Camera Calibration for Raw Files

Camera Calibration and Profiles Video

Vision is the most important part of photography. Your eye is what makes the difference between a great photograph and a mediocre one.

But when realizing your vision and making it come to life in the final image, getting the right color is vital.

Recently I posted two videos about using curves in Photoshop, Lightroom, and Camera Raw. But there’s a more fundamental step that I haven’t talked about, something you might want to do with Raw files before adding curves, correcting white balance, or doing anything else: choosing a profile.

What is a Camera Profile?

A camera profile is a translator: it’s translates the colors that a camera captures into the colors they should be. In other words, if a certain camera tends to turn reds into orange, the profile will correct for that and convert those reds back to their proper hue. Of course there’s no such thing as “correct” color—it’s all subjective. So profiles can come in different flavors: more saturated, less saturated, more contrasty, etc. Choosing the right flavor for your image is the first step toward making your visualization come to life.

I’ve posted a new video on YouTube that delves into this seemingly esoteric yet actually quite simple subject. In it I show you how to choose different profiles in Lightroom, and explore whether creating a custom profile might be worthwhile. I evaluate some profiles I made with the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport, a $99 package for making custom camera profiles in any lighting situation. Yes, full disclosure, they actually gave this to me for free—I must be hitting the big time!

Also, there’s one more reason for exploring different profile options: reducing noise, banding, and posterization. I show an example where the profile choice made a dramatic difference in noise and banding.

Camera Calibration tab in Adobe Camera Raw

I didn't have time to demonstrate it in the video, but the same profile choices are also available in Adobe Camera Raw—just look under the Camera Calibration tab, third from the right, as shown here.

So here’s a link to the video:

Camera Calibration and Profiles

As always, it helps to view this at the highest resolution, 480p, and click on the double-sided arrow to make the video larger.

I hope you enjoy it! Comments are always appreciated, and if you like video, please share it with a friend: Email this article, or click on one of the buttons below to post it on Facebook or Twitter.

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