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Style: ColorChecker Passport Photo|Change
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VINE VOICEon December 9, 2009
Style: ColorChecker Passport Photo|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There are two parts to this system: there is the software you install and use on your computer, and there is the "hardware" the color checker you use when you're photographing and to which you reference the software.It is a system that speeds up your workflow, increases your accuracy and efficiency, and leaves you with prints you can be proud of.

Before I go on, let me clarify that I use this system with Photoshop ACR, not with Lightroom. Since the software does not install as a Plug-In to Photoshop (as it does with Lightroom), I have to use it as a "stand-alone" program. This isn't a hardship, but it is a distinction, and my review is based on this scenario only.

Another important fact is that for the purposes of creating profiles, this program requires that at least the profile-generating image be in .DNG so, whatever program you use to process your RAW captures has to be able to save as .DNG.

The process is simple: you shoot a series of photographs under a particular set of circumstances; you select one that is typical of the conditions present in the whole series; you save it as a .DNG; you open the "stand alone" Passport program; you open that representative image and tell it to create a profile based on it; you give the profile a descriptive name. The profile it creates will automatically appear in the camera profile drop-down menu in the Camera Calibration tab within ACR. You open the rest of the images in ACR and apply the profile to all of them as the first step in your RAW processing.

So far, I have successfully created two profiles for one of the cameras. It will be necessary, over time, to create a separate profile for each shooting situation for each camera. For example, on my Nikon D-80, I shot the color checker under "indoor, bounced flash" conditions. I created that profile. I then opened the 22 images that I shot under those conditions and applied the profile to them as the first step as soon as I entered ACR. Sure enough, on my calibrated monitor, the colors were right on target. I had the right shade of deep red, the right shade of aquaish-blue, and a perfect capture of skintone for each different person (and this was a diverse group). Additional adjustments in the basic tab were needed later but, starting from an appropriate profile, I could apply batch settings and only tweak individual shots lightly. I waited to write the review until I was able to make prints of the images that looked so great on the monitor and, sure enough, they look great when printed as well. I'm absolutely delighted.

I would say that the time saved is considerable. For an advanced amateur, like me, it's definitely worth it. For a large-volume professional, it is probably essential. Not only do you save time in the processing part of the equation, you also save money by not having to reprint.

Of course, the matter of creating camera-specific varieties of profiles can be time-consuming, but you don't have to do it all at once. You create them as the need arises and then you have them there for all subsequent matching situations.

The unit also comes with non-profile related swatches. Among them it has several intensities of neutral grays to help you quickly establish white point or check for clipping, and several artistic interpretation swatches designed for changing the color temperature of your photograph to make it progressively warmer (more golden) or cooler (more blue) than it really was. The latter are further broken up into cooling or warming for people or for landscape pictures. (Really, very well thought out.) There is also a white balance swatch/card that will come in handy in mixed-lighting situations. Though I haven't had to use it yet, it's very handy to have it in the same unit that I'm carrying along anyway.

The only factor on the minus side is that you have to really struggle to find information, instructions, and explanations of the procedure, features and swatches. The process is absolutely straightforward once you understand it, but getting there is a struggle. The X-Rite company website is badly organized and of very little help (I already knew that since I own their eye-one calibration software which still hasn't been updated for Windows 7).

The "for more information click here" link in the interface takes you to a dead end. The CD has totally-irrelevant "training modules" that deal with general calibration issues with no reference to this product. The zipped "online tutorial" that has to be downloaded from within the interface takes five minutes to download using DSL and requires Flash Player. When you register the product, they send you another link to download the same online tutorial again as a "thank you" gift. I believe your best bet is the written documentation PDF (on the standalone proram it is in the help menu>documentation). It is 59 pages long, well-illustrated and rambles a bit (but, so far, everything I wanted to find was there). Make sure you check it out before starting and be amazed at the difference in your images.
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on June 16, 2011
I bought this product soon after its release. I found it helpful and the colors were quite accurate although it could still use some improvements in accuracy. I photograph products professionally on a daily basis. Some of my clients are high end cosmetic companies and getting the colors right is critical.
I found the process of creating your camera profile and it being integrated into lightroom a real blessing!
If I reviewed this at the time I bought it I would have given it 5 stars but there were some colors that were too saturated. I was hoping with the update of the software, things would improve.
Unfortunately, after I recently updated the software to 1.0.2, the accuracy even deteriorated more significantly. Luckily I still kept the previous profiles I made with the previous version of the software so I could compare.
The problems I encountered with the updated version are as follows:
1. Some colors have become way too saturated and too dark. The reds and pinks are particularly nasty such that when the profile is applied the resulting colors are so unnatural. They even wash out detail due to the intense colors. And it was already too saturated to begin with.
2. The color profiles from the same image of the checker is different if made in lightroom and in the color checker passport software. The one in the color checker has some overall color cast evident.

I've tried out redoing the procedures over and over again. Tried different settings. Researched as much info and went through everything over and over again, yet I cannot come up with a profile that produces accurate results. So, I am relying on the earlier profiles I've made which were better yet still had problems. The problem is I can't make new profiles with the newer version as they produce oversaturated colors and the older version is still a bit too saturated.

By the way, I have 3 color checkers in various sizes and have tested using all of them, so its not a case of a spoiled checker as the results are the same.

I have written X-Rite and received their standard reply that they will get back to me within 4 hours, but its been 6 days since and nothing from them.

I hope they can improve on it so that it really produces accurate colors.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Addendum: I originally rated it 3 stars but after waiting for over two weeks for X-Rite to reply and still no response, I lowered it to 2 stars. Good idea, easy to use, but after repeated testing, its far from accurate in some colors. Severe oversaturation in Reds and Pinks in particular.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Update as of July 11, 2011

I have continued to do several permutations with X-Rite's Color Checker Passport. The results are still largely inaccurate. I can imagine for most people, it will seem impressive as you will notice sudden changes in colors, mostly intensifying certain colors. Yet, if the intention is real color accuracy, it just doesn't measure up. I shoot dozens of various make up of different brands each week and accurate color reproduction is critical. The really difficult part is that there are several shades of red that have to be critically reproduced, now with the X-Rite passport's failure to reproduce red tones accurately. This product becomes virtually useless in that regard. The red tones all become oversaturated.

It has been just about a month since I wrote X-Rite regarding the problem. I only received an automated response saying they will get back to me within a few hours. They have not. So, I started looking for an alternative solution. I purchased from Amazon, Datacolor's SpyderCheckr. It works on a similar principle. At this very moment I just finished a fashion product shoot wherein I tested both X-Rite's Color Checker Passport and Datacolor's Spyder Checkr. I find it difficult to say this but Datacolor's Spyder Checkr wins by a mile. (I've been a loyal X-rite user for a decade - I've been using their spectrophotometers, colorimeters, densitometers, color checkers, and other products for years). The advantage of Datacolor's Spyder Checkr are the following 1.accurate colors (no oversaturations)
2. more specific adjustments to come out with better results (for example: they instruct you to use the exposure sliders to reach a specific value before you start working on creating the profile - X-rite doesn't do that)
3. more critical options for color conversion (for those more versed in color management, there are different color rendering modes that can be chosen - saturation, colorimetric, etc - Datacolor has it in their Spyder Checkr software)
4. The actual color checker device has an indicator which will fade overtime, this will be an indication for the user to know when their color checker is no longer a reliable device due to natural color fading.
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on October 5, 2009
Im a professional photographer and use the digital-camera color checker, which is a rather large and bulky device to say the least, it is also complex to create and apply profiles.

The new X-rite passport ROCKS..! plain and simple.. it is easy to use, naively with lightroom, and easy with PhaseOne Capture. The quality of the profiles is not quite matching the digital camera checker, but nobody in their right mind would expect that. The passport create a very use-able profile in a matter of seconds.

Here is how it works.

1. snap a shot with the passport in the same light as you are working.

2. select image in Lightroom, then select EXPORT and export to X-rite.. this will create a profile, I suggest naming the profile by the date and album it applies to.

3. restart lightroom, go to develop, select the profile in camera profile, then sync to the rest of the album.

NOTE - if you have several lighting environments in the same folder, shoot a passport shot for each light change, then apply to the images which matches that passport.

The card also have a set of off-white patches for warming or cooling portraits and another set for landscape, use them to set the whitepoint in a image to warm or cool as desired.

X-rite have made available a very well designed instruction video for download from their site.

Overall, this is a very successful product, it does what I expected and it does it well. If you shoot digital and am concerned about color management, this is a MUST HAVE product.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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VINE VOICEon December 12, 2009
Style: ColorChecker Passport Photo|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Shows how the product can perform white balance, color calibration and dual-illuminant color calibration using the included software and Adobe Lightroom on a Windows 7 PC. 4 stars as the out-of-the-box experience is poor -- not until you have gone to the website, read the instructions and downloaded & watched the video examples will you know what to do.
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on May 25, 2013
This item, traditionally used as a reference target in photography for reproduction and more, has a long and distinguished history. X-Rite bought this industry standard target card from Macbeth, or more precisely, Gretag-Macbeth Inc. as part of the buyout. Some might recognize it in a much smaller scale as one part of the three targets which help comprise all three card and software combinations marketed as X-Rite ColorChecker Passport bundles. If you wish to have any hope of beginning to manage your color you must calibrate your display and all devices connected to it including output devices like printers and each type of paper. That requires an accepted industry standard target, a measuring device and appropriate calibrating software. If you are a photographer or designer involved in the reproduction of photographic color that will be all old hat. If you shoot RAW files, you will particularly appreciate the difference it can make. If controlling color in your work in general is what you want--we all need it--I encourage you to learn as much as you can because this target card is only the beginning. It is one simple part of a system that is as basic as it gets. If you are serious about color for publication or exhibition printing, you must trust what you see under controlled conditions, according to graphic arts conventions in order to make quick, precise judgements. We need an education to become sufficiently knowledgeable to color correct our photographs according to industry standards. By that I mean standardized conventions that are independent of any one user's preferences or personal opinions. It is in the sharing of such conventions that allows meaningful communication about color with other professionals who also adopt national standards. Otherwise what we do on our own is arbitrary. Admittedly, millions of people prefer to work just that way including some professionals. However, from a practical perspective, working without color management tends to waste a lot of time, materials and money. Most compelling of all, it produces both unpredictable and disappointing color results.

This target is not self-sufficient. It is important and necessary but it is just one component. For example, I bought this in addition to already owning a ColorChecker Passport bundle because as convenient as the small case of targets is (that fits into a pants pocket) I can get more accurate readings from a larger target. That is true because my cameras can be further away from the target with a variety of lenses. For a simple example, by coming too close to the target I may distort the color recorded by a color cast that bounces off of my coat or shirt. When you step back to make your photographs it is highly unlikely it is still close enough to bounce that color cast onto your subject. The whole point here is to make a target that receives the same color that reaches your subject for any one set of light condition's profile with a specific camera and lens. Yes, if you own lenses of different manufactures, the color will sufficiently vary that it will be perceivable to the untrained eye. Your applications and clients may require different latitudes and standards. Bigger does not always have to be better. Some combinations of circumstances make this much larger target necessary for me. Your needs and lighting conditions may be different. Regardless of its size, the ColorChecker chart needs to be photographed large enough to be read using X-Rite Passport's software on your (hopefully) recently calibrated display. Unlike creating your display calibration or paper profiles you will not need a peripheral device, a color spectrometer, in order to read the color. By creating a profile for your specific camera you will get superior results, greater consistency and predictable color under any number of lighting conditions. If your lighting conditions vary and they will outside of the studio, or if you want to calibrate the camera with a polarizing filter on it, you will need to make individual profiles. And obviously if you have multiple cameras, each needs to be done.

I reduced the rating by one star for the poor manufacturing quality, the excessive flexibility of the card backing. It is inadequate. These precisely controlled, silkscreened patches are mounted to a backing board, that in Macbeth's day, was far less susceptible to bending. The solution is not difficult nor expensive. X-Rite is simply counterproductively frugal.

That is not a superficial complaint. You want to be able to photograph all patches on exactly the same plane, meaning a flat surface to avoid differences in densities, hue, saturation and avoid differences in the ratios and direction of light sources both original and bounced. Consequently, I have made my own, more substantial backing to remedy this. When one pays $60 to $70 for one page sized card without any software, I resent fixing X-Rite's unnecessary problem that it could have solved for pennies. Macbeth did. There is no excuse, X-Rite. I complain but I am still grateful to have such targets. Most folks will be perfectly satisfied with the basic X-Rite MSCCPP ColorChecker Passport, which includes a pocket sized ColorChecker, two other targets as well as software. That is clearly a better deal. In any case, whatever you use, get your color under control for less stressful work and better, repeatable results.
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VINE VOICEon December 1, 2009
Style: ColorChecker Passport Photo|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In the old days of film (say, fifteen years ago), we had two choices: daylight film and indoor film. Once you put a roll of film in the camera, you were stuck with the white balance, unless you rewound the roll in midstream to change film. Then you went home and used a little gadget to fish out the leader, and hoped you had correctly noted the number of exposures you had taken before rewinding, so that you didn't get a double exposure when you reloaded that roll.

All of that changed when digital RAW came in. Now you could adjust the white balance after the fact so you could shoot under all kinds of light on the same memory card. You could even set it to auto so that the camera would calculate the white balance and the pictures that emerged seemed pretty good.

There were always obsessive photographers who were concerned about white balance and color management. I used to make fun of them to myself. Then I got the ColorChecker Passport made by x-rite. Now I'm really upset and becoming obsessive too.

The Passport is a little passport-sized gadget with three little cards in it with lots of little colored squares, something like a paint sampler. You use this three ways. You can photograph the included grey card to set white balance at the time of shooting that will then be applied to all of your images, or you can photograph the chips while on a shoot and wait until you do raw processing and use your software to select one of the grey squares to set white balance for a series of pictures taken under the same light, or you can build a camera calibration profile for the lighting conditions of your shoot.

Either of the first two methods seems to work fine for white balance. I tested both and for the most part there was a slightly different temperature than my Nikon camera would have assigned and except for the most important color accuracy, this didn't seem important for me.

But when it came to actual colors, I received a shock. I've followed a color-corrected workflow pretty rigorously, calibrating my monitor regularly and using appropriate profiles for printing, and my prints look like my monitor to the extent that the different natures of the media allow. However, when I looked at an image of the Passport color chips on my monitor and compared it to the actual Passport, there were wide discrepancies in the colors. Many colors, particularly blues, looked very different. My camera was not as accurate as I thought.

Luckily, I was able to create and apply a profile with ease from the image of the Passport with the software that comes with it, and the colors looked a lot better, except for the deepest hues.

The lesson is simple. If you really want correct color you need a ColorChecker (although even then, there are colors that your sensor will not be able to capture). Now here's the rub. That means you are going to have to take the gadget with you and photograph it whenever you shot. The small size makes it easy to carry but it is not convenient to use, especially if you are a photographer on the run. But until the manufacturers make better cameras, it's either that or accept that your colors are going to be off.
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on December 4, 2010
My background, serious amateur photographer since the jungles of Southeast Asia, 35mm until this year.
No two digital sensors are the same and vary in capture and color from manufacturer to manufacturer and camera to camera within every manufacturer.

That said, the X-Rite Colorchecker Passport is excellent for dead on color processing after each shoot.

I would have given it 3 - 5 stars but I find there is a problem and not with the actual product but somewhere within the software. I use Adobe products, current versions of Light Room, Photoshop CS5, Bridge, Elements 8 all for Mac. While I was following directions to enter or create a color profile from the Colorchecker Passport what I failed to know or realize is the color profile would be set as default across the entire set of programs in Adobe with no way to correct or remove this 'default' setting. What IS supposed to happen is the created color profile is to be entered as an option selectable profile to be used by the owner. Thus, when downloading from camera card to computer into Bridge or Lightroom each RAW format photo enters Bridge or Lightroom with an incorrect color profile assigned to it automatically.

I approached two different technical support people (Colorchecker Passport & the tutorial site I use to learn more about the programs I own) and got answers but they failed to correct the problem, nor are they answered in a timely way.

Now when I download I must wait for the entire download to finish and then take an additional step in setting the RAW photos back to their original camera settings before I can begin to manipulate the photos further. This takes more time but in the grand scheme of things this should not set up a default setting in any other program but the Colorchecker Passport and not bleed over into Adobe products or any other photo software processing programs until directed to do so or chosen by you the photo manipulator.

Now when I shoot anything I use the Passport but in development steps I do not enter a profile, rather I do it all manually which is also time consuming but the photos come out spot on for color.

My disappointment is the inability to correct this problem from any of the venders of this program or the other programs I use. Were I able to undo the root problem I'd be much happier but technical support has no idea what has happened, lame to nonfunctional in my opinion and it's the blame game due to various reasons best left unwritten.

Overall I feel this is a good product as long as you do not enter a color profile for your Passport and inadvertently create a blanket default across your entire software spectrum. I am not happy with technical support on this issue at all.

Could this be my error? Sure but it doesn't support the lack of editing or removing the newly created setting from the computer in any way.

I would say, buyer be ware AND X-Rite should add the ability to remove the offending profile easily and effectively to it's software with clear, concise
illustrated instructions.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Update 2012

Though I use this product I use it differently from it's intended use by the manufacturer. I ignore the included Passport's software completely.

Example; When I use this product I shoot two frames at the beginning or the end of the shoot, frame one is the color checker side, frame two is the gray card side. When back in post I will correct for color balance in Adobe Photoshop or Bridge's Camera Raw by loading all shots into CR (including the Checker shots) and then adjusting color in the rest of the photos using the eye dropper tool on the color checker photo in CR, then selection synchronize all and select white balance, then okay.

How I finally got rid of the foul, bluish cast profile the original review was based on was go to a third party tutorial course, pay the fee and follow the instructional tutorial movies. In one of the movies it elaborates on the removal of the offending profile created by the Passport Checker software. Why did I not go through Passport Checker's help? Not at all timely or helpful to my needs when I needed it two years ago. They may have improved their customer service or may not.

The way I understand Amazon'e rules I may not inclose the third party's company name name or site. Suffice it to say it is a favorite site to learn many things you don't already know or as a refresher for something you may have forgotten. There are other sites now being offered on the Inet. Some are pay sites, some are free.

This product still stands on it's manufactures acclaims yet, my personal treatment by the company two years ago does not warrant a higher rating even though I now the 'work arounds' for the problems I had regarding this product. Considering my down time, correction time, scrambling for a comprehensive solution to correct the hassle of three shoots gone bluish (one wedding) from Color Passport's 'customer service' my rating still stands.

On the up side, once you understand the card, the workarounds should something go wrong in profiling it does pretty much what the manufacturer says. Leave the software either in the box or buy a Passport without the software and you should be fine.

By not using the software included I've had little or no problems within reasonable lighting conditions. While on my third party site I discovered a way to make a fake gray card in Photoshop. Far to many steps to go into here. This works if you forget to use a gray card or anything like it for white balance.

For a far less amount of money, buy a good gray card. No software, nothing fancy.
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on January 3, 2007
What to say about Gretag Macbeth? They rock the photography world, and color management.

Good quality, it comes with good packaging so that you can travel with the device without messing up the color panels. The reflective quality is excellent. The various levels of grey make it really easy to use with C1Pro, and Photoshop. If you're a pro photographer you need this. It also comes with some really cool tips and tricks, and has great info printed on the card back.
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on May 25, 2010
I bought this a couple months ago while on a trip and unfortunately despite trying to use it on the trip didn't get to utilize it because the software rarely could utilize my in focus profiles for some reason or another. I have been pretty patient with it and despite the software and support structure of the X-rite leaving a lot to be desire it still earns 4 Stars, because when it works it makes a world of difference in the image.

My thoughts I wish to share, based on using software versions 1.00 and 1.01 and still learning to get consistent profile creation.

1) Practice taking images using the X-Rite Color Passport in situations you don't really need it. It will save you a lot of time and frustration. Take a shot of both color palettes and the grey card.
2) The software plug-in for Lightroom pretty much sucks as it is slow and inconsistent in being able to create a profile. It does not recognize cropped photos (or Virtual Copies) nor support pointing out the XRite color passport in the photo to the software.
3) The software plug-in for Lightroom doesn't recognize exposure adjustment and photos that overall are properly exposed will sometimes make the software unable to find the clippings.
4) There are actually three different color panels on this device, Grey card, Creative Enhanced Color Target, and the Classic Target. Shooting both color targets seem to increase the odds of the auto-detect software at least being able to create a profile.
6) My first suggestion for new users.. at least skim through the manual on use of the device. I didn't initially and it cost me some time wasted.
7) The manual is thorough on color calibration, though needs some more examples on getting successful images of the Color Passport for Auto-Detect to function easily as 40% of the time it doesn't for me at this time.
8) The 'troubleshooting' website is nearly useless, it rambles, takes you to places that you didn't want to go, and doesn't help you troubleshoot. Stick to the manual and the forums.
9) X-Rite's support is on again, off again. You will get a reply sometimes, other times you won't. They tell you to upload an example.. then you never hear back from them or they don't answer your original question.
10) Carry your color passport in a ziplock bag. The panels scratch easily and it will keep it clean and free of debris. I haven't gotten it wet yet.. but am guessing it won't hold up well to moist environments.
11) If you are running software version 1.00; download 1.01 as 1.00 has a check for updates bug in it so it will never actually detect an update.
12) If you find a GOOD online step-by-step tutorial on how to consistently get good swatch images with this that Auto-Detect likes under pretty much any condition.. please share it.

Will update as time goes forward.
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on September 12, 2013
I purchased the x-rite Passport based on the company's claims that it would match colors across different camera models and give me accurate colors overall. While adding more time to my workflow, it has failed on both counts. After much frustration, I decided to conduct my own test. The results showed that not only was the Passport producing inaccurate colors, it was actually worse than the Adobe Standard profile available in Adobe Camera RAW.

Details of the test:
Using two Canon DSLR's, I took photos of the Passport in the same light and completed the color correction process for each one, in addition to setting the white balance using the gray square two over from black. I then compared the color values I obtained after correction to the LAB reference values provided on X-rite's website (using a,b and not worrying about L) here: [...]

Results:
1) the colors from the two Canon DSLR's were not even close to each other after calibration and white balance correction, contrary to the claims made by X-Rite.
2)As mentioned above, the Adobe Standard Profile produced more accurate results for each camera than X-Rite's Passport. I attempted to use curves in LAB to correct the individual color squares, but after correcting one, the others moved further away from the reference values, and correcting multiple squares resulted in poor overall color.

In August, I sent an e-mail over to support with a summary of my findings and the RAW files. The response from customer service was that they were going to conduct their own testing. Now, over a month later, I have not heard anything back from them, and they have ignored my most recent e-mail. I'm very disappointed with their customer service and engineers. They should be open to finding and fixing flaws. Instead, it looks like they are intent on stalling and hoping this issue goes away.

Yes, when you use the product and go through the process of camera profile creation, you will find the colors change, but will they be accurate? I have ordered the Datacolor SpyderCheckr SCK100 and will be comparing it with the Passport.
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