Color Management Workflow with DNG Camera Profiles

Background information on Camera Calibration and DNG Profiles.

 

Custom camera profiles are a must for any photographer who relies on consistent, accurate color. Creating a custom white balance with the ColorChecker White Balance target will ensure you’re starting with accurate color. Shooting a physical reference like the ColorChecker Classic target will make color corrections quicker, plus allow you to assign them to a large batch of images for greater productivity. But if you are looking for true, accurate color, you need to create a custom profile that is specific to your camera and your conditions.

ICC and DNG are the two most commonly-used camera profile formats. Some Raw image processing applications, like PhaseOne’s CaptureOne software or Bibble Lab’s Bibble, use ICC profiles. X-Rite has other tools to make ICC profiles for use with these applications. find out more about these products here. Adobe’s Lightroom, Photoshop, and Photoshop Elements use DNG profiles. ColorChecker Passport software can build DNG profiles for use in these applications.


It all begins with the camera. If it doesn’t capture accurate color, how can you expect realistic reproduction?

The challenge lies in the fact that different cameras “see” color differently, and the way they capture it varies from brand to brand. Different lenses have different color characteristics, which creates a bigger problem when you start mixing camera and lens brands. But the truth is, even two camera models from the same manufacturer can capture colors differently. Custom profiles will reduce the differences so they behave more alike. Adobe calls these profiles DNG profiles or Camera Profiles and they are selected in the Camera Calibration sections of their Camera Raw and Lightroom software.

Creating a custom white balance with the ColorChecker White Balance target will ensure you’re starting with accurate color. Shooting a physical reference will make color corrections quicker, plus allow you to assign them to a large batch of images for greater productivity. Before you know it, you’re working in a color-managed workflow.

Anyone who shoots color critical work, including studio product photography, fine art reproduction and high quality portrait photos, can benefit from color management. Photographers who shoot large numbers of images on various cameras - weddings, youth sport teams, yearbooks, and organization photo directories - will especially reap the benefits of consistent color across different cameras.

Cameras that capture JPEG can benefit from improved in-camera white balance with ColorChecker targets for further color fine-tuning, but cameras that shoot in a Raw format can benefit even more from custom profiles.

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