X-Rite Passport ColorChecker has been helping me for a while now and I am pleased with its performance as a color-managed workflow tool. I use it indoors or outside shoots and can quickly balance the white value and apply a calibrated camera profile to the images. The results are richer and truer colors. So far, nothing new, many readers know that much.
I also use an Epson Perfection V500 Photo scanner to acquire scanned photographs or to directly capture images of objects, like flowers. When I capture an image via the scanner, I am not as sure of the colors as I am when the image comes from my camera. I thought the ColorChecker might come in handy, and I was right. Although its use is not as automated, nor is it necessarily sanctioned by X-Rite, as it is when used with a camera, it certainly makes sense to use it in the scanning workflow.
- Neutralize the scanning environment and start the process by resetting all the adjustments on the scanner software to not interfere with the color or exposure adjustments as we need a “raw” scan. Your equipment will differ from mine, so I am not going into a detailed explanation here. Make sure the scanner does not adjust the color or the exposure.
- Import the scanned image into Lightroom. (I must admit following a red herring a little bit. I thought I could create a DNG profile for the scanner as I can for my camera, and it would work like a charm. I converted the TIFF file to DNG and was even able to export to ColorChecker Passport. I even got the message that the DNG profile was created and Lightroom needed to restart. Alas, that profile never loaded for this image probably for some missing EXIF data in the file format.) So I took the long road.
- When I was satisfied with the look of the Passport on my screen, which is calibrated and profiled with a ColorMunki by X-Rite, I saved the adjustments as a Lightroom Preset, Epson Scanner Profile, using the “profile” loosely.
- Now, the real test was in order. Lacking a flower to scan at the time, I pulled out an old photograph at random. I first scanned it just like I scanned the Passport with no adjustments. After that, I used the scanner controls to produce the best image I could at the scan time.
- After importing the scanned photographs, I simply applied the Epson Scanner Profile preset to the straight scan with one mouse click. The two images are below for you to compare:
Several things are worth noting. First, this is not a sanctioned use of the ColorChecker; it is an improvisation to satisfy my needs. Second, there is some guessing involved; your results may vary. However, working with a known original that you can inspect and compare to the screen image should be reasonably straightforward. Third, the scanner corrected image is not bad and can be tweaked with a little more adjustments in Lightroom. However, the accuracy of color will remain unknown. Fourth, the 1-click corrected image may look a bit too dark in the shadows; but I would rather deal with luminosity issues than color balance. To me, that is a more straightforward adjustment.
Now, if I could find someone to show me how to use the DNG profile I created in my attempts to automate the process I will be a much happy camper. Then, I will be using a color correction that is made by the DNG profiler using the known values of the color patches. That should take most of the guesswork out of this process. How about it X-Rite?
Below are all the images used in this article that you can view as a gallery.