Camera profiles for Lightroom and ACR

Adobe DNG Profile Editor and X-Rite ColorChecker

Adobe DNG Profiler is available as a free download from Adobe.com. It can be used with regular X-Rite Color Checker Classic, X-Rite Color Checker Mini and with the 24-patch target of X-Rite Passport.

xrite-colorchecker-regular

X-Rite ColorChecker (originally GretagMacbeth ColorChecker) consists of 24 squares painted with special pigments with low metamerism that represent natural colors, primary colors and shades of neutral gray. The selection of the colors predates digital photography, but the chart is an industry standard and still quite useful.

Colors of the ColorChecker can fit into the AdobeRGB color space and all colors except cyan (patch 18) can fit into sRGB. There is also pocket sized ColorChecker Mini that is usually a little bit less expensive, but my recommendation would be to get either the standard sized ColorChecker or X-Rite ColorChecker Passport, which has approximately the same size as the Mini and is more durable and easier to use.

dng-profiler-manual-edit

The profiling software feels a bit outdated and geeky, but the results are great. This tool allows creation of dual illuminant profiles that have separate table for daylight and incandescent light. The profiles can be tweaked in different ways and Adobe provides detailed documentation for that.

Adobe DNG Profile Editor for Windows

Adobe DNG Profile Editor for Mac

The software is a bit more complicated to use than the other options, but allows different kinds of tweaking and is capable of creating dual illuminant profiles that can do a better job of matching colors in wider range of shooting conditions. It uses the X-Rite ColorChecker targets that are available from many retailers. The images in the Quick comparison below in separate tabs of the browser for side by side comparison with the other tools, default Adobe profile and with Leica embedded profile.

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

Passport comes with a 24 patch target that is very similar to the ColorChecker Mini. The product includes additional patches and a white balance card, all in one pocket sized durable folding case.

There is a standalone version of the profiling tool, that can be used to generate single illuminant or dual illuminant profiles. Besides creating single illuminant vs dual illuminant profiles, there are no options.

passport-standalone

There is also plugin that can generate profiles directly from Lightroom. This creates profiles with just a few clicks, but no options are available.

passport

The X-Rite ColorChecker Passport target is the easiest to carry around and sturdy – almost perfect for ad hoc on location profiles. The app and the plugin are easy to use and it is possible to create dual illuminant profiles. The software tends to create a bit too optimistic and more saturated colors than the other two tools. The images in the Quick comparison below can be opened can be opened in separate tabs of the browser for side by side comparison with the other tools, default Adobe profile and with Leica embedded profile.

QPCard with QPCalibration

QPCalibration is a free download from the QPCard web site, with optional paid plugins.

 

qpcard203-whole

QPCard 2003 booklet

 

QPCalibration can work with two types of targets, larger QPCard 202 and compact QPCard 203. I only used the smaller QPCard 203. It is made as a booklet, apparently from the same material as book hard cover. Compared to X-Rite Passport, the tools feels a bit flimsy and cheap. The patches are printed on on a sheet of paper and even the print quality does not seem to be of as high quality as any of the X-Rite targets.

The QP card has 40% more patches than Color Checker and the pigments are reportedly selected to match color filters used in digital camera sensors.

The basic free profiling tool can generate profiles with smaller or larger gamut and with different contrast curves. The paid plugins add the ability to create ICC profiles, review profile accuracy and make adjustments.

qpcalibration-profile review

QPCalibration Inspect plugin

 

 

qpcalibration-manual-adjustment

QPCalibration Adjust plugin

 

The target quality and durability is not stellar, but the generated profiles are excellent. The app is easy to use and has nice and easy to use editing options. The accuracy preview is great, too. The images in the Quick comparison below can be opened in separate tabs of the browser for side by side comparison with the other tools, default Adobe profile and with Leica embedded profile.

Quick comparison

For best results open the images in separate tabs of your web browser and compare the details by switching between the tabs.

Nature

LR/ACR Adobe Standard profile

LR/ACR Adobe Standard profile

 

Adobe DNG Profile Editor and 24 patch standard Color Checker

Adobe DNG Profile Editor and 24 patch standard Color Checker

 

Embedded profile (Leica)

Embedded profile (Leica)

 

Passport Profile

Passport Profile

 

QPCard profile

QPCard profile

 

ColorChecker

Best viewed side by side. All images individually white balanced.

ColorChecker target with LR/ACR Adobe Standard profile

ColorChecker target with LR/ACR Adobe Standard profile

ColorChecker target with embedded Leica profile

ColorChecker target with embedded Leica profile

ColorChecker target with X-Rite Passport profile

ColorChecker target with X-Rite Passport profile

ColorChecker target with Adobe DNG Profile Editor profile

ColorChecker target with Adobe DNG Profile Editor profile

ColorChecker target with QPCard profile

ColorChecker target with QPCard profile

 

Fluorescent light

Differences are a bit more dramatic in fluorescent light. All images individually white balanced.

Fluorescent light, Adobe DNG Profile Editor with dual illuminant profile

Fluorescent light, Adobe DNG Profile Editor with dual illuminant profile

Fluorescent light, LR/ACR Adobe Standard profile

Fluorescent light, LR/ACR Adobe Standard profile

Fluorescent light, embedded Leica profile

Fluorescent light, embedded Leica profile

Fluorescent light, Passport profile

Fluorescent light, Passport profile

Fluorescent light, QPCard profile

Fluorescent light, QPCard profile

 

Final thoughts

I found that for my cameras, shooting style and taste, profiles from the QPCard with QPCalibration and from the Adobe DNG Profile Editor give the best starting point for further editing. But readers should make their own mind and perhaps the Quick comparison above is a good place to start.


 

Calibration is the act of bringing a device to an optimal operational state. Profiling is a process of describing characteristics of operational state.

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