How to Improve Your Photography Using a Colorchecker

with 11 Comments

We always look for new ways to improve our photography, and though we came a long way, sometimes the secret is in the details. Up till now we were missing a simple but very important device in our field photography kit – a color checker. So when the guys from X-Rite agreed to partner with us and let us review their standard 24 chip Colorchecker, we were thrilled. 

The Colorchecker comes in a hard plastic case, suitable for location use, along with a “Creative Enhancement Target” for color balance refinement, and a standard white balance card. For a photojournalist, it has a perfect small size. In addition it comes with Windows and Mac software for creating Adobe DNG profiles as well as a Plug-in for Lightroom.
How to use the X-Rite Colorchecker
With the X-Rite Colorchecker Passport it is easily to record a white balance target on location. The physical design of the Colorchecker Passport is good and the model can hold it in his/her hand or you can put it on the ground. The plastic case is rugged and hinged so that it can be self standing with any of the faces visible. I find it cool that it also has a lanyard for securing it around your neck or to a camera bag.
I recommend to shoot the standard Colorchecker as large in the frame as possible. Try to expose properly so that there are no blinkies on your playback screen and therefore no clipping on the whites. Even if the shot is not in focus it’s still OK. Now take your soon to be amazing photos.

In front of the computer
Finally, it’s time to process the photos. To use the stand-alone Passport software, export the shot of the Colorchecker out of either Camera Raw or Lightroom to a DNG file. Drag it into the X-Rite Colorchecker Passport software. Click Create Profile, name it, and a few second later the job is done, with a custom profile having been created and put into the correct directory by the program. 
A neat trick is to create a Custom Preset in Lightroom or Camera Raw that contains both the calibration and the White Balance that you’ve set. You’ll now be able to apply this to any image shot with that camera under those light conditions, even selecting a hundred or a thousand images at once and profiling and white balancing them all with a single click. 

Last thoughts
From now on I plan to snap ColorChecker shots for most scenes. This way I can create a profile whenever I see the need for it. And if you take your photography seriously, the X-Rrite Colorchecker Passport is a must-have. Because… when it comes to amazing photos, every little helps.
Quick tip: Check also my review on the X-Rite ColorMuki Display, as it can often be found in a bundle with the ColorChecker Passport.

About the Author: Cipri is the co-founder of Travelocafe and a tech nerd. He loves photographing people and details. He’s set foot in 30 countries so far, but if you ask him, Japan is his favorite. 

11 Responses

  1. Unknown
    | Reply

    what about a plugin for Capture One?

  2. This looks interesting! Very useful information. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Dan
    | Reply

    Never heard of this. I'll definitely check it out!

  4. Jack
    | Reply

    Is the colorchecker any good for somebody that shoots only in jpeg?

    • Cipri
      | Reply

      Although I usually recommend shooting in RAW, the Colorchecker is indeed useful also to photographers that shoot in jpeg.

  5. Bob
    | Reply

    This will be a great addition to my photo kit.

    • Cipri
      | Reply

      I am sure you'll love it.

  6. Brian
    | Reply

    I was looking for something like this. .) Thanks for the tip.

    • Cipri
      | Reply

      It is such a simple things that makes such a big difference. You'll see.

  7. Thomas
    | Reply

    Great post! I use X-Rite ColorMunki and love the results. Will definitely consider using a colorchecker as well now!

    • Cipri
      | Reply

      We also have the ColorMunki and together with the Colochecker they complement each other very well.

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