Customer Review

182 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The difference between amateur and professional, December 9, 2009
This review is from: X-Rite MSCCPP ColorChecker Passport (Electronics)
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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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 6, 2011 11:32:46 AM PDT
Good to know that the file type must be dng. That said, it is not for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2011 8:14:50 AM PDT
Scott O says:
My first step in importing Nikon NEF files into Lightroom is to convert to DNG. I used one of these briefly on a recent trip to Grand Staircase-Escalante NM and it seems to have great potential. A good idea with most everything you need in a single easy-to carry and use package. Thanks for the detailed write-up.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2011 3:23:50 PM PDT
William Webb says:
According to the video of the product's use (find it in the product images on the description page here in Amazon), the profile is created in .DNG but is then appled to your files regardless of file type.

Posted on Feb 13, 2012 3:11:56 PM PST
D. Deavours says:
Take a look at this web site. It has some great info and a link to Mark Wallace's video which is priceless. See the "Using the ColorChecker Passport" link here: http://blog.xritephoto.com/?p=5235

Posted on Aug 28, 2013 9:16:14 AM PDT
Just a quick note ... it's ok if your raw conversion program doesn't support DNG. You can use the (free) Adobe DNG converter. It supports most raw formats.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2013 4:03:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 30, 2013 4:03:48 PM PDT
D. Deavours: Thanks so much for the info and link!

Posted on Jul 14, 2014 10:02:33 AM PDT
PatDis says:
Great review You were On Point with everything and then at the end You even gave Me even more information that I was looking for and didn't know where to find
Thanks Again Pat
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tachi1 "tachi1"
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