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Author Topic: Colorchecker Passport and Fine Art Reproduction  (Read 17823 times)
Roscolo
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« on: January 06, 2012, 02:08:11 PM »
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I am doing more and more fine art repro (paintings, oils, watercolors). Printing on HP z3100. NEC P221W monitor / Spectraview II calibrator.

My workflow has been primarily making adjustments on screen, which works fairly well, as depending on the painting I have to make changes to selective areas anyway. Some paintings take 5 minutes to get an acceptable proof. Some can take a few hours.

However, with the level of work I'm now getting I need to speed things up a bit if I can. Would like to hear from anyone using the Colorchecker Passport with fine art reproduction. Is it accurate enough / helpful for this kind of work? Any other product you would recommend?

thx
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bill t.
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2012, 03:04:39 PM »
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It works great!  I have started using it with my wife's pastel drawings.  It has taken hours off the process.  Can't recommend it enough.  Even shooting in direct sunlight the reproductions are excellent with almost no tweaking.  None of the canned Lightroom or ACR profiles can even come close.  It is especially effective with difficult colors like saturated reds and deep blues, which were previously nightmares to get right.  I shoot a chart for each piece.  On the 30 x 44 originals it's enough to have somebody just hold the chart near the center of the print, but be careful to position their arm not to get too much bounce off the flesh.

In the old days we used to shoot "Lilly" charts down at the corner of the Ektachromes, but it always seemed like the charts had a color balance a little different than the piece, which I believe had to do with surface texture and sub-surface scattering.  The Passport system doesn't seem to have that problem, bless its chromatic little soul. 
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Roscolo
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2012, 03:31:40 PM »
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It is especially effective with difficult colors like saturated reds and deep blues, which were previously nightmares to get right.

I believe you have read my mind. Thanks for the info, Bill. Your recommendation is good enough for me!

One more question: I just built a new workstation, but I would like to be able to put it on my old one as well. Can you install the included software on more than one computer?

« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 03:55:16 PM by Roscolo » Logged
ronmart
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2012, 07:32:06 PM »
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Randy Hufford has a great video on the subject of photographing fine art and reproducing it in print. If you are into fine art reproduction you might enjoy what he has to say. His laid back Hawaiian style throws some, but the man knows his stuff.

Ron
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Sheldon N
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2012, 09:37:17 PM »
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One more question: I just built a new workstation, but I would like to be able to put it on my old one as well. Can you install the included software on more than one computer?


Yes, I believe you can download the software for free from X-Rite and use it on as many computers as you want, once you own the color checker itself.
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Roscolo
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2012, 11:24:25 PM »
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Well, bought the Passport Colorchecker and just tried it out. Picked a painting with a lot of purples / magentas. Shot the chart, shot artwork under exact same conditions, built profile, applied profile, applied white balance.

On the training video the lady on the videos builds a profile and then applies it and says, "when you apply the profile you'll see THOSE COLORS ARE JUST POPPING RIGHT OUT!" Then she goes on to say, "You'll see it gives you a much richer, much more elegant look to your images." lol...what the hell is she talking about?!?  The purpose of color management is to get accurate repro of colors in a scene, not to "make colors pop out" or appear "richer, more elegant." Good luck communicating color management using those terms.

So, I was a little harsh on my first review, so I've edited this. I've played with with the Colorchecker Passport. It's OK. Maybe a slight advantage, but I can't say it's any huge advantage over Adobe's presets for repro of artwork.


« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 12:47:41 AM by Roscolo » Logged
bill t.
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2012, 12:44:35 AM »
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What?  I think the Passport it's the cat's meow for art repro!  Something's probably wrong.

How's the exposure?  If you have a lot of LR adjustments applied the accuracy of camera profiles is compromised.  What kind of lighting are you using? Are any of the color channels clipped on your original?  Your camera should be set to Adobe RGB or other wide gamut color space.  Etc.

In my case I usually shoot art in the afternoon sun with the sun about 45 degrees to the art, no nearby strongly colored objects such as a brick walkways, cars, etc.  I carefully check that I'm not clipping any of the RGB histograms, adjusting the exposure as needed, that's a little easier if the art is against a gray matboard or such so as not to distort the histograms with extremely bright or dark areas from the non-art background.  If you're just looking at the composite "luminance" histogram it's easy to clip one or more colors without realizing it, especially red.  If I take a new profile for the particular photograph I usually only have to adjust exposure, brightness and contrast, and only very minor tweaks to color and saturation.

Don't give up!  It really works.
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Roscolo
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2012, 01:25:11 AM »
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The painting I have chosen is watercolor landscape with lots of hues of magentas and blues. I shoot with two 3200K lamps on either side of the artwork in a blacked out studio, as I have for years. Shot the painting. Then shot the colorchecker. Built my profile per instructions. Did it again just to be sure. Then white balanced and saved as an Adobe Raw Preset. Applied to painting. Everything was too magenta. So I built another preset and white balanced using the white balance squares for color adjustment on the Colorchecker, essentially making the next preset I built "cooler." But, nay, now a little too cool. The blues are overtaking the magentas. So, I'm getting close, but already at this point the passport colorchecker offers no real savings in accuracy or time over just using the Adobe raw present for Camera Neutral or sometimes Camera Standard. I usually get them right after this many proofs anyway.

I'm probably going to return this. Honestly, if it was priced where it should be, I don't know, $20-$30, I might keep it for general use on portraits or something. Not sure if it would offer any big advantage there over Adobe's presets either. For painting repro, $100 for ballpark color accuracy is too much...I can do ballpark color with my eyes as fast as this.

Glad it works for you. If it doesn't help me match color in 3-4 tries or less, it's useless for me because I can usually get my colors right in 3-4 tries just using my eyes. I'll give it a try on a less challenging painting, but honestly, it's the challenging paintings I bought it for.

« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 01:27:43 AM by Roscolo » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2012, 01:44:40 AM »
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Hi,

In art repro you would try tio achieve "scene referred rendering". Normal color rendition is intended to be more pleasant than faithful.

I down't know the setting in LR and Camera Raw but parking each control at 0 is a good idea.

Best regards
Erik


The painting I have chosen is watercolor landscape with lots of hues of magentas and blues. I shoot with two 3200K lamps on either side of the artwork in a blacked out studio, as I have for years. Shot the painting. Then shot the colorchecker. Built my profile per instructions. Did it again just to be sure. Then white balanced and saved as an Adobe Raw Preset. Applied to painting. Everything was too magenta. So I built another preset and white balanced using the white balance squares for color adjustment on the Colorchecker, essentially making the next preset I built "cooler." But, nay, now a little too cool. The blues are overtaking the magentas. So, I'm getting close, but already at this point the passport colorchecker offers no real savings in accuracy or time over just using the Adobe raw present for Camera Neutral or sometimes Camera Standard. I usually get them right after this many proofs anyway.

I'm probably going to return this. Honestly, if it was priced where it should be, I don't know, $20-$30, I might keep it for general use on portraits or something. Not sure if it would offer any big advantage there over Adobe's presets either. For painting repro, $100 for ballpark color accuracy is too much...I can do ballpark color with my eyes as fast as this.

Glad it works for you. If it doesn't help me match color in 3-4 tries or less, it's useless for me because I can usually get my colors right in 3-4 tries just using my eyes. I'll give it a try on a less challenging painting, but honestly, it's the challenging paintings I bought it for.


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digitaldog
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2012, 09:36:07 AM »
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The purpose of color management is to get accurate repro of colors in a scene, not to "make colors pop out" or appear "richer, more elegant."

Not really. See:http://www.color.org/ICC_white_paper_20_Digital_photography_color_management_basics.pdf
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Andrew Rodney
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Roscolo
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2012, 11:47:21 AM »
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Not really. See:http://www.color.org/ICC_white_paper_20_Digital_photography_color_management_basics.pdf

Yes, really. For me and my customers color management for repro of artwork has everything to do with accurate repro of colors. I assure you, my customers want the colors in their prints to match the colors in their artwork. Thanks for the info. but the 2005 document you linked to says nothing about accurate color reproduction of works of fine art - the subject of this thread.

That said, I did another print from a more representative "average" painting and got a much better result from the Colorchecker Preset I created. It was pretty close, I made a couple of tweaks, lightened the print a bit, removed some saturation, and had a good matched print.

I can say this - the Colorchecker seems to add too much saturation as a default - seems first thing I need to knock about 8-10 pts. off saturation from what the Colorchecker profile gives. And actually, when you watch the crazy "training video" that emphasizes making "colors pop out" and "richer, more elegant" results, you can see when she applies the profile even on the video the flowers are oversaturated when the profile is applied, hence the "pop out" effect. Good for snapshots of granny's flowers, not good for much else. Not sure if that makes granny's flowers "elegant" - lol. Now that I'm learning some of the weaknesses of the Colorchecker profile, I can edit these out of the presets I create using it. Primarily that seems to be a default setting of the Colorchecker software to oversaturate.

So, useful tool. Overpriced. Software needs some work. I'll just edit my presets. I have several paintings to do today, so I should know by the weekend if it warrants keeping or returning. But the second painting I achieved much better results and faster as that painting represents more of an average scene, not so many overlapped hues of similar color, and admittedly challenging colors to reproduce, particularly on the z3100 - magentas, purples - like the first painting. The first painting I tried was perhaps too challenging to expect too much from the Colorchecker.

« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 12:23:41 PM by Roscolo » Logged
digitaldog
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2012, 12:35:07 PM »
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For me and my customers color management for repro of artwork has everything to do with accurate repro of colors.

And based on your understanding of the ICC white paper, that would be accurate how? Colorimetrically and defined how numerically and to what dE? Since you are working with output referred color, this has to be a subjective visual match. Otherwise, what metric would you use to define this being accurate?

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I assure you, my customers want the colors in their prints to match the colors in their artwork.
You mean they tell you they believe the two visually match?

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Thanks for the info. but the 2005 document you linked to says nothing about accurate color reproduction of works of fine art - the subject of this thread.
Because there are two ways to define accurate. One is subjective so anyone can disagree. The other is by measuring the colors in the original which absolutely will not numerically match the rendering you have to show to a customer.

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That said, I did another print from a more representative "average" painting and got a much better result from the Colorchecker Preset I created. It was pretty close,

You define ‘pretty close’ how? To what degree of accuracy metric?

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So, useful tool. Overpriced. Software needs some work.

If it gets you closer to your subjective idea of matching, then you have to decide if it is worth the price. If you assume using it will either produce accurate colorimetric match (it will not) or a prefect subjective visual match, then no, it isn’t going to and I suspect isn’t marketed to do this.
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Andrew Rodney
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Roscolo
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« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2012, 01:05:09 PM »
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Accurate repro of colors in fine art, for my customers,  means when they bring me a watercolor painting, and I create a print of that painting, that one can placed the print on top of the painting and the colors in the print match the colors in the painting.

No, the colorchecker passport is probably not meant specifically for this type of work. That's why I started this thread. All one has to do to see what the colorchecker passport is marketed towards is to watch the company's own training video. The company rep states it's to make colors "pop out" and be "richer...more elegant." Can't get much more subjective than that! Smiley In all honesty had I watched the video I probably would not have purchased. It's not a good way to demonstrate how accurate your color management tool is when the video used to demo the tool uses granny's flowers as the demo subject. The color could be off by a mile and granny's flowers would still "pop out." Smiley

So, as I stated, I've identified some faults for my current use, but even in my commercial work, I don't consider adding saturation to an image to make it "pop out" desirable or even tolerable. Great for granny's flowers. Not necessarily good for mixed lighting architectural interiors. Certainly not a default I want to apply to every image. Like I said, it's easy enough to edit those drawbacks out. For repro of fine art, so far, I'm looking at removing 8-10 pts. of saturation from the colorchecker profile.

I'm going to continue to go through some more paintings. Right now I stand by that this tool, while useful, considering the seller recommends buying one every two years, should probably carry a price tag of no more than $40. Definitely stand by that the software needs some work, but realistically anyone using this is going to have to edit and create their own presets anyway, so I suppose it falls under the heading of "good enough." The company must feel the same way as they haven't updated the software in over 18 months.

The first painting was a bear by any standard. I'm going to give it a full run through with the work I have to complete, so I will withhold final judgment on whether to return it or not until I've done several more paintings. Now that I've identified the saturation problem, my workflow is speeding up. I also have a commercial architectural shoot at a hospital on Monday, so I'm going to give the colorchecker a run through there in some mixed lighting situations.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 01:06:49 PM by Roscolo » Logged
digitaldog
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« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2012, 01:23:43 PM »
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Accurate repro of colors in fine art, for my customers,  means when they bring me a watercolor painting, and I create a print of that painting, that one can placed the print on top of the painting and the colors in the print match the colors in the painting.

OK, so there is no subjectivity here? When you are ready to present the repro to your client, they always agree there is a match? You and all your clients have the same (or ideal) color perception?

IF we agree there is some subjectivity here, the term accurate becomes a problematic term to use and apply to a profile.

If the idea is, you shoot a ColorChecker with a mere 24 colors and some profile is magically built that always produces a visual match of your original, the idea is off base. I wish it were that easy; point the camera at some artwork, build a profile, a prefect match. We both know it is far more difficult. We both know the pigments, dyes and other colorants in an original and that off your printer can be vastly different. That we can and do see metameric failure. That some colors selectively need to be edited. FWIW, this was no different with film!

Once again, if the new profile gets you closer to your subjective rendering of the original, then maybe it is worthwhile at the price point. But only you can make that call. But believing it is going to produce some prefect match isn’t going to happen. And color management doesn’t in any way ensure this. Color management isn’t push button “correct” color. What color management does is give numbers (the only thing computers understand) a meaning but those numbers could be totally inappropriate to produce the color you desire. That is why you have to massage those numbers.
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Andrew Rodney
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Roscolo
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« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2012, 01:43:30 PM »
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When you are ready to present the repro to your client, they always agree there is a match? You and all your clients have the same (or ideal) color perception?



Once again, if the new profile gets you closer to your subjective rendering of the original, then maybe it is worthwhile at the price point. But only you can make that call.

To your first question, the answer is yes, when my customer and I are standing in front of the painting and the print, we see the same thing. I've never had a situation arise where someone told me a specific area did not match and I couldn't see what they were talking about. About the only time we don't agree is when I try to talk them into a color match that we all can see...doesn't match. Smiley

As to the second point, I think I can safely call it now. The colorchecker is not worthwhile for doing the type of work I am doing. Part of this may be because I've been doing this for years now, and I have a good eye, and some pretty good presets I've saved over time, and one of those presets usually get me close to an accurate result. Would the colorchecker be more useful if I didn't already have those good presets I've created? Probably. My lighting set-up is also very consistent, so it could prove useful for someone having to photograph artwork under less than optimal varying light conditions. But right now my advice to someone producing prints of paintings who is shooting in a studio under consistent conditions and has some experience reproducing paintings is the colorchecker is not going to save you much if any time printing reproductions of fine art (paintings).
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bill t.
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« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2012, 02:47:27 PM »
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I would like to add this to the record for future generations of art reproduction mavens using the X-rite Passport device with LightRoom.

With the Passport, after making the profile and re-starting LightRoom you need to first load the new profile, and then ALSO use the eye-dropper tool in the LightRoom White Balance control panel to sample one of the grey patches on the Passport image.  Only then will your image start to look its profiled best.  I like to use the third grey patch down underneath the letters "ecker."  Then go on and adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, and then go on to color tweaks.  Incidentally the black textured case of the Passport is very nice for getting the shadow areas and overall contrast right.

Also, if you take the WB sample from a noisy image you need to carefully look at the pixel-level magnification that LR presents during the sample taking process.  Make sure you do not sample an area with color noise distortion.  After taking the sample, move the eye-dropper around on the grey patch while watching the RGB values to make sure you are pretty neutral across the patch, and re-sample the WB if you see an overall imbalance in the RGB numbers.

As a further proof of WB quality (and indirectly of profile quality), you can check the RGB values for the various density grey patches to make sure the RGB numbers are mostly the same, once again moving the pointer around to average out the influence of noisy pixels.

Note that the 2 columns of 5 not-quite-grey patches on the panel opposite the color patches are designed to warm or cool the overall image, and should NOT be used to set a neutral WB.

Hope this is helpful.  I just love that little Passport.  But I do so wish I didn't have to restart LR to apply the new profile, and I wish the profile loading screen was a little bigger and the overall LR file managing for profiles was a little slicker.

And if you have clipped color channels all bets are off, so be watching all three histograms when you hit that shoot button.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 02:50:52 PM by bill t. » Logged
RDoc
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« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2012, 06:39:43 PM »
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So, I was a little harsh on my first review, so I've edited this. I've played with with the Colorchecker Passport. It's OK. Maybe a slight advantage, but I can't say it's any huge advantage over Adobe's presets for repro of artwork.

That was my experience as well. I found the PS RAW profile for my camera (GH2) worked slightly better than the Colorchecker profile built with their software or one built with the Adobe DNG editor and none were really right on. I finally wound up using the PS RAW profile and some tweaks and can get a very decent result which isn't too bad to get within acceptable limits.
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Colorwave
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« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2012, 09:54:04 PM »
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I do fine art reproduction for a living and have found that the Passport profiles are a little too vivid, plus the 24 samples are not very evenly distributed in the color spectrum, so there are some pretty big holes that the software has to guess at (I know MacBeth's motivation for choosing the colors they chose, but it doesn't help me much).  I've had better luck with the Qp card, and their free Qpcalibration software.  The 35 colors in the Qp chart are more helpful for art reproduction purposes, at least for me, and I find that I start with a closer approximation using that system than what I was using with a MacBeth chart and DNGProfiler (which I liked better than the Passport software).  Photo printing is so much easier to do than art reproduction, just because the standards are so high when side by side comparisons are as easy as they are with art.
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Roscolo
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« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2012, 10:58:19 PM »
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I do fine art reproduction for a living and have found that the Passport profiles are a little too vivid, plus the 24 samples are not very evenly distributed in the color spectrum, so there are some pretty big holes that the software has to guess at (I know MacBeth's motivation for choosing the colors they chose, but it doesn't help me much).  I've had better luck with the Qp card, and their free Qpcalibration software.  The 35 colors in the Qp chart are more helpful for art reproduction purposes, at least for me, and I find that I start with a closer approximation using that system than what I was using with a MacBeth chart and DNGProfiler (which I liked better than the Passport software).  Photo printing is so much easier to do than art reproduction, just because the standards are so high when side by side comparisons are as easy as they are with art.

Wow. Didn't know about QP. That looks better and the price is more in line with what I think something like this is actually worth. Self-adhesive as well. Perfect. Well, that's what I love about the LL forums. Thank you.

Interestingly enough, looking at the QP website, it looks like they will be releasing software that will build profiles using the Passport Colorchecker, which is what I immediately thought of when I saw how saturated their profile was: that maybe someone had a private, donation-based, or even open source software project to make a better profiler using the Colorchecker chart. Nice to see someone else sees the need (and an opportunity.)

Thank you so much for this information.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 11:16:25 PM by Roscolo » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2012, 11:06:12 PM »
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I'm not sure about the self-adhesive part.  I bought the chart that is roughly the same size as the MacBeth Color Checker.  It's not as beefy as the classic Color Checker, but works well enough.  I still use my Color Checker for gray balance and adjusting the tonal range when I import into Lightroom.  I have it set with a preset to use my Qp chart profile on import, then I adjust the gray balance and tonal values of the six neutral squares from the Color Checker that have published values to match to.  For some reason, the gray squares of the Qp are a little too warm for gray balance, and are different than the three square strips that Qp sells which are very neutral.  I bought my chart direct from the manufacturer, and got it in about two weeks time from Europe to Hawaii.

PS:  I also use a Z3100.
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