNG profiling in a list of people with B&W film shooters.
Bring one of them into life again and most probably he will embrace both digital and DNG profiling as well.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2013, 08:45:06 AM by mac_paolo »
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