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Let's take a look at the benefits of custom camera profiles. Did you know that to each camera manufacturer, there really isn't a standard value for red, green, and blue? Each camera maker has its own ideas of what the best color response is. That's why images taken with different cameras using the exact same settings will still result in a different rendering of color for the scene. For a wedding photographer with two or more shooters at event. If you're using different models or, even worse, different brands of cameras, trying to match the skin tones from one camera to another can be a nightmare.
You need a camera profile for each lighting spectrum you encounter. This doesn't mean color temperature. For example, you would use the same profile for all of your daylight shots, but you might adjust the White Balance. I like to have a custom camera profile for the different types of lighting I encounter. For example flash, tungsten, fluorescent, or mixed lighting. Now this is what a custom camera profile can do. It will allow everybody to be talking about the same color playing field. And creating a custom camera profile is very easy; let's take a look at doing just this.
To create a camera profile, you need a reference chart for the software to be able to figure out well what are those red, green, and blue values. There are a handful of different targets in the marketplace. My favorite is the ColorChecker Passport which you see right here, this is made by X-rite. It's a series of targets and some software that works with both Lightroom and the rest of the Adobe Creative Suite. I like using it in Lightroom, so let's just jump in there and see how it works. Creating a custom White Balance with a target like the ColorChecker is very simple. Really you just take a picture of it. You don't need to fill the screen.
Technically about a quarter of the screen's going to do you well. And just make sure you shoot a RAW file of it. You also have installed some software that allows this image to be used to create a custom camera profile. Sounds really complicated, watch how easy it is. With your image up, simply go to File, Export with Preset and after you've installed the software, you see ColorChecker Passport listed there. Click on that. Now this happened to be shot with a Fuji S5. So I'm just going to call it Fuju S5 Demo, and click on Save.
That's how complicated it is to create a custom camera profile. Just take a well exposed shot of the target. Bring it into your software. Tell me make a custom profile. This generally takes about 30 seconds to do. After the profile's been created you'll see Lightroom comes up with a message that Lightroom needs to be restarted in order to see the profile. However, like any good cooking show, I had one in the oven for you already, so we don't have to do that. So here we have our target. Where do you apply this custom camera profile? Well, in Lightroom and in Adobe Camera Raw, it's in the section called Camera Calibration, which is right here.
Now, by default, all your RAW files will get the Adobe standard. I found that some of the colors seemed to be lacking when you use this default. I'll ask you to take a closer look at these blue patches here. Watch what happens when I click on Profile and take the Fugi S5 Daylight profile I created earlier. Watch what happens to those patches. See the jump in color? Now, if you were holding this target out in front of you, you'd see that's what the colors really look like. Some of the intensity's been lost by this Standard default.
If I turn it back on, you can see what's happened. It's a dramatic change, not only in these blues but in these kind of purples and pinks, as well. Let's see what effect this actually has on a real image. Now if you've ever tried to take a picture of something that's got a lot of purple in it, a lot of cameras have trouble with that. And we can see from the Adobe Standard that these purple flowers, yeah, they're fine. But, what we're not really realizing is, they've lost a lot of color. Watch what happens to this image when we change it from the Standard profile to our custom profile.
Look at the dramatic change. That's the color that these flowers really were. Now, if we go ahead and Zoom In, you didn't even notice it really, because you're so interested in what's going on with the purple but the greens are moving as well. Take a look at these green leaves here. As I turn off the custom profile and then apply the custom profile again. And you can see the greens get their intensity back as well. The beauty of this is you only have to do it once for the shoot. In this case, I have a series of shots taken in a garden.
I can simply select all of them, go to Sync, and I'll check None first, because what we're after is White Balance. And we do want the Process Version, and Calibration, which is our custom profile. Click on Synchronize, and all the shots in our shoot are now custom profiled, they all have the same reference. If you create a custom profile, here's with the Fuji S5, only the S5 profiles show up. If I move over here, for example, here's a shot taken with my Sony Alpha 99.
If I go ahead and White Balance for this, which I can do by clicking on any of these gray patches, I'm still using the Adobe Standard. So if we scroll down again, here's the profile. Watch this patch as again, as I bring in the Sony 99 and notice that the Fugi ones are gone now. The software knows which camera took this shot, but watch the patch. And again, similar, in this case all three blues. A little bit less on this kind of egg plant color and this deep pink. One more time.
Adobe Standard. And our custom profile. Again, I have a whole series of shots here, shot with the Alpha 99, I can select them all, click on Sync, I want the White Balance, the Process Version, and the Calibration. Click on Synchronize, and my entire shoot now has perfect color.
- Understanding color spaces
- Understanding the color workflow for photography vs. design and web
- Setting up a digital camera for the best image results
- Choosing a monitor
- Calibrating a display using ColorMunki or i1Pro 2
- Choosing color settings in Photoshop
- Understanding color workflow in raw processing applications
- Creating a custom printer profile
- Soft-proofing images for printing on your own printer and for sending to a lab