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Author Topic: Custom ICC profile creating for digital camera  (Read 3412 times)
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« on: December 19, 2018, 03:26:09 AM »

Hi folks:

I'm involved in fine art reproduction and picture framing. Have been doing this for the past 26 years. My camera for about the last eight or nine years was a better light. I guess technically a scanning back. It was very easy to shoot a RAW or unaltered file and then apply a custom-made ICC profile in Photoshop. The software that came with the better light also allowed you to neutralize or otherwise select a white balance.

What I typically did was to put an an extremely accurate/neutral gray card in the scene, which I could use to neutralize the light falling on the artwork. This accounted for any variations in my light. I'm always using the same lighting equipment, same lens, same environment, etc.

I also have several high-end versions of ICC creating software. Monaco's profiler is one of my favorites for printers, but also use an older version of Binuscan for digital camera profiles. This program actually allows you to measure the target with your own spectrophotometer, so you're not using some generic batch file for the values. And of course using a spectrophotometer ensures the highest quality results. Way better than scanner based profiling solutions.

I'm interested in the most accurate color profile I can make. My customers expect nothing less. Last year I sold off the better light as it was getting pretty dated (SSCI interface) and Michael Collette, the inventor retired. I figured it was time to get into something a little more modern.

I'm now using the Canon 5DsR. Despite being a little less resolution, it's far faster, and actually has better resolution at the edges due to superior optics. Overall I love the camera.

I've been shooting in RAW mode, and start out with the same gray card to neutralize my light falling on the artwork. I tried various McBeth charts to control the contrast and create custom recipes to get the initial RAW file as close as possible, and  then I applied this to my profile target, and made an ICC profile. This would later be used in Adobe Photoshop via the 'assign profile" command.

The first few profiles I created were outstanding, and color accuracy was quite good. Problem is I don't think the camera stays consistent in its capture or the software is changing things from one session to the next. I'm using canons digital photo professional version 4. And I typically choose a faithful rendition. This software will actually embed and ICC profile when you convert the file. That was okay by me as long as it was consistent. It appears it is not.

I tried just capturing the raw data and turning off the "embed ICC profile" and then created a custom ICC profile from the RAW, supposedly unmodified data. Results look less than stellar. Something is happening in the software I cannot control.

I know my ICC profile creation software works well. I've used it for many years. As long as the converter is consistent, and doesn't alter my raw data, it should work fine.

For the life of me I just can't seem to get a workflow where the camera software is not messing with the data! I don't want to invest in super high-end software just to convert my raw data into a TIFF file.

With a good quality ICC profile, I normally don't have to do much other than adjust the white and black point. Sometimes I tweak things for special-effects, but the whole point of a good quality ICC profile is accurate color.

Is there anyone out there who can offer a suggestion to a workflow that will allow me to create my own ICC profiles, without investing thousands of dollars in yet more software I feel I don't need. I just basically need a non-modified file from the camera. Of course the closer it is from the beginning the better the profile will be.


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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2018, 09:53:46 AM »

Hi Troy,
You could use QU to process your raw images which has an in-built custom profile for your camera.
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« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 10:04:34 AM by Terry-M » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2018, 06:12:41 AM »

Hello Terry:

I believe, but not positive, the profiles provided are made with profile prism. My own software is far superior to this. A scanner is nowhere near as accurate as a spectrophotometer, and even if you have a spectrophotometer the reference file is generally a batch type file. That is to say they read one target very critically, but then mass-produced the target. That results in some inaccuracies from mass-producing something.

I have an older program (no longer made but I can actually measure the reference chart myself with a spectrophotometer. To my knowledge there is nothing as good as this on the market currently. So, with that said I'm able to do produce some super high-end profiles.

My business is fine art reproduction, so I literally have about 12 grand invested in color management software and spectrophotometers. I'm just trying to get a workflow established that will allow me to use my profiles without the software getting in the way!

It seems like no matter what I try there's an embedded profile somewhere. I just want to be able to turn all the color management off, and be allowed to adjust my own file. My old betterlight scanning back allow me to do this with no problem. Most scanners allow you to do this as well. You simply select no color management.

Somewhere along the lines the manufacturers wanted to make things easy for us, and God forbid we should actually think about what we do! They've gotten so bad about it it's really tough to remove it. 

I can say for normal picture taking the converter that comes with the camera is not bad. It's just for critical color balancing of artwork, it's not there. For my printing profiles I actually read over 1700 different color patches. This is what high-end ICC profile software does.

I think the one for my digital camera is somewhere around six or 800 color patches. As I said it worked pretty well on my old camera. With the new 5DsR it seems like it's really difficult to turn things off.
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