Camera profiles for Lightroom and ACR
Adobe DNG Profile Editor and X-Rite ColorChecker
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.
The profiling software feels a bit outdated and geeky, but the results are great.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.
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.
There is also plugin that can generate profiles directly from Lightroom. This creates profiles with just a few clicks, but no options are available.
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.
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.
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.
For best results open the images in separate tabs of your web browser and compare the details by switching between the tabs.
Best viewed side by side. All images individually white balanced.
Differences are a bit more dramatic in fluorescent light. All images individually white balanced.
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.