How to create a custom color profile for your DSLR

Mar 17, 2010
by Ian Hylands  
Learn how to create a custom color profile for your DSLR. Creating a custom color profile for each of your cameras gives you not only better looking color but also helps to keep the color consistent between cameras.

Video Inside
Views: 10,816    Faves: 53    Comments: 10

Basic Camera and Light setup
Basic Camera and Light setup

Using one light keeps the color temperature consistent across the Color Target, a large softbox directly behind the camera works well, although you can also use a speedlight if that's all you have. I use an X-Rite ColorChecker Classic in the video.


  • 75 14
 You Americans really should spell "colour" correctly haha waiting for the negative props. Cool article, good to see the photography side of the site being well acknowledged, good work Smile
  • 28 3
 yeah we spell "tire" wrong as well, us american's are odd
  • 13 44
flag seraph (Sep 25, 2010 at 16:19) (Below Threshold)
 Nah we spell "tire," "color," and "armor" just fine.
  • 31 4
 actually its wrong, English comes from England and most the other country's like america have changed it a little bit
  • 30 9
 Well if you want to get picky, English actually comes from Latin and by that logic we're all using it wrong.
  • 23 6
 Sorry pal, English is mostly a Germanic langage, not Latin. So really, it should be "farbe" if we forward time enough from the origins of english. But who cares!
  • 7 1
 In reality, English is in fact derived mostly from Germanic languages. Although, it has been heavily influenced by Latin throughout history. This is why it is fairly an easier job to learn Latin based languages vs. languages from the Orient. As far as spelling goes, well, most languages that are traveled the globe have changed over time. English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc... have all evolved in both grammar and spelling. As the U.S. is the dominant English speaking nation in the world today it is widely excepted that American English is the standard.
  • 25 1
 although ive seen many odd debates on PB, this has got to be to weirdest.
  • 4 12
flag nouser (Dec 6, 2011 at 9:14) (Below Threshold)
 but basicly..who gives a shit we all know ameri.........................
  • 20 2
 Actually, English came from a giant muffin that fell from the sky in the early 1600's, thus creating the English muffin.........wait.....what were we talking about again??
  • 3 2
 actually english numbers were inspired by ariabic numerals Wink
  • 2 0
 LIES!!!! ALL I HEAR ARE LIES!!!!!!!!!! Razz
  • 5 0
 My main complaint about american english is that we don't use the metric system. c'mon murica
  • 4 0
 Great tutorial Ian, again! Can't wait to see the next one!

But does the calibration of your monitor influence how your going to interpret the collor change?

I mean, if your monitor isn't callibrated right, profing your DSLR will probibly do good for the end result, but still isn't "perfect". Or do I see it the wrong way?
  • 3 0
 Very good question! Yes this should be part of a complete color managed workflow. If you really want to have good consistent color in your digital images then you need to manage the color from start to finish. So you need to have an accurate white balance, a calibrated camera profile, and a calibrated monitor. If you want to print them it helps to have a calibrated printer profile as well. Of all of these the monitor profile is probably the most important because if it is wrong and you adjust your images to the way you want them to look and then send them to someone else, they will see something completely different. Including your clients.
  • 6 0
 i dont have a cable trigger, so i just used self timer.
  • 2 0
 great idea, self timer is something I use a lot to avoid camera shake in long exposures as well...
  • 1 0
 Do you find that colour profiles change much between lenses? I don't know if it's just a placebo effect or not, but I find that my L-series glass "appears" punchier than cheap glass. But I've never actually measured it in any kind of scientific way.
  • 1 0
 Most of my Nikon lenses don't differ a whole lot, I really don't notice it. However there is a noticeable difference between my Nikon lenses and my Zeiss 50 1.4 There is definitely a difference between cheap glass and nice glass, mostly from the quality of the lens elements and specifically the coatings on them. As Tim mentions below it is better to create a separate profile for each lens, although it's a lot more work it does produce more consistent color.
  • 1 0
 This is a great tutorial but it's important to remember that this technique will only calibrate for a particular lens and lighting scenario. As soon as you move out of the studio, change lenses or use a different flash or light modifier you need to recalibrate.

For critical color work, (catalogs, ads, etc.) this is an invaluable technique.

Great post Ian!
  • 3 1
 While it's true for very critical work that this only applies to very specific combination of lens and light source it's still a lot better than the generic profile that most of us are using now. As an alternative you can download the specific stock profile for your camera from Adobe or create a dual illuminant profile. Using this same technique with two different light sources that are 2850K (tungsten) and 6500K (D65) you can create a dual illuminant profile for your camera that will take the white balance into account and give you almost perfect color at any color temperature. The only difference then would be the color difference of a particular lens, which for most of us is fairly minimal. For completely perfect color you would have to create a dual illuminant profile for each of your lenses, and then manually assign the profile for each lens, as LR doesn't allow you to assign profiles based on lens, only camera serial number.
For most of us using a standard single light source profile in conjunction with an accurate white balance is going to be so much better than just the stock ACR 4.6 profile that we'll be happy with just that.
How many people would be interested in having me do another tutorial on creating a dual illuminant profile? Let me know and if there's a good enough response I'll get working on it.
  • 1 0
 Hi Ian, great set of tutorials, just watched the lot! I would definitely be interested in seeing a dual illiminant profile tutorial, so hopefully that will come along soon?

Also it would be good to understand in a bit more detail the customisable camera settings for Picture Styles, not sure if these are any good or if it's worth modifying them and additionally how this may or may not affect the colour profile described above.

  • 1 0
 good tutorial. have you seen the plug in for lightroom that means you dont have to mess with the dng profiler? just take your first pic with the colour chart and then sort it in lightroom with the plugin. if your bothered about your lens changing colours you can shoot a colour checker every time you change lens, simples.
  • 1 0
 There's a color correction plugin for Lightroom from Xrite that does basically the same thing as the Adobe DNG Profiler, it's designed to create a camera profile from the X-Rite color checker. You only really need to create a profile once though, unless you need REALLY critical color correction. After that you should just shoot a white balance card for every shoot or whenever the light changes.
Is there another plugin that I don't know about? Please let me know, thanks!
  • 4 0
 Another top notch tutorial! Thanks Ian...
  • 1 0
 So does this just allow you to view the image correctly in the editor, or does it actually convert the images when you save them so then everyone who views it henceforth sees the corrected colors?
  • 1 0
 It adjusts the colors of the image as you open them with your RAW editor, whether it's Camera Raw or Lightroom. I'm not sure how it will work with Aperture. Then it will save the changes to the RAW data, remember that in RAW files the pixels themselves aren't changed, just the description of what they look like. If you save it as a Tiff or jpg the changes are applied at the pixel level. Does that help?
  • 1 0
 My main issue is most ppls monitors aren't calibrated, so the colours & tone most ppl see is often far from correct.

*edit: aah, just read the post below... haha
  • 1 0
 Great tutorial! Big Grin ...I really should do this, man if I wasn't saving up so I wouldn't have to worry about $ at sea otter I'd order a mini one right now
  • 1 0
 These videos are some of the most helpful photography vids on the net, however i have no idea what was said in that video haha, think i need to do some research
  • 1 0
 Keep the Tutorials coming!!

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