I made these color calibration example pictures the other day and I thought they did a good job of illustrating color calibration so I thought I would share them here.
These images show the difference in color response when using a custom DNG profile vs. the Adobe standard profiles in Lightroom/ACR. Half the image has the custom profile, the other half is using the Adobe Standard profile.
Many people here talk about monitor calibration but calibration of your camera sensor can also play a role in your output. The colors depicted in the pictures were much closer to reality when using the custom profile vs. the Adobe standard profile.
BTW this is using my D80 camera- but if the system works you should be getting the same color results no matter what camera you use.
#1. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 0Fri 02-Jul-10 11:25 AM
Very good comments made demonstrably clear by your examples. Please give us more detail, particularly regarding production of the DNG custom profile. Also, how did you merge the two images into one display?
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#2. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 0esantos Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Fri 02-Jul-10 12:19 PM
Good work Norman!
It might also be helpful to add a thin black or white line where the transition is, it's a little hard to see. Plus tagging which is which with a small text title would also help to know which has the profile and which doesn't.
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#3. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 2KenLPhotos Nikonian since 26th Jul 2009Sat 03-Jul-10 08:43 AM | edited Sun 04-Jul-10 10:19 AM by KenLPhotos
This looks like it can be a good source of information with a bit more detail. What is the camera too?
One way to combine images is to mask half of one and overlay the other. We will have to wait for Norman's process.
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#9. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 0
Sorry about the disappearing pics. I did a little changing on the back end where I host my pictures and forgot that it would "break" this post. I have put them back up again.
A little more detail on the pics themselves- I merely exported 2 versions of each in LR, one with the adobe standard calibration profile and the other with the custom one. I then opened each in PS and cut one in half, copy/pasted it above the other version, and saved that overlay image.
Regarding the actual calibration process, it's merely the X-rite passport profiler software used in conjunction with my colorchecker chart. The software is a free download so anyone can use it so long as they have a color chart. The link is: (http://xritephoto.com/ph_product_overview.aspx?action=support&id=1257) The software works both as a plugin for LR or a standalone program. X-rite has a video on their website demonstrating how it works if you want to see the process.
I have been very impressed with the reproducibility and enhancement that this kind of calibration provides, particularly if you are shooting colorful subjects. After calibration, the colors of things in the photos I take is exactly as I remember them. This really helps when I decide to pick a subject because of its coloring, because then I have no difficulty exactly replicating what I saw with my eyes in my image. Before I would take a picture of some brilliant flowers but be a little let down by the color results afterwards when looking at it on the screen.
I only have taken my big chart with me shooting once or twice, mainly to get images to test this profiling software with. I wish I had a smaller chart but darn if that little passport isn't expensive! $100 for a small version of the chart and software they offer online for free , whereas you can buy the big chart for almost half that. But I do find the big chart too cumbersome to really take with me in the field.
In lieu of re-doing the images with a line, here's the legend though in case you are having trouble seeing the transition:
Pic 1: left half calibrated, right half default
Pic 2: top half calibrated, bottom half default
Pic 3: upper right calibrated, lower left default
#10. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 9Thu 08-Jul-10 11:18 AM
Thanks, Norman. And thanks for giving the heads up on which half of the picture is calibrated! I must say that that without seeing the actual subjects it is hard to assess colour accuracy, and in any case to my eyes pictures 2 and 3 are so close that one wonders about the point of calibration. You have very good equipment.
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#11. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 10Thu 08-Jul-10 04:50 PM
It is indeed hard to judge accuracy without having been there to see the actual subject yourself. It should also go without saying that the accuracy of your monitor also impacts how you perceive these images.
IMO there is a pretty clear difference in 2- the top half is showing a purple flower whereas the bottom half looks more blue than purple to my eyes.
#3 the difference is more subtle, the purples in the flowers is more apparent in the calibrated half. Also the background (which was green grass) is a lot greener as opposed to almost yellowish in the uncalibrated portion.
It does go to show that some colors typically get affected more than others (Adobe's conversions have traditionally been weak in the reds/oranges and purples have always been hard to reproduce digitally) but beyond hue accuracy, the calibration also seems to help with bringing out contrast in many situations as well.
My equipment does okay, but there are those times when I wish I had newer gear!
#12. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 11Fri 09-Jul-10 11:28 AM
Ah. Norman, I must bow to your opinion - I am hampered by red green colour deficient vision and have difficulty with purples. (My wife tells me that I tend to assess things by tone rather than "chroma"). For those who would like to see how I and many others perceive the world, open an image in CS4, go to View>Proof Setup>Protanopia Type. A normal colour vision person should see a distinct change in colour - the "red-green" colour deficient person sees no change.
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#13. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 9
Thanks for providing more information. Your images show the differences pretty dramatically on my profiled 27" iMac.
I created an X-rite profile for my D700 last year. I sort of lost track of that work due to an overload of information including purchase of a ColorMunki and subsequent profiling of my display and several printer/ink/paper combinations. I just took another look at the X-Rite generated D700 profile and note that it matches the current CS5 Adobe Standard profile closely on the couple of images that I viewed. That brings up more questions, however.
As I read X-Rite's instructions, it appears that one should (at best) take a calibration shot for each shoot's specific lighting condition, or (at least) take calibration shots for several probable shooting conditions such as daylight, cloudy, incandescent, etc. Given that these selections appear in the "White Balance" edit panel and the calibration-generated X-Rite (D700) profile appears in the "Camera Calibration" panel, I believe that proper use of the tool gets pretty complex. The "Camera Profile" area offers selections which I perceive to be perceptual decisions which include Neutral, Standard, Portrait, Vivid, etc. plus the new D700 profile made by the Photographer/Editor. This leads me to believe that I should set the camera for a "White Balance" choice and a "Perceptual" choice and use that to take a calibration shot which I should then identify as being associated with both choices. Gets somewhat lengthy and detailed.
Am I understanding this concept correctly or do you think I'm over-complicating things?
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#14. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 13Fri 16-Jul-10 08:07 PM
I think I'm a little confused on your workflow. How can you select a white balance and a perceptual calibration when you're in the field shooting the calibration chart?
Here's how I understand it:
Shoot the calibration shot in RAW (if your shots are in RAW), white balance setting in the camera does not matter in this case (just make sure you aren't blowing out a color channel that's all), as it just scales the R,G,B values in post. If you shoot JPEG I think you just need to shoot the chart with the same in-camera settings as you shoot your pictures.
Once you import the RAW picture of the color chart, neutralize the photo using the WB eyedropper on one of the grey patches (not 100% sure if this is necessary? Should do some testing on this)
After neutralization, run the profile creator. It gives you a profile.
Restart LR, pick your photo that you want to calibrate. Go down to calibration and choose the new profile. Image should change (hopefully for the better!).
Go up to the WB section and set WB to your liking, be it accurate via eyedropper or tweaked a little to confer a little "mood".
I think the difference between the WB and the calibration profile is that the WB change is global, i.e. turn the WB up and everything gets yellower/warmer. Choosing a custom calibration profile, however, affects the response of each color differently, according to what was measured using the chart. Reds might get more intense but not at the cost of blowing greens, etc. Purples may change in hue but it won't mess up the yellows, etc.
I suppose technically you could manually tweak the color channel controls in LR to achieve a very similar effect, but you would not really know which slides to move and how in order to get the accurate response. You'd be working from memory.
FWIW I originally bought my colorchecker chart almost 2 years ago when I was learning about all of this. At that time, the handy X-rite tool did not exist but Adobe had released the DNG profiler (side note: the X-rite software is really little more than a custom front-end bolted onto Adobe's DNG profiler. I suspect this is why the software is freely available online). I shot two pictures of the chart and made a dual-illuminant profile for my camera which I have used ever since. It does a very good job at calibrating all my pictures, but after these most recent experiments with actual on-site "scene specific" calibrations, I can see some further improvement compared to the interpolated dual-illuminant profile I have been using. I think for general subjects the dual illuminant is okay- but if it's a colorful subject like flowers, then there is still benefit to be had by shooting the chart in the field.
#15. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 14Sat 17-Jul-10 01:38 PM
It was confusing because my intent was to develop some pre-set profiles that I could just call up if I chose not to take and develop the shoot-specific profile. The D700 does allow you to select a White Balance and a Picture Control setting and I thought that selecting ones that were as close as possible to the shooting conditions would provide an "idealized" starting point for the shoot that would allow the most "accurate" capture of information. I know that the RAW data is not affected by these settings, however, the editor (me) would be provided with a visual reminder of what he saw at the time of the shoot when he opened the file in NX2 and looked at his image with his in-camera selections.
My guess is that an image taken this way would appear to be nearly identical to the image produced by the ColorChecker/DNG profiler if the exposures were close. Anyway, I think this attempt at perfection is probably a waste of time on my part. I usually just set White Balance to Auto and Picture Control to Standard and get good results. Setting Picture Control to a shoot-specific ColorChecker profile gives even better results.
The rest of your description is excellent. If I take the tiny amount of time to shoot the color chart at the beginning of the shoot and then tune White Balance with the Eye Dropper, things turn out very well. I agree with your assessment of "Dual Illuminant" profiles; they were a similar attempt to my trying to have a preset profile and just don't work as well as your current method.
Another method that does work as well is shoot-specifically pre-setting white balance in-camera with something like a CBL lens (I found an old, faded to very light grey, sweat shirt worked as well). I think I prefer the additional information available from the ColorChecker, however.
Thanks for providing your additional insights.
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#16. "RE: Color calibration example pictures" | In response to Reply # 15Sat 24-Jul-10 06:57 PM
Sorry I forgot to follow up on this.
I think if you were to try your experiment, and find the "optimum" settings and then compare them to ones calibrated with a CCC you would find the results would always be different, or put differently that it would be impossible to pick "correct" in-camera settings. Now actually I think it *is* possible to do this by using the custom tone curve uploading function but I have not looked at that in a long time and don't remember if that is what that feature was designed to accomplish.
The color profile that NX2 gives to RAW images faithfully reproduces the colors seen on the camera LCD or JPEG preview, but that does not necessarily mean it's "accurate" in an absolute sense. It is actually done this way on purpose. Nikon has their own "look" they incorporate into their images and the reason for the Capture NX software is actually to preserve this "look" when shooting in RAW.
That is why CCC calibration has historically been so important when shooting product or fashion photography (really what most of these products are designed for), when shooting a Coke can for an ad the red has to match exactly the color of the actual can, because that trademark red color is so critical to the image of the company/product.
The dual illuminant profile I think is what you are looking for in your presets: that is, accurate color without having to shoot a CCC every time.