How to Create Camera Profiles Using the ColorChecker Passport with Adobe CS5

Using the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport to create custom ICC profiles for your camera

Any professional photographer knows that having color accurate images from one photo shoot to the next can be a challenge.

With various lighting conditions from shoot to shoot, this has not always been easy to obtain. Having consistent color and a strong color profile is crucial for all of you images to output correctly. The GretagMacbeth ColorChecker has been helping photographers with these problems since 1976.

Read on to find out how X-Rite’s ColorChecker Passport helps you create camera profiles for consistent, accurate color.

In this post, we will show you how to create and apply DNG profiles to your Camera using the ColorChecker Passport. This is an important process that will balance the white point of your images and retain the original colors that you shot. For the example outlined below, all photos were taken using a Canon EOS 60D with a Canon EF-S 18-135mm lens.

For this process, we shot every image in RAW format. RAW file format allows us to apply camera DNG profiles that we create using the Camera Calibration software included with the ColorChecker Passport.

RAW file format: File that contains minimally processed data from a digital camera. Raw files are processed by a raw converter in a wide-gamut colorspace where precise adjustments can be made before conversion to a file format (such as TIFF or JPEG). These adjustments include color calibration and white balance.

In this example, we are using the 2 most popular ColorChecker Passport Targets (there are 3 targets total – all of which are included with every ColorChecker Passport). The targets we are using are:

  • The Classic Target: The industry standard color reference target for creating DNG profiles and for evaluating specific colors.
  • The White Balance Target: For creating custom in-camera white balance for a consistent white point in a set of images, eliminating the need to correct each image later.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The first and second photo of each photo shoot should include the ColorChecker Passport Classic Target and the White Balance Target. Placement of the target can be anywhere inside the photo.

The following Step-by-Step process will show you how to create camera profiles, set the white balance, and apply these changes to your images.

ColorChecker Passport with Adobe CS5:

1. In Photoshop, open the first RAW photo you took that contains the ColorChecker Passport. This image will automatically be opened in Adobe Camera Raw. If you do not have Camera Raw installed (or need to update it), it can be downloaded HERE. Click on Save Image.

2. After clicking on Save Image, a new window appears. The default options include dng format, which is what will be used to load the image into the ColorChecker Passport software. After clicking Save, Camera Raw will process your RAW image and create a DNG file.

3. Open the ColorChecker Passport software. Drag and Drop the DNG file you just created.

4. When the image has loaded, the software will automatically identify the patches in the Passport. You will see a green marquee around each patch and green registration marks on the 4 corners of the target (as seen below).

5. After the Passport has been recognized, click on Create Profile. This is saved in your Adobe Camera Profiles folder on the hard drive. By Default, the name of the camera used is the profile name.

6. When the profile is complete, close and relaunch Photoshop. This will refresh the profile library and will include your new camera profile in the profile list.

7. In Photoshop, open all of the images you are creating the profile for. This will automatically launch Camera Raw.

8. Select All of your images, and then click on the Camera Calibration tab located on the right hand side of the Camera Raw window. Under Camera Profile, click on the Name pulldown menu and select the camera profile you created in step 5. This now applies the camera profile to all of your photos.

9. Click on the White Balance Tool. Then click on the White Balance Target in the ColorChecker. This will set the White Balance for all images selected.

10. Click on Save Image. When the Save Options window appears, click on the File Extension pull-down menu to select JPG or TIFF (These will be your print files). Click Save.

With the above process, you will be able to create DNG profiles for your camera for each photo shoot. The patches in the ColorChecker Passport will not change, regardless of lighting conditions on each shoot. If you need to output all of your photos with color accuracy and consistency, the ColorChecker Passport is an excellent (and affordable) solution. And combined with the ColorMunki, your entire workflow from Camera to software to print will consistently produce accurate color results.

Any questions? Comments? Let’s hear ’em!

  • George Thanos

    Nice article. I did all the steps but there is another step you don’t cover and seems that is very difficult to achieve: The task to represent the exact RGB color values in the picture after the Camera RAW process and open the file in Photoshop. For example the RGB color value for the red in the 3rd row is 155,52,59 (in Adobe RGB 1998 color space). In my picture is 156,36,40.

  • James Cooper

    I have not used this color checker passport yet but its looking interesting to pick color using this. Is there any free trial available? If i found that good will go for premium one!

  • Diavolos

    How funny, half of the things in this post do not work in my photoshop.

    First opening jpeg in camera raw was a pain in the ass, I have to change the default open of jpeg into camera raw since in my photoshop CC I have no option to open a jpeg in where I want, it wil just open in photoshop. So this is stupid, I have to go change it in settings every time.

    Then the calibration software simply doesn’t work. I have window 7 64bit, I have a new pc, it is not like I am runnign it in an old pc, it is just an icor3 with 16GB ram, nothing too much, but nothing too old. And that program simply doesn’t work.

    THANK god I didn’t buy the colour checker passport, I would have wasted my ass 100$

    • Nick

      They aren’t working because you didn’t read the article. You need to use RAW files for this to work, not JPEGs.