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User Review

PictoColor

Canon D30

inCamera Photoshop Plug-in

By: Ian Lyons

A Computer Darkroom Review

 

This short review discusses the recently released digital camera and scanner ICC profiling plug-in for Adobe Photoshop from PictoColor Corporation. This new version of  inCamera is based on the already widely acclaimed and proven digital camera and scanner profiling technologies underlying previous PictoColor products and features an easy to use interface.

Readers of Computer-Darkroom will already be aware of my liking for inCamera Professional. I have received numerous emails since publishing my original inCamera review and many readers have since purchased their own copy. Judging by their comments many are now successfully producing their own digital camera profiles.

inCamera Plug-in includes the digital camera ICC profiling technology previously included with inCamera Professional 3.1 an supports both GregtagMacbeth ColorChecker charts plus a scanner ICC profiling facility supporting various IT8 targets. The scanner profiling component of the Plug-in is based upon the module found in ColorSynergy 4.5. PictoColor provide a wealth of guidance on using inCamera Plug-in along with various tips and FAQ's so I won't go into the how's and wherefores of using it.

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ColorChecker Chart

DC ColorChecker Chart

IT8 7/x

At 3.1 the version number is the same since the technology and features as inCamera Professional remain unchanged from the standalone version. That said the algorithms used within inCamera Plug-in result in profiles that  have been improved compared to those produced by the inCamera module bundled with ColorSynergy 4.5 (inCamera 3.0). The changes made relative to inCamera Professional are minor and effect only specular highlights.  inCamera Plug-in is compatible with Photoshop 5 and higher ineaither: Win 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, Mac OS 9.2 or OSX.

inCamera Plug-in has a fairly clean and simple interface with options to select the appropriate Chart Type and associated Data Reference File. The ability to maximise the plug-in window to the maximum size (Use Largest Window) of the desktop is a useful touch and should ensure that users don't get into a tangle trying to align the grid. Even greater selection accuracy can be achieved by using the Zoom feature. The checkbox labelled Brighter is provided as a visual aid for those users who prefer to build profiles for their digital camera in linear mode. It brightens the preview image but has no effect on the actual ICC profile. Ignore Glossy allows the user to prevent inCamera from measuring the 8 glossy patches on the DC ColorChecker chart since these can sometimes result in poor profiles.

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Building an ICC Profile for a Digital camera

As noted earlier inCamera Plug-in can also be used to build ICC profiles for film and reflective type scanners. The process involved is relatively simple involving little more than the user scanning the IT8 type target into Photoshop and then activating the inCamera Plug-in via the Filter menu. Once the profile is built it can be assigned to all future images using the Photoshop Assign Profile command. Alternatively, if your scanning software supports ICC profiles you can assign the new profile directly within it. Either way your images will benefit from much greater colour accuracy.

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Building an ICC Profile for a Film Scanner

inCamera Plug-in also includes a unique option for building profiles for colour negative films. To build such a profile the user photographs the ColorChecker chart and then makes a scan of the negative. I have not tried this feature so cannot comment upon its accuracy.

All ICC profiles built by inCamera Plug-in have a resolution of 16bits which ensures greater accuracy than the more conventional 8bit profiles. It's also worth noting that inCamera Plug-in still remains one of the very few profilers capable of building accurate linear raw mode profiles for the Canon D30. I'm not quite sure why this should be, but I'm very glad that it does since the D30 is particularly sensitive to overexposure and this forces me (and many other users) to use linear raw mode rather than the more conventional output formats.

By providing inCamera Plug-in PictoColor certainly seem keen to capitalise on the success of inCamera Professional, but they've done so at a price point that should prove irresistible for those who have been yearning for a low cost alternative to the various standalone options. However, in delivering inCamera Plug-in for $134.95 PictoColor have omitted the monitor calibration and profile editing modules found as standard in inCamera Professional. I'm not privy to future product lines from PictoColor but it could be worth their while creating a plug-in version of the profile editor. More details on inCamera Plug-in can be obtained at PictoColor's website.

PictoColor must have been reading my review because no sooner that it was published they notified me of an upgrade to iCorrect EditLab plug-in which now includes the ability to edit ICC input profiles. A review of iCorrect EditLab 4 can be found here.

The quality of the profiles created for my digital cameras and scanners match those obtained from the standalone application, and are better than those from ColorSynergy. Now that inCamera is available for Mac OS X I will have one less reason to boot my Mac into OS9 - that in itself is worth a smile.

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