ColorNews Issue #6

Digicam Profiling

C H R O M i X C O L O R N E W S

Issue #6
March 25, 2003


Welcome to ColorNews, a periodic update on all things related to Color
Management. Please let us know what your interests are so we can address
these concerns in our coming issues. We apologize for the delay from our
last newsletter, many exciting changes have taken place at CHROMiX and
we will be covering them over the next few newsletters.

ColorNews covers newsworthy items including new product releases and
updates, and interesting, informative web sites. Each issue will
include a feature article covering an aspect of color management such
as profiles, workflow, and so forth.

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Table of Contents

1. CHROMiX News
2. Color News
3. New Releases
4. ColorFAQs - this month's FAQ is on Digital Camera Profiling
5. ColorNews Administration (feedback, subscriptions, etc.)


There have been so many changes at CHROMiX since the last newsletter that it
is worth mentioning them here:

- ColorThink v2.0 for Mac was released earlier 2003. We appreciate all our
beta testers and customers who have helped provide feedback instrumental to
it's release. Version 2.0 now performs all graphing in OpenGL and offers
features such as translucent overlays, graphing of image colors, vector graphs
for showing color shifts etc. Now available for Mac OS X and OS 9.

- ColorThink v2.0 for Windows is now in beta! We are very excited to see our
powerful visualization tool running (and running well!) on Windows. It takes
full advantage of OpenGL and ICM and will soon be everything all our friends on
Windows have been waiting for! To be notified the instant it ships, please
email us at cctwin(at)

- Our ColorValet Press Kit for profiling of printing presses is now ready and
online! Now you can get high-quality sheet-averaged profiles build for only
$299 per paper stock. We have been building press profiles onsite and in our
lab for years now and are excited to be offering this formalized ColorValet
service. You run the press, we build the profiles.

- Staffing - We are excited to announce that Mike Cummings has been added to
our technical support staff. Mike has many years experience in the
Mac-PC-UNIX computing environments, as well as programming and technical
support as several levels. Mike will be working on ColorValet Custom Profile
building, technical support for ColorValet profiles and ColorGear equipment.
Feel free to call Mike with any of your CHROMiX related support issues at
206-985-6837 x6 or cummings(at)

- Training facility - because of the move to our larger Seattle facility
recently, we now offer individual or classroom training, customized to fit
your specific needs. We still offer our on-site and remote services, but
this adds a dimension that many customers have requested. Please call Rick
Hatmaker at 866-CHROMiX x7 or hatmaker(at) for more information.

Color News

- Monaco has modified their pricing on Profiler so that it is divided into
two versions.
Gold - std kit without n-color and digicam, and Platinum - the full kit
available with previous Profiler. This new product pair makes direct price and
feature comparisons easier and gets you into the excellent Monaco Profiler
package for only $2799!

- GretagMacbeth has revamped the Eye-One line:

Eye-One Monitor is to be replaced by Eye-One Display, a smaller
colorimeter-based unit based on Sequel technology (more below). The
expected retail price is $250.

Eye-One Photo = reflective Eye-One unit (as was in the Eye-One Pro package)
+ RGB print profiling - retail priced around $1495
for early order special go here:

Eye-One Publish = reflective Eye-One unit (as was in the Eye-One Pro
package) +RGB/CMYK profiling (basically renamed Eye-One Pro/Match bundle).
Retail will be around $2695 which is almost $400 reduction from Eye-One

There will be a free upgrade for all current Match 1.X customers to version
2.0 match.

GretagMacbeth is offering a $200.00 upgrade coupon from EyeOne Display to
EyeOne Photo or Publish.

Eye-One Beamer = reflective Eye-One unit + special holder & software for
calibration & profiling of overhead display systems - cool! Retail $1595

New ambient light adaptor (works with NEW eye-ones only) allows "hold it up
and take a reading" of light sources. It is included with all new
Eye-Ones except the display.

GretagMacbeth has indicated a mid-April shipping date for the above items.

Also - BIG news. GretagMacbeth announced the intent to acquire Sequel
Imaging during the week of PMA. Apparently this won't affect OEM deals, etc.
There are a lot of Sequel devices in multiple forms available through many
different OEM deals so this is an interesting piece of news...

- Integrated Color Corporation has consolidated both the Mac (9 & OSX) and
PC version of ColorEyes and ColorEyes 2020 on one CD respectively. This will
clean things up for this great digital camera profiling product and make it
easier for users. ColorGear will reflect the changes on our website.

- PPI is hosting the ANNUAL PRINT BUYERS CONFERENCE to be held MAY 6 at the
Red Lion Hotel on Fifth Avenue in Seattle and MAY 8 at the Doubletree Hotel
Portland-Lloyd Center. <>

- PhotoMedia magazine has announced it has taken over production of the
Northwest Exhibition of Environmental Photography (NWEEP), renamed the event
"World in Focus" and expanded on its concept. The mission of the event is to
raise environmental and cultural awareness of our world through photography.
That purpose is realized via a photo contest which results in a six-week print
exhibit of the contest winners and opening reception at Seattle's Rainier
Square building, an awards ceremony and keynote seminar by photographer, Art
Wolfe at Seattle's Benaroya Hall on June 6, and an all-new seminar series at
the Seattle Center on June 6-8, 2003. Approximately 2,000+ attendees (mostly
professional and serious amateur photographers and others in the photo
industry) for the World in Focus Seminar Series weekend will converge on June
6-8. Also, tens of
thousands are expected to view the World in Focus Photo Exhibit at Rainier
Square in Seattle from June 5-July 20.

We are always happy to answer any and all questions you might have.

New Releases

- BestColor USA has released the much anticipated Best Designer Edition
v2.1/2.04. It is OS X and Classic compatible. It also now has added support
for the Epson UltraChrome technology, predominantly the Stylus 2200. The new
version is priced on ColorGear for $739. The upgrade is free to existing
users but you'll need your dongle id# and updated contact information to
process the order. You'll get a new dongle to replace the old one.

- Adobe has released Adobe camera RAW v1.0, a US$99 file format plug-in that
brings support for a wide range of digital SLR and compact camera RAW file
formats to Photoshop 7.01 (Mac and Windows). It does not replace the benefit of
custom camera profiles but it comes a long way.. (more below)

- Bruce Fraser, Chris Murphy and Fred Bunting have released the latest 'REAL
WORLD COLOR MANAGEMENT'. This is a fantastic resource material and a must if
you're new to color management or an old hand.

- Rita Amladi has released another great PhotoShop training course. The
latest is called 'ICC COLOR MANAGEMENT in PHOTOSHOP 7'. It is published by
The Virtual Training Company (VTC). We hope to have it for sale on our
website soon.


Each month, our President Steve Upton will take time to answer questions
we receive on a regular basis. If you have specific questions or
comments, please see below for how to make submissions.

This Month - Digital Camera Profiling - touches a Hot and controversial
topic of recent history:

Profiling Digital Cameras

A hot topic indeed.

In some ways you would think it's like a scanner. A camera is really just a
scanner up on end with a lens right? Oh, but lighting is different isn't it?
You bet it is, that and other factors can make camera profiling a much
different experience than scanner profiling.

On a basic level, profiling digital cameras and scanners works the same way. A
target containing numerous color patches is captured into your computer. Save
the resulting RGB file and import it into your profiling application. Then load
the text file that contains the Lab measurements for each patch on your target.
The profiling software calculates an RGB-to-Lab lookup table, your profile.
That is pretty much where the similarities end.

On Target(s)

Several different targets are available for camera profiling including the
venerable IT8.x (Q60), Macbeth ColorChecker, ColorChecker DC as well as the
Hutch Color Target (HCT) and some proprietary ones. Like anything in life there
are tradeoffs when choosing any of them. Photo paper targets can produce
smoother tones but tend to have a smaller gamut and are subject to fading over
time. Paint chip targets (both colorcheckers) have greater longevity and
durability but in the case of the Macbeth Colorchecker, do not have enough mid
tones to effectively sample a camera's color response. The ColorChecker DC,
while having many more mid tone colors has been known to behave unpredictably
in polarized light and is under the process of being reformulated by
GretagMacbeth. We have found that the profiling software / target combination
plays a significant role in profiling results.

Making a scene?

Early camera profiling adventurers found that simply placing the profiling
target in the scene can create a profile for use in that lighting condition.
But any other lighting condition, even as much as moving a light, can cause
enough variance that a new profile is required. This "profiling the scene" can
be used to correct color in some situations but it is a very brittle technique
and falls out of favor after building 10 or 20 profiles.

A properly built camera profile, in combination with correct gray balancing,
characterizes the camera system effectively for a wide range of lighting
conditions. Occasionally a new profile is required when lighting is drastically
different than the profiled lighting or a camera is particularly sensitive to
infrared wavelengths. Still, a couple of profiles for your entire shooting
experience sure beats a life of constant profiling.


When setting up RIP systems for customers, we typically say that you can never
spend too much time on ink levels and linearizing - it will always result in a
better print profile. Similarly, when it comes to building quality camera
profiles, you can never spend too much time setting up the lighting and target
for capture. This is the process that makes or breaks the quality of the
profile. Absolutely even lighting from a single light source is required. Those
who've spent many an hour shooting copy work will recall that even lighting is
quickly achieved with two light sources. That's fine for copy work but murder
for camera profiling. Any deviation in color temperature between the two lights
and you will have a color bias across the target that will kill your profile.
And as digital cameras can pickup as little as 1/10th stop variation, you have
to be very careful.

Gray Balance

Often called white balance, gray balancing a camera can be done in several ways
including automatically, in camera, in the camera software or in Photoshop. No
matter how it is achieved, gray balance is the secret to using profiles in a
wide range of circumstances. It effectively calibrates your camera for each
lighting situation (an oversimplification but OK for this level of
understanding). Calibration, as we know, is the key to devices behaving
themselves and profiles remaining valid.

Is that it?

Well, basically yes. The correct target and software combination, combined with
good technique will build you a good camera profile that is usable in a wide
range of circumstances.

Is it that easy?

Perhaps not. We have spent a considerable amount of time working out the
techniques of camera profiling and determining which product mixes actually
produce the results our customers expect. The results?

Tools: ColorEyes 20/20 from Integrated Color Corp is the profiling tool of
choice. It includes a proprietary reflective target that has a wide gamut,
enough color patches to sample the camera space effectively and extra patches
in important color zones such as flesh tones. ColorEyes 20/20 works as a
plug-in within Photoshop and is pretty much a one-button profiling tool - as
mentioned above, shooting the target is everything. Oh - in regards to shooting
the target, the software actually includes a real manual. When was the last
time you saw a printed, bound manual that contained useful, if not essential
information? Overall it's a great package and also the only one we have tested
so far that builds great camera profiles that work in a wide range of

Technique: What can we say? It is everything when profiling these things (have
I repeated that enough?). As a result we have worked closely with the software
manufacturers and photographers to develop a comprehensive training program and
get our field color geeks up to speed. Please contact us for more information
about these services.

Adobe Camera Raw

Some of you may be reading this article and wondering when I am going to
mention Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Recently Adobe released a Photoshop plugin that
allows the opening of "raw" digital camera files directly into Photoshop.
Typically users have been forced to use the camera manufacturer's own camera
software which ranges widely from camera to camera (even from the same
manufacturer) and rarely works well in either default mode or using custom

ACR creates a single interface for a wide range of cameras and also supplies
some "tweaking" tools for adjusting white balance and other image
characteristics as the file is opened. What ACR brings to the table is a great
replacement for the bewildering and problematic software typically included
with cameras. ACR uses unmodifiable ICC technology internally that acts as
generic profiles. Testing has shown us that while ACR is a vast improvement
over existing software solutions, it does not give the results that our
professional customers demand. Custom profiles exhibit smoother highlights,
fuller flesh tones and more accurate colors for product and branding shots.
Some of the effects are subtle but make a noticeable difference, and for our
pro customers that is the difference they require.

Without getting into a full book on the subject, that is about as far as we can
go on the topic of digital camera profiling. I have always referred to camera
profiling as the bleeding edge of color management. It seems that finally we
can move away from the edge and get back to work with some great results.



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