Color Comparison: Canon 5D Mark lll and Nikon D800

This article compares the uncalibrated and calibrated color from Canon and Nikon’s recently released pro camera bodies: the Canon 5D Mark lll, and the Nikon D800. I recently spent two weeks in Tuscany shooting with other photographers. One of those was Kevin O’Connor, who was carrying the new Nikon D800, while I was carrying the Canon 5D Mark lll. It was interesting to compare the two cameras in terms of various types of shooting from sports to glamour, from food to landscape, not to mention low light and long lenses. But this article focusses on one factor of each camera: its native color, and its calibrated color.

The calibration tool used was Datacolor’s SpyderCheckr, which (in addition to the SpyderCube) we had with us on the trip. The SpyderCheckr target was shot with each body, and the resulting RAW file was cropped, white balanced, and exposure compensated in Lightroom before export to the SpyderCheckr utility, where a colorimetric calibration correction set was built for each. The image below shows the each of eight color channels, and the corrections to Hue, Saturation, and Lightness made to these channels for both bodies, with the 5D Mark lll on the left, and the D8oo on the right.

SpyderCheckr corrections for Canon 5D Mark lll (left) and Nikon D800 (right)

The first thing to notice in these corrections is that they are quite similar to one another. The 5D Hue adjustments tend to be a bit smaller than those for the D800, while the D800 Saturation are larger. The D800 Luminance adjustments are significantly larger than those for the 5D Mark lll. There is some variation in which colors need correction, but typically it is for a similar set of colors, and in a similar direction, for both cameras.

Shooting the same event with both Canon and Nikon bodies tends to produce images that are recognizably different, especially in bright reds and in sky blues. So the two sample images I have selected for comparison are ones containing those colors. First, lets look at similar shots of a musician from above. Here are the two images at Lightroom default import values, with exposure corrected for as close a match as possible.

Uncalibrated Image at Lightroom Defaults, Canon 5D Mark lll

Uncalibrated Image at Lightroom Defaults, Nnikon D800

Keep in mind that these images have been converted to sRGB for the web, and are viewed on your display; only you know how good your display is, whether it is calibrated, or how reasonable your ambient lighting conditions are. But the relative difference between the files should still be visible, unless your ambient lightings is so bright you can’t see the screen well. Both cameras produce a bright red for the shirt that the experienced eye sees as oversaturated, as well as problematic to print. Lets see what the files look like once the SpyderCheckr calibration has been applied to them.

SpyderCheckr Calibrated Image at Lightroom Defaults, Canon 5D Mark lll

SpyderCheckr Calibrated Image at Lightroom Defaults, Nikon D800

Both reds are now more believable, and more printable. There is still a minor white balance difference between the images, which ideally would be corrected with a SpyderCube, but once that is adjusted, it would be difficult to tell the calibrated results from the two cameras apart.

Now for the blue sky example. This is the most common Canon/Nikon mismatch issue, since the sky is such a common image element. First, the uncalibrated output from both cameras.

Uncalibrated Image at Lightroom Defaults, Canon 5D Mark lll

Uncalibrated Image at Lightroom Defaults, Nikon D800

Even on the web, its possible to spot the difference, with the Nikon producing a greener result, while the Canon produces a darker result. On a calibrated monitor I would say the Nikon hue is off, and the Canon luminance may be a bit dark; but its difficult to make a judgement on the web. Now the corrected versions.

SpyderCheckr Calibrated Image at Lightroom Defaults, Canon 5D Mark lll

SpyderCheckr Calibrated Image at Lightroom Defaults, Nikon D800

Here we are looking at an even smaller variation in camera white balance, and an even better match between the two cameras. I have complete confidence that, with these sets of HSL color corrections for each camera body, plus SpyderCube shots to adjust white balance and exposure for each lighting condition, that these two cameras would produce images with indistinguishable color, allowing them to be used side by side for even the most important of events.

All Nikon D800 images: Copyright Kevin O’Connor. Thanks Kevin, for your assistance in the preparation for this article.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Advertisements

Using the SpyderCube with Photoshop CS6 & Camera Raw 7.1

Once Lightroom 4 directions were completed, next on the list was a matching list of directions for using with Photoshop CS6 and its mate, Adobe Camera Raw 7.1. I’ll post those directions here, so that anyone using the SpyderCube who has upgraded to  CS6 can give this a try, and can send me comments if desired. I will include the annotated illustration for Photoshop CS6; I created a similar illustration for Lightroom, but did not include it with the previous post, since it was focussed on sample before and after images.

Adobe Photoshop CS6/ACR 7.1 introduces improved adjustment controls, and requires a new method of adjusting images using the SpyderCube.

1. Trigger ACR 7.1, by opening a RAW file that includes the SpyderCube, in Photoshop CS6. Set the White Balance by using the eyedropper to sample from the center of the lighter of the two gray faces, which represents the primary light source’s color temperature and tint.

2. View RGB values in the Histogram Section. Set the Exposure control so that the lighter gray face has RGB values of 128, or your preferred card gray value.

3. Set the Whites control so that the lighter white face has RGB values of 230, or your preferred card white value.

4. Turn on White Clipping Indicator. Check that Specular Highlights in Chrome Ball reach 255 and trigger White Clipping Indicator. If not, increase Whites level to achieve Specular Highlights, and adjust white face back to 230 using Highlights control. Optimize relation between Specular Highlights and Card Whites with Whites and Highlights controls.

5. Turn on the Black Clipping Warning. Adjust the Blacks control until the SpyderCube’s black trap is mostly or entirely to the Black Warning color; RGB values of 3 or less.

6. Adjust the Shadows control until the black face shows RGB values of 13 to 26, depending on the amount of “bounce light” illuminating the black face. Turn Black Clipping off for visual check that black trap can be easily distinguished from black face.

7. Recheck the card white and card gray RGB values again, as each adjustment can effect the adjustments made before it. Retune until optimal.

8. Apply this set of adjustments to all other images shot under these lighting conditions by saving a Preset from the Settings Menu, and applying to each image, or apply to an entire group of images using Adobe Bridge.

This method now has five controls, instead of the three used in earlier Processes, offering finer control of shadow-to-black ratios and black clipping, and highlight-to-whites ratios and white clipping.

Adobe CameraRaw 7.1 interface, with the key elements noted.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Using the SpyderCube with Lightroom 4

I’ve been working on the necessary directions for using the Datacolor SpyderCube with the new controls in Lightroom 4’s Process 2012. I’d appreciate any feedback from photographers who try this out. You don’t need to take a new shot of the Cube to test this, you can take a previous image with the Cube in it, reset it in Develop (which will automatically update it to Process 2012), then use these directions for making your adjustments with the new controls.

1. Go to the Lightroom Develop Mode. Set the White Balance by using the eyedropper to sample from the center of the lighter of the two gray faces, which represents the primary light source’s color temperature and tint.

2. View RGB values in the Histogram Section. Set the Exposure control so that the lighter gray face has RGB values of 50%, or your preferred card gray value.

3. Set the Whites control so that the lighter white face has RGB values of 90%, or your preferred card white value.

4. Turn on White Clipping Indicator. Check that Specular Highlights in Chrome Ball reach 100% and trigger White Clipping Indicator. If not, increase Whites level to achieve Specular Highlights, and adjust white face back to 90% using Highlights control. Optimize relation between Specular Highlights and Card Whites with Whites and Highlights controls.

5. Turn on the Black Clipping Warning. Adjust the Blacks control until the SpyderCube’s black trap is mostly or entirely to the Black Warning color; RGB values of 1% or less.

6. Adjust the Shadows control until the black face shows RGB values of 5% to 10%, depending on the amount of “bounce light” illuminating the black face. Turn Black Clipping off for visual check that black trap can be easily distinguished from black face.

7. Recheck the card white and card gray RGB values again, as each adjustment can effect the adjustments made before it. Retune until optimal.

8. Apply this set of adjustments to all other images shot under these lighting conditions by using Previous button, or by saving as a Preset.

This method now has five controls, instead of the three used in earlier Processes, offering finer control of shadow-to-black ratios and black clipping, and highlight-to-whites ratios and white clipping.

I tested this process on a number of my own files, and this example was a compelling argument for using the Cube. We often think such assistance isn’t needed outdoors under  good sunlight, and even less important with a lens such as a Lensbaby. But the shots below show the SpyderCube used under just such conditions, and a related image before and after applying the resulting SpyderCube corrections. It produces a noticeable improvement in white balance, turning the sky a more appropriate sky blue, the shingles a more accurate shade, shows more saturation in the flowers, opens the shadows on the porch, increasing shingle detail under the porch roof, while improving the punch of the dark windows.

So while its tempting to show the radical improvements that using the Cube provides to difficult situations, instead I’m showing what it does in a situation where even I wasn’t sure it was really necessary…

Could  I have made similar adjustments without the Cube? Perhaps, but how does one know just what corrections to make, without a reference? The Cube manages to pack several references into one device, and captures side lighting of the type in this photo in a way that a flat target does not; a flat target would captured much less sun, and much more blue sky bounce, and given a significantly cooler white balance.

This is the shot with the SpyderCube in it, after adjustments.

Here’s what the next frame looked like, at default settings in Lightroom.

Here are the subtle, but excellent, adjustments the Cube settings provide.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Tuning Printer Profiles to Specific Display Conditions

The issue of adjusting images for a specific viewing condition came up recently, and I promised to put together a short article on the tools available in SpyderPrint, from Datacolor, to make such adjustments as simple as possible. Lets assume you have already built a custom SpyderPrint profile for your printer, inks, and paper of choice. Now you just want your images to look the same in your display location, as they do in your own studio. Here’s how to make that happen:

Begin by opening SpyderPrint, and choosing the option to Select an Existing Measurement File, instead of Printing and Measuring a Target.

The Select an Existing Measurement File Option

Next you will choose the Measurement File that matches your Printer, Paper, and Ink profile.

Your Printer, Ink, and Paper Profile, selected from the Popdown List

This will lead you to a Soft Proof Preview of your profile, using the SpyderProof test images.

SpyderProof Soft Proof View of your combination

Now you choose the Advanced Editing option from the bottom of the SpyderProof screen, to edit your profile.

The SpyderProof - Edit screen, including PreciseLight sliders

At the bottom of this screen you will see two sliders, one for adjusting the Brightness from Dim to Bright, defaulted to a center position, and another to adjust the Color Temperature from Warm to Cool, also defaulted to a central location. These are the sliders you will use to print test images for checking under varying display conditions. You can print multiple versions of the Brightness adjustment by making changes to the Brightness slider, selecting “Finished” after each setting, and printing a sample image from the SpyderProof – View screen. Return to the Edit screen, make another adjustment to the Brightness slider, and repeat. A neutral version, plus two warmer and two cooler versions should be sufficient for most uses. Be sure to label each image with the setting it represents. Below the SpyderProof test images are shown with a diagonal split between Warm and Cool, for comparison.

Warm Cool Diagonal Split Comparison

What might not be apparent here is that the upper left part of the test images is from the “Warm” setting, and the lower right from the “Cool” setting. These are inverse of the control names, as they are to compensate for warm or cool lighting; adding warmth to the image compensates for cooler lighting, and visa versa.

Next a similar set of test images can be printed for Bright and Dim conditions. And again, the image will be lighter, with more open shadows, for dimmer lighting, and darker, with denser shadows, for brighter lighting. Label each print in this set as well. These images don’t need to be large; its possible to print four of them on a letter size sheet to save paper and make the samples as portable and foolproof as possible.

Now you take the sample sets to any location where you are considering hanging your work, be that a gallery, a museum, a customer’s home, or a commercial location. Determine which of the brightness samples is best suited to the location, and which of the Color Temperature samples works best in this lighting, or which pair are closest, meaning a setting between the two would be ideal. Note down the selected settings. This can be repeated for multiple locations; in fact, if this is your standard printer, ink, and paper combination, this set of test samples will be the only ones you will ever need, unless you choose to mail a set to an associate at a remote location for determining the best choice of print settings for display there. If settings vary in a space that does not offer consistent lighting, you may need to determine which prints you will place where before assigning adjustments to images. Shooting a SpyderCube in the various locations can help assign color temperature numbers to the lighting conditions, if you want to get scientific about it.

Once you have made your selections, build a new version of your profile (none of the test prints created above automatically save a profile, so you won’t be flooded in test profiles) and use this new profile, the name of which should note the slider values it includes, for printing the work for that location. Repeating this process for another display location is extremely simple, and building a new profile version to match takes only a few seconds. The only time it is necessary to repeat the entire process described above is if you change printers, inks, or papers.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Using Datacolor’s SpyderCube with Lightroom 4’s Process 2012

Datacolor’s SpyderCube can be used to set white balance and exposure settings by shooting it in an initial image under a given lighting condition, correcting basic settings in RAW converters such as Adobe Lightroom, and then applying those corrections to all other images shot under the same conditions. Adobe’s new Lightroom 4 defaults to a new set of RAW import controls called Process 2012, which function differently than previous Lightroom controls. This article outlines the differences between the previous Process 2010 and the new Process 2012, and how to achieve similar results from the two different processes when adjusting images using the SpyderCube.

The controls and their default settings for the Basic tools in the Develop Mode of Lightroom under Process 2010 are shown below on the left, with the Process 2012 equivalent controls, also at default settings on the right.

Process 2010 and Process 2012 default settings for the Basic controls

Images which were previously imported through Lightroom 3 will appear in Lightroom 4 using Process 2010; older images imported using Lightroom versions 1 or 2 will show as Process 2003. New imports in Lightroom 4 will appear as Process 2012 images. This brings two questions to mind; can images be converted from Process 2003 and 2010 to Process 2012 without visible changes? Not automatically, as explained in an earlier article. But with careful tweaking, the results can be very close, as we will demonstrate here.

Below are the copies of the same RAW file, one opened at defaults in Process 2010, the other opened at the default settings in Process 2012. Clipping warnings or white and black ends are turned on in both images, to show the relative clipping the two defaults produce.

Image opened using Process 2010 and Process 2012 defaults, with black and white clipping warnings

There are some differences in the densities and clipping, due to the differences in the defaults, and the different default Tone Curves in the two Processes. Next I use the SpyderCube to correct the p2010 image in the manner that the Cube has been used to correct images with Lightroom previously. The resulting adjustments are shown on the left below. I then adjusted the p2012 version of the file to as close to identical as the rather different controls in p2012 allowed. These adjustments are on the right below.

Process 2010 and Process 2012 adjusted settings

These adjustments resulted in the pair of corrected images shown below. As you can see, there is not much difference to the eye. However, the new controls in Process 2012 have other advantages not apparent here that are well worth the upgrade.

Images adjusted in Process 2010 and Process 2012

Below are the same two corrected images, with black and white clipping warnings turned on.

Adjusted images with black and white clipping warnings turned on

As you can see, the black clipping areas are nearly identical. The white clipping is somewhat reduced under Process 2012, due to changes in how the controls function.

Under any Process, the first adjustment is to set the White Balance by using its eyedropper to sample from the center of the lighter of the two gray faces, which represents the primary light source’s color temperature and tint. Under Process 2003 and 2010, the lighter white face was then adjusted to a value of about 90%, using the Exposure control. Then the lighter gray face was adjusted to a value ranging from 50% for shots in direct sunlight to higher values in lower light conditions. This was done with the Brightness control. Further fine tuning of Exposure and Brightness are often necessary, to compensate for each other, until the target percents are shown in both the primary gray and primary white samples. Finally the blacks were adjusted until an appropriate visual distinction was visible on a calibrated monitor in proper editing conditions (dim ambient lighting), resulting in a black value usually in the range of 10%, if there was splash lighting hitting the black face, or as low as 5% if there was not. White and gray values are rechecked if there is significant adjustment for the blacks, and adjusted if necessary.

Under Process 2012, it would seem that the nearest equivalent to this method would use Exposure to set whites, Whites to set grays, and Blacks to set blacks. But this does not produce the expected results with the new controls.

Instead a significantly different method can be used to obtain similar results. Once the image is white balanced, the Exposure control is used next to set the lighter gray face to the desired level. Then the Whites control is used to set the lighter white face to the appropriate level, with minor adjustments to the Highlights control if needed for optimal results. Again, these are tuned until gray and white levels are appropriate. Now the Blacks control can be adjusted to control black clipping in the SpyderCube’s black trap, while the black face surrounding the trap can be adjusted using the Shadows control. Finally, checks of white and gray are done again, once black adjustments are complete. This method now has five controls which can be brought into play, instead of the three used in earlier Processes, offering finer control of shadow to black ratios and black clipping, and highlight to whites ratios and white clipping.

Notice in the adjusted settings image above that Process 2010 editing increased the Exposure significantly, while reducing the Brightness (which started at a default of +50). Under Process 2012, Exposure is increased only fractionally, while Whites are increased significantly. Lightening an image using the Whites control increases the brightness of the dark areas less than the Exposure control, so effects the grays of the SpyderCube less, for a similar change in the Cube’s whites than the Exposure control. It is the differential between these two controls that is being used to control highlight values versus midtone values, and produce some, but not too much, white clipping in the chrome ball on top of the Cube to assure specular highlights are correctly set. Similarly the Blacks control, which clips, and the Shadows control, which does not, are played against one another for clean blacks in the black trap, and appropriate shadow detail in the black face.

Opposing Adjustments to Blacks and Shadows can be used under Process 2012

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Lightroom 4: Analyzing the New Process 2012 Controls

There are some fundamental changes between the controls and settings in Lightroom 3’s Process 2010, and Lightroom 4’s Process 2012. I have described these differences, and shown some of the value of the new controls, in previous articles, as well as the weaknesses inherent in the older process. It has been pointed out to me that none of these articles actually analyze the differences in the controls, and describe how they effect images; so that is what I will do here. Those of you who are determined to understand the new process fully may find some answers in the testing notes below.

Both Process 2010 and 2012 are available in Lightroom 4, with previously imported images defaulting to Process 2010 (or if they are of Lightroom 2 or earlier, to Proces 2003), while newly imported images will be in Process 2012. It is possible to change between these processes, but there is not exact equivalency, as you will see in this article. The illustration below compares the Basic Controls in the Develop module of Lightroom 3, on the left, and Lightroom 4, on the right.

Lightroom 3 and 4 Basic Controls, AKA: Process 2010, and Process 2012

Testing Methodology

In order to analyze changes caused by the various controls, test images where shot of the Datacolor SpyderCheckr target, where the ten percent gray ramp patches, and the additional 5% and 95% gray patches, were used to determine how adjustments were effecting the image tonal range. These numerical changes were compared to the visual changes in the image itself, and the graphical changes in the RGB histogram of the image at the top of the Lightroom Develop Mode’s right panel. Shots of the Datacolor SpyderCube were similarly tested, in part to help analyze the Lightroom Processes, and in part to determine how best to use the SpyderCube with these new controls, which I will document in a future article. Checks were done between Lightroom 3, and Lightrooom 4’s implementation of Process 2010, to be sure that the two were equivalent. Further testing was done in Lightroom 4.1, using the p2010 and p2012 settings, which is much more convenient than running two versions of Lightroom simultaneously.

White Balance (graphical change)

While the Color Temperature and Tint controls in the White Balance section display differently between the versions, this is simply a matter of Process 2012 now displaying the actual Color Temperature value in Degrees Kelvin even at the “As Shot” setting, instead of defaulting to zero, and not offering any useful Color Temp info until the slider had been moved from that location in Process 2010. The functionality of the controls in this section is unchanged, so will not be discussed further.

Exposure (range change)

The Tone Controls section has the same number of controls as before, but their names, groupings, and some cases their control types have been changed, between p2010 and p2012.  The first control to analyze is the Exposure slider. It now has a range of negative five to positive five in Process 2012, increased from four units in each direction in the previous version. This extra range may come in handy for some extreme situation, but the functionality of the control in its usual range appears unchanged. Exposure stretches (positive move) or compresses (negative move) all tones. No clipping of values at the black end occurs when compressing the Exposure downward, but significant blow-out of highlights occurs when increasing the Exposure in either Process.

Contrast (location change)

Contrast functions by stretching all values out from the center with a positive adjustment, or compressing them towards the center with a negative adjustment. The effect is not symmetrical with much more change taking place in the darker end of the range than in the lighter end. Contrast adjustments do not clip either near whites or near blacks, compressing them towards the ends instead. This behavior appears identical in Process 2010 and Process 2012. So while the Contrast control has a new location, now paired with the Exposure control at the top of the Tone section, its functionality can be considered unchanged.

Recovery (removed)

This Process 2010 control no longer exists in Process 2012. It is a single directional slider, with the default position at the zero end. Moving the slider away from zero does not darken white, but darkens near whites and highlights, while having little effect at the dark end of the range. This is a “gamma-like” adjustment, where both ends are fixed, and the adjustment centers in the highlight zone, moving only in the direction that reduces the brightness of tones from their default values.

Fill Light (removed)

This is another Process 2010 control that no longer exists in Process 2012. It is also a single directional slider, with the default position at the zero end. Moving the slider away from zero does not lighten black, but lightens near backs and shadows, while having little effect at the light end of the range. This is another “gamma-like” adjustment, where both ends are fixed, while the adjustment centers in the shadow zone, moving only in the direction that increases the brightness of tones from their default values. The functionality of the Fill control appears to be a symmetrical opposite of the Recovery control.

Blacks (range and location change)

The blacks control in Process 2010 is a single directional control, but the default value was not zero. Offset from zero varies, but for all cameras I checked it was at 5, while for non-RAW images, it was at zero. Adjusting the control back towards zero decreases the default clipping of blacks. Increasing the slider value clips an increasing number of near blacks to black. In Process 2012, the Blacks slider is now a bidirectional slider, with a default of zero. The lack of a default offset here is compensated for elsewhere in p2012; partially with changes in the Tone Curve default and engine (more on that below).

Brightness (removed)

This p2010 control has no equivalent in p2012. The Brightness control is a bidirectional slider, which defaults to zero for non-RAW images, but defaults to a value of +50 with all tested cameras.  The Brightness control runs to positive and negative 150, and compresses but does not clip at the black end with negative values. It clips significantly at white with positive adjustments. The control has a similar function, when moved in the positive direction, to the Exposure slider, but does not have as much range.

Highlights (added)

This new Process 2012 control is bidirectional, and defaults to zero, as do all the new/replacement controls. Positive adjustments stretch highlights towards white, compressing near whites to white without clipping them, and stretching highlights in the midtone end of the affected zone. Negative adjustments are more in line with previous Recovery adjustments. They compress highlights into the midtone zone, while stretching them in the near whites. There is also a parametric Tone Curve function of the same name. Both Highlights controls have very similar effects, though they are applied separately. It makes sense not to raise one of these controls while lowering the other, as it would be counterproductive, but there might be cases in which minor adjustments in the same direction are made in both.

Shadows (added)

This new p2012 control, like the others, is bidirectional and defaulted to zero. It is an mirror of the Highlight control, used to control shadow detail versus image punch. Again there is a control of the same name in the Tone Curve section, but here the effect of the Tone section’s slider has a broader effect than the similarly named control under the Tone Curve section, so one or the other may be selected depending on whether a more localized or more broad effect is desired.

Whites (added)

This new bidirectional, zeroed p2012 control is somewhat analogous to the now older Brightness control, but with much less range in the negative direction. It does not have the Highlight control’s protection against clipping, if moved in a positive direction. It raised all tones, and clips those near white progressively as stronger positive adjustments occur. Whites are also not held when negative adjustments occur, so lowering the Whites control will darken whites along with other values.

Blacks (again)

This new p2012 control is the mirror of the White control, producing the same results, from the other end of the tonal range. Its described above, and included here only to round out the “new four” as this is the only control of the four to retain its name, though it has changed its function considerably.

The Other Change: Tone Curve Default

The Tone Curve defaulted to Medium Contrast in Process 2010. It defaults to Linear in Process 2012. Moving an image from p2010 to p2012 forces a change in Tone Curve, rather than retaining the previous setting; since apparently retaining the setting does not retain the tone densities anyways. Medium Contrast in p2010 and Medium Contrast in p2012 mean different things, so aligning them would not be appropriate. This would indicate changes to the tone engine in Process 2012, and not clear equivalency for older images, which had been processed previously in either Process 2003 (Lightroom 1 or 2) or Process 2010 (Lightroom 3). This means that you should not automatically update the Process for pre-corrected images and expect matching tonalities. If you choose to move the Process version of an image to p2012, be prepared to readjust the tonality.

Opposing Adjustments to Blacks and Shadows

Interactions and Improvements

The new, centered, bidirectional controls offer a few advantages over the older versions. Control of black clipping against shadow detail is the clearest example. It is now possible to use the Blacks control to clip noise from the levels nearest to black by moving it in a negative direction, while independently opening the shadow area by moving the Shadows control in a positive direction, as illustrated above. Interaction between the new, and more symmetrical, controls is clearer, as well as more effective. Its now possible to adjust highlight and shadow areas without unintended clipping of whites or blacks, while it is also possible to make powerful adjustments to images from either end, both without clipping, if the end adjustment is inward, or with the inevitable clipping if the adjustment is outward. The engine underneath the new Process is improved, and more drastic adjustments to images can now be made without the the kinds of artifacts that the older, less linear, process produced.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Color Calibration Comparison: Canon 5D Mark lll from Different Profiles

In my recent article comparing the color response of the Canon 5D Mark lll in Lightroom 4.1 with and without SpyderCheckr calibration received a lot of interesting responses. The most frequent questions were: what profile did you use (answer: Adobe Standard, for reasons that will become apparent below), and what effect would changing that profile have on the color? That seemed like a valid line of enquiry. I also thought it appropriate to also show what would happen if I build a calibration on top of each of these profiles, and applied these calibrations for comparison. The usual caveats about what you see on your (possibly uncalibrated) monitor through your (possibly non-color managed) browser apply.

First its necessary to understand the importance of defaults in such settings as Tone Curves and Profiles. Images are imported into Lightroom, and unless  you build a special Preset, and specifically include things like a Tone Curve and a Profile into that preset, and remember to import all images through that Preset, then you (like 99% of Lightroom users) will end up processing your images on top of the default settings. So my standard recommendation is to leave the Tone Curve and the Profile at the default, and to build your custom SpyderCheckr camera calibration (and your SpyderCube white balance and exposure adjustments) on top of those settings. That way you won’t have to remember what settings were in place when you created the calibration, and the chance of you having the wrong settings in place when you apply the calibration are minimized.

Also note that pushing the Reset button in Lightroom’s Develop Mode will reset the Tone Curve in Process2012 to Linear, and the Profile to Adobe Standard, even though you might not have intended either of those actions. One more reason its safest to build on top of the defaults, to ensure consistency, and minimize errors.

Next, I built three different calibrations in the SpyderCheckr software, all from the same shot of the SpyderCheckr target, taken with the Canon 5D Mark lll camera. In all cases I left the Tone Curve set at the new default of Linear. In all cases I left the intent in the SpyderCheckr application set to Colorimetric, the most literal setting. For one calibration, I left the Lightroom 4.1 Profile set at the default profile of Adobe Standard. For another I set the Profile to Camera Standard. And, to test one of the “flavored” choices, I also build a calibration with the Profile set to Camera Portrait.

I then opened the same 5D Mark lll test image I used in my previous articles in Lightroom 4.1, at its default Profile setting of Adobe Standard, and captured what the color from that looked like. I then applied the Lightroom Preset I had build for the Mark lll at Adobe Standard, and captured that as well. These two images were combined side by side into an Uncalibrated/Calibrated image. That image is below. Click on it to see the results at 100%.

Results using Adobe Standard, Uncalibrated, then Calibrated

These results, though I created a new calibration, and newly applied it to the image, are similar to the results in the previous article, as the same configurations are used. Next I repeated the same test, with Lightrooom 4.1 now set to the Camera Standard Profile. The results for this pair of images are below.

Results using Camera Standard, Uncalibrated, then Calibrated

These results are quite similar to the first pair. Camera Standard is not quite as oversaturated to Adobe Standard, showing a bit better color detail since it is not as bleary, and with a somewhat different hue. Calibration, starting from these two different hues and levels of oversaturation, is satisfyingly similar. This is what calibration is supposed to do. Calibration takes two inaccurate and dissimilar monitors, and makes them both correct and similar by calibrating them. Camera calibration similarly corrects both versions of the image, and as a result makes them a closer match as well. This is very reassuring.

Now to test with a “flavored” Profile. One intended for Portraits is shown below.

Results using Camera Portrait, Uncalibrated, then Calibrated

Here the  reds are less oversaturated then either of the previous cases, but the near whites show much pinker and more saturated. Note that the calibrated result on the right adds a bit more color detail in the reds, and reduces the over saturation and excess density in the near whites considerably. As a calibration can’t fix everything, there are compromises required. The worse starting point of this Profile resulted in less accurate reds than the other calibrations, in the process of curing the heavily over saturated and too-dark near white zone. This result would indicate to me that one of the other Profiles would be a better starting point for calibration, much as it is possible to choose a better media setting in a printer driver before profiling the printer.

It makes sense that avoiding intentional flavorings and non-linear Profiles in advance of creating a Camera Calibration is a good idea. The fact that the default (Adobe Standard) Profile offers good results in convenient, as it allows users to feel comfortable doing what is easiest: calibrating on top of the default, for the least chance of later errors in applying the calibration to future images as they are imported.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page