X-Rite ColorChecker Passport – first glance

Today I picked up an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport.  This is a little gadget and an accompanying software package that is designed to help you get accurate colors for your photos.  I think it will be more useful in studio situations than in the field under gym lights, but it was a bit of an eye opener from the first time I used it today.

The basic premise is that when you have new and unfamiliar lighting, you shoot a copy of the Passport.  Then you feed this into the software, which analyzes the Passport (since it has known color values) and it will create a Camera Raw profile specific to that device and the lighting that it was shot in.

I set it up in my studio, aimed one Alien Bee at it, and checked the metering with my light meter (f/7,1, ISO 200, 1/200 shutter).  I used the grey card panel of the Passport to set a custom white balance on my camera, then took a photo of the Passport with a Nikon D4 set according to the light meter.  Fed it into the software to generate a profile, then imported it into Lightroom to play with various camera profiles.  The photos attached here show the various changes.

The main thing I noticed is that the Adobe Standard profile, in this case, seems a lot closer calibrated to the Passport than the “Camera Standard” profile.  Since Nikon RAW files do not have their scene mode recorded in a way that Lightroom can use, this was kind of interesting to me.  I know that Adobe makes the “Camera Raw” settings for each camera, but their “Camera Standard” is very unsaturated and kind of drab compared to the other two.  I personally think the Passport-calibrated version looks best of the three and most accurate to what I was shooting.

Tomorrow I’ll try it with a real person, and we’ll see what happens!

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