Hello everyone, I am hoping for some advice as to what steps I might take to improve my current camera profile, or any other workflow suggestions ... I just don't want to waste money or time on anything that won't make much difference - and looking at all of the different products our there for camera color management that all promise improvement and so on ...
... just hoping for some guidance to help sort this out.
I have a portrait studio, we do lots of copy work of old photos. Most of the photos we get are faded / old / dirty, so we are fooling with the colors and tones no matter what. 20% of what we get we are hoping to match the original. We can currently do that pretty close with a few tweaks - current profile skin tone is a little more red and a little less yellow and the blues / greens are not as strong as they should be, I can live with this and adjust the images but since these are important colors in a lot of images, I am hoping for improvement.
We copy everything using a Nikon D3 with a nikon 60mm macro, 80A filter, polarizing filter on camera and polarizing sheets in front of tungsten lights (halogen i think). We have the X-Rite ColorChecker and the Datacolor Studio Kit that includes the SpyderCheckr and the print calibration spectro meter. A number of years age I created profiles using the adobe dng profile editor with the color checker target and also profiles with SpyderCheckr target and software. I ended up liking the Spyder better for color, just had to dial the saturation way down after I opened it up in Photoshop. A week ago I started testing again to see if I could improve things and made some interesting discoveries ... I read in another thread here that the Datacolor system is 'bogus' - I am not trying to defend Datacolor here, just giving a history of what I have and what I have done so far
For the camera white balance I set the kelvin in the camera, fine tuned and re-shot until I got it as close as possible to neutral. These are the steps I have done (omitting random testing to figure out what I am doing)
1) Made a profile with the ColorChecker and the X-rite passport software per instructions.
2) Made 3 profiles with the SpyderCheckr per instructions using 3 different camera profiles, first using Adobe Standard, then neutral and finally mode 1 (since we use that in our studio for our portraits). Datacolor documentation says it doesn't matter which camera profile you use, just use the same one you created the profile with - not what I found, there is some variation between each profile created.
3) I then read the ColorChecker patches with my spectro and recorded each of the lab values (they were pretty close to the published values on the X-rite site). Used Photoshop in Adobe (1998) space to determine RGB values for each of those readings.
4) Opened ColorChecker image in each profile in ACR in the Adobe (1998) space (which adjustes the HSL slides in ACR, set the camera profile to the same one used to create the 'profile', used Tone Curve / Point Curve to create a curve to match the actual readings from the spectra readings for the grey values across the bottom of the chart (#19 to #24) - saved each as a preset. The greater the contrast of the camera profile the bigger the curve ended up being to reverse it.
All 4 presets are slightly different visually when clicking back and forth in a few of the color patches - no difference perceived in the grey patches. When physically looking at the ColorChecker none of the profiles match #2 and the blue green in the upper right corner - the #2 skin tone patch looks more red and the blue green patch looks different (writing this from home - don't remember what direction it is off). All of the new profiles do give me more separation in the shadows so that is a good thing!
My budget is up to around $400 for improvements if appropriate, I am looking for suggestions on whether I should purchase a different target and/or on using/purchasing different profiling software.
Thanks in advance!