Creating a Profile for your Camera for Lightroom and Photoshop

In an earlier post, I wrote about using the Color Munki system to create display and print profiles so you can get accurate colour for editing and printing.  One step I've added that is more subtle is to create a profile for each of my DSLR cameras.  It's pretty simple to do and relatively inexpensive.

When I do product shots, it's really important that the product colours are right.  One way to do this is to use a colour meter and make a custom white balance and that works pretty well in fact.  An alternative is to build a profile for your camera to use in your editor.  The way I do this is to use the ColorChecker Passport from X-Rite.

The process is very quick.  Shoot a picture of the ColorChecker Passport Classic Target in RAW and then bring it into your computer and convert it to DNG format.  Then launch the ColorChecker Passport Camera Calibration software and drop the image onto the tool.  It auto discovers the ColorChecker in the image and creates a custom profile for your camera.  You can then load that profile in Lightroom or Photoshop to streamline your workflow.  You still have all the creative control, but you are starting with the image set up to match your camera's RAW output's colour balance.  I found that it was pretty close to the Canon Standard setting in Lightroom for the 5D Mk II, but there were differences.  I like to include the ColorChecker Passport Classic Target and White Balance Target in the first image in a studio series or when I have time to do so.  That way, I know at least where I am starting from.  Please note that like other custom white balance tools, the profile you create is accurate for the light you are using when you take the image including the Color Checker Passport.  If the light changes substantially or you change your source, you'll need a new profile.  Also if you use studio lights as opposed to studio flash, remember that the colour temperature of these lights changes over time.

Not expensive and while not an absolute requirement, you will be able to really get the image from your camera to be interpreted correctly.  Even you only shoot JPEGs, the ColourChecker Passport can really help you get the white balance correct.