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X-Rite ColorChecker Nano card

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Colorchecker Nano card from X-Rite

Colour accuracy and profiles for macro photography


We’ve long used Colorchecker cards at full size and the smaller more portable Colorchecker Passport for improving the colour accuracy of photos under different light conditions.

A simple DNG profile, such as you can easily make with X-Rite’s free software, quickly lets you correct for fluorescent and other uneven light sources.

However that’s difficult when you’re photographing small things. The card is just too big.

X-Rite have produced a brand new ‘Nano’ version of the card, only 25mm x 45mm.

There are more details about using DNG profiling in Keith’s original Colorchecker Passport review

stopwatch and CC card

ColorChecker cards available at: B&H

Photographing small things

I’ve set up a small group of highly coloured items on one of my small product photography tables.

photo setup

This one is lit using CFL panels and I know from experience, that reproduction of intense artificial colours such as the plastic cars, can look a little flat.

I’m using the EOS RP [review] tethered to my computer here. The rear screen lets me quickly set things up, and with the manual focus TS-E90mm F2.8 lens, I can use focus peaking to get a quick idea of focus.

Note how the front end of the lens is tilted downwards. This tilt makes the focal plane run through the group of items.  If you’re curious about this use of tilt, I’ve written several articles about it, such as:  Setting the tilt axis for shift lenses

I’ll often use the lens with extension tubes got work closer, but this set-up is really to show the effect of using a profile in the processing of my RAW images.

I need to take a photo (in RAW) of the scene, but with the Colorchecker card in it. I only need to do this once for any particular camera and lighting setup.

Once I’ve taken the photo, I convert the RAW file into a DNG format using Adobe’s free DNG converter program.

convert to DNG

The DNG file is simply dropped onto the Camera Calibration software window, which will attempt to find the target in your photo.

drop dng

The target needs no special alignment, but you do need to check that the green boxes are only in the colour patches.

target identified

If alignment fails then you can manually set the corner points for your target.

Slight defocus isn’t an issue, but once again make sure the boxes are in solid colour areas.

The profile generation takes only a few seconds, whereupon you can name the profile and it will become available in tools such as ACR (which I use with Photoshop), Lightroom (which I don’t ever use) or any other software able to use these profiles.

Note: This profile is for a single illuminant. I recently tested an LED ring light with adjustable colour temperature, where I created a Dual Illuminant profile
The software can also make ICC camera profiles for some processing software – this is a somewhat more complex workflow, so I’ll not cover it here.

Using the profiles

After restarting, the profiles are available for me to use in Photoshop, when opening RAW files with ACR

using-profile-in-ACR

I use such profiles with several cameras, so a meaningful name does help…

Here’s the image I created the profile with.

tiny colorchecker

It’s an image processed with the profile.

How much difference is there?

Here’s a detail showing before and after using the profile.

tiny colorchecker

If that’s not so clear – look at this animated GIF

use of profile

Although it’s a GIF, it gives a good feel for the improvement I expect when using a profile.

Conclusions

It’s a Colorchecker card, it does everything I’d want to use one for, but it’s tiny. It’s actually small enough for fitting in a full frame shot at 1:1 life size (35mm FF sensor).

At 25mm x 40mm it’s easy to get into your shot…

stopwatch and CC card

Just keep it clean – it will quickly pick up dust if left out…

Software and info

Using the CC card

Availability

ColorChecker cards available at: B&H

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