X-rite Photo recently updated their ColorChecker Passport plug-in for compatibility with Adobe Lightroom 3. If you feel that the camera calibration profiles supplied by Adobe with Lightroom and Camera Raw aren’t quite measuring up to your requirements then it might be worthwhile in investing in the ColorChecker Passport. Everything you need to create and manage your own camera profiles is supplied with the kit.
The ColorChecker chart is built into a passport sized hard plastic case for protection, and should fit neatly into pretty much any camera bag or pocket. In addition, and as can be seen from the screenshots the standard ColorChecker target is complimented with Creative Enhancement and Grey Balance targets. The Creative Enhancement target includes off-white patches designed to aid the process of warming or cooling images.
The general idea with the ColorChecker Passport is that you place it somewhere in the scene and capture a image or two. These should be representative of the lighting conditions under which subsequent images will be shot. When you return to your workplace you can choose between using the ColorChecker software in standalone mode or as a Lightroom plugin. In standalone mode the images of the ColorChecker need to be converted to Adobe’s DNG format as this is the only format that the ColorChecker software can read. Once the images have been converted they should be opened into the ColorChecker software (figure 1). The software should automatically find the target, leaving you with little more to do than click the Create Profile button. You can stick with the automatically generated profile name or insert your own, after which the profile will be saved to the correct folder on your hard disk.
Figure 1 – ColorChecker Standalone Application
The ColorChecker application software can also create what are known as Dual Illuminant profiles. These are profiles that can be used with images taken under either natural or artificial lighting.
I’ve been using the ColorChecker Passport since it was first released and have been very pleased with the results. In particular, I find the Creative Enhancement target to be a very useful aid with photographs that require a small amount of warming or cooling.
The ColorChecker Passport is a must have addition to your photographic kit, especially if you find yourself photographing variable light conditions or just want to have camera calibration profiles that reflect the characteristics of your specific camera.