Color Calibration: Gear, Software, Workflow, etc.

TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
edited January 2014 in General Discussions

A thread for all the color calibration techniques, gear, software solutions, and workflow.

With computer items, be sure to say if you are using a Mac or PC - It does make a difference with many devices.

Post edited by TaoTeJared on
D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
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  • scoobysmakscoobysmak Posts: 215Member
    edited January 2014
    Guess I will toss my workflow to date but it could probably be more efficient I am sure.

    Of course it starts with the tools in my hand, depending on the day D700, D7000, and D200 IR converted (have an F5 as well but overall not in the picture). Then placed on a SanDisk or Lexar CF or SD card depending on the camera used (I have had other cheap cards just plain out die, of course I have a few cheap ones that still work but I don't use them except if I am going to run a few test shots like to check for sensor dust).

    Once I get this far I work solely on PC's, Macs are nice but just had PC's so long to switch. I custom built it from scratch but the basics are an Intel i7 processor, 16MB RAM, 512 MB video card, Solid state main hard drive, two monitors (one cheap 22" and the other is a 24" IPS monitor), two NAS devices that hold 4 TB each (this is raid 1 for both as well, so could be as much as 8 TB for each NAS if I wanted/needed this much but lose my backup. Other hardware include a Xrite Colormunki for my IPS monitor and Epson 3880 printer. Were it all goes wrong for me, besides not paying enough attention when I click the shutter, is my software. I have LR4, Nikon Capture NX2, and PS CS3. I am not effective with any of the software. I do not have any plug-ins for any software either. When I am on the road I have a tablet PC that has LR4 and Nikon Capture NX2 but there is no way to calibrate this small screen so I have to fly by the seat of my pants if I edit anything using this computer.

    I usually take my CF/SD cards and save them in a folder according to the year/category/possible sub category (for instance if the category is car shows, the sub category would be the show I was at). If I am on the road I will place these on a portable hard drive (call it "A") and create a backup on another portable hard drive (call it "B"). When I get home I have a NAS that will backup portable hard drive "A" or "B" with the USB port on the front. If I am at home I usually still place my photos on hard drive A but just back it up to my NAS. When ever I am on the road hard drive B will get updated when I back up fresh stuff anyway.

    The main reason I do it this way is so I can use both LR4 and NX2, if I used LR only I might limit myself to only being able to use LR and not NX2. LR can make a backup when you import your photos which is a nice feature but I don't want to limit myself (there is probably a much better way to organize my photos even with my unusual software situation but this has worked for me so far but I average around 15,000 photos a year, some might do this in a day).

    I have looked at online tutorials for the software I have but in this case I am just not quite getting the hang of it. Not sure why the light bulb has not gone off you might say but I will probably have to pay someone to personally teach me the a few things before I see the light. At this moment I keep a lot of "junk" photos for the hope that one day when I am comfortable with any software I might be able to "recover" a few of these.
    Post edited by scoobysmak on
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    Macbook Pro mid 2012 the fully loaded one ( yikes )
    22 IPS monitor via thunderbolt to hdmi cable
    xrite color munki calibrating weekly
    To edit Lightroom

    Yes it does make a difference to calibrate. I got mine on sale so that was a bigger win for myself.
  • SymphoticSymphotic Posts: 704Member
    edited January 2014
    I use macbook pros and a macbook air. All computers give comparable workflows with just a difference in speed.

    I use three different cameras (two Nikons and a Fuji) but always shoot in raw and convert to .dng when I import. With the D800 I use 14 bit lossless compressed. The V1 only records in 12 bit compressed. I think the Fuji is 14 bit lossless, but maybe someone else knows for sure.

    I generally import and select photos using LR4, do my white balance and sharpening, lens corrections, exposure, etc. in LR prior to opening for any other work and printing from Photoshop CS6. Sometimes I skip the Photoshop and just print from Lightroom. If I didn't have Photoshop I think I could make do just fine with Lightroom only.

    I start out with corrected white balance, either using some known white object in the scene or a gray card, or my best guess if auto white balance doesn't work quite right.

    I calibrate my monitors with the X-Rite i1 display. I am using an Apple Cinema display, but I plan to upgrade if I ever get asked to do color critical work. I use Adobe RGB as my color gamut. My printer is a Canon 9500 mk II, I use Canon glossy paper only, and I let the printer manage colors.

    I am happy with the results of this workflow, and I have much less waste of paper, ink and time now that I follow this protocol. I am not in a business where accurate colors are critical, but it really bothers me if the colors aren't close, unless I have done something to them on purpose. I don't have time to experiment with changes, so I will watch this thread carefully to see what others are doing.
    Post edited by Symphotic on
    Jack Roberts
    "Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought"--Albert Szent-Gyorgy
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member


    I calibrate my monitors with the X-Rite i1 display. I am using an Apple Cinema display, but I plan to upgrade if I ever get asked to do color critical work. I use Adobe RGB as my color gamut. My printer is a Canon 9500 mk II, I use Canon glossy paper only, and I let the printer manage colors.

    If you were to upgrade, what would you upgrade to?
  • GarethGareth Posts: 159Member
    I have my camera set to aRGB.

    I import mostly into photoshop as aRGB, but if I need the extra gamut, or if it already is, then prophoto.

    I leave LR to import prophoto and export prophoto.

    I have lightroom setup to import with D2X camera calibration instead of standard.

    I profile my monitor and papers using an i1 pro.

    I use canson rag photographique as my matt paper and ilford gold fibre silk as my semi gloss.

    I print using an Epson 3880. Photoshop manages colour unless I am printing advanced black and white.
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,176Member
    Nikon D4 Nikon V2
    IMac 27 inch 3.4 !.7 Core
    Spyder 4 Elite
    Adobe CC Monthly Account including LR5
    Plug ins, Nik, OnOne, Topaz
    Epson 7880 Printer
    I calibrate the screen monthly
    Use Epson paper and inks
    Never have any problems with white balance, Prints come out as per screen
    Always shoot in Raw using colour space sRGB IEC61966-2.1


    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • GarethGareth Posts: 159Member
    ^^^ do you use an sRGB workflow?
  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    edited January 2014
    i dont calibrate, and chose white balance as i see fit

    soon i will be doing some product stuff, so im gonna get more serious about accurate colour in a week or so

    this thread is good timing for me, lets see what you guys are all up to!
    Post edited by mikep on
  • SymphoticSymphotic Posts: 704Member


    .... I am using an Apple Cinema display, but I plan to upgrade if I ever get asked to do color critical work. ...

    If you were to upgrade, what would you upgrade to?
    That's a tough question...I think the Apple monitor is fine for day to day, but some day I'm sure a customer will specify something like a NEC. What would you get?
    Jack Roberts
    "Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought"--Albert Szent-Gyorgy
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    I have heard that the NECs and Eizo's are the best of the best (at least for less than $5000).

    This one is currently in my "wishlist" at B&H:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/917783-REG/eizo_cg276_bk_27_wide_scren_wide.html

    The think that I like about it is that it has a built in colour calibration tool that pops up on a regular basis and automatically calibrates the monitor. This will be very convenient.

    But for $2,564, I am going to do my homework and I am not in a hurry. I probably have a year ahead of me mastering many aspects of photography before I get into colour. Is there better monitor for that price? Can I get the same for cheaper? Can I save some money and achieve the same results if I am willing to calibrate manually? etc.

    Plus my ex-wife's family owns an engineering firm in Japan and Eizo is a very good customer. It would be good to support that.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Gareth, are you shooting raw? If so, the aRGB setting on your camera is irrelevant as the raw files have no colorspace. If I am shooting raw I set the camera to sRGB to get a more accurate color rendering in the preview of the photo, as the rear screen can't have near the gamut to display aRGB (does any?)
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 396Member
    Spyder Express used to calibrate both my Mac desktop and laptops. Have been toying with white-balance in-camera a lot lately. Looking at one of these: http://tinyurl.com/ljffo3b . Otherwise happy with Nikon's presets and color the calibration the combo yields.

    I use Aperture, but am not entirely happy with its translation of RAW to various white-balance presets. Not as good as the color I get from Nikon JPEG when I nail the WB. Nor as good as View NX and RAW, but that latter workflow is a PITA.

    So these days, I take a moment, manually set a WB and lock in JPEGs, 90% of the time. If it's challenging light, then I'll shoot RAW the other 10% of the time and do the work.

    If it's low light, I'll shoot RAW, run it through Dfine first, then hand it to my fiancée who is a Photoshop wiz. Ironic, that after all the work I do to get the "right" color, she often goes and creates her own color interpretation of the shot.
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • AdeAde Posts: 1,071Member
    @jshickele If you have multiple monitors / laptops you're going to need an external profiler tool anyway, so Eizo's less expensive CX range might also be an option in lieu of the CG range. The CX range still has a "self correction" sensor, while the CG has the full calibration sensor.

    I use a NEC MultiSync wide-gamut next to my Apple display. For profiling I have both a colorimeter (Spyder 4) and a spectrophotometer (i1Pro 2). I mainly use ICC's ColorEyes Display Pro calibration software, and an Epson R3000 for printing at home.

    When I first got the NEC, the wide-gamut colors were so different than what I was used to (and to all my other displays) -- even when calibrated to the same white point and luminance -- that I actually sent the NEC back to the shop for diagnosis. I really had a hard time because I felt I couldn't trust any of my monitors.

    I bought a new iMac recently, and while its LCD is not wide-gamut like the NEC, the colors between them are very similar, so now I'm a happy camper again.

    I converted from Aperture to Lightroom last year. My workflow is a bit of a mess now since I still have an active project on Aperture but all of my new work is in Lightroom... so that's something to solve. (I'm not 100% happy with Lightroom and keep waiting for Aperture X to appear). I use Nikon's Camera Control Pro 2 for tethering.

    4K LCD panel prices are dropping like a rock; I'm hoping we will see more 4K wide-gamut options out there soon. Currently none the usual suspects (NEC, Eizo, Lacie) have any professional 4K offerings. Dell has a new consumer-level 28" 4K for $699 which is an incredible price, but its TN panel is not suitable for color work.
  • SymphoticSymphotic Posts: 704Member
    ....4K LCD panel prices are dropping like a rock; I'm hoping we will see more 4K wide-gamut options out there soon. Currently none the usual suspects (NEC, Eizo, Lacie) have any professional 4K offerings. ....
    I have been thinking the same thing. It's part of the reason I am waiting.
    Jack Roberts
    "Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought"--Albert Szent-Gyorgy
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    edited January 2014
    Yeah, I will spend my camera budget on lenses and maybe a DF before I make an investment in a colour accurate monitor.
    Post edited by WestEndBoy on
  • scoobysmakscoobysmak Posts: 215Member
    Figured with Nikon Capture NX2 and Aperture going away this thread could use a refresh, as a bonus it might help me out.

    My work flow still is the pits but normally I used Capture NX2, needless to say in the past 2 weeks I started to play with LR 4.4 exclusively since the software I normally use is going away. I am still away from home so my tablet PC is my only computer. Some things I have not mastered is how to import a RAW file into lightroom, I understand LR does not do RAW files and think its created into a Tiff or something but so far I have only been able to edit jpeg files. The other thing about lightroom is the ability to flip the color spectrum for IR files. I was only able to do this in Nikon Capture NX2. I hope I don't need PS for this. If LR can't do it can adobe elements accomplish this?
  • Bokeh_HunterBokeh_Hunter Posts: 234Member
    Lightroom does RAW - Not sure what you are seeing or doing that is not allowing you to do so. You can convert them if you want, but I never have and left them NEFs.

    IR in Lightroom is limited. Since I only have a D50 with IR, I shoot mostly Jpeg BW but I use Photoshop when I need too. You can try using the HSL section or the Split Toning but it's not as useful as NX2 or PS.

    You will be able to still use NX2 in the future. Elements has a free download trials from time to time and you can do IR swapping in it.

    One thought, if you do the Photographers package from Adobe online you get LR 5, Photoshop as well as tablet applications.
    •Formerly TTJ•
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited August 2014

    Some things I have not mastered is how to import a RAW file into lightroom,

    LR is a comprehensive but fairly complicated program

    To make full use of all it's amazing features, you must understand how it works and organize your work flow accordingly,
    It is vital, you set its many defaults, to suit your way of working
    you cannot do this overnight

    look up Victoria Bampton Lightroom Queen and Matt Kloskowski for tutorials
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • Those who say it can't be done, should not interrupt those doing it!
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